My Path to Liberation from an Abusive Marriage

By: Haby Barry

Source: American Journal of Preventative Medicine via The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., Penguin Books, 2015

PART 1

According to Dr. Van Der Kolk and his trauma research team, “chronic emotional abuse and neglect can be just as devastating as physical abuse and sexual molestation (Van Der Kolk 89–90).”


Every time I would travel or go out with my friends, my mother would tell me (and still does), “Be careful out there, you don’t know who’s who.” I understand the meaning of that now in an entirely new way. Through my experience I have learned that the expression of love can absolutely be manufactured, and that people are capable of truly horrific things even if they appear to be kind and genuine. I know now to trust my intuition no matter what, because my mind can play tricks on me.


My Divorce

I decided to end my marriage last year and last month I was able to finally settle my divorce. I followed my intuition every step of the way and did better than what my attorney thought would be my best-case scenario. I stood my ground and did not let my ex-husband transgress my limits any longer. The entire marriage was on his terms. I made sure that the divorce was on my terms. Interestingly, the day that the divorce settled was exactly 5 years to the day that my ex-husband first got violent with me.



The road to fully disentangling from my ex-husband was a long and arduous one. It was unclear how I would get back on my feet and I’m still working on healing and fully getting back to myself. During the marriage, my husband who I will refer to as “D” demanded more and more of me, and I felt responsible for him. I was his wife, therapist, mother, friend, maid, coach, career advisor, cook and anything else he needed me to be to suit his needs. D was unwilling to seek help from others and lacked resolve. If I didn’t do it, it meant that things wouldn’t get done. I finally learned that I am not responsible for any other adult and each person is wholly and completely responsible for themselves.


My world is opening and I’m getting in tune with myself in a way that I never have before. I have a divine feminine power that I was cut off from. I remember my astrologist once said that my womb is agitated, and it is related to the ambivalence I have towards my husband. I couldn’t be myself with D, I was slowly diminishing because for him I was a utility and not a human being.


I will no longer be diminished, and I am stepping into my power now. I know now that nothing matters except what is serving me at this moment. Had I known this, I couldn’t have possibly got entangled with D in the first place. It’s funny because throughout the marriage I acknowledged that I was at a “low” point in my life when I met D and if I had been at the top of my game, I simply would not have been attracted to him. The conditions were perfect for D to latch onto me.


The Red Flags


I sensed red flags early in my relationship with D. The major red flag that I explicitly identified was his need for control. There was also abnormal behavior that I could not put my finger on. Something was just off and didn’t seem right at times, but I found myself dismissing it because I wanted to focus on the good things, so I rationalized it as a bad day or a miscommunication. I realize now those were often his words and not mine. D worked hard to convince me that he was working on himself and that he’s made a lot of progress — referring to the growth he experienced prior to us meeting. Therefore, he was convinced that he would continue to get better with time, and I believed him.


I didn’t dwell on the red flags because I thought that D just needed training and support. He simply didn’t have the right guidance and after all he did suffer a traumatic childhood. I expressed to D that I really needed his attentiveness emotionally, which I saw was severely lacking. D admitted that he has a tough time with emotions. However, D exuded not only a willingness but a determination to change and improve. I saw what he could be instead of what he was and that’s what I became invested in. D appeared to be invested in his own change and growth but he was really invested in changing me.


My Inner Voice


I knew what I wanted in a relationship, and I was confident that I deserved all those things and more. I was never desperate for a man and did enjoy spending time with friends and family and even time alone. There was a strong attraction that I had for D when I first started seeing him and I had been single for quite some time. I was in a new place, having recently moved to Oakland, CA from New York City (Harlem) so I hadn’t yet made many friends.


D came on strong, determined to win me over and exhibited qualities that I did really like. I felt that we connected intellectually and spiritually. I was excited about him as he seemed to fit most of my criteria — Muslim, college-educated, employed, charming, attractive, etc. What drew me to him even more was that he was interested in almost everything that I was interested in and wanted to pursue the same things that I wanted to pursue. We were on the same page about the future and what we wanted it to look like. I felt that I met someone that could be a life partner, my husband. Little did I know that all of this was classic mirroring to get me more and more invested and completely under his influence and control.


