What’s love got to do with it…everything! I’ve been asked so many times by so many people, “why did you stay?” The answer is always one version or another of “I loved him”. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. You may ask how could I love someone who broke me down, someone who raped me, someone who gave me STDs, someone who lied to me and cheated on me. Someone who abused me physically and emotionally. I’ll tell you how…because he broke me down slowly with kind words and gestures. When we first started dating he bought me roses and called me late night just to check on me. He supported me through graduate school and raised my daughter as his own. He rubbed my feet and told me he was all I would ever need. See, my husband didn’t start out being a monster. He kept that side of him hidden and his negative motives were always cloaked with kindness. It wasn’t until I was waist deep and incapable of detaching myself that the mask began to slip. But even then, I was unwilling to turn my back on the one person who I thought was there for me at my lowest. I felt like we were kindred spirits and I could love him enough to change him. He was broken and just needed someone like me to fix him. If I didn’t turn my back on him like everyone else did then he would know that my love was genuine and he wouldn’t feel the need to hurt me anymore. I called myself understanding him, when I didn’t even understand myself. I didn’t understand that I couldn’t possibly change him because he didn’t desire to change. I didn’t understand that I didn’t have to earn the right to be respected and treated with dignity, it should have been freely given. I didn’t understand that I couldn’t love him because I didn’t even love myself. If I did, I would have never accepted what he was offering. I would have cut my loses and ran like hell without ever looking back…but hindsight is always 20/20.
Noni J. Stinson