Death of a Thing

One of the most important lessons I learned after my divorce was the importance of dying to my old self. I had to kill her. I had to bury her 10-feet under — not six but TEN! There was no way I could have continued life and prospered in any manner had I continued to be the battered shell that had been left to rot.

After Abuse

By the time I made it back to Louisiana permanently in late August 2013, I was living life in a parallel universe. I was watching myself from a distance. Eventually, I was shaken back into reality and couldn’t believe what I was viewing. I was damaged in every imaginable way and I looked it. I mean I was a mess from my hair to my clothes. I just didn’t care.

That version of me didn’t just appear overnight. That woman had been dragged, half-way rebuilt, dragged again, and then just left to mold. She’d been left to die by someone who didn’t care about the destruction that had been left. The only time my appearance was mentioned was when my ex said, “You look pretty good when you comb your hair.” That came after he pleaded with me to have sex with his friend so he could watch. That night, my sense of self-worth tanked and it would take nearly five years for me to pull my head out of the sand.

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The inside of my head and mind had been damaged by a battering ram of mental and emotional abuse. It had been bludgeoned nearly to death.

Once I woke up, though, I knew I had to finish off the old Trease. She would have killed me if I hadn’t.

The Wake-Up

One day, I woke up and remembered that I’m smart. I’m not only speaking of my bachelor’s degree or my paralegal certificate. I’m talking about being wise to life. Some folks even refer to me as a smart-ass and that’s true, but I’m smart nonetheless.

 

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Photo credit: www.quickmeme.com

 

I realized that I have amazing worth. My friends and family love me. I love me!

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Photo credit: Everyday Self Love

I realized that I’m pretty. Nah, I’m beautiful. Don’t take that as conceit because if there’s one thing I despise, it’s deceit, but I know I’m easy on the eyes. Gray hair and all, I’m okay.

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Most importantly, I realized that I have so much to offer the world. The old Trease had to die in order for the new one to surface. The two of them couldn’t co-exist. One had to go and I chose to release the one who was no good to herself or anyone else.

I woke up and got a good whiff of the smell of life.

Today

I still have a way to go in some areas of my life, but for the most part, I’m good. I know I deserve unconditional love from a man. I know that I will give unconditional love to the next man. I won’t let the past dictate my future.

I keep myself up even though I could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m working on that, but my love of cheese and cake are undermining my best efforts.

Do what you have to do to be who you want to be. There is life after abuse. There is indeed life after abuse.

Picking Up the Pieces

There’s no doubt about it: DIVORCE SUCKS!

The circumstances leading up to the dissolution of marriage vary from couple to couple, but as I’ve stressed before, not every divorce calls for sympathy. Some are cause for celebration. Either way, though, folks are left to pick up the pieces.

The Ashes

Even though it was surely time for me to be free from the abusive hell I had been caught up in, I was left in such a confused state that I didn’t even know where I was going to live after June 2013. The divorce was final in April of that year, but I quickly discovered that it would be impossible for me to stay in Dallas. I had been a SAHM mom for a lot of years and had lost my place in corporate America. More importantly, I had lost my self-worth, my self-confidence, and my sense of identity.

I didn’t want to leave Dallas. I had wanted to live there since I was a little girl and I was extremely angry because the choice of living there had more or less been taken away from me as the result of the divorce. I will never, ever regret staying at home with Will because I think he’s a better guy for the fact that I was there every evening when he got home, but I regretted the fact that I had trusted my livelihood to someone who shouldn’t have been trusted with the pen he used to sign our marriage license with. Anyway, life as I knew it would never be the same and that, my friends, was the best thing that could have happened to and for me.

My then-boyfriend often reminded me once when I was complaining back in 2014 that I had been brought back to Louisiana for more than regrouping, resetting, and recharging. He reminded me that I had been brought back here to help with my elderly mom whose health was extremely poor. I couldn’t see that for the longest time because I was blinded by the anger brought on by the divorce. Eventually, I realized he was right. I also realized that I had been brought back here to pick up the pieces.

My credit had been left in shambles. I had been without a “job” since 2005. I had let my weight get out of control. I had no real pride in my appearance except when I knew I would see my guy. There were broken pieces of me everywhere.