Throughout the early period of love bombing (idealization phase)…one of D’s favorite phrases was “I’m going to overwhelm you with love.” He would show lots of affection after making this declaration. Even during this feel-good stage though, issues would come up from the way he would speak to me at times to the way that there seemed to be an imbalance in the relationship. My gut would tell me to “run for the hills.”


I would start to detach from D and prepare for a break-up to ensue because I saw him behave in ways that were not in line with my values. But every time I tried to break away from him, he would do just enough to make me feel that it was too soon to give up on him. And so, the cycle continued. I was all but unaware of the destructive path this cycle would take and what it would cost me.


I used to always listen to “Losing You” by Solange while running Lake Merritt as an outlet to help me detach from D.


PART 2

My Commitment

Despite our struggles, D and I were making it through and the next logical step for me was to get married because I wanted to have the blessing and honor of Allah (God), subhanna wa ta’ala (exalted is He). And if D wasn’t ready to do that then I was fine letting him go. I did not want to push him into it, but I also didn’t see the point of continuing the relationship if we weren’t going to start building a future together. Because of my faith, I wasn’t willing to live with him if we weren’t religiously married. So, we began with the family introductions and started to engage in serious discussions about marriage. My father doubted D’s intentions, but I wouldn’t learn this fact until after my father’s passing and once I decided to get a divorce.


Although I really wanted to marry D, I was okay with it not going through but needed a solid enough reason for it, like my parents not accepting or an obvious ominous sign through a dream or something going terribly wrong. None of those things happened. I made my istikhaara (prayer for guidance) and everything seemed to go along well. Since I didn’t see anything blocking it, I felt good about my decision to go through with it.


For me marriage was about more than just love and I wanted to build something, but I thought that D would be an equal contributor, maybe not at first, but eventually. I did feel that D was marrying me to set himself up because he saw that I was going places and he would gain from this association. I could not imagine though that this was the sole reason for him marrying me (to use me and abuse me) because had I known it, there was no way I would’ve gone through with it.


There was a temporary bliss that came with the marriage, a very temporary one. And I continued with my investment of how I wanted things to be, listening to the encouraging words of friends, family, and community members of how I should be patient and be the bigger person and do everything that I can to make things work.


I purposefully put off the civil marriage with D because I wanted to make sure that we were going to make it for the long hall. It’s much easier to get out of a religious marriage than it is to get out of a civil marriage. Although things were nowhere near where I wanted them to be, it was still tolerable, so I kept pushing and we started to plan for the civil wedding ceremony and reception. I was living for the future and doing the best that I could every single day.


On our civil wedding day, there was a lot to do and when the time came to go to the courthouse to get married, I did not want to go. D just parked the car, and I was just sitting there. My intuition was ringing the alarm telling me not to go. All day D was friendly, gracious, and courteous to everyone around us including my family but treating me very harshly. I started to cry, and he offered apologies and excuses, which I know now were simply manipulations. D successfully convinced me to get out of the car and go to the courthouse. I betrayed myself by not listening to my own intuition. I let my mind convince my body and unfortunately this would not be the only time.



Fast forward a couple of weeks to our first night in Morocco, which was drama-filled. I was exhausted as I was navigating everything while D had the nastiest attitude, feeling slighted over something that I was completely unaware of. He went to bed in a rage, and I was very upset because of it. The next morning, the door of violence opened with D. We were in the midst of an argument, but I never imagined that he would ever put his hands on me. I was wrong.


I never had a man put his hands on me. I was not this woman. He grabbed my forearms tightly and held me down and I screamed for him to get off me. I threatened to call the police. He finally let me go and I went to the other room to call my parents. I wanted to leave right then and there and fly back to NY. I did not care about the marriage or anything. My intuition was telling me to leave at all costs.


