“If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.”
― Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

The first time I laid eyes on Abi was when we were gazing at puppies trying to decide which one to take home. It was the fall of 2006. I had lost both my dog and my best friend in May. I was ready for a puppy to love.

I actually would have chosen another puppy, but my ex (from here on out to be referred to simply as he) had eyes only for the female puppy we would name Abi Rose.

As was fairly typical I quickly acquiesced to his choice. He said he liked her energy.

On the ninety mile drive home, I had a feeling something was wrong. My instincts were on full alert. The rain was pounding down outside on what was a cool autumn day.

By that evening it was becoming apparent that Abi was sick. I slept on the cement floor of the garden room beside her crate with my fingers touching her.

I would learn that she had kennel cough when I got her evaluated the next day.

I got Abi through that episode, but then she was diagnosed with a heart problem. I was told not to have her out in the heat very long. Then she had an asthmatic cough and I was given a nebulizer by the vet and told how to give it to her.

I was so afraid I would lose her.

Then in a few months I drove to a rundown turkey farm far out in the country and picked up Charlie Ross. I really didn’t choose him either.

I was looking at all the puppies and had no idea which one to choose. I wanted them all. Another couple was there. They had chosen a puppy for her mother.

The woman, probably sensing my indecision, walked over to me and said: “If I had to pick another puppy, I would pick that one,” and she pointed to Charlie. “There’s something about his eyes.”

And so I chose the puppy that is Charlie Ross.

I was happy for a time. I loved my babies. They both had such unique personalities. Abi was outgoing and charming. Charlie was more quiet and submissive but oh so sweet.

I needed them so much because my life was lacking in stability and going downhill fast.

On Saturdays during college football games, he would start drinking before the game began and continue drinking scotch throughout the evening.

If his team wasn’t winning, he would become mean and belligerent. Toward the end of many afternoons, he would start railing at me and tell me to get out.

I always had my purse and car keys by the door leading to the garage. So I would grab up a dog under each arm and run.

He would chase me out, but then if I didn’t manage to get us inside my car and lock the doors in time, he would grab hold of the door handle and pull me out. I never understood what that was about. Why chase me out and then try to stop me?

If I managed to get the doors locked and the garage door up and safely backed down the driveway, he would almost immediately begin calling my cell phone. Telling me he was sorry, begging me to come back home.

I would typically find a place to pull over in some random neighborhood because I couldn’t see to drive through my tears. I would sit in my car with the pupsters and listen to his frantic messages and pleas for me to come back home.

I think maybe that is why I hate cell phones to this day. There was no getting away from his voice. He could always keep his crazed drunken words coming at me.

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Once I was deeply depressed and I left the dogs behind. I remember I drove and drove until I found this remote country church. I pulled my car behind it, out of sight of the closest road.

I sat there and thought about taking the bottle of pills in my purse. It might be the only way to truly get away from the craziness that had become my life.

But how could I leave my babies? Who would take care of them?

I went back to my beautiful home and gardens and tried to smile my way through a life that had started out as a fairy tale and become a nightmare.

Never trust fairy tales.

And so this went on for five more years. Thirteen in all.

The police would be called out. They weren’t much help. They tended to believe “the educated doctor” and not the woman who he told them was mentally ill.

After they left he told me that he could have me put away. Due to his being a psychiatrist, he said the judge would obviously take his word on when someone needed to be in a mental hospital.

After all, he did it all the time at the hospital where he worked.

I called the female psychiatrist I had begun seeing one day. I was sitting at a street corner on the other side of town. I asked her if this was true.

“Well,” she told me. “It probably is. I could get you out after the required evaluation time, but you’d be stuck in there until then.”

“So the judge would take his word over mine?” I asked her. And she said probably so.

He said all he had to do was tell the police that I was a danger to myself or others and I could be held until a judge saw fit to release me. This terrified me.

Who would take care of my babies?

leaves

I started ordering books online on how to disappear without a trace. The idea became more and more appealing to me.

Except I didn’t have the one necessary thing to make it happen: Money. And that was the key to everything. He watched what he referred to as “his” money like a hawk.

Oddly enough, even though he made very good money, we never had much in the bank. He ordered clothing like nobody’s business. Ties and shoes and fancy watches.

The money dwindled quickly each month and there was no savings account.

Once he told me that he would keep me so broke and in debt that I could never leave him.

At night I would like awake and listen for the rhythm of his breathing that told me he was asleep. I would quietly get up and tiptoe to the guest room, the dogs right behind me,  just to have a place to relax away from him.

On the nights I didn’t hear him come into the guest room, I would wake up to Abi growling low but ominously.

I would see his silhouette in the shadows. He would just stand there and stare down at me while I pretended to sleep.

I never heard Abi growl like that at any other time.

In 2009 I started this blog. I didn’t make any money from it until 2011, the year I finally got up the gumption and wherewithal to leave. But it wasn’t much money. Just a bit trickling in. Not enough to take care of Abi and Charlie and me.

When I left in October of 2011, I was utterly terrified that I wouldn’t make it. That I wouldn’t be able to feed and house us. I would surely fail, just as he always told me I would.

Really from 2006 until May 10, 2018, Abi never left my side. She followed me wherever I went.

