Changing the Future by Learning from My Past


"You brute! You coward!" from an ano...

“You brute! You coward!” from an anonymous artist’s illustrations to Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article by Wendy McCance

This is a very personal and difficult post to write.  Honestly, I have thought about writing this for quite a long time now.  I have learned so much about relationships from a very bad, abusive relationship and a very good, loving, caring relationship.

When I left my husband, I had been with him for around 16 years.  We had begun dating when we were just out of high school.  We were so young and had so much to learn.  Even so, the relationship turned into marriage and then a family as we welcomed three children into the fold.

The relationship was doomed from the start.  I had incredibly low self-esteem.  Although I had dated others along the way, I was convinced that no one would want to be with me.  I was afraid of being alone and was back in the day a bit of a lost soul.  I turned a toxic relationship into a fairy tale inside my head.  I refused to acknowledge lies, cheating and a controlling personality within my husband.

I became isolated from friends and family as my husband came up with reasons why he didn’t want me around those who were close to me.   I was put down often and basically was left to serve my husband’s needs.  The kids were always with me if I went out.  They were my responsibility.  Cooking, cleaning and errands were also my job.  Mind you, I had a full-time job and no help from my husband.   I was told I had no choice, I had to work.  I missed the kids desperately and would tear up when I was at work and saw kids with their moms.  I made slightly more money than what I paid the sitter.  Although I pointed this out, it didn’t matter, I had to work.  This went on even when I was supposed to be on bed rest while pregnant.

When I was finally told I was unable to work anymore, my husband decided a ride would do me some good.  He wanted me to get out and breath some fresh air.  We drove nearly an hour until we found a gravel road.  The road went on forever and was incredibly painful as it brought on contractions.  I cried and begged my husband to take me home.

What broke my fear wide open and made me finally decide to leave the relationship was the fear I began to have for the kids well-being.  The kids and I would have to tiptoe around the house hoping not to rile up my husband.  If anger wasn’t taken out on us, it was taken out on our dog.  The kids would cry and hold their hands over their ears when the dog was beaten.

Following the divorce, I began to build up my sense of self.  I felt a sense of freedom I hadn’t known for almost half my life.  Eventually I met, fell in love with and married a wonderful man.  He is incredible with the kids and makes me feel good about myself.

We have been married now for 6 years.  I have to admit that although we have a great relationship, my past still haunts me.  I have had to learn how to let down those protective walls and let someone into my life.  I have horrible trust issues and have had near panic attacks if my husband says or does anything that remotely reminds me of something from my past.  Learning how to control the doubt and fear has been tremendously challenging.  I  have been lucky to have someone in my life that understands why I have had moments that were like an all out emotional meltdown.  Somehow, my husband has been able to look past the frustration of dealing with emotional baggage that has nothing to do with him and show love, care and support for me.

After all of these years, I have been able to have minimal bad moments.  I have learned that I can’t control what might happen down the road in our relationship.  I can only enjoy the ride and expect the best will continue for me and my husband.

There are so many people who have been in a bad relationship.  I hope this article gives you some confidence that your entire life does not have to be about tragedy in your love life.  Good people do exist.  Everyone deserves to have a good person in their life.

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Wendy McCance

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. Stay tuned for opportunities to advertise, guest post and as always, have your questions answered.

To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]

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34 thoughts on “Changing the Future by Learning from My Past

  1. Oh wow…I am so sorry you had to endure that but so happy you have found someone who can give you that fairy tale that you used to think about. There is a reason we have found each other. Not sure I am ready to share my story like that but lets just say you give me hope. Best Maureen

  2. Hats off to you dear Wendy, you’ve risen like a phoenix from the ashes and it takes a really strong person to conquer life the way you have! I admire your attitude and totally agree with you when you said- everybody deserves to have a good person in their lives. May god bless you with all the happiness that you deserve!

  3. Wendy - thank you for sharing this difficult personal story. It reminds me how strong the spirit is to endure what you did and your readers in their stories. I can’t imagine the emotional turnoil and broken hearts crying out for acceptance and love. I’m so happy you’ve found your true love helping with the healing and support.

    God only knows why we go through the things we do … you have to ask why sometimes. If you survive you will come out the other side a stronger, better person for having gone through the storm. Hard to understand when you’re going through it. I’m glad you’re through it.

    Sending hugs and love <3

  4. Hi Wendy

    I really appreciate you taking the time to share your painful experiences and indeed everyone who has commented. A bad relationship I was in finally ended last year, Nov 5th to be precise. for about 8 and a half years total. We split once and I took him back. I was in a bad relationship before that for about 7 years, in fact I haven’t had a great relationship with any men apart from as friends. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia this Jan and find that most people who have it, have had abuse of some sort and I will have Fibro for the rest of my life. I find it really difficult to cope with any hint of a relationship with a bloke, unless it’s strictly business or made clear that it’s just friendship. I have a habit of picking the wrong guys and do not want to feel like a prisoner again, metaphorically speaking, so the relationship thing really scares me and I feel it will be hard for me to have a relationship with any guy not just because of my past but because of the affects of my Fibro on my future. Just to let you know that I appreciate your blog so much that I have nominated you for the REALITY award on my latest post