My father calmed me down and asked to speak to D. He told D to “Never, ever put his hands on the wife, no matter what.” I’m sure that warning stayed with D because the next time he put his hands on me was after my father passed away. I went along with the trip, since my father encouraged me to, but it was not the same. I cried during the whole 3-hour train ride from Casablanca to Marrakech, sitting by myself and talking to my mom for some periods. I felt the pain in my arms from that morning until late that night. This was another major instance of me not listening to my intuition. I betrayed myself again.


My Loss


I could see how unstable my marriage was and I was desperately trying to build a foundation by myself. I couldn’t see, however, that I was losing myself in this attempt. It took me almost a year to move past that first incident of violence and during that time I mandated that D and I go to couple’s therapy. He reluctantly agreed and after a few months of going, it did not provide any meaningful improvement to our relationship. When our counselor abruptly ended our engagement, D was relieved and tried to convince me that we didn’t need to rely on therapists, and we needed to instead figure things out on our own. I was at a loss. I witnessed my self-esteem plummet over the subsequent months, and I decided to do my own individual therapy since D was not interested.


I did see improvement via my own individual therapy in helping me to manage the stressors that I faced and carving out some time for myself. Despite my best efforts, however D was slowly chipping away at me, reinforcing my diminished state in a myriad of ways. One of D’s common remarks was “I like this Haby” referring to when I was silent and going along with his requests. In the devaluing stage, D would belittle me in front of other people, call me degrading names when we argued, and stir up chaos to make me feel as though I was not fit to be a wife, showing his contempt through it all.



These subtle, destructive patterns went under the radar, and while my mind was trying to make sense of it all and pulling me in further to solve whatever the problem was (I thought perhaps I needed to do better), my intuition knew something was wrong. Why do I have to plead for compassion, love, respect, affection, reciprocity, and human decency? I was giving more and more, and D was giving less and less. For 8 months while I was working full-time, running my business, looking for a better job (since our rent was going to go up significantly) and still taking care of the household, D was comfortable at home unemployed, telling friends that he’s enjoying not working. I was tolerating things that I never signed up for.



During this time, a little over 2 years before I filed for divorce, I felt that D was hiding but I could not pinpoint exactly what it was.



I started re-evaluating things in my marriage and thinking about a personal timeline to make an exit if things didn’t change (without alerting D to this fact) but then my father got sick. My father’s sickness derailed me from making any decisions about my marriage — my focus turned to caring for him. During this time, I saw how unsupportive D was. My need to leave our home to go and support my dad who was fighting for his life inconvenienced D.


For a few weeks my father stayed with my husband and I and D put his best foot forward in accommodating this, although I know he didn’t like it. My father witnessed the arguments that D and I had, and I complained to him about how jealous D was of me and my business as well as D’s unwillingness to support me. I sat beside my father while he laid on the couch and he said to me, “Haby if it’s not working and you don’t feel good, then get a divorce. All I know is he will never, ever find a wife better than you!”


A couple of weeks later, I traveled with my dad back to Pennsylvania after spending a few days in San Diego together. I didn’t know that these would be my last moments with him. The last time I saw my dad alive was at Newark, NJ airport when I left to go back to Oakland, and he was going to San Diego with my mom and brother. He passed away less than a week later. The sudden passing of my father crushed me. D was with me when I got the news. He kept his act together temporarily as I had to handle the logistics of ensuring my father’s wishes were honored.


When I returned home after the funeral and burial of my father in Guinea, West Africa there was a relief in having the close connection of my husband. However, this relief was short-lived, as I recall being in tears on the floor while D not only offered no consoling or solace but exacerbated my pain by complaining about not getting his needs met and threatening to end the marriage. I was grieving the closest person to me — my father and I was his caretaker and the responsibility of carrying out his wishes fell on me.


