Warning: This has been the most difficult interview for me to write. I actually procrastinated a long time. Frankly, when I interview women, I connect with them very much; I feel their pain, as I try to see myself in their shoes. Obviously, I can’t. No one can. I am warning my readers, because if you are very sensitive, you may want to skip this story. My intention is never to hurt or shock anyone. My intention is to show that someone, like you and me, went through something tragic but came out on the other side and found joy. We want to give you hope. Tragedies don’t discriminate. Anyone can be a victim of something horrific, and we must learn from the signs. Any victim can become a thriver. Our goal is to learn how these amazing women managed to do just that.
The Man Sworn to Protect Me
He was tall, dark and handsome and I fell for him. It was 1990; I met him at a wedding reception. It was attraction at first sight. I was just 19 years old. We were married in 1995. I was raised in a good family, quite sheltered from drama. We were respectable and kind people. It didn’t occur to me to be any other way, so I was confused when I saw opposite traits in him.
There were red flags, but I was too naïve to spot them, much less to act on them. He was certainly possessive, controlling. One day, my girlfriends were over having a sleepover at my home. He kept calling and calling the house, asking if they left already. I was so humiliated. He was not respectful of my time, my needs, but I did not see that like that. Not then.
After we were married, things became very difficult. I could never make him happy. Once in a while, he would leave and wait for me to beg him to come back. It was torture. One day he left, and at that point, I knew I could not ask him to come back—not anymore. The situation had gotten very dark by then.
My name is Melanie Pickett. This is my Kintsugi Story.
At this point, we had been married for 15 years. My life was a living hell save for the joy I found in raising my two children. I was emotionally abused every single day. Being married to a narcissist is a life of relentless emotional abuse. My parents had both passed. I have brothers and a sister, but I felt I was very much alone. I have two children to protect. This time was different. I could not ask him to come back; I am uncertain if I was strong or too weak to handle more abuse.
He was gone for about a week. I knew he was supposed to be traveling. He was finishing up his college degree, and he needed to travel for his studies. I took both kids to school and came back. I did not see his car. He had parked it down the road, hidden from sight. I entered the house and was checking on a few things when he spoke to me. I saw him sitting on a corner chair.
I didn’t yet know that I was in big trouble.
I asked him what he was doing and continued doing my chores. I went upstairs to change the linens, which was on my to-do list. I cluelessly walked into the trap. He had left a gun inside the laundry hamper in our bedroom. Clothing was placed over it, so I did not see it was there.
There are so many thoughts that go through your mind when you see a gun. It is hard to put the pieces together. Your mind tries to connect what you are seeing, the person who is doing it, the possibilities. I saw myself running away. I could visualize how far I was from the front door, and I saw myself being shot in the back. It was as if I heard a voice say not to run or I’d be killed. There was never the chance to even try to escape.
He shot the gun onto the floor. He wanted me to know he was serious, that the gun was loaded. My ears were ringing. We were so close to each other.
Suspended in Time
It was painful and terrifying. How can this be happening to me? What about the kids? My home was a farmhouse. We had purchased it from my grandparents. It was a house with a lot of sentiments and family history. How could this be a part of the history of the house?
I tried to reason with him, “Let’s go talk to the pastor.” He didn't care. He was filled with hate, and he was brutal. He said, “You may die today.” I begged, “What about the kids?”
He began sexually assaulting me. I was trying to fight. In retrospect, it is a miracle the gun was not fired by accident. He warned me that there was a good chance he would kill me. Then, he tied me up with a computer cord he had prepared.
My husband brutally sexually assaulted me at gun point. The pain was unimaginable: the physical pain and the emotional pain. But it was not over yet.
When he had done enough damage, he stood up, put the gun to his own head, and pressed the trigger. He fell to the ground. I was completely petrified. I ran.
I managed to get downstairs, and I quickly called 911. The farmhouse was old, and the wood floors creaked. I could swear I was hearing him get up and come to kill me. The dispatcher told me to wait in the house, and those minutes were terrifying.
Police came and removed me from the house. I was still naked, covered in blood. I was completely traumatized.
I was taken to a clinic, as they needed to do a rape kit. They needed to check me. Although this step is needed, it is invasive: it is painful, it is uncomfortable, and it comes at a time where you are the most fragile. My brothers came to be by my side right after. My pastor was there as well.
I thought my husband was alive. I would think that maybe he was brain damaged, but it did not occur to me that he was dead. He was. I would have to tell the kids that they lost their father. Life would change for us all. I was numb and in shock.
The Agony of Children Suffering
We lived in a small town, and people were already talking so the pastor recommended we take the kids out of school. We sat them down, me and my brother. I tried to speak, but no words came out. My brother told them that their father was sick, and he died. My daughter who is my oldest knew that it was not so simple. She pushed for more information. My son was nine, and he accepted what we said at that point. They each reacted differently. There were feelings of sadness, of anger, of disbelief. Each one had to go through the loss and the grief in the way that suited them. I was patient and loving with them, while I dealt with my own grief and trauma.
We moved to my brother's home, and then moved into a rental several weeks after that. We never moved back to our family home. Our community packed the house. We put things in storage. The fear, the PTSD was just too much.
The Kintsugi Way
I suffer from Crohn's Disease, and recently I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have chronic diseases, and I also deal with PTSD. BUT, here is what is important: I have found joy, and today I share my story so girls can see the signs, be confident in their choices, and understand what love is and what is an unhealthy obsession.
I eventually met the man of my dreams. I have been married for six years. He loves my kids as his own, and they love him as their father. We live happily, and we have a beautiful family. It is possible to rebuild. I cried so much. The pain and the grief were beyond imaginable. There was so much to process. There were things I couldn’t wrap my head around.
There is no way to speed up the process of healing. Our hearts need the time to cry and be broken and suffer. Then, we have to know when the time is to rise and rebuild. This does not mean that I don’t have nightmares or emotional remnants of the day.
I have learned so much about marriage, boundaries, and abuse. I write, speak, and I help other women. It gives me purpose.
In my new married life, everything is a celebration because of the difference between these two lives. When we were dating, he sent me tulips for Valentine’s Day. I cried so much.
I did not cry because I got tulips, although that would have been reason enough. You see, my first husband never gave me anything; there were no Valentine's gifts, no birthdays, nothing….I cried because he had heard me and remembered when I told him that tulips were my favorite flower. I cried so much. This time from happiness. I was important. I was enough!
My name is Melanie Pickett, and I am Kintsugi.
And so are you! If you have a story to share please contact us: email@example.com.
If you would like to follow Melanie on Social Media, you can find her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/melaniespickett/
as well as her blog https://www.melaniespickett.com