    Warm wishes

    • Thanks so much for the heartfelt comment and the award. Having touched someone with what I have written means the world to me. I understand the feeling of not wanting to get into another relationship. Personally I think it’s healthy to just take care of your needs when you get out of such a harsh relationship. I swore I would never get into a relationship again after getting out of a toxic 16year relationship. It just happened that the right person came along while I was just celebrating my and my kids and concentrating on us. I truly believe that you attract what you feel about yourself. I was much stronger and happier than I had ever been. I was confident and felt I didn’t need a man in my life. The man I ended up marrying is truly my dream come true. Give yourself time to heal and celebrate you. The future will be much brighter than the past. 🙂

      • Hi Wendy. Thanks so much for your lovely and supportive comments. I am much better on my own and much happier and I was feeling I didn’t need a man but I recently met a guy who I ended up really having strong feelings for but he was no good for me either so I had to say that he couldn’t give me what I wanted and that was that. But I felt upset about it. My head is getting back into a better place again now.

        • It’s the strength in knowing you deserve so much more that you should be celebrating. Having feelings for someone and walking away is so incredibly hard. I’m so proud of you.

          • Thanks Wendy. It’s been hard as he came in and out of my life very quickly and put my head in a bit of a mess but I do deserve better and believe I can get it. Thanks for being proud of me, it means a lot.

  5. This is an excellent post Wendy. There is much in here I can relate to and have gone through! This is a good, revealing comparison for some of the younger ones who think that their “rough” relationship will improve once married, when in reality… they don’t. Another good one! 😀

  6. Happens too often, I’m afraid, Wendy, and my thoughts go out to you for revealing what must have been difficult truths. It’s often hard to get over life events, even to the point of abusive childhoods still affecting us in mid or old age. Don’t worry about how the future will unfold, just be in the present and put your mind to that. I’m somewhat on the other side of the equation, having married a divorcee with three wonderful kids (now in their forties!). We have been married 36 years and counting, and will never split - so it can work out!

  7. Wow, this must have taken major courage! Good for you - I’m so glad you left that abusive relationship! I know someone (close to me, but don’t want to give her name, because it’s her story to share) who was in an abusive relationship as well, and it was very hard for her to leave, but I am sure that she is alive today because she did leave. Now she’s married to a very supportive guy.

  8. I was in the same boat. Having a disability I was told no one would ever want me so I settled for someone who wouldn’t leave. He wouldn’t leave because he was insecure enough to think because of my disability I needed someone there at all times. He would clock me and beat me if I took too long while out on an errand or if late from work because of traffic. I lost a wonderful job because of bruises from him. I went into hiding, but he found me. I gave up until I learned I was expecting. That changed everything. I knew if I couldn’t protect myself, I would never be able to protect this baby inside me. When our son was 16 he committed suicide, and while not the ending I was looking for I could finally breathe and quit hiding.

    I know exactly what you mean about those triggers. For me it’s many things, the same jaw line on another will immediately put me on guard and not be able to see past that jaw (which reminds me of a violent person) to see who is really in front of me. But it’s gotten better. The worst moment I had was with my son. He was angry because I said no to something he wanted to do. He clenched his fists by his side and began to breathe loudly through his clenched teeth. I had to leave the room to calm down and come back later because that was the signal I was going to be in some very deep trouble from his father. I had to separate the two before I could deal with my son.

    Every one deserves to be loved for who they are, none of us should ever have had to go through what we did. I hope by telling your story you are able to help someone else. Thanks for telling it.

  9. This brought tears to my eyes. I lost my best friend to domestic violence. She was such a bright and incredible person who deserved so much but lost her life instead. My heart felt prayer is that your life’s journey is filled with all the joy and happiness you can possible imagine. Happy Holidays my friend.

    • Thanks so much Susan. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so grateful to have changed my life’s path while the kids were young. Hopefully this story will help someone find the bravery to get out of a bad situation. Wishing you a fantastic holiday. 🙂

  10. You are a very strong woman and you deserve happiness. Your story sounds similar to mine in some ways. I understand the fear and more so the lioness-type protection of the children. I admire the strength within you. I think that is why your writing is so personal for me. Although I will never understand what you went through, your words speak very personally to me. I hope in sharing this you grow stronger and are able to let go a little more of the pain 🙂 Keep smiling, you have earned your wings.

  11. I stumbled across your post by accident but I am so glad that I did. I just want to say how brave I think you are. Brave for finding happiness and brave for putting your story out there for all the world to see. Good luck to you and your family!

  12. I’m in a similar boat. 16 years (good ones in my case, followed by a horrific ending). I am now in a new relationship and very happy. I have worked hard (like you, it sounds) to address my issues that contributed to and arose from my first relationship. However, I still react at times to ghosts of the past rather than issues in my present. I think it is important for people to know that your past does not have to hold you back and that, no matter how hard you try, it will rear its head at times. Luckily, it sounds like we both have guys that are patient and understanding about those times:)

      • I very much relate it to PTSD. I used to have triggers that would cause me to physically and emotionally relive some of the most painful experiences when he left. I got some funny looks at the security line at the airport, which was one of my worst triggers. I’ve been through there twice now with no response at all:) It does get better!

        • That’s great. Your right, it does get better, it’s just a very slow process. I think if you stay aware of the habits of how you react and work on changing them, it eventually works.

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