Work continued to be a place where I found support, love and happiness. The relationships I built with my coworkers gave me a place to unload and hear the message that I deserved better and that John’s treatment of me was a reflection of him and not something that I was, in some way, asking for.
Evie was one of my fellow special education teachers. She was kind and soft spoken but definitely had a quiet strength about her as well. Once she knew what was going on between John and I, she began checking in on me every morning. She always listened carefully and thoughtfully to what was going on in my life. I turned to her on many occasions after telling her about some interaction John and I had the night before and asked her, “Is this normal?” “Does your husband do these things?” “Am I overreacting?”
I asked her these questions again and again. Each time she told me NO…. this is not normal. No….. her husband does not do these things. No…. I wasn’t overreacting. She shared stories with me about how her husband helped her with the kids and took her on nice trips. She even, sometimes, shared stories with me about small arguments that they had gotten into. I couldn’t believe the difference between her husbands reactions to disagreements… and John’s.
Evie helped me to understand that John’s version of love was not love. Because love is selfless and kind. And John’s behavior towards me was the exact opposite. She is also the reason I had the strength to call a lawyer.
Again… this took time. A little over a year passed between the day that John walked out of the bedroom that night and the day that I served him with papers. But Evie was there the entire time…. and there were some pretty bad times.
She reminded me that I was strong. She reminded me that I had to do what was best for the kids. She reminded me that I MATTER TOO. That John’s behavior was only going to get worse with time. And when my strength failed and I fell to pieces, she would hug me and tell me it was going to be ok and that I was going to make it through to the other side.
She told me she was proud of me for doing the hard work that I had to do to be free of this terrible man. So, as I had with Jeremy, Abby and Nora… I borrowed the strength I found in her and I trudged on and continued … down what felt like the impossible path…. towards my freedom.