Though he had chosen her out of all those other puppies, he started saying that “She’s just like you.” Whatever that meant. I guess because she preferred me to him. He certainly didn’t mean it kindly.

I know this is long and convoluted. These thoughts are what I woke up to this morning and so here they are.

“You will end up in a ditch without me to take care of you,” he’d say. “That’s probably where your mother is and you’ll end up just like her.”

Please do not think that you are smarter, more wise to the ways of the world, that you could not fall under a man’s spell like I did.

These men are charmers. They devote themselves to you until you feel like you are indeed in your very own fairy tale. A fairy princess.

Never trust fairy tales…

This type of man will convince you that no one has ever loved you like he does, and no one ever will again. And unless you are very savvy, you will fall under his spell.

Doesn’t every woman want to be showered with love and affection? Especially girls who never had a father to tell her he loved her?

After he has you securely in his grip, he will scare you into believing that he can do whatever he wants because by that time you will be deep into your endless pit of despair and have little will to fight back.

I put my two grown daughters (not his children) through a lot in those 13 years I was married to him. Thirteen years might not sound like a long time.

It is an eternity.

I’d leave him and stay with them a few weeks and then I’d go back to him. I hurt and disappointed them. People often prefer what they know to the unknown.

When I finally left, my oldest daughter bought a house to rent to me out of the kindness of her heart. But once I was there, finally safe and sound but obviously shaky and uncertain, the relationship deteriorated.

I don’t think she could find a way to forgive me those awful thirteen years I was his wife and a mere fraction of a human being.

Just before I left that last time, I was on the phone with her when she broke down and said: ” Please get out of there. I keep waiting for the phone call saying he’s finally killed you.”

Yes, I put them both through a lot. She and I never managed to repair our relationship and I haven’t seen her in years. I guess some things that are broken cannot be glued back together.

I am thankful that I have a relationship with my younger daughter and Andrew. I cherish that.

I’m glad I didn’t figure out a way to disappear, because I’d have had to disappear from my own children. Otherwise he’d have made their lives hell trying to find me.

And as it was, I wasn’t able to get away until he found my replacement. A woman with starry eyes thinking what a catch she’d landed. A doctor who made a lot of money and doted on her.

I tried to I tell her what her life would be like. How it would start slowly until she became someone she didn’t recognize in the mirror. I told her I didn’t want him, but I thought she should know what she was in for.

And she chose not to believe me. They’ve been married about six years now. There were times in those first years when he obviously “butt called” me from the phone in his pocket.

I would say “hello, hello.” And obviously he did not know he’d inadvertently dialed my number.

I would sit there with the phone to my ear and listen to them arguing and screaming at one another. I knew her nightmare had begun. I found no pleasure in knowing that.

Never trust fairy tales…

I’m sorry I’ve gone on and on. I’ve been writing for hours now. The room is dark and the clouds are heavy with rain. Kind of reminds of when I was nursing my babies and my breasts would become so full and painful with unreleased milk.

There is a stillness in the air. I just heard the first groan of thunder, the heralding of a storm. I sit here with Charlie beside me and look out the patio doors waiting for the first rain drops.

In my grief, all these memories are coming to the surface.

My pupsters were always afraid of men. Of the phone ringing. Yes, the very ringing of the phone alarmed them. And I understand why.

Because of those times I sat in my car with them on Saturday afternoons when a college football game seemed to hold my future in its very hands.

We sat there and listened to my phone ring and ring and ring. We listened to him pleading, and then alternately getting angry. I would sit there crying as dusk began to fall, holding my babies and wondering how my life had come to this.

Never trust fairy tales…

I miss Abi so very much. I am so sorry they had the fears they had just because I wasn’t brave enough to find a way out for so long. Five years they were there with me in that fine house with a man whose mood changed on a dime.

I am in a good place now for the most part. I would give anything to have my sweet Abi back here with us. As one days passes to another, I mourn the loss of her. She gave me such joy and laughter with her silly antics.

I mourn the relationship with my daughter that is nil and void. She was not able to accept the mother who had hit bottom. Who had no confidence and had to build her life from the bottom up.

I don’t blame her. I just put one foot in front of the other and am thankful that I found my way out.

My life is simple. I don’t go out much and never ever at night. I have seen demons in the light of day. I don’t trust what might linger around street corners in the dark.

The rain is falling now. Thunder is steadily rumbling in the distance. Charlie is snoozing beside me.

Every little girl who dreams of a life that includes a white picket fence yearns to be a story book princess.

But please believe me when I caution you never to trust fairy tales. Because if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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101 Comments

  1. I recently came upon your blog, and I’m trying to play catch up by reading all of your previous posts. I hope you are ok with having another blog friend.
    First of all, I really love the way you write. You remind me of a book that I read as slow as I can because I don’t want it to end. I hope that didn’t come out wrong, because I didn’t mean that I would want your sad things to go on and on! I just meant that you are a very interesting and inspiring person. I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot from your very special and unique blog.
    I look forward to getting caught up! I also wanted to say this: At the times that you are feeling like your heart is breaking, please remember that you have a lot of friends who care about you.
    And that is so important, especially when you hurt.
    Laura