I had no energy or wherewithal to navigate ending my marriage. All I could do was take things one day at a time. So, I did what I had to do to keep things manageable, hanging on to the hope, prayer and wish of how I wanted things to be instead of how things actually were.


PART 3

The Turning Point

About 3 months after my father passed, D and I reached an important milestone, closing on our first house albeit it was my good fortune and wealth that got us there. The move from Oakland to San Diego was stressful and endless like any move. At a certain point D just gave up and left me to finish packing and cleaning out the apartment so instead of leaving before midnight, we left at 3 am. We started the long drive down and stopped at a motel somewhere to sleep for a few hours. My cat, Anu, was confused by all the sudden changes, but his curiosity helped him to take it all in stride.


When we got to San Diego, we made a stop at Home Depot close to our new home to inquire about purchasing a refrigerator since our new house didn’t have one. As we sat in the car, after D just parked it, he suddenly went into a full-blown rage. I still to this day cannot for the life of me understand where it came from or what he was angry about. D exclaimed in his fit of rage, point blank, “I will kill you and Anu.” I was stunned. Who is this man and how could he say something so horrible to me, his wife? A few moments later, he calmed down and said, “I’m sorry, of course I didn’t mean that.” I had no words.


What was supposed to be an exciting and celebratory time of moving into our first house, instead was a daunting and spoiled time. We opened the door to our home and D proceeded with his hellish behavior banging on the walls and slamming doors. It was July 16th, 2019, and I felt trapped. I just bought this home the month prior with my husband, subsequently lost my job, and my mom was coming to live with us in a few weeks. What I didn’t know was that less than a year and a half later, I would leave D and only 2 years later to the day this house would close sale, and I would be free of it.


The following day, D attempted to rationalize his behavior and then went on to describe how he didn’t want there to be an accident where one of us hits our head and accidentally dies. This kind of talk was extremely disturbing to me, but I had nowhere to turn. I didn’t tell a soul about the threats I experienced. I found a way to move forward for the sake of everything I had invested and the fact that my mom was coming to live with us and had no other place to go since my dad passed.


Living with my mom was an adjustment and presented its challenges along with the marital problems that persisted. Then I had the added drama of my brother’s mental health crises, which led me to travel to Chicago to get him as I was the only one capable of handling and managing it. I set firm boundaries with my brother and got him into a program about an hour and a half away in Orange County. I had stressors upon stressors and my mental capacity to work diminished. After taking care of everyone else, I had not adequately taken care of myself. I was exhausted.


A few months later, my mom moved out and that same month the pandemic set in. There was a temporary tolerableness in the air at home. Things were not bad but after a couple of months I needed my space, so I took a trip to the east coast to visit my younger sisters and some friends. In the weeks following my return, tensions slowly started to build, and the usual patterns returned.


I had an important deadline to meet for a grant application and I learned that the requirements changed leading up to it, so I had to work overtime to get it completed. I was also in the middle of my Whole30 regimen, which I was committed to, therefore I couldn’t just eat anything. Instead of D stepping up and cooking meals and supporting me, he sulked in anger and frustration because I wasn’t available for him even though I told him ahead of time. It was only a week, but it took everything out of me, and I even missed meals.


I was in crunch time mode preparing the final elements on the last day I had to meet the deadline and D had the nerve after offering zero support to ask me to do something for him. I snapped at him and continued my flow of work. There was no way I was going to miss this deadline after everything I put forth.


This event was eye-opening and began to unravel the problematic dynamics of my marriage. I began to shift and saw clearly that this is no longer sustainable as I was the one doing all the sustaining. I shared my sentiments with a friend of mine, Aidah, a Muslim sister that I met in Oakland some years back. D and I had become friends with her and her husband as we shared a common background — the Islamic faith and living the “black” experience in America.


