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  • Writer's pictureMariah Aurora

The True Story Behind These Photos

When you look at these photos, you probably see a happy girl on vacation, but I see a facade. I see pain and anguish on such a deep level I am shocked when I think about how much I dealt with.

This photo was taken in a room where a banquet was taking place for all the guests at the resort I was staying in.

I did attend the banquet and watched the show, but I didn’t enjoy any of it. My heart was broken and if you look closely, you can see the whites of my eyes are pink from spending the day crying.

The night before this photo was taken my boyfriend and I went out to dinner on a night time riverboat show while on vacation in Mexico. During the dinner, they passed bottles of Tequila around. My boyfriend had a drinking problem, but I had no clue. I didn’t know that he had a pattern of getting out of control when drunk and was supposed to be sober.

He never mentioned that drinking had caused problems in his past or that he had a deal with his family to remain sober. We had spent many nights out to dinner with a beer or two, so I never suspected that he was the type to get wasted and rowdy.

Boy, was I wrong.

I noticed during dinner that he was drinking much more heavily than the others on our boat. He started getting loud and I noticed the other passengers become increasingly irritated with his obnoxious behavior, as was I.

I was relieved when the event was over.

After the tour, I came out of the restroom to hear him tell a couple of strangers that he had been in the military, which was something he had repeatedly denied to me the entire time we’d been dating. We had had many conversations about his past and although he did have some specialized knowledge, he always claimed he acquired it from TV. He always adamantly denied that he had served time in the military.

When I confronted him about what I’d heard, he told me that I was wrong, that he never said that. I decided to let it go, but I could see he was visibly agitated.

On our shuttle ride back to the hotel he started a conversation with a couple sitting behind us. He started talking about his ex-wife and I decided to remove myself from the conversation. I turned around to face front of the shuttle, feeling annoyed and slightly embarrassed. The couple noticed and called him out, saying he was with a beautiful woman now, and he didn’t need to be talking about his ex. I appreciated that SO MUCH. Strangers were standing up for me and really had my back. Unfortunately, he paid it no mind, and went on and on about his wife. They stayed mostly quiet after that as my boyfriend rambled on. After they got off the bus he began to talk to the bus driver... about his wife.

I was beginning to get really upset, but as the former spouse of an alcoholic, I had been conditioned to put up with very terrible drunken behavior.

We finally made our way back to our hotel room where he became increasingly angry.

He began to vomit and I brought over a trash can for him, and a damp towel to place on his forehead or neck. I tried to rub his back and asked if I could get him anything to feel better. He pushed me off and told me that I would never love him the way “she” did.

That comment cut deep. I had put my whole life on hold to see where this relationship was going, and in an instant I felt like I had made a huge mistake. After pushing me off, he took the towel and pinned me to the bed. At this point, he was very angry and aggressive and I was scared. I had lots of experience dealing with overly drunk individuals but never with someone who became physically violent toward me in this way.

I tried to lay still and allow him to speak his piece my mind was racing with ideas and plans about how I can keep myself safe. I don’t even remember what was said anymore because my mind was preoccupied with making it out of this predicament as quickly and safely as possible.

He eventually let me up and moved into the restroom to keep puking. He said all kinds of horrible things to me that night.

Among them were:

He thinks he didn’t deserve me because of his past, that he is “a piece of shit.”

Nobody could love him the way his wife does.

He didn’t give a shit about me, he can just turn his feelings off, no problem.

He said I didn't know anything about him.

He put his wife and kids through a lot (hinting at the ”past” he refused to speak about).

He was torn between wanting to go back to his ex and starting a new life with me.

He was hoping I would “mess up” so he would have an excuse to hate me and make the

decision to leave an easy one for him.

He felt the situation was unfair because either he is with me and in love with her, or with her and in love with me.

There is no easy way out for him, no matter what he chooses it hurts him and another person.

He was scared he would die soon.

He was scared that I would leave him and it would hurt, so he was trying to push me away.

He also finally admitted that I am a good woman. That he wanted to do what is fair and unfortunately no choice is fair for everyone involved.