  2. I’ve been wanting to comment on this post for days but my computer was being weird. I hope I pull it off today. I am sorry you had this terrible experience but I appreciate it so much that you are willing to share it with us. I first read your blog close to its beginning, maybe in 2010, but wasn’t a regular reader of any blogs until 2011. I think I started to read your blog daily a couple of months before you made the move to Tulsa. You shared about your divorce back then and how it was prompting the move to Tulsa, but this post provides a much more detail about the experiences you were going through. It’s fascinating how your specific pups came into your life because your then husband wanted a pet who was more perfect than could be found at the rescue shelter. Yet, it was Abi’s imperfection, her illness, that led to you and her bonding so closely right away. Abi became devoted to you because she could tell that you were devoted to her.
    Your husband could have chosen to be devoted to you and the pups too, but he chose not to be. He put something else in front of you — maybe it was his ego, or his addiction to alcohol, or some other issue he had that took his attention. It’s so sad, isn’t it?
    This sentence is so true, “Please do not think that you are smarter, more wise to the ways of the world, that you could not fall under a man’s spell like I did.”
    I once thought I was smarter, and at that time, I was in such an abusive marriage! One day I was driving along by myself and I heard a news story about a woman who was physically abused by her husband, and I thought something like, “I would never put up with a man hitting me!” Immediately I heard these words in my head, “He doesn’t have to hit you.” I knew what those words meant — my husband didn’t have to hit me. All he had to do was get a certain look in his eye, say some critical words in a certain way, and I would feel an icy fear inside, and even if some anger welled up in me and I argued a bit, ultimately I would cave in and go along with what he wanted
    I didn’t realize it at the time, but, I tolerated that kind of treatment because it was how I’d been treated by my parents as I was growing up. In fact, while I was in that marriage, I was being verbally and emotionally abused by both my husband and parents, and I was trying to please all of them, and not pleasing anyone, especially myself. It was crazy.
    I’ve been divorced since 1990, been to counseling multiple times to work on my relationship with my ex-, with my parents, then with my mom only after my dad died, and so on. It took a lot of time, and the death of our daughter, but finally my relationship with my ex-husband is at a point where I think we’ve forgiven each other and moved on. It took a long time to sort through it all, but I’m glad I made the effort. After our daughter died, I looked at my husband as simply another parent who is heartbroken, and the only other person in the world who knows what it feels like to lose that particular daughter. Meanwhile, I know that no matter what I say or do or don’t say or don’t do, my relationship with my mom is never going to be any different than what it is. Oh, if I am willing to keep it on a shallow level and just talk about clothes or something, then, it is OK. But, she likes to ask me serious questions now and then, how I feel about this or that, and I’ve learned that she doesn’t really, truly listen to my answers. She really, truly, doesn’t want to know how I feel if what I say doesn’t fit with her outlook on things. The thing is, my mom was abused as a kid, she’s told me stories about it, I’ve heard what went on from other relatives, but if I say, Gosh, Mom, i’m sorry you had it so bad, she gets all bristly and says, Oh no, I didn’t have it bad, I had a great childhood! She is in a lot of denial. It’s too bad, because it probably is a reason why she was such a witch as a mom. Oh well. It’s how people chose to be. My job is to be a better me.
    Meanwhile, you’ve been doing a great job of being you.
    I wrote this really fast to get it done before the computer went bonkers, so if it makes no sense, I apologize!

  3. Hi Brenda,
    Your story is beautifully written. I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure this pain. I know that you are a help out there to women suffering in silence by sharing your life experiences. Thank you for your transparency and honesty. You are appreciated!

    1. On that long drive here after the divorce, I silently told myself that what I can do now is to share and try to help other women see the light.

  4. I wish you WOULD write a book! You are such a talented writer. Sadly there are MANY women who are in your former situation who would read the book! I look oh-so-forward to your posts everyday. Yours is the first I read! Enjoy your simple life and Charlie-boy!

  5. I love your story and so glad you shared it. Sorry to hear about Abi. May God continue to bless you and give you peace at this time during your loss.

  6. Oh goodness, I am so sorry to hear your Abi passed. I had a similar marriage and I prefer my simple life and the stillness. Oh the stillness and quiet can wash over me like a miracle when I think back….

  7. I did not realize how long I’d been reading you blog until you summarized the timeline. I remember so much from way back. I was so glad when you got out safely. But wasn’t there an “ah, karma is good” moment? Didn’t HE get fired or lose his license or something like that? Thank you for your honest writing to help others.

    1. Three months after I left he was fired when he was found unconscious with alcohol poisoning at his office desk. He has drifted from job to job. And at one point lost his license.

  8. Oh Brenda. I have followed you down this road and there were still things you shared here that I didn’t know.
    He knew the tricks to play on you to make you feel the way you did. What a sick man. I remember your words as you headed down the road that day you left. So glad that you did. You are a very strong person. I’m hoping that someone reading this will be helped by your advice. Not all men are like this. But there are ones that are so awful.
    Big hugs as I know loosing Abi has brought all these sad issues to light again.

    1. Thanks, Debby. You and I are such animal lovers. As are most of my readers. There are bits and pieces I have never shared. I guess it just comes out a little at a time.

