Last month I left for 3+ weeks in Mexico, not knowing how I was going to survive the trip. You see, I was experiencing daily stomach pain that was literally debilitating at times. It radiated through to my back, and attached itself to my hips and pelvis. It was my psoas. I had no idea it was a major muscle causing me problems, and spent years investigating digestive issues with no disgnosis.
Then I found Dr. G., a soft tissue chiropractor who specializes in pain recovery. She actually climbed onto the treatment table on all fours and drove her fingers into specific and super deep trigger points to release the fascia. She said I had the tightest psoas she had ever worked on. Relief was immediate, yet always temporary… but I had a diagnosis, and that felt like a huge accomplishment.
I couldn’t stretch enough. My pelvis hurt. My back hurt. My stomach hurt. I’d do yoga, I would stretch throughout the day, and yet I could never stretch the pain out. As a work from home, homeschool mom, I often had to push through my day despite my pain level so I could take care of my brood, my community, or my family. I was considering quitting my beloved dream job, even!
The pain would come and go, lasting weeks at a time, and it then be gone for weeks. For YEARS this went on, and in 2021 it escalated to a point where I was very worried. I started tracking the pain on my calendar, and I saw patterns emerge. My stomach would hurt when my abusive ex would exert coercive control or physical violence against myself or our mutual children, and would continue to hurt through my advocacy for me/them/us.
In hindsight, the stomach pain started in 2011 when I was pregnant with my first daughter. During that time period my ex admitted to affairs after I had repeated dreams that revealed the truth. When I would tell him about the dreams he would rage at me in anger. Finally after dreaming about the third woman he admitted the truth to me. We went to a life coach and I was encouraged to forgive him because he was taught to lie through violence enacted on him in childhood. So began the multi-year codependent cycle of perpetual forgiveness of repeated trust violations and abusive actions.
That pregnancy was extremely stressful. We were dependent on my sole income because he got fired from his job at a nonprofit for doing activism instead of working. I had already been providing for us financially since we met the previous year. It felt good to me to take care of him at first, I wasn’t aware of or prepared for the financial abuse to ensue over the years to come.
Not only did he lose his job during the pregnancy, not only did he bring the women he was sleeping with into our home and lie to me about it when they treated me like “the other woman” (I was! I just happened to be the one who got pregnant!), but he would scream at me, very close to my face while I cried and begged him to stop – and once he slammed the bathroom door, hitting my pregnant stomach so hard I was worried he hurt our baby. I had to flee the house for my safety many times during that pregnancy. He became very scary when he was angry, and his anger was errupting more and more.
I would run into the back acreage and sob crying on the ground, surrounded by wildflowers, and I would pray to God for someone to rescue me. My mom was sick (addicted to oxycontin) and I was too embarrassed to bring this burden I to my parents’ lives. I felt trapped, with no where to go. My friends became concerned and began telling me so. He did not like this and I slowly cut them all out of my life, surrounding myself with only his friends and his family and his activist community.
I have been legally divorced since 2019, but that divorce didn’t come without a very long costly (on all levels) fight – and that divorce was not the end of my legal battles with my abuser – or the begining of my experience with coercive control. I’m not sure how I overlooked it so long, but my pain was coming from the stress of being abused, and it has been the cause since the begining.
I found the diagnosis, and I found the cause.
Back to last month, I arrive in Mexico in extreme pain. I was/am in the middle of a third legal battle with my ex over his coercive control and physical abuse of our children. Just days before I left for Mexico, I held my son’s hand as he told our family therapist about the recent violence enacted on him by his father when his dad decided to physically force my son to go to a tutor that my son didn’t want to be around. This particular tutor struck (hit!) my daughter, and my ex won’t stop making the kids go to her. In fact, after I filed a lawsuit to intervene with this, he told me he was going to protect the tutor from ME instead of protecting our children from HER.
When I googled her, I found an article describing how she was physically, emotionally and sexually abused as a child, and that she can no longer work in public schools due to PTSD from autistic children attacking her. This is who my ex thinks is a good choice to tutor my children, and he is able to coerce my children to attend tutoring with her because the state gave him legal decision making authority over their education: https://www.statesman.com/story/news/local/2017/08/15/bastrop-county-residents-denied-audience-with-rep-mccaul/10410475007/
Maybe you can imagine the stress of this situation. The emotional pain of it was excruciating and I physically carried it all the way to Acapulco airport. And then I got to work. I run an event in Mexico every February and I carry massive responsibility in the weeks leading up to the conference. It’s very intense and I just simply had to push through.
By the grace of God we had a staff retreat before the event and it was this staff retreat where I was blessed with the gift of a Bufo ceremony. I was able to see the truth for the first time in over a decade. You see, the previous abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex would get pushed out of my brain as I tried to manage the current situation. I blacked it out, but Bufo showed me. I remember now. All of it. ALL of it.
