This week’s installments come from my friend Tiffany.
Tiffany is a survivor of domestic violence, but she knows she is much more than that. She is still learning what those things are through talk therapy and connecting with the outdoors.
She now lives in the lush Willamette Valley of Oregon with her two spunky teenage children, her husband, and their Australian Shepard, Lincoln. They farm on the family farm, growing grass seed, wheat, and hazelnuts. You can follow her farm and life adventures on Instagram and twitter. She also posts collaboratively on It’s Momsense.
Do you think you or someone you love is a victim of domestic violence? Contact The National Hotline for Domestic Violence athttp://www.thehotline.org/ or call at 1-800-799-SAFE.
Tom threw my engagement ring into the 4- lane highway by our apartment on a sunny, Spring day.
I imagined its glittering diamonds and gold getting crushed under a cement truck until it was unrecognizable.
I probably should have taken that as an omen.
We met shortly after I broke off my long term relationship. He tipped his hat to me when he introduced himself. I thought, “Such a gentleman!”
We danced and flirted all evening. He told me all about his family in Florida, where he was born. He told me about his parents and his grandmother. Then pulled out a faded photo of his baby brother Steven, who had died.
We started dating and seeing each other every chance we got. He told me about how he was a volunteer fireman in his old town, about his junior college, and plans to be a pilot. He was courteous and showed his emotions easily. It was such a new experience to be with someone like him. He showered me with affection and with just a look he could melt me. He was precisely the kind of man I thought I wanted.
Three weeks later, he proposed at the top of Multnomah Falls. I was in shock. Part of me heard the alarms go off that day, but I was already hooked on “love” endorphins. I wasn’t sure I wanted to say yes, but I knew that I wasn’t ready to quit him.
I said yes and moved in the next week, more than an hour away from home. Over a candle-lit dinner with tears in his eyes, he told me about his past drug addiction. His fiancée at the time was using and he didn’t want to lose her, so he caved to peer pressure. He said he hadn’t used in over a year, and he was done. He knew how I felt about drugs, so he said it was hard to tell me. I appreciated his honesty and was impressed at his perseverance to get clean.
Soon after, the subtle abuse started. First it were snide comments. He teased me about my clothes and when I protested, he said that I was too sensitive and I needed to learn to take a joke. He critiqued my bowling style in front of our friends. Then he played it off like he was just trying to help me improve. The abuse escalated.
I stayed home sick from work one day and he was furious with me, complaining that we wouldn’t be able to afford rent, so he threw our phone across the room. Another time, we went dancing, but this time he didn’t want to dance with me and he left me to stand alone in the dance hall. Another man asked me to dance and I accepted. He yanked me by the arm off the dance floor in front of a hundred people. No one stopped him.
There were good times too, especially when he was trying to make up for his mistakes. He bought me flowers regularly. He was funny and could make me laugh like I never had before. He helped anyone whenever they needed it. He liked to twirl me around at home when our favorite song came on. He could be so sweet and thoughtful. He made me feel wanted.
The day that he threw my engagement ring into traffic was the day that I said I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married. He cried and pleaded. When I stood my ground, he threw the ring. Then he threatened to kill himself. I still loved him, but I knew something wasn’t right. I felt something creeping in on the edge of my mind but I ignored it. I surely didn’t want to be the cause of his suicide! He’d been through so much and I KNEW he loved me. I agreed to stay. A few days later, he produced my ring from his pocket. He admitted he never threw it. He pretended to, because he felt I didn’t give him a choice.
Stay tuned: Part two is yet to come.