  9. Brenda, this post is so well written. You have an amazing gift. You tell your story with such feeling but not self pity. My heart weeps for the many women who have or are living with a dehumanizing man.
    Many of us have had a special bond with a pet(s) and know the pain of loss but few if any know your special pain. Abi and Charlie were your reason for leaving. You were compelled to take the risk to protect them and in the process saved yourself.
    Abi in particular was fragile from the beginning and needed your angel like care. It seemed to your readers that she returned the love, ounce for ounce.
    Love and hugs to you and Charlie as you navigate life with out your dear Abi.

    1. Yes, Abi had health problems from the beginning. She was so special. She rarely left my side. Now that is Charlie. Abi clamored for attention. Charlie didn’t. Now he’s getting his due. I don’t think I could have left that place if I hadn’t had them. They gave me courage. They gave me a reason to be strong.

  10. First off — you are a strong and very brave woman. And your words fill the page with pictures and emotion. I’m so sorry you had to go through so much pain to get where you are today. I, too, had a bit of that kind of thing in my first marriage and it is devastating to the soul. Your deep attachment to your fur babies is certainly understandable and I’m praying you find peace as you grieve for Abi’s loss. And that you enjoy your little Charlie every minute. I read where others suggested you look for another puppy to share your life with Charlie and I think that’s a great idea. No one can ever take Abi’s place but obviously your heart is big enough to pour out love on another puppy in need of “Mama”. Take care.

    1. I’d actually like to get a cat. Living in an apartment it would be easier. And I miss having cats. But I don’t think Charlie is ready. He seems to really be enjoying being an only child. I don’t want him to back slide when he’s doing so well now.

  11. they say that women who have been abused just keep finding abusers.
    but like you… I don’t fit that picture.
    I don’t even know how I allowed ‘the abuser’ into my life. I apparently was just too vulnerable. and like most of them… they start out by being very charming.
    I had been happily married to a wonderful man. my darling for sixteen years.
    he died of throat cancer at the age of 43. I was 33. and very vulnerable.
    I’d met him when I was 18 and he had been my first and only love.
    and after he died I didn’t know the dating world and its ways. friends insisted on ‘fixing me up.’ and they were “doing it for your own good.”
    five years of dating. and the abuser was in that “you’ve got to get back out there” period of time.
    I was only with him for about 19 months. but that was long enough.
    your story is a familiar one to those of us who have known abuse.
    it’s like the abusers can find the vulnerable place in us and know how to use it.
    I got down to 87 pounds and in the hospital before my own abuser was through.
    he never hit me. he didn’t have to. the mental and emotional abuse did the job.
    they said I was trying to disappear. I had no children and no dogs. but I knew I couldn’t live like that. he was fighting his own demons apparently. I wound up living in my car for over 6 weeks. just to escape from him. I had to work. it’s amazing what you can do when you have to. now when I think of those years it’s as if I’m reading a novel. but the thing is… I would know one a mile away now. they have to have control. and it’s insidious how they work. I don’t even know if they’re aware of it. I was educated and had been adored by a good man. I didn’t have the normal background of lack of love. I’ve wondered how or why I ever allowed the abuser into my life. maybe I was punishing myself. but for what? losing my Bob? I don’t know.
    but surely that couldn’t be me! but it was me. and I wound up hiding from the abuser and putting my life back piece by piece. abusers are human wrecking balls.
    I suppose they are fighting their own inner demons. and it’s sad. but they will kill you if you let them. his final fear tactic was pointing a shot gun at me and clicking the trigger. to this day I don’t know if it was loaded. it was that next morning that I packed my clothes and left in my car and started hiding.
    I know now that I’m strong. you learn that. you survive. and forever you belong to a private club. the survivors of abusers. it’s a club no one wants to join.
    and I also knew after that … I wanted nothing to do with being ‘out there.’
    after 25 years of working I was able to retire with a pension and I have enough income with the addition of SS that allows me to live alone. I have a good life. and I’m grateful.
    but if stories like ours can help ANYONE … even ONE person … they are worth telling.
    sending you and Charlie love dearest bean. xo

    1. I wish friends and loved ones would stop pushing women to get back out there and date. I know they are well meaning. But many of us don’t want or need that. Some of us are just better off alone. You’re right. No one wants to be a member of that club. But those of us in it, we embrace other women into our group and hope we can help them. If my ex dies, I will lose the nearly $1000 annuity I get each month. So that’s always a worry. But I will manage.

      1. Oh, and living in your car for over six weeks? I’m so sorry you had to do that. But it shows how truly resilient you are.

  12. Hi Brenda, beautifully written post as always. I can relate to what you went through. I was married to a man that sounds very similar although not quite as bad and he didn’t drink but is bi-polar. I look back now and think “How could I have been so weak as to allow someone to control me like that?” I would never put up with that now but that is because of what I went through I am sure! the thing that made me leave was my daughter, she was 6, 7, 8 years old. He usually had his blowups when she was asleep but one time she was standing next to me and witnessed his rage and I thought to myself, “I cannot allow my daughter to think this is normal and ok” so I left. I saved up money in a coffee can I had hidden in my craft room until I had enough for the first and last month’s rent and security deposit.

    Tania

    1. You are a wise and strong woman. You did not want your daughter to see that, and you did the best thing you could do for her well being.