Aidah suggested that her husband work with us through a workshop he developed for married couples. D agreed to participate and surprisingly it went well, at least on the surface, but it brought out things that could not be ignored. Namely, where the marriage stood and its chances of longevity. The big question asked during the workshop was, “If nothing changes in the marriage, do you still see yourself married in 5 years?” D responded, “I don’t think that we would be very happy, but yes we would still be married.” I responded, “I’m sorry, but I can’t say that I would still be married to you in 5 years if nothing changes.” What I wanted to say was, “Hell no. I’m not going through another 5 years of this b.s.”


Obviously, my answer struck a chord with D, while what struck a chord with me was D’s response when discussing my needs of emotional attentiveness not being met. He simply disregarded it and said, “Yeah, I know, there have been letters written about this.” D was very dismissive and showed no interest in meeting my needs now or ever. The workshop concluded with small commitments that we promised to each other. D honored his commitment for about 36 hours then slipped into his usual habits and destructive patterns.


A couple of weeks later, my response of not staying in the marriage for another 5 years if nothing changes resurfaced via an explosive rant by D after a relatively nice summer afternoon in downtown San Diego. I exchanged a few words, explaining my position, then disengaged and walked away from D. I went to the car and texted him when I was ready to go. The drive home for me was calm and I wasn’t the least bit agitated. D however, continued to rage internally.


I was not the least bit prepared for the series of events that would take place later that afternoon and evening. D’s jealousy and envy arose again, this time because I had recently bought my first brand new car. His entitlement, derogatory words, and contempt towards me reached a whole new level. I was not going to be spoken to in this way, so I stood up for myself and D was not having it. He continued with his derogatory remarks and proceeded to ignore me by looking at his phone. When I tried to take the phone from him, D threw it on the table, pushed me on the ground and hit me on my jaw. He nonchalantly sat back on the couch and looked through his phone like nothing happened. Once again, I was stunned, but this time I was laying on the hardwood floors of our living room with my jaw throbbing.


Judging by D’s mannerisms, the threats I heard him make in the past and noticing a golf club within arm’s length of him against the wall, I couldn’t be sure that he was done. I did not feel safe. I threatened to call the police, perhaps as a gage to assess his temperament. He said, “go ahead.” I took the house phone and went into the bedroom and called the police. My nerves were out of whack, but I knew that there had to be a consequence for what D just did.



The police came, separated us with one officer asking me questions and the other asking him questions. They took pictures of my face and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I said no. The police arrested D and he spent the night in jail. I discovered later that night that I had a bruise on my knee. I found myself making excuses for D, saying that he inadvertently hit me after he threw me on the ground and that I bruise easily anyway. I felt guilty about D getting arrested and the next day I facilitated his early release by contacting and following up with the detective assigned to the case. Because there were no previous documented cases of domestic violence and our stories didn’t match, the City Attorney decided to drop the charges and release him.


When D came home there were virtually no words exchanged. I asked him if he wanted to eat, and he nodded so I warmed up some food for him. The silence between us continued for 3 days. When we did finally speak, all D did was blame me for escalating the situation and calling the police. He talked about how horrible jail was and the prison time he was facing (3 years for a felony charge) and how he could have ended up dead. There was no accountability for his assault on me or any reflection on his part on how I felt. D’s primary concern was his image and how his younger brothers won’t look up to him in the same way.


I made attempts to help D see the underlying problem and encouraged him to get therapy even talking to his mother to try and convince him. I went as far as flying my mother-in-law out to San Diego to spend one on one time with her son, while I did a solo trip for my birthday. But D would not own up to anything and kept dismissing any notion of seeking help or even making a concerted effort to make things right between us. My feelings were ignored, dismissed, and even questioned. The stress of the relationship became insurmountable.


PART 4

Getting Out

Even though my marriage was seriously becoming a burden that I could no longer bear, I was being cautious before making any decisions and began to observe D and our relationship from an entirely new perspective. A couple of days after D came home from jail, a woman named Maria, a domestic violence advocate from the City Attorney’s office contacted me to ask if I was okay and to share resources available for victims of domestic violence. She also left me her information to call her should I need anything.


