As some of you already know, I am in recovery. I will complete 6 years clean and sober on October 6 of this year.
I met my abuser while I was at a women’s residential treatment for substance abuse about 10 years ago. The center actually took us to outside AA meetings so we could meet other people in recovery, there were men and women at the meetings. I had always been very insecure so any attention for me was very exciting. One evening, I struck up a conversation with a very handsome, tall gentleman. Jim had 4 years clean and sober, his own painting business, a nice car and seemed to have all of “IT” together. We started talking at the meetings and on the phone and had a great rapport. After I got out of residential treatment, I moved in with my mother temporarily and signed up for a temporary day treatment 5 days a week. Jim and I started dating immediately. Things moved along very quickly with Jim. He was a perfect gentleman (at first) I LOVED all of the attention! I was a recovering addict and thought to myself “why would this guy want to be with me?” I would soon find out.
He asked me to move in
Did I move in? Of course, I did! I knew it was better than staying at my mom and stepdad’s house. I was in treatment every day anyway. It was not long before I started to notice changes in Jim. He started to talk “down” to me. He started treating me differently than he had before. But it was ok with me, “it wasn’t that bad” I told myself .. “my first husband was bad, this guy was nothing compared to him!”
He asked me to marry him
Did I say yes? Of course, I said yes! We could get a house and I could fix it up, everything would be great! And it was great, FOR A WHILE. We did find a cute little house, and we did fix it up and I got lots of garage sale stuff and we painted everything “shabby chic” and it was SO CUTE! Everything was working out great! Well, after a few months of marital bliss, we relapsed together. There was another side of Jim that I had not met before and he was HORRIBLE.
The new Jim
The new Jim on drugs was evil. He was extremely abusive. He would melt down a large Yankee Candle Jar and throw it at me, he would throw hot coffee at me. He would drag me around by my hair.
The police were always being called by the neighbors. He almost killed the guy across the street for calling the police. He was nasty and narcissistic. But, when he was not using drugs, he was so sweet and apologetic. I even went to see the judge and begged him not to prosecute Jim. So, the next ten times charges were brought, they were not very hard on him. It was obvious to everyone but me that I had “battered wife syndrome.” Everything in our home was broken from when he would throw things at me. We had holes in the walls and doors hanging off the hinges. He would go into these terrible rages. It was unbelievable that one person could have two personalities.
The victims assistance program
One day, I finally mustered up the courage to leave Jim. The “Victims Assistance Program” helped me get an attorney and pay for the divorce which was of course granted because of the domestic violence that was so prevalent in our marriage. We were married less than a year. IF YOU ARE IN A SITUATION LIKE THIS, PLEASE utilize this program at your local police department. This program is there to help you. I will put information at the end of the blog.
About a year later, I ran into Jim again. We were both using again and we had a “little fling” which resulted in a pregnancy. Jim did not REALLY realize this until I was about 7 months pregnant when he came by my apartment and saw for himself. He had heard I was pregnant. He seemed happy for me and I wish I had never told him it was his baby I was carrying.. About a week later, I saw Jim again, he was still high and VERY ANGRY, he needed money. He told me I would not live through the night. I believed him. After beating me, I had what would turn into a black eye and a fractured jaw. My mouth was bleeding. He took me to a local crack house and tried to sell me to 3 men for $50.00 each. When they saw I was injured and pregnant, they called the ambulance and the police. He fled in his van. They also called my mom for me. As I waited on the porch, he came back. He drove his van through their fence, through their porch and tried to hit me with the van, I fell off the porch as it crumbled. Their house shook as he almost landed into their living room. He was able to back up and flee the scene again. Needless to say, they caught him a few minutes later. The ambulance arrived and I went to a shelter until I was able to have my little angel right on time, clean and sober. I had to eat through a straw for a month as my jaw was fractured. My angel is 7 now. He was charged with aggravated assault on me and my unborn child with a deadly weapon (the van) along with several other charges. He later pled guilty to several misdemeanors instead because I was unable to testify as I was in the shelter. The court could not find me to let me know I was a witness.
Unforgiveness vs. forgiveness
First, I had to forgive myself for allowing this to happen. I put myself in this situation as a pregnant recovering addict knowing that anything could happen. I have recently been able to forgive myself as I have been able to beat my addiction and thrive as a mother. I will celebrate my sixth- year wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband Scott this June. I have learned how to love and to be loved. As for Jim, I have been in therapy for 6 years and have never been able to forgive him. I have lived with resentment in my heart since the abuse started. Even though we both are coming up on our 7th year clean, Jim is a great dad and we have joint custody. I have not able to let the pain and constant resentment go. I needed closure more than anything, not only for myself, but for my current husband and my son. Addiction changes people. Long-term recovery changes people MORE.
I know it was Bryant McGill’s words that finally broke through my hard shell of pain. “Forgiving breaks the unhealthy bonds between you and your abuser-victim relationship, and redefines you as an independent victor in your own life. Forgiving cuts the cord freeing you and leaves the abuser with the full weight of their deeds and fate, and whether they accept their responsibility or not, you are no longer dependent on their participation for your healing.”
Last week, when Jim came to pick up our little angel after school one evening, I looked at him and simply said “I have forgiven you.”
He looked like a shocked little boy who was about to cry. He said nothing. I turned around, smiled to myself and I knew my wounds had finally healed. I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized the significance of what I had just done. I had cut the cords to the old marionette puppet that Jim had been controlling since we met. That puppet was me, I WAS FINALLY FREE. In my minds eye, I could see the puppet falling to the ground. My heart was full of joy and strength. I was whole, healed and complete. I felt good, really good for the first time in a very, very long time.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
If YOU are a victim of domestic violence, please check out this website:
Katie Maslin is the founder of Sisters of Serenity and Sobriety, Inc. Along with her website, Katie has a Facebook page and a private Facebook group for women. Certified Life and Recovery Coach, Katie has dedicated herself to women who are battling the diseases of addiction and alcoholism. Katie’s life story is one that travels from early success in the areas of education, pageants, and a strong spiritual life that one trial of a mind altering substance resulted in a downward spiral of pain, heartache, addiction and alcoholism that lasted 15 years. She now has almost 6 years of hard fought recovery. As an Addiction Consultant, Recovery Advocate, Writer, Blogger and Motivational Speaker Katie meets individuals and groups of women where she shares her failures and successes with the desire to give hope to those who have seen the dark side of life and the hell that is world of addiction. Katie spends each day counseling, supporting and at times “tough loving” the sisters that share her life through social media. She is facilitator of weekly meeting recovery meetings for the Federal Law Enforcement Agency; Homeland Security at Glynco, Georgia. Katie attended Georgia Southern University, College of Coastal Georgia and Wainwright Global Inc.
“I know I am right where I am supposed to be in my life. I consider myself a vessel through which God can use to minister to those who are going through what I have already conquered. I often tell the women that I work with, the same God that got me through this addiction and experience is going to pull you out of the pit you are in, you just have to be willing to reach up, grab a hand and start crawling.”
Katie Maslin, Women’s Recovery Activist, Certified Recovery Coach, Addiction Consultant, Motivational Speaker and Writer.