  13. You are one of the lucky ones to have escaped this toxic relationship. With the loss of Abi, I can understand why you are flooded by these difficult years in your life. After all your girl was always by your side. I pray that with time the situation with your oldest daughter will improve.
    My sister, who had a marriage of abuse got out as well. I asked her what she cherished the most now that this crazy man was out of the picture. Her response was “peace and quiet when I get home”. I guess that says it all.
    I wonder how many woman you will help by writing this post. You are a strong woman Brenda. I’m glad you got out and I’m glad I found your blog.
    Take care

    1. Same here. Peace and quiet. Not having my fear ratchet up every time I heard the garage door going up. Or when I heard him filling his glass with ice at the ice maker for his scotch. And knowing I can sleep without worry. There are nightmares when we are asleep, and nightmares when we are awake.

  14. Some truly wonderful comments in this blog post. The longer I’ve lived the clearer it seems there are two definite types of people in this world …one is wheat and the other chaff.

    I think for all women never properly fathered (or mothered) there’s fallout. I suffered both of the above losses combined with abuse and well lived the hardship it placed upon my life for many years. I think it is put well by one of your readers that sometimes children need to understand we too had our demons.

    Yes, those precious angels (pets) that come into our lives can be even more valuable when they are known for what they are. I certainly know I got to walk hand in hand with splendour for all the days my boys were with me.

    A dagger right through your heart when you lose them but never forgetting how much they gifted you is all part and parcel of what made them one of the grandest experiences this life can ever offer.

  15. Hi Brenda! This is my first time to comment though I have been a fan of your blog for quite some time already. Now, I fully understand your grief over Abi’s passing… I just can’t imagine how you, Charlie and Abi survived his abuse in any form.

    Brenda, I truly believe that you are a very nice person. Yes, it took you 13 years before finally leaving him but thank God that you were able to free yourself and your babies from further harm.

    THANK YOU, for sharing your story. It really is an inspiration to me.

      1. I hope we women can come here in the comments and help one another. Every comment has a woman’s own experience behind it.

    1. I thank you for reading and commenting. I’ve felt grief before. This feels a little different. Maybe that’s just because it hasn’t been very long. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because it felt like Abi, Charlie and I against the world for a time. Now our circle is broken.

  16. My very deepest condolences to you and Charlie Ross for the loss of sweet Abi Rose. She is watching over you both from the other side of The Rainbow Bridge. I needed to see this post today. U r giving others hope with your genuine heart, and true kindness of sharing your story. So happy you got away from that sick narcissist. They crush your spirit & bully, & sometimes months turn to years, to decades. I wish i never subjected my family, friends, pets or anyone to it either. I’ve even been embarassed that my neighbors knew i married a nut. Ur bravery & courage inspires. The comments inspire me too. Most important, i hope young(er) girls see your blog so they dont have to go through this in this day and age. May the young ones get out soon when they see these tendencies in black and white. the roller coaster ride is a nightmare. As time marches on, the roller coaster ride ends, and it’s mostly bad days. Your Ex/he certainly targeted you by finding you 20 years later. They are skilled at picking out nice people, and pretending to be good men until the mask comes off. Life goes by so fast, and you blink and wonder “how did this happen”. By sharing your story, it shows maybe it’s not too late for any of us to find peace and joy. Thank you.

    1. I am embarrassed too. Embarrassed that I felt so weak. Oh, and I didn’t tell you that one evening before dark the police were called out. He was of course drunk. I ran into the street in my night gown, a dog under each arm. He came out to the front yard naked. The police kept saying: “Sir, please cover yourself.” There was an elderly neighbor outside watching. He didn’t cover himself, just kept yelling at the police. That was truly embarrassing.

  17. Brenda, I am so sorry to read what you have endured. I read this and just started to cry. How you have come so far, is amazing, and your strength is wonderful to see and read here. You have no idea how I admire you, and what an inspiration you are to all that read your blog. Love and many hugs to you and sweet sweet Charlie.

  18. Hi Brenda,
    No wonder you are so strongly bonded to both dogs. It’s traumatic to lose a little dog you loved so much and old, bad memories are being stirred up by your sadness. I know you think this will never pass…and maybe you will never completely get over losing her. Believe me when I tell you that the pain does lessen. It takes a long time but it will.
    Life is hard for most of us. I also have two grown daughters but have not seen or spoken to my oldest in years. Thank goodness I still have my younger daughter and granddaughter. And all my animals. They save me every day. Years ago I was so depressed about my girls that I actually thought of going into the garage and let the car run till I was gone. I will never forget looking into Princess’s eyes (she adored me and I her) and I could not leave her. I could leave my girls but not my Princess. She literally saved my life. We had a strong bond too and I still miss her after five years. In addition to my own dogs and other pets, I foster dogs for a local rescue. It gives me purpose and while hard work, it’s very rewarding. After some time, consider volunteering somewhere with an organization that you have an interest in. Perhaps reading stories for kids or seniors at the library or home. Something that is helpful to others and you will find that it will help you heal a little quicker. When you are ready for a new companion. every breed has rescue groups. Helping to save another life is incredibly rewarding. I can relate to your loss(es). You are strong and have survived through some very rough times; you will survive this too. You are stronger than you think

    1. Sometimes I think I will cry every day for as long as I live. I know I won’t. Sometimes I think I will never get over losing her. I hope I will be able to see that I can love her from afar. I won’t get over it. But I will keep going.

