I’m a slow learner.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I remained in a chaotic and volatile relationship with an ex for a solid 15 years after our divorce. If you’re doing the math, that’s 8 years of an abusive marriage that culminated with a solid escape route but was instead followed up with an optional second tour for more.

I continued with this bizarre dance because we share a son, which meant we were connected- like it or not.

And through the insanity, all the please-tell-me-this-is-not-actually-happening moments, the rage, the desperation, and the hundreds of sleepless nights, I kept my mouth shut. Unless you are my sister, best friend, or therapist I remained silent and publicly positive.

And finally, long after it should have been obvious, I had an epiphany: Silence gives an asshole power.

I know my story is not unique.

And with that silence, repetition built. Before I knew it, I had been conditioned, was upside down, drowning in chaos, and wondering how this could have happened. And where my power went.

Please allow me to explain myself: I am an intelligent woman with a respected career. I volunteer. People trust me enough to help them solve business problems, and sometimes personal problems. I am educated. But I live in a reasonably small town and thought that my silence was keeping things classy.

I took this vow of silence because I believed it was the right thing to do- for my son, for my sanity, and for my reputation. I didn’t want to trash talk or sound pathetic. And, I didn’t want to appear vulnerable to others, or show my ex the amount of control he had over me.

I figured that after 23 years of being on this ride, it was time to get off.

And so, I began doing the one thing I know how to do: I started writing.

My initial plan was to document the sometimes daily insanity that was built on a sturdy platform of shared history and mutual disdain. For a very long time this project was going to be a historical record of the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tales from my life. Over the years I’ve heard dozens of accounts of men behaving badly and the women who kept their mouths shut and it occurred to me that this book wasn’t about me, it was about you and for all of us.

I have a big, fat pen loaded with ink and I want to share it. Not in a smear-ish kind of way. Rather, I prefer a factual kind-of-way. Because I’m betting that if you’re like me, truth is stranger than fiction.

I love this quote from Anne Lamott: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

So far, I’ve talked to several women from all around the world and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is not an unusual phenomenon. Classy women keep their shit to themselves.

But what if we blurted the insanity of our lives to everyone we met? I know that in my case, had I turned a glaring spotlight onto the behavior of my ex, he would have scampered for the darkness and I would be left standing in the light. I think that’s rather beautiful albeit a late realization.

I don’t have many regrets in my life, but not realizing this sooner is definitely one of them. It would have saved me so much heartache and money spent on legal fees. And maybe- just maybe- my story would have helped another woman who was struggling.

If you’d like to share your voice, visit www.ex-posed.us to learn more.

I'm a survivor who is stronger than she realized and dedicated to helping women share their own stories of survival and triumph. Www.Ex-Posed.us