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IMG_2531 jet (2)

I am flying to the California for the third time in less than a year, my daughter snagged me a round trip flight for only 240 bucks!

The seven hour flight gave me time to let my thoughts wander to memories of what travel looked like in my abused days. Here are some of the biggies that came to mind.

Six months after we were married, I didn’t go to my sister’s wedding. I remember trying to work through all the hurdles and thinking it was my fault. But the reality was, many of the hurdles were things my ex had put in place or played on, so that I wouldn’t go. Things like, it wasn’t a good idea to travel with my parents, not allowing me to drive myself, and so on, were arguments he made to sway me not to go. Add to that financial constraints, and it became impossible.

Seven years later, my grandmother passed away in Jacksonville, only 4 hours from my home. I had to leave my three year old and my nursing baby, because if I had to go that was fine, but I wasn’t endangering our children by taking them on such a dangerous trip.

And how, for approximately 15 years I didn’t get to see part of my family, who lived a mere 2.5 hour plane ride away. The reasons given ranged from, we couldn’t afford it, he couldn’t take time away from work, our vehicles would never make the trip, and we would plan to do it next summer…until eventually I stopped asking to go.

It looked different over time, he said I could go to my sister’s wedding, but I had to figure out how to make it work. Financial hurdles were how he controlled things at first…it really wasn’t his fault…he was so sorry. But over time it grew to concerns for the children’s safety or my inability to do something as daunting as driving a couple of thousand miles.

The control was over whelming, but frogs don’t feel the water coming to a boil, right?

I accepted it. A little at a time.

To this day, I can’t believe the things that I accepted. But that is what you do when you are abused, because you are being trained.

I remember the first time I drove my children and myself all the way to Pennsylvania by myself. I hooped and hollered when we crossed under the sign that announced our arrival to the Keystone State. It was a big deal for me, because in my abused life, I was not allowed to do anything like that, I was continually made to feel incompetent.

I share this part of my story because it really exemplified how abuse grew in our relationship over time. All of these were signs of abuse.

  1. I had come to accept as normal, not doing things that those around me did regularly. Visiting family, attending weddings, funerals and even taking vacations.
  2. My relationship with my family was hindered by my relationship with my partner? But relationships with his family was encouraged.
  3. My partner had all the say, and I had almost none. Anytime I did press, the arguments and reasons why I wasn’t capable, became so overwhelming that I usually gave in.
  4. Abuse starts small and grows. I wasn’t incompetent to get to my sister’s wedding, but by the time of my grandmother’s death, I was. And I practically had an anxiety attack planning my trip to Pennsylvania, after being free from the abuse, until a friend talked me into it and assured me it was doable.

If there are red flags in your relationship, make sure the pot isn’t set to slowly boil. Don’t wait for a shove, or a fist. Abuse is about control and it always escalates. Take actions at the first signs and possibly reroute where things are headed, get help or get out before you are hurt.