  19. I read this twice today.I am sorry you endured such pain.I am sorry Charlie left you.prayers sweet lady..I don,t know why we women often fall for men like that.Like you,I have given up on fairy tales.Although my husband is just cold and selfish I so understand.It is so very hard to walk away.to the unknown.Even when you are not happy.

    1. The unknown is always scarier than what you know. Ask little children if they want to leave their abusive parents and they will say no.

  20. Abi’s death has brought so many memories to the surface. Thank you for sharing your memories and your pain. I hope time will move you through your suffering and loss of Abi. There is such a healing support that our pets give us. What a comfort they are. No wonder the loss of one is so huge.

    1. Sometimes I think I will cry every day for as long as I live. I know I won’t. Sometimes I think I will never get over losing her. I hope I will be able to see that I can love her from afar.

  21. Brenda, It seems like our dear Lord had Abi and Charlie to help you through that awful time in your life. You have so much love to give. That’s obvious by your love expressed to your pups. May God bless you with healing and happiness. So brave of you to open up and share.

    1. I share in the hopes of opening another woman’s eyes. Maybe more than one. There is strength in numbers.

  22. Oh my. Your story sounds more like those Grimm’s fairy tales — I used to read some of those tales when I was a young girl and think how dark they were. Usually there was a happy ending but the journey to the happy ending was often quite frightening. Thank goodness, you did find the strength and courage to leave this controlling manipulative mean person. What a blessing Abi and Charlie must have been during those awful times. And it appears that you bonded with Abi that very first evening when she was sick with kennel cough. What a wonderful closeness the three of you shared.

    I know that your story is not a fairy tale BUT it is beautifully written and those words flowed right from your core. Your story may help others find the strength to leave an abusive relationship.

    As usual, your photos are gorgeous.

  23. My goodness Brenda. Your story is my mother’s story. Instead of pupsters, mom had 4 growing daughters she had to escape with. Once again you putting things in words has brought me to tears. I am glad that you like my mother escaped hell on earth!
    I love your blog. You write so well.
    Blessings,
    Shelley

    1. That must have been very hard getting out and knowing she was responsible for four daughters. I’m sure she made you proud.

  24. I remember your blogging all those years ago – your beautiful patio garden there – and I noticed at that time there was not much mention of the husband. And then it was over… and your move to the (little blue?) house your daughter bought for you to rent. I wondered what happened that caused you to move again, I didn’t know things deteriorated with your daughter. That you suffered such torment is so very sad, and that you did get the hell away from it is nothing short of courageous. It may have felt anything but – but it was very very brave.

    Your daughter may come around – Heck, we all make mistakes and we can only do what we’re capable of when in crisis mode. You were a different person then, battling demons of your own, most not of your making. Hard to see the forest for the trees when survival is on your mind every single day. Because she actually set a home up for you to rent tells me she genuinely loves you. Perhaps one day, on her own terms, she’ll walk back in that open door. Let her know again and again it’s there.

    Wishing you peace of mind and in your heart as you move forward. Just a thought – of course I can’t know whether it works for you right now – There may be another little dog sitting in a shelter near you, this would not be a replacement for your beloved Abi – but perhaps a saving of another life to honor hers. Maybe take a drive to your nearest shelter and just sit with a few of the littles, see what you’re feeling.

    1. I plan to rescue an unwanted animal. But not now. This is Charlie’s time and I don’t want to do anything to disrupt how well he’s now doing. I’ve read you should wait at least three months to let your other pet grieve too.

      1. Oh, and I emailed you a few months back asking if you had a subscribe button on your blog. Because I couldn’t find one. I guess I must have had the wrong email address.

        1. OH, I’m sorry, Brenda – I don’t use that e-mail address often, as I have several others for work, etc. and got tired of maintaining so many. You can always reach me at [email protected]. And I don’t keep track of followers anymore and I guess I don’t have a subscribe button?

  25. My heart goes out to you.So thankful you found your way out.I too was in a similar relationship.Thankfully I was able to get out in time but not before he held a knife to my neck while the swat team were getting ready to enter and take him down. I pray for you and your daughter to reconcile. Thank you for todays blog, I know it was hard for you.

    1. Oh no. That must have been very traumatic. I once asked the police to come get his automatic weapon. I wasn’t sure where it was. But he was acting suicidal and drinking. I was followed home by three police cars and we started at the garage and moved forward. Me ahead, and three policemen with guns behind me asking me to call out to him. He was drunk in the back bedroom. We found the gun and they took it away for a year. But then gave it back to him.

  26. Brenda, thank you for speaking from the heart. This post should give all single women pause. I also was deceived by a man’s charm, only to have my dreams shattered by him. I stayed with him for 14 long years, but not a day goes by that I am not grateful to not be married to him anymore.

    It is hard to be single and start over in you late fifty’s, so I stayed way too long, trying to find a way to be able to live alone. Luckily, my oldest daughter took me in until I could get on my feet. And I left with Romeo, which is the dog he picked out, but of course did not want in the end, but I did and I was so happy to have him.

    1. Oh, I’m so very grateful to be single and far away. I think women grow up wanting a prince in shining armor to come riding up on his horse and give us that white picket fence. That fairy tale. I’m so glad you’re happy now.