Today, I’m proud to say my credit has improved by miles and is on its way back to that 800 mark. Even though I didn’t work a corporate job during the years following my divorce, I did a lot of freelance work, but it was not as fulfilling as I wanted it to be. Thank God, on May 1, I started a paralegal job and am working in family law. And guess who’s back? Yep, prissy Trē! I love dabbling in makeup, I think one of the best things about a woman can be a sweet, sweet smell, and I love making my hair BIG! I also make my way to the gym as often as possible, but that committment is going to be just that — a real committment because my health is worth more than gold.

I still have a ways to go to get everything to a place where I’m completely happy, but the most important thing I’ve discovered is a new sense of self-love. I not only like myself, I love myself. That’s a far cry from a time when I hated looking in the mirror. The pieces may still be out of place, but at least they’re all in one place now.

Rebuilding from the Scraps

It’s hard to rebuild. It can be exciting because there is an element of newness involved in starting things over, but for the most part, rebuilding is hard. It’s been hard for me. I realize everybody’s story is different, but my story of rebuilding is not a particularly pretty one.

Since my divorce, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of an emotional ride. I started out with a plan to be alone for the first five years after I left the social status of being a wife, but that plan was blown to pieces when my ex-boyfriend, who had been an ex-boyfriend twice before we reconnected in 2013, re-captured my heart and we began an extremely intimate relationship. It was exhilarating, but there was enough baggage carried into that thing to fill an entire carousel in an airport. We needed some time apart. Anyway…

I’m finally back in paralegal work and I can’t begin to explain how much I love my job. A long time ago, I vowed that I would never be a family law paralegal, but here I am. It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I’m also getting back on track with my book. I’m a stickler for scheduling so the fact that I haven’t had any real structure in my life the past few months has taken its toll on me. I’m on it so things are back under control. There are some other things in the works that I can’t talk about publically, but things are going to be pretty amazing very soon.

For a while there, there was nothing left but scraps. There was nothing left but the shell of a woman who had been everything to everybody except herself. The one thing that the two men who have had hold of my heart the past 30 years will tell you is that I love hard. They both received some of the best treatment a man could possibly want. One had it but threw it all away. Welp, too bad for him. The other one didn’t let me love him with my full heart and I really do feel sorry for him because true love is a treasure, and to have someone willing to give it to you unconditionally is a blessing from God.

If he is not willing to accept all that I am, there is a man out there who will. I believe that. I’m well on the road to becoming an even stronger woman than I was before so for the right man, I’m going to be irreplaceable. I’m nearly 50 so I’m not in this thing for games, indecision, shenanigans, or anything else but commitment. I’m an old-fashioned, country girl so I believe in letting love find me. I’m not going out looking for a man, but I believe, with all my heart, that the man I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with is very, very close and that we’ll cross paths at just the right moment.

I’m rebuilding from the scraps left over from years of damage, but the package is coming together nicely.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding is never good. It’s the result of trauma, fracture, pregnancy, or any number of things. Internal bleeding is indeed a physical condition. It can also, however, be experienced in love.

I’ve reached an age where more of my friends than not have been divorced or have suffered some major blow to their relationships. Both my male and female friends have been devastated by love that eventually failed them in one way or another. Perhaps they fell out of love with their significant other; maybe it was the other way around. Maybe it was a toxic relationship to begin with. Maybe it’s one where it never seems to be the right time. Whatever the case may be, the result is internal bleeding of the heart.

This one, I know about from experience. By the time my marriage ended, I was all out of blood. My ex-husband had drained me, not unlike, a vampire who couldn’t have cared less about the condition in which he left me. He took and took and took until there was nothing left but the shell of the woman he’d married 19 years earlier.

The good thing, though, is that, magically, my blood supply was replenished. Y’all know the story. It replenished, but the relationship that brought me so much happiness at one point eventually tore my rebuilt heart out. It’s hard to explain, but the tumbling of my last relationship was far more painful than my divorce. Maybe it’s not so hard to explain. Maybe it’s just that the man I trusted with my heart was so damaged and worn from his own divorce, he wasn’t capable of loving me like he thought he could. I lost my soulmate.

