What Could Have Been What Could Have Been

As I look back, from the beginning, I see the hope, the trust, the friendship, the love that was shared that led to two people to long to share not only their lives together, but in their faith, all of eternity. She had been divorced once and I had been engaged once. We were both looking for our best friend and were certain that is what we had found. It was a long distance relationship and we talked sometimes 4 hours a night, e-mailed constantly and had some wonderful weekends together. Ours was to be a companionship built on unselfishness and our faith in the Lord that would bless us, her three girls, our families, our church congregation and our community. This companionship was to form a union that would withstand the inevitable struggles of life. We talked of maybe having another child together and looked ahead to go on a mission together when we got older. We would marry and our lives together, with all of its stresses and trials would begin. That is when the controlling behavior which leads to abuse began. Oh, there were signs before we actually got married. A few slugs in the shoulder and a couple of rage attacks out of nowhere, but surely, all the love we shared and were planning on sharing would far outweigh any issues we had. We would work them out together...surely we would!! We were in love!!

However, it did not work out that way. The controlling behavior would continue as she had the inability to control herself, so she sought the control of others. The rage attacks would increase in frequency; the putdowns began; choking, slapping and hitting were to follow. Oh the betrayal of a love so promising. See, while the words themselves hurt and while there was some pain involved with the physical abuse, the real pain was in the reality that the foundation of any loving, successful relationship: trust, was destroyed. With every controlling act, our companionship, our love was dealt a "blow." I could not trust that WE could discuss and deal with the tough issues; that she could handle not getting her way, and that together, we would seek the Lord's will. I became an unwanted stranger in my own home and eventually the eyes that were once filled full of love and appreciation of the person I am, turned into eyes full of hate and anger. Because of the abuse and the eventual complete destruction of our marriage, many lives were hurt and many relationships broken.

We would seek help through counseling, clergy, family and friends but I would quickly realize that because I was a male that was being abused that it would not be taken seriously. This would be driven home as I watched the movie, Fools Gold, alone, after another disagreement in my marriage. I watched as Kate Hudson picks up a shovel and hits Matthew Mcconaughey full force in the face as the audience laughs. He deserved it right, after all, he is a man!!?? It was a slug in the gut and every time I watch any form of media where a woman slaps, hits or verbally abuses a man and you hear laughter it causes the same reaction. The message is simple. Relationships should be about unselfishly sharing love and when the disagreements come, there is no room for control and both parties, male or FEMALE, can NEVER let anger reach their appendages!

I am so grateful for my loving Saviour and the healing power of forgiveness. My wish for all, especially, for my eternal companion who I lost, is that they seek the help they need for them to be happy, because NO abuser is happy. I pray that all who have been abused, no matter to what extent, will leave that abuse behind literally and figuratively through forgiveness so that hearts, minds and souls can be healed so that the past abuse does not continue to destroy lives. It is my deepest hope though that we realize that relationships are a privilege and not a right and that abusive behavior has to be stopped BEFORE any relationship begins so that the, "what could have been" will be the "WHAT IS"!!

Artist's Note: Stereotypes surrounding the issue of gender and disability is a constant barrier to individuals who don't fit that stereotype. This amazing survivor was marginalized as a male spouse; however, like the accident that changed his life at 17, the abusive relationship that changed his life today was met with the same integrity and forgiveness that makes him such a beacon of light for others. He helps us realize that believing the victim is helping the victim, that forgiveness is a pathway to healing, and prevention is the best medicine of all.