  27. This post could have been written by me. i got out in 1980 and never looked back. My 2 daughters and i made a good life without him. It was not easy at first but we survived. He threatened that we would starve and a whole lot of garbage to make himself feel good. When he said that to me I told him thank you, now I will show you. We made a good life for ourselves and he passed away a lonely old man. May God bless you and Charlie.

    1. They love to threaten, don’t they? To make you feel small and not be able to take care of yourself. I hope you’re very proud of what you accomplished with your daughters.

  28. The core of strength in you is amazing! You did the absolute best you could at that awful time; you are processing your grieving now in the way that best suits you ~ through your writing.
    I’ve been in an abusive relationship ~ I KNOW how hard it is to away from it.
    YAY for you, dear lady ~ YAY for you!

    1. I’m so glad you’re out, and like me, now on the other side. We can look back to that time and things always seem so different once you’re on the other side.

  29. Brenda I have read your blog posts for many years and remember you living in another state as you were one of my first blogs I bookmarked to read daily. It’s been a journey for you but what stamina and determination I have seen in you to become the strong woman you are today. You know yourself, your needs and what you won’t ever let hurt you again. Keep the faith someday that you and your oldest daughter will put the strained cause behind both of you and move forward to living in the moments left on this earth. I have never posted on here before and emailed you privately but I want others to know you have achieved so much by caring for those that need it.

    1. I have never felt any need to date again. To be interested in a relationship. No, not for me.. I am happy alone with pets.

  30. I am just very happy for you .. in that you found the courage to leave for good… and to make a new start….. I pray that your daughter will someday find it in her heart to put aside all the past heartache and make an attempt at reconciliation…. There is such healing in forgiveness…… Thank the Lord for those precious pupsters……….

    1. I just move forward every day and try not to expect anything from anyone. I guess that’s why my love for my babies (baby) is so strong. They are my family.

  31. Brenda, what can I do for you? I would so like to do something, really something special, just for you and Charlie. Please just tell me what I can do; I would so love to meet you!

    1. You all “do” for me every single day by reading and commenting. I don’t ask for more than that. It is more than enough. I’d love to meet you. Do you live in this area?

      1. Oh, and if you know anyone in this predicament, maybe have them read this before it’s too late.

  32. Brenda, just reading this post tears were streaming down my face, feeling alot of emotions. Thank God you and your puppies got out safe! My best friend didn’t..she went to heaven. She found out a few days before he had manic depression..library research. I’m so glad that you feel safe now and talking about it is a sign of starting to heal. I think in time your daughter will reach out to you. Keep on talking to us! I’m giving you a virtual hug! ❤

  33. Brenda, I’m so sorry you were married to that despicable person (he certainly didn’t deserve you!) and I’m so glad you have found a new chapter for your life. You are a strong woman and a successful one with this wonderful “blog” that so many of us are enjoying. There is something to be said for simplicity; I’m just trying to make my life as simple and not too complicated as well. Continue sharing that beautiful patio and your photography of nature and by all means, you must throw in photos of Charlie boy. One more compliment is that you write so beautifully and I enjoy your reflections on the simple things that make up our lives. Stay strong my friend and give Charlie a hug just in case thunderstorms scare him!
    Carol and Molly

    1. I quickly learned, once on my own, that the simple things are the best. That buying things was nothing but trying to fill a hole that could never be filled.
      Charlie barks at thunder. Enjoy your simple life, Carol and Molly. I do.

  34. Wow. What you have been through. Sadly, yes, mental health authorities will take almost anybody’s word for nothing at all. It is frightening.
    Be glad you are free. Be glad you enjoyed time with Abi. Be glad you have your grandson. There are many things to celebrate.
    Wishing you strength.

    1. Oh, I am glad. I feel foolish that I didn’t figure it out sooner. I just believed what he said I guess. He was this very educated doctor and there was a time when I thought he hung the moon.

  35. Brenda,

    Thank you for allowing us to share in your past struggle and heartbreak. I was in a similar relationship for 18 years. It’s so hard to get out and break that cycle. I’m sorry for your loss with Abi, but I agree with the others… cherish the time you have with Charlie. You are a strong, brave woman. Love reading your blog!

    1. Eighteen years is a long time. I can imagine there wasn’t much of you left but you kept moving and made a new life for yourself. Many women get killed trying to leave. It is said to be the most perilous time.

  36. Dear Brenda,
    I wrote on your blog soon after you lost Abi. I told you that I had lost my beloved Pekingese due to heart failure. He was a rescue dog. I knew I would replace him with another rescue. I also have a Shih Tzu that I rescued. He was very dependent on the Peke. He was mourning a lot. So I kept looking on Petfinder.com for a suitable dog. I sent my son to go to shelters just to find the dogs had already been adopted. Well, I did find a little Shih Tzu. He had been in a puppy mill for 5 yr. we drove 8 hr round trip to get him from a group that goes to the mills to get their reject dogs. He pretty much of a mess but he was sweet. We took him with us. It has been 10 days. Here he is after I got him groomed. I can’t paste the picture. I wanted you to see how cute he is. He is very thin & eats like a warrior. He follows me everywhere. So Brenda when looking on Petfinder there are a lot of Yorkies on there. So open your heart & home to a new baby. It will help you heal. Believe me!

