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I remember the time I knew I was about to die.  It was different to the other times.  He wasn’t stopping.  We had been drinking in the car.  After the struggle of having his hands around my neck, of not being able to breathe, of feeling completely helpless, there was this overwhelming feeling of peace finally.  I remembered thinking my beautiful girls would be better off without me, they would be fine living with their nana.  I didn’t deserve them.  I was a complete and utter mess.  I had lost everyone.  I was very alone in the world.  I wouldn’t be missed by anyone.  In that moment after the initial struggle, I was finally fading into the peace I so craved.  There was no more noise, no more hurt, no more struggling I just let go.

I came to in the passenger seat just long enough to know we had pulled over somewhere. He was talking to some people on the side of the road and I heard him tell them not to ‘wake me’.  I let go again.  I didn’t want to wake up.  I wanted it all to just end.  When I came too properly, he had parked up at a mate’s place and was inside drinking with them.  I have no idea how long we had been there.  I checked for keys to the car.  He had them.  I thought about running away.  But where too?  He’d just find me and it would make matters worse.  I sat there, alone.  So alone.  I asked him the next day, after checking for bruising in the bedroom mirror if at any stage it had occurred to him that he had strangled me to death.  He laughed and said I was being dramatic.I loved him and this was how he loved me.

There had been other times, him sitting there with a weird grin on his face holding a cigarette up to my leg, being thrown into the oven, not being able to get up, my legs just wouldn’t work, him standing over me holding a chair up ready to bring it down on me, or the Christmas eve when he punched me so hard in the head I had to eventually go into the hospital for x-rays for a suspected fractured jaw.  Many more times and experiences.  Each time a part of me would die inside.  More shame.  More guilt.  No self-worth.  Just emptiness.

It took confirmation of him cheating for me to finally gather the strength to leave him.  I don’t know why that hurt more than the physical abuse.  For me, that was when I realised, he didn’t love me.  This wasn’t love.  It had to end.  I had to build myself up again.

While going through this there was huge support from the police, womens refuge and victims support were also available.  