A few days later, I decided to call Maria because I had a looming question…what is the likelihood of domestic violence perpetrators changing? Maria told me based on what she’s witnessed and reports from countless documented cases, batterers will continue to batter because that’s what they’ve learned to do. It is a learned behavior from childhood and generally psychotherapy does not have any long-term impact.


I discovered from one of D’s family members, a year after the civil marriage, that his father was brutally abusive towards his mother and could have killed her. Even D’s mother admitted that her ex was a “terror.” Well in this case, the apple does not fall far from the tree. I could relate as I felt like I could never relax with D, I was always on edge waiting for the other shoe to drop.



During this time, as I was reflecting on my situation, I decided to confide in others to gain support. One of the people that I confided in was my dear friend Ebony and she put me in touch with her cousin, Christine, Founder of the Purple House Project. I had the pleasure of getting to know Christine on quite a few occasions (she even came to my wedding reception in Atlanta), but we hadn’t been directly in touch.


Christine sent me some information that really resonated with my experience including the Power & Control wheel and a series of social posts describing a victim of domestic violence who kept justifying her abuser’s behavior until she ended up dead. I recalled what I said to the domestic violence detective, and it was the exact words from this social post — “I got a bruise [on my knee], but I bruise easily anyway.” All of this was a wake-up call.



I also had conversations with my therapist and from listening to my accounts, she gave me some resources that described in detail my husband’s pattern of behaviors. This behavior has a name and it’s called narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), which opened the door to me beginning to make sense of things. My intuition knew that it was time to get out, so I started researching more about NPD, but my mind was still not ready to fully accept the fact.


Then one day, D sat me down and acknowledged that things have been difficult between us lately. He mentioned how my father would be disappointed if we gave up this easily and that in Islam, we must do everything for the sake of the marriage and Allah. He continued, “I know that you have been talking to your friends, but they can’t be objective about what goes on between you and me. Only you and I can be objective because we live it each day.” Finally, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I have your best interest.” Exactly in that moment I knew that he was lying straight to my face.


My intuition knew that D was manipulating me, but I was wrestling with cognitive dissonance. I took notes and realized that D only had his best interest and throughout the marriage I…


· Made myself smaller

· Lost my power and energy

· Lost my ability to thrive


I recognized that D was sucking the life force out of me to sustain himself. He needed my praise and admiration to regulate his self-esteem. D wanted the rewards of marriage without the responsibility, and nothing was ever enough.


Once I came to my decision to leave, I stuck to it. I saw that D had nothing to offer me except pain, trauma, and destruction. I began researching divorce attorneys and I continued talking to my confidants even asking my friends, Moore and Christine to hold me accountable. I was afraid that D would start going over the top to get me invested again or make me doubt my decision to leave.


I created my support network and only began telling friends and family members on a “need to know” basis. It was very difficult being in the house with D when all I wanted to do was leave and get away from him. My home felt like a prison, and I spent more time outside working and in my car, talking to friends than in the house. I started feeling pressure behind my eyes daily — intense headaches in addition to the mental health issues I was already experiencing.



I created a Freedom playlist that started with “R.A.N.” by Miguel. I listened to this song everyday in the weeks before I left.…


A couple of weeks prior to leaving, I gently let D know that I needed to go to Oakland for a while to meet with investors for my business and do some holiday markets. I said I needed my cat, Anu for emotional support. I left quietly less than 3 months after D assaulted me. I read that the most dangerous time is when you are leaving your narcissistic abuser. I could not afford the toll mentally, emotionally, or physically…I had suffered enough, and I didn’t want him to try and stop me. D was under the impression that I would be back the following month, instead he got the divorce papers and a sealed letter from me explaining the religious divorce 10 days later.


