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Pain to Purpose

Calikay Vashou

He was perfect! He loved everything that I loved and would often finish my sentences. For 6 months, he would drive down an hour each way to visit me in college. We would watch all my favorite movies, he would cry with me, and we would joke around like soulmates. I really thought he was my best friend and the love of my life. Everyone around me thought he was so handsome and well-mannered. My aunt even asked where I found him so she could find one for her own daughter. During those love bombing days, everything was a fairytale come true. The matching gifts, the long night phone calls until we both fell asleep, and the sweetest and most supportive words. Now looking back, those were all BIG bright “flashing” red flags! 

Nearly a year into the relationship, we got married. Immediately, I start to feel extreme anxiety and sadness. I find myself constantly frustrated, confused, and paranoid. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was being gaslighted. Slowly, I was becoming someone I didn’t know. Walking on eggshells was my best friend. He would spend his days sleeping and his nights at “the gym.” I was working two jobs and constantly being told I’m a disappointment. When I questioned him about the odd things he was doing around me, he would accuse me of being clingy, controlling, and too emotional. I would feel bad and apologize for his bad behavior. He didn’t work a day in our entire marriage!

After the birth of our first child, things didn’t get better. He would go drinking all night at the bar and come home completely drunk. He would blame me for his lack of money, and social status, and scream at me until his saliva was all over my face. During that period in my life, Thursday was his favorite day to stir up blood-boiling fights. It took me years to realize it was the perfect day for him to create an excuse to leave home and live a secret life all weekend with a woman he told me was stalking him. 

Our marriage was a Katy Perry’ song. It was always hot and cold. But I kept trying to follow the teaching of the Bible, “Love is patient. Love is kind.” I thought maybe it was because we were still young and if I tried harder things would get better. It never got better. Eight years and 3 kids later, things just kept going south and I continued trying because that’s what you do in a marriage, or that’s what everyone around me kept telling me. I didn’t know these people were enablers. I wasted so many years trying to make him happy that I completely forgot about my own happiness.

Then the big surprise! This was during a time when I finally learned about narcissistic abuse and was becoming an educated empath. He must have sensed that I’m done with his games so he leveled up his manipulation. Out of the blue, he decided we should really work on our marriage. Desperate for a happy family and still naive as f*ck, I agreed. We took a trip to California (of course, I paid for the entire trip myself while he complained about everything not being good enough) and came home pregnant with twins. Nine years later, with 5 kids to feed, and physically sick, our marriage was still a shit show circus. To the outside world, he was a wonderful dad and loving husband. Behind closed doors, the kids and I lived in fear that we might end up dead and missing. 

On countless nights, he would march around the house with weapons. His favorites were the machete and the shotgun. He would scream, cry, and laugh to put fear in us. He would cut the kids’ toys to demonstrate how he was going to kill us. It was “The Shining” every night up close and personal. I was so afraid of what he would do to us, I decided to hide cameras in the house. I thought if we do go missing, at least people will know what happened. Why didn’t I just call the police? He told me if I alert the authority, we would have a murder-suicide before the police can get to us. It was a very scary time in my life and I was completely alone. 

On May 5, 2016, I ended up in the ER. The extreme mix of depression, anxiety, and panic attack sent my heart into overdrive. The doctor told me I was having a heart attack. When you know you might die, you find power. For the first time in a long time, I prayed to God. I asked him to not cut me open. I told him I already had enough scars in my soul and that I didn’t need one physically on my chest. I told him that if he would save me and let me walk away without being cut open like a turkey on Thanksgiving, I would leave my marriage and do something to save others like me. Whether you believe in God or not, an hour later, the CT results came back and the doctor diagnosed me with “broken heart” syndrome. 

Nothing feels better than to escape death. I walked out of the hospital differently that day. I wasn’t afraid to die anymore. I told myself I would rather die than live in my abusive marriage. For the next few months, I started to prepare for my escape. I knew he was still secretly seeing his stalker but I didn’t care. I was already in Andy Dufresne mode (Shawshank Redemption) and ready to escape prison to the ocean. On July 31, 2016, I packed 5 kids in a minivan and we left. With very little money to feed 6 people and only faith, we found peace in the middle of nowhere. After my restraining order was granted and he could no longer contact me, he quickly got married to his stalker (aka. supply #2). 

Today, 5 years later, my kids and I are healing, growing, and thriving. We made new friends and established roots, and I found De’Chaos for you. This place here is my promise to God. If you’re going through narcissistic abuse, we’re your tribe! Your safe haven. You’re not crazy and you’re not alone. You matter…beautiful soul.

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