I hid under the blanket, covering my ears to drown out the sound of his voice telling me how worthless I was. His words slipped through the loose knit blanket and into my ears despite my best efforts to protect myself.
“The world would be a better place if you were dead.”
Like the broken mirror spread across the bedroom floor, I was shattered into a million pieces which seemed impossible to put back together. He stole my hope and my will to keep going. I saw my life slip away like water down a drain.
Blood pooled on my wrist from where I’d tried to numb the emotional pain of the abuse. My back still felt the impact of when he had pushed me against the wall. How was it possible, that hours before my jiu jitsu family had sung “Happy Birthday” to me?
My husband had a different way of celebrating the day I was born. For over six hours, he played the classic record of all the reasons why I was the worst person on the face of the earth. Each time the record ended, he flipped it over to begin anew.
The best way I can describe what the emotional abuse felt like that night was that I was running on a treadmill and my body, soul, and spirit were failing, but I couldn’t press stop. I couldn’t get off. And I couldn’t keep going.
Every time I said stop, it got worse. When I tried to run away, he entrapped me. When I tried to cut, he broke down the bathroom door. There was no escape from the abuse that was killing me from the inside out.
I couldn’t live and I couldn’t die.
My last will to fight left me.
I’d never been so hollow before or since. I’d never been so hopeless and empty. As I waved the white flag of surrender, I thought, “You won. You finally broke me.”
I was so dead inside, I couldn’t even muster up the energy or courage to kill myself. In my mind I knew that there was nothing left I could do for myself. I was beyond repair.
I checked myself into a mental health facility the next day. He fought to keep me from going. He tried to convince me I was making a bad decision. But as far as I was concerned, he was arguing with a corpse.
When I checked in, I gave them my pens and shoelaces and peed in the cup they gave me for urinalysis. I went to my assigned room to unpack and found no locks on the doors. I found a strict schedule posted on the wall, dictating the time and place that I was to be at any given moment. I gave up all rights to myself so that they could help me.
A few hours after check in, I was called into an office. A gray haired man with long fingernails opened up a binder. He looked more like an undertaker than a caretaker, but in my case there wasn’t much difference. I had a pulse, but I was nothing but dry bones.
I looked at the white clock hanging on the wall, as the internal mechanisms counted the time. The tick, tick, tick pierced the atmosphere as the hands went around in circles. The air was full of the sound of time.
My ears shifted from the clock to the man’s voice. My heart stopped beating.
“Do you know what you want to do with it?”
He must have made a mistake. I couldn’t be pregnant. The previous month, I’d only been off birth control for a week. There had been a lull in the abuse, and I thought things would finally get better and just maybe it was possible for us to be a normal family.
I didn’t think seven days was long enough for that kind of birth control to get out of my system. The moment I heard my husband say, “How can you be a mother when you can’t even take care of yourself?” I went to the bathroom and immediately started taking it again.
Do you know what you want to do with it?
My soul was so dead, and my mind so asleep I couldn’t process the shock of what this man had just announced. How do you tell a dead woman she’s pregnant?
I was an abused and traumatized woman. My marriage was a prison, and every day I was being devoured mercilessly in the pit of hell. I had reached my limit of torment and oppression the day before. How could I possibly be in this situation?
I walked back to my room alone, surrounded by strangers in a strange land.
Do you know what you want to do with it?
I’d never cared before what decision women made in these situations. My years on this earth had been endless suffering and misery. Many days I wished I’d never been born. Death seemed like a sweet escape from my misery, so my value of life was tainted by my personal experiences.
I’d never wanted kids. I didn’t like kids growing up and now I couldn’t imagine raising a child in the household where their mom was emotionally and mentally abused daily. If I had a son, he would learn from his dad how to treat women. If I had a daughter, she would learn it’s okay for her to be abused because daddy hurt mommy. How could I bring a child into something like that?
And what if my husband was right? How could I take care of a child if I couldn’t take care of myself? Look at where I was!
I laid down in my assigned room and stared up at the white ceiling. Twenty-four hours before, my world had been complete darkness. I put my hands on my belly and imagined a little bean inside of me like a speck of light.
I had been walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and in the midst of evil God planted a seed of life inside me.
Over the course of my marriage, everything was stolen from me. And yet the thing that almost killed me had produced the thing that was saving me. I grabbed hold of the revelation, growing like a mustard seed.
There’s life inside of me.
My circumstances were so dark, that the little matchstick of light was the only thing I could see. I grabbed hold of the truth and it grabbed hold of me: there’s life inside of me.
I was dead to myself and dead to my husband and dead to the world, but there was life inside me! The tiny spark of truth pushed back the darkness, and suddenly life didn’t seem so impossible anymore.
It would be years before I was introduced to Jesus, but looking back I can see how God had planted a miracle of life to save mine, and had delivered a spark of truth about who I really was.
The truth that I would be a mother pushed back the lies of who my husband said I was, and convinced me that I could do better, live better, be better.
I didn’t know what my life would look like or how things would turn out, but the thought of abortion fled at the truth that there was life inside me. How could I kill my only source of hope?
My daughter is now four years old. Eventually her dad and I would divorce, and custody battles were pure torment, but she was worth every moment.
There is no me without her. Part of my identity in Christ is being a mother to that beautiful girl. That night I found out she was growing inside me was my first glimpse of who God created me to be, and since giving my life to Jesus, I continue to become that woman every day. Each day brings new life, and every challenge produces more grace to become a better mother to my daughter.
My mindset shifted from “there’s no way I can be a mother” to “being a mother is the only way I know how to exist.” It was who God created me to be. I never feel more like myself than when I’m with my daughter, and she continues to be my motivation to fight the darkness and grab onto life. I have more joy with her than any person on earth.
She has been a gift and reward from God and I can’t imagine life without her. She was my first glimmer of hope that I could be restored after what was done to me, and the blood of Jesus and grace of God continue to make that a reality every day.
As I learned the love of God for me, I learned to love myself and the truth of God’s love enabled me to overflow with love for my daughter. She was fearfully and wonderfully made, knit together by God in my womb. God wrote the story of her life at the beginning of creation. She has a destiny and a purpose. How precious was she that He numbered all the hairs on her head.
The same is true about me.
The same is true about you.