For years I was quiet about the abuse. I was so ashamed for anyone to know this person was behaving this way. While we were married I didn’t tell people because we had a very public fairy tale sort of relationship and everyone thought we were the dream team. I wanted to protect his reputation so I was silent, and honestly I participated in the gaslighting of our community.
When he committed fraud I always made him fix it, but I didn’t tell anyone. When he stole I made him give it back, but I never told anyone. When he would hurt me or the children, I hid it out of fear people would judge him, or worse judge me for staying. By the time I left I had been isolated from all of my friends, my family, and everyone I loved. I had to make new friends who were also codependent and in abusive relationships, because they were the only people who didn’t try to hold me accountable.
It was my now-husband who encouraged me to first tell my parents what was happening. I had left my ex, but he still exerted a lot of power over me, and was physically and verbally and emotionally abusing our children (in front of peers/witnesses). Of course, my parents immediately jumped into action. They got me a lawyer and began taking steps to protect the children and I. Unfortunately, despite John’s own witnesses telling the judge on the stand about his violence toward our son, the judge said because I never filed a report with anyone, he would get a “fresh start”. And he did.
The judge gave us 50/50 custody, forcing my children who had never really stayed with him without me there to spend half of their days with their abuser (Before the state involvement I’d sleep on my son’s top bunk when they visited him cause they were scared of him and would not go otherwise, also he is a workaholic and simply couldn’t take them). Worst part, I lived 3 hours away and now the children had to shuffle back and forth twice a week because he enrolled them in a private school where he lived and had the courts mandate their attendance.
I was eventually told I had to relocate to keep 50/50, or they would give my kids to John full time. I was not found of any wrong doing as a mother, but because he filed in the county where he lives, I was forced to relocate to continue being a mom. And I was forced to drive them to a school I did not consent to their attending. It was a radical school with “Black Lives Matter” on their website homepage, and most of the children were toddlers. It was registered as a daycare with the state and functioned as such under the guise of education. My daughter was the oldest child at the school.
So I moved. And I drove them to school (or my husband would). He later told me that he filed the lawsuit against me (trying to take my kids and enrolling them in school despite both of our public advocacy of homeschool) to force me to move back. He got it. Coercion. Now this man runs and sells tickets to homeschool conferences, is the founder of project that promotes decentralized voluntary communities, and the people participating are not aware that he used the state to take away homeschool from his ex wife and children, coerced them to leave a place they loved living, removing mom from the only family she has in Texas, and continues to coerce the children academically. This is what I mean by “I have participated in the gaslighting of our movement”. No more.
My ex didn’t want me to leave him, and he held on very tightly. The final months of our relationship he became his most violent and most angry and I tried to pry his hands off of my neck so speak. I told him he had to find another sexual patter or we were breaking up because I was tired of being raped in my sleep, and pressured to touch someone who was physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially and otherwise abusing me (my system wretched and recoiled at his touch, my body knew that more babies would be DANGEROUS with this human).
After I gave him this ultimatum, he admitted to me he was actually gay and had been getting fucked in the ass by men – not only our whole relationship, but his whole adulthood. He described how he would find men on craigslist and meet them to be dominated. He described to me how transvestites would fuck him until he bled then leave him passed out drunk on the bathroom floor.
He told me all of this and then told me I was not allowed to tell anyone. Then he began meeting men almost every night. Always strangers. Except the one UT professor he met online. And he wanted me to come watch. I declined. Not only did I find out my ex husband was cheating on me, but he lied about his sexuality and would come home from these rendezvous and forcibly penetrate me without telling me he had been with someone else! And I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone. How I didn’t end up with an STD is beyond me.
Needless to say I finally kicked him out of the house and began the process of untangling myself from him. I was left with nothing. He took the car, he locked me out of our bank accounts and would hardly take the children, making it impossible for me to work. Our only support structure locally was his family, and we couldn’t leave our kids there because his mom had hit our daughter when she was two.
Bufo showed me that the only way I can make this coercive control stop is to stop participating in it. I need to speak, I need to tell my community what is going on so he can be held accountable. The state has thus far not been able to protect me or my children, but I believe the power of my voice can.
My ex found me through my activism. He claimed me as his before we ever met and he sought me out multiple states away. He seduced me, and dug his talons into my back. My wild success at the time was due to the use of my voice as an activist, and a promoter of truth. I lost my voice after meeting him, and today I reclaim it.
Since the bufo ceremony I have been completely pain free. I have started sharing my story verbally with people I feel called to tell, and honestly I feel happy, light, and free. I realize now that I have the power to protect my children, even if the state cannot. I have had this power all along, but I didn’t know how to exert it There is MUCH more to this story, but this post is my first step toward freedom for my family. Thank you for wittnessing my journey and holding space for me as I look the truth in the eyes.