Still I Run member Stephanie talks about being bullied by her ex-husband and how running gave her the strength to leave. She decided to tell her story in recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month in October.
You always hear about bullying in schools, the workplace, and social media, but nobody talks about the stigma of being bullied inside your own home, not by your parents or kids from your spouse.
They take you as you are, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, but only as long as you don’t gain weight.
We married young, 18 and 20. We had a child four years later after our first miscarriage. It started with him flirting on social media with attractive women at work. It slowly progressed to him making advances to almost every other woman except me, the boring wife, who sacrificed her career so he could pursue higher education.
I raised our now 11-year-old daughter while he went out with friends on fishing trips and work trips. He found any excuse not to be at home.
I think I gained weight, not only from becoming a mother but from all the stress. I gained roughly 35-40 lbs. Then, depression hit.
It wasn’t postpartum depression. I was depressed because I felt utterly alone.
Bullied by my husband
My husband showed me no physical affection, no loving glances or compliments.
He blamed my weight gain as the reason he wasn’t attracted to me. However, I was desperate for affection and tried just about everything to turn his head and get him excited.
Things went from bad to ugly to downright brutal.
One day he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Look at you! You are disgusting!”
Ultimately, I had gained a ridiculous amount of weight over the years, but it’s impressive what a woman scorned can accomplish.
Then, I started running and lost 100 lbs in less than a year.
And how poetic, as I lost the weight, he lost his attitude, but I didn’t.
I stayed angry until I wasn’t anymore. I was numb. Just four months shy of celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary, I left. I had enough of him seeing only the exterior me.
Running is what helped me find me.
It makes you stronger in ways you never dreamed possible. Even when you are running, you can’t run from yourself. It shows you a strength in yourself you never thought you had.
Running gives you the confidence to do the scary things, the hard things.
Still I Run, a community of runners and mental health warriors whose mission is to promote the benefits of running for mental health and defeat the stigma around mental illness, helps me not feel alone.
Since then, I have remarried, and my husband is the most loving and selfless man on earth. He thinks every curve and dimple on my body is absolute perfection, and I have lost a total of 130 lbs.
I’m sure my story is a dime a dozen compared to some others out there, but bullying is bullying.
Bullying knows no color, no age, no sex; it knows no boundaries.
So, I beg of you, with every single person in your life, even the ones you don’t like, be kind. It costs you nothing.