He is a good man. I’ll always believe that. I think he just got caught up with a woman who, like my husband, entered marriage with a mask on, which ultimately fell off, causing chaos and confusion. He was damaged, but I did my best to help him heal. He had my shoulder and my ear. He had all of me, but it just wasn’t enough.

The internal bleeding has stopped. It stopped a few months ago, but as with any great love story, I miss him. I guess I always will. We are at least on speaking terms again, but I don’t know that we will ever reach that fevered pitch that made us JDW and TSH. That thing was rare and coveted. Not many couples have (or ever will have) what we had. They just won’t because love is not just about the physical. A true love relationship involves the heart, mind, body, and soul. We had a connection that could easily be the topic of one of those “how they stayed together” news blurbs.

Who knows what the future holds, but I sincerely wish everyone could experience love on the level that we shared.

She’s Back at it! 

Yesterday, I returned to corporate America. I had been praying so hard for a position that falls in line with my skills and my calling, and here I am. I’m working as a paralegal again and I can already tell it’s where I’m meant to be. 

Y’all know I’m meticulous when it comes to planning so I’m working on a solution that will allow me to do bigger, better things here and to flourish everywhere else. I will find balance between my 9-to-5 and the other things that are dear to my heart. I’m ready to find a church home so I can sing, worship, and fellowship,too. 

I also have a (strong, STRONG) feeling that I’ll meet someone special because I’m most definitely ready to date. It took me a while to reach this point, but it’s time. My inboxes have been filled with messages from guys I’ve known my whole life, but I’m not interested in any of them. I don’t know why I don’t find any of them interesting, I just don’t. They’re all good, honest men, and I love the thought of being with someone who knows my background, family and friends, but we can’t always have what we want, can we? I do believe, though, that the man of my dreams is out there. Our paths will cross and it’ll happen soon. 

Some Things Never Change…and They Shouldn’t

I’m blessed to have a large circle of friends and associates. There are guys and girls all over the country I enjoy talking to on a daily basis, whether it be in the virtual realm or real life. I’m equally blessed in that the people who I’ve shared my story with — those who know the real me, like me. They love me AND they like me. (Loving a person doesn’t always mean you like him or her.) I love the open dialogue I’ve established with my circle because it allows me to see things through different eyes. One thing that has been pressing on me is how people change after their hearts have been broken.

I’m a member of several large women’s groups across the internet and one thing that I hear quite often is that some women refuse to love as hard as they’ve loved in the past because they were hurt, misused, taken advantage of, taken for granted, or they just refuse to give their all because of what they’ve seen others go through. Now I know there are plenty of men out there who’ve been dragged through hell by someone who didn’t deserve their goodness and in a later post, I’ll address that, but let me tell you about Trease.

The Marriage

Everyone knows how much I loved my ex-husband. I loved him enough to marry him in the first place, then I moved some 1036 miles away to live what I thought would be happily ever after. I took my vows seriously. I stayed there through better or worse. I stayed there through thick and thin. I stayed there through sickness and in health. Well, happily ever after ended on April 5, 2013. I had every intention of staying single for the first five years following that divorce. I had not come to that decision out of fear of being hurt, because I was angry, or anything like that. I just didn’t want to be with anybody.

Almost everyone said they were surprised that I would want to be with anyone else at any point following that crap, but I refused to let one man’s ignorance determine how I treated the next one.

*THE* Relationship

Y’all know that my old thing became my new thing again. When we reconnected, it was for the third time. By that time, we had both seen the true sides of the people we’d married. We’d both had our hearts and feelings thrashed by ones who entered those unions with ulterior motives. We had so, so much in common. I mean so much that if you had heard us from a distance, you’d think we were best buddies. If you were to have seen us, though, you’d know that what we had was almost magical. I loved him. I struggled with adding the letter “d” to the word love because he will always have my heart, but here we are.