He then started hitting his head repeatedly on the faucet and stone countertops. I begged and pleaded for him to stop because I didn’t want him to get hurt or for someone to call the cops on us.

Eventually, he passed out face down in the bathroom and I lay in bed, unable to sleep, for hours. I messaged a friend back home and told them all about what happened. I wrote in my journal and documented everything I could remember. I was devastated and stuck in Mexico with this guy for another 3 days!

The next day he was extremely hungover and we lounged on the beach all day. My mind was racing and I was just crushed. He was embarrassed but he didn’t remember exactly what happened. He thought he was just drunk and annoying and when I told him exactly what he said to me he

got very quiet. I told him I was in Mexico to enjoy myself and I refused to let him ruin my trip so I wanted to go to the banquet and do all the things we had planned.

The following day we went to Tulum and I got to see the clearest, most beautiful beach in the world. We walked around the ruins in silence. I was angry, hurt, and certainly didn’t want to be with him. But, knowing that this may very well be my only chance to see this place I wanted photos of myself. I didn’t take any photos of us together because I preferred to not remember him on this part of the trip. I handed him my phone to take photos and snatched it back turning away after each one. He had sad puppy dog eyes but that didn’t make me feel bad for him, I couldn’t get far enough away.

I am still not satisfied with any of the photos because my face was puffy from crying and all my smiles were forced.

I hoped the memories of that awful night would fade but I still remember them like it was yesterday.

On our last day in Mexico we went to a water park and, again, I tried my best to pretend like nothing happened and enjoy my trip. My logic was that I would deal with all the emotions and figure out what we were going to do about the relationship on the way home, or after we got back to LA.

Halfway through the day he pulled me aside and said we needed to talk about what happened. I told him I didn’t want to and he insisted. It was such an awkward conversation. We were sitting at a bar pretending the people around couldn’t hear our deeply personal and uncomfortable conversation. My only saving grace was that we were in a foreign country and I prayed that the people around us couldn’t understand English. I don’t remember how that conversation went, but I remember crying again and the rest of the day being ruined.

We flew home the next day and just before we pulled up at our house he informed me that I needed to make a decision. He said he needed to know what MY decision was… I got angry instantly. MY decision?! He was the one who was so conflicted. He was the one who was unsure of how he felt. HE was the one with a decision to make NOT ME!

OR so I thought at the time. I told him that I had made my decision, I wanted to be with him, that’s why I was. It seemed to me like HE was the one who needed to make a choice, I wasn’t into these mind games and I wasn’t interested in being with someone I didn’t want to be.

Looking back I DID have a choice. I had a big choice to make, and I made the wrong one. My choice at the time was between walking away from a budding relationship and never knowing if this was a one-time freakout about starting a new relationship after a 30-year marriage, or, staying with him and starting down the path of a 4 year long extremely abusive relationship.

Had I known what was to come, I probably would have walked away, but then I would have never had the opportunity to learn all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or to discover I have a lot of unhealed childhood trauma. If I had never gone through experiences like this I wouldn’t have started my podcast Through the Fire: Escaping and Healing from Abuse.

When I started the podcast I told myself that if I can help just one person escape an abusive situation it would be worth all the effort. After all, according to the CDD 55% of female homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner, and 10% of those experienced a DV incident that could have served as an intervention to facilitate escape within 30 days prior to the murder.

At the time of this writing I am pleased to say that at least one woman and 2 children have found the courage and strength to choose a better life for themselves. It brings tears to my eyes to know that my pain wasn’t for nothing and that I helped someone else find the courage to do face one of the scariest things an abuse victim will ever have to do; leave.

If you are experiencing abuse of any kind, emotional, verbal, physical, financial, or otherwise I highly encourage you to call the national domestic abuse hotline and explore your options.

I have also started an online community of women who are going through, or have gone through, something like this in the past. We welcome you and encourage you to share your experience with the group.

Just remember this: You have the ability to bounce back and become better, stronger and happier than before. Keep your head up and keep going.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1 -800-977-SAFE (7233)

TTY 1-800-787-3224

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255

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