I’ve been married for almost four decades, and in at least two of those, I’ve lived with a psychologically abusive husband.
Let me share with you how it started — and ended.
I was a whisker away from getting engaged on my 21st birthday.
Yet a little voice inside nagged for me to travel overseas. If I was to pine for this man that would one day be my husband, well, then there was my answer.
I bummed it around London and Europe for a few months in the late 70s and didn’t miss my would-be-husband — at all!
Instead, I got a taste for the big wide exotic world that pulled my head out of books and launched me into real life.
When my 21st birthday party arrived, I announced I intended to move to Perth, Western Australia, to become a lay missionary.
I walked away from everything I knew, family and friends, and a heartbroken ex-boyfriend to take up the position of volunteer housemother to 13 Aboriginal teenage girls.
I became ‘Miss Katie’ of the Junior Villa.
One night at an R&B nightclub in Perth, I met the man who stole my heart for the next 37 years.
He was a US Marine from the USS Belleauwood, and with my Junior Villa girls to look after, we managed to steal a few hours together before his ship sailed back out on his West Pacific tour.
Eventually, I packed my few belongings — and my life — into a suitcase and flew to California to meet him.
He met me at LAX airport, and we fumbled our way through what came next for us.
We eloped in May 1982.
Our son was born in California in 1984. Our eldest daughter was born in 1985, four months after we relocated to Australia to be close to family and give our kids a better life. Our youngest daughter was born in 1989.
Interracial marriages have their unique challenges. Ours was often quite harsh — on our children too.
Our children are now in their 30s, with kids of their own.
I loved my husband every day we were together.
I never looked at another man or imagined my loving relationship with my husband would flounder.
I can see now how deceit crept into our marriage that I, in my blind love, would not believe.
In my 30s, the postman delivered an anonymous letter addressed to me that claimed my husband was having an affair with some local woman.
In my 40s, when our youngest was ten years old, we received death threats at home from a jealous husband who stalked us for over a year.
After our 30th wedding anniversary — and renewing our wedding vows — my husband up and left me to live with his lover.
Two months later, he asked to come back to the marriage. I agreed because I was committed to him. That commitment was not reciprocated.
I put a GPS tracker app on my mobile and left it under the front seat of our car while I was at an interstate sporting event. It confirmed my suspicions.
I found the courage in 2018 to acknowledge I was in an abusive, co-dependent relationship, and in 2019 walked out the door just weeks shy of our 37th wedding anniversary.
Although I haven’t regretted walking away from my toxic marriage, the breakup splintered my relationship with my children and nine grandchildren. My EX husband, the narcissist that he is, made me pay dearly for leaving him, for finding my sense of agency and empowerment. I continue to hold loving space. Be that unshakable lighthouse, and hope dear ones find their way home to truth and unconditional love.
As I write this article, I’m out on the road having a wonderful carefree life, House, and Farm Sitting my way along the East Coast of Australia. That is to say, I live a life of freedom and adventure on my terms, and I feel blessed beyond words. Do I feel inclined to settle down anytime soon? No. Not just yet.
I love whom I’m becoming, living in the NOW, stripped of all my comfort zones. At 64 years ‘young’, I’ve learned we truly are never too old to reach for something better! To BECOME someone better!
You might also enjoy reading Part Two of my story.
Wishing you all lots of love and light on your journey.