Anyway, I gave him everything that I knew a man needed. He knew that I loved him because I constantly showed him. He got the random texts, sometimes filled with filth that I knew would make him crack up. He got the emails filled with encouragement because I knew he was being battered through his own divorce. He got the phone calls when, in my spirit, I could sense he needed to talk but was a little too proud to call. He finally learned that I was his shoulder. He finally learned that regardless of what happened, I had his back. He knew if he needed me, all he had to do was call. The fact that we couldn’t keep our hands off each other was just icing on the multi-layered German chocolate cake that was both our favorite. I loved giving him gifts, not because he had not received real ones from the woman he’d been married to, but because I knew he would be happy. I got him things he wanted and needed. I let him vent and I never judged him.

One of the most important things I gave that man was my full heart. I had taken it back from the man I had been married to because he’d trampled it without abandon. I didn’t expect it to be shredded again, but alas, here we are.

Next Time

I plan to love without abandon when love comes my way again. I plan to make the man who stands by my side feel like a king. Why? Because I refuse to allow the fact that my love wasn’t accepted and appreciated by one person (…two in this case) be the reason that I stifle myself and not be true in my efforts to show the next man what he means to me. I go out of my way to show my love and I will do that next time around. It’s not my fault that the ones I gave it to before did not want it. The next one will get the full Trease. Whether or not he holds on to it is up to him.

 

Again

When I received the barrage of notifications from all the news outlets that alert me to breaking stories that there’d been a shooting at a school in San Bernardino Monday morning, I cringed. Just like I always do when I hear of these things, I stopped and prayed that there were no deaths, no injuries. When details began to emerge and we initially learned that two people had died, almost instinctively, I knew domestic violence was involved. I just knew it. Even though it had taken place at an elementary school, I just knew.

What we’ve learned is that the shooter, 53-year old Cedric Anderson, walked into his estranged wife’s classroom and shot her. We’re told that he didn’t say a word when he shot 53-year old Karen Smith. He reportedly had a criminal past. Some of the women in his past had applied for restraining orders. This man was clearly dangerous. He had been charged with crimes against public peace in 2013. That charge was either dismissed or not prosecuted.

Then on April 10, 2017, he chose to take the life of the woman he proclaimed to love. Within minutes, he took his own life. An innocent little boy also died as the result of this man’s actions. Another boy is in the hospital recovering from the injuries he sustained during the chaotic madness. There was a total of 15 children in that classroom, but I think it’s safe to say that not one person in the entire school on Monday will ever be the same.

This story is an example of the ultimate filth of domestic violence. This couple had only been married a few months, but she saw fit to leave him. She did what many women do — she left. It’s clear, though, that leaving wasn’t enough. I don’t know yet if she had a restraining order on record against him or not; I don’t know that it would have mattered. The school said he had been allowed in because he was her spouse so if one had been in place, I’m sure someone would have at the very least tried to stop him.

Just Another Tragedy?

I hope no one considers this to be just another tragedy. It’s not. Karen’s family is preparing for her funeral. She was only 53 years so I’m sure she had not done all the things she wanted to do in this life. Domestic violence doesn’t care about your wishes.

We, as survivors, have to tell our stories because there’s a woman out there who needs to see and know that what she’s going through is NOT normal. She needs to understand that love does not hurt. She won’t fully get that fact if we, the women and men who have made it through that living hell, don’t share just how we did it.

You, as a domestic violence/abuse prevention advocate, are responsible for reaching out to any person you know or suspect is being abused. There are signs. Most abuse victims hide their situation like it’s a treasure. It’s no treasure. It’s fear. It’s shame. It’s embarrassment.

If YOU are being abused, get help. Are you questioning whether what’s going on is really abuse? Take a look at this. You deserve better. There is a better life out there. You can escape. I almost lost my life on July 21, 2009. I was 41 years old. Not from physical abuse, but from the stress and strain that had become so overwhelming that my brain started to bleed. I have a close friend who suffered a heart attack because of the mental and emotional abuse she suffered. She was not yet 40.

The wounds sustained in domestic violence/abuse cases are both visible and invisible, but both kinds run deep. Understand that in the case of mental, emotional, verbal, and financial abuse, the wounds are not visible, but in cases of physical abuse, almost all of them — visible and invisible — are present.

Do your part in preventing this crap. We don’t need anymore Karen Smiths. We don’t want another Cedric Anderson to assume the role of creator and judge. Help those that are suffering. Help yourself.