My Faith and Liberation


Leaving my house and D was a liberation in and of itself. I felt so much better just after pulling off my driveway. I had started looking for apartments before I left but hadn’t secured anything yet. I had a plan to stay with some friends, a couple that I knew in Oakland but intended to get a short-term lease through the end of the year. I got my place and moved into it less than a week later. D thought I was still staying at my friends’ place. It was uncomfortable staying in touch with D and pretending things were fine, but I remained patient. Once D found out, it wasn’t long after that the questions came pouring in from his family and their cognitive dissonance was strong. I experienced more of the same with mutual friends and community members, but I remained vigilant and stood my ground.



My time back in the Bay on my own was wonderful and very productive. I won my first pitch competition for my business (first place), and I finished my photography book that I co-authored, launching it with the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. At the same time, I began doing my healing work and religiously meditating each day for 40 minutes. I took the time to understand what I went through by listening to and reading some books including POWER Surviving & Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arabi (recommended by my therapist), The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk (recommended by a friend) and other books that I came across such as Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare by Shahida Arabi.


I couldn’t understand the magnitude of the destruction or see the complete truth of the unhealthy marriage I was in until I was far away from it. I prayed to Allah to reveal to me the whole truth and all praises to Him because He did. I learned about the phases of a narcissistic relationship (idealize, devalue, discard, and hoover) and how the parasympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze, fawn) is on overdrive when enduring this type of abuse and how exhausted you become.


I came to understand trauma bonding and how my brain changed from the abuse I endured, hindering my creativity, and compromising my mental capacity. Through a video that an elder shared with me, on TikTok on narcissistic abuse, I discovered Dr. Ramani on YouTube and she explains in detail how these patterns don’t change and the harm that is caused by it. My eyes were open, and they would never be closed again.


****


I traveled to Senegal in the beginning of this year to spend time with family and make connections for my jewelry business. I also needed a place to stay until I could get exclusive use of my house in San Diego and the court process was going to take a couple of months. Within a few days of arriving in Senegal, I saw that D invited some woman into our home dressed scantily with a bottle of wine. I was keeping an eye on my house with my RING app. She came again a few days later also dressed scantily with a bottle of wine. I realized at this moment that D never loved me because after I left him, he only called me once to ask about what was going to happen with the house (I didn’t answer, as I was committed to no contact but sent him a text) and brought a woman into our home less than 2 months after getting served. When he found out that I knew, he started having the woman enter through the garage. I knew that she was spending the night in my home and when I returned, my neighbor confirmed this.


I continued to educate myself on narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and learned about other Cluster B personality disorders. Everything that I went through suddenly started to make perfect sense. D seemed to enjoy the chaos that he caused when we were together, I remember the smirk on his face at times when I was utterly distressed. I also learned through another one of D’s extended family that he had been violent with his ex-girlfriend that he used to live with — choking her and picking her up and throwing her across the kitchen. I remember when he used to hook his arm around my neck and I told him, “Stop, you’re choking me.” He would laugh and continue to do it before finally releasing me. There was a sadism to D’s conduct, and I am certain that he is not only high on the spectrum for NPD but also a sociopath. The unveiling of who D really is, disturbed me to my core. I felt the ultimate violation…betrayed and beaten up inside. Survivors on Quora call it “soul rape” and I couldn’t agree more.


Returning to my home was not easy, there was a discomfort as D knew where I was and was less than 15 minutes away in San Diego. I felt a tremendous amount of pressure as I had to clean up the mess D left, replace things he took, do renovations, and make the house presentable to sell it. I made the best of my time and had family and friends stay with me to support me, including my 2 younger sisters and my good friend from college. I also listened to the Qur’an and strengthened my faith going deeper during Ramadan and keeping it up afterwards. Leaving that house was the ultimate liberation, there was nothing else besides the legal marriage that tied me to D — I thank God that I never had children with him.


I felt a thousand pounds lighter after I moved out of that house! My house closed sale the day after I arrived in Hawai’i. I finally got the replenishment and restoration that I needed during the 2 weeks I spent on the big island. Ha-Wai-I — breath and water of the Creator…Allah chose this for me and I’m so grateful.



I am protecting my peace and nurturing my divine feminine power.

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