      1. Brenda, I have lost two wonderful loving canine soul mates. I know the pain that you are going thru. I would like of offer you a suggestion…get another pet asap so that you can become attached to it when it comes Charlies time to join Abi. Otherwise you will put it off thinking now is the time, I need more time. But the time never comes,because you just would rather be alone with the memories. Don’t do that to yourself. I did and now ever after 4 years, I can’t make myself go get another dog. Invest your time and love in another pet now while you still have Charlie.
        Loved your blog today. It brought tears to my eyes. I understand where you are coming from.

  37. What is with a man who wants a dog and then quickly loses interest, knowing his wife will take care of it? That’s what has also happened to me, but I grew to love both our dogs. And honestly, I’d take them both again if I had to choose between the husband and the dogs.

    I have a very dear friend who had a falling out with her oldest son five years ago, which has resulted in no contact with him, his wife, and two grown children. It’s been hard on her, but she has come to accept they may never reconcile. I hope that’s not the case with your daughter, but sometimes fences can’t be mended.

    Please know I’m giving you a big hug in my mind and heart. I’ve read your blog for years and gradually read back to your very first post when I first discovered it. Sadly, the ones we love can be the ones who hurt us the most.

    1. I don’t know. They seem to want the dog, but not take care of them. We pick up the pieces, don’t we? You’re so sweet. I feel your hug.

  38. Brenda this is so well written from your heart. Your story is probably so helpful to those that read this and can relate to your story. I think when you find out you are not alone and isolated like your Ex would have wanted you to believe you gain strength. So I hope as others in abusive relationships read this it will help them too. You found strength and hope to get to a better place in your life. Abi and Charlie were your purpose to go on and find a life for yourself and them outside of the abuse. I think the saddest part of your story is the fact your Ex was a psychiatrist. This is someone in a profession to help and give others hope and a voice to abuse and he is an abuser himself. So scary to think he is in the profession he is. Almost sickens me. I hope and pray that someday you and your estranged daughter will come together again. Opening your heart to forgiveness and understanding can be such powerful tools. I wish that for your daughter and for you. I miss seeing Miss Abi on your blog. She became part of the blogging family like so many of our fur babies. She is missed. May you and Charlie find hope in the coming days that the loss will lesson some and become more tolerable.
    Kris

    1. When I was in my twenties, he actually was my psychiatrist. He looked me up years later. Wish I hadn’t answered the phone, but back then we didn’t know who was calling. I still remember that day very clearly. My first words to him were “how did you find me?” But he won me over. I was turning 40 and I guess I was vulnerable.

  39. Branda, this is a beautifully written post about a horrific time in your life. I thank God that you were able to get away from this man and I am heartbroken to read that you lost contact with your daughter. There is hope, there always is. How wonderful that in the midst of this nightmare you had you two pups to keep you company. They were the silver lining in this story. Abi gave you some wonderful years and so many laughs, although she is gone you still have her in your heart. Charlie is here now to keep you company and to have his time in the sun!
    I hope that you are at peace and I pray that someday you will reconcile with your daughter. For now cherish your grand son and your youngest daughter.

    A big hug to you. Elizabeth

  40. I am very moved by your story Brenda, and can relate to some aspects, as I am sure many women can. Thank you for sharing. You are strong, you are brave. Enjoy your simple quiet life, as I do mine.

    1. I write this for women who are trying to climb out of the abyss. I hope some of them find their way to this and understand that they’re not alone.

  41. I am so sorry for what happened to you. It seems to mirror what I have been through myself. It’s so painful that you think it will never get better. But, eventually it does!!

  42. Thank you for sharing. My daughter is in a similar relationship, but thank goodness not married to this person. He comes and goes and leaves her feeling like she is a liability to humanity. I wish I knew how to save this to show it to her when he dumps her again

  43. I have never read a post written so eloquently and straight from the heart by you. You were abused, yet you have no self pity. Abi and Charlie were your anchor for those thirteen years and after. I am so angry and sad that you had to live through this.

    We go back a long time, you wrote bits and pieces about your past. Losing Abi has really made memories flood back and I hope that you find peace in writing about them. We can all learn from your experience. There are so many forms of abuse, none of them acceptable.

    You have our support. It won’t keep the demons away, but try fill your life by living in the moment. When you think of Abi, and believe me, with Milo on his last leg I know its not easy, know that you gave her so much love and attention. And she gave you the same. Then shift your focus to Charlie and live in the present with him.

    Love you Brenda. I’m always here for you.

    Jane

    1. Thank you, Jane. Tears flow as I read all your comments. I guess it’s because Abi and Charlie were with me then, that in some ways they were my very purpose, that all this comes back.

  44. Your story is so heartbreaking. I hope you have found peace and happiness. You were blessed to have Abi and she was blessed to have you. Hugs to you

    1. The pain of losing her is still so intense. Sometimes I don’t know how I’ll get from one moment to the next. But I do for Charlie.

  45. There is always hope for your broken relationship with your daughter. I understand a bit of your loss of Abi. My Mollie pup was my conforter and quite honestly, my horse who saw many tears, heard much and yes this horse made me feel loved. Both are gone now. Like having a part of self cut off. May you have a restful, and happy day with dear Charlie.

    1. It is like having a part of yourself cut off. Like a missing limb. I go outside and tend to the plants and just let the tears flow. Abi so loved to be out there with me. Now it’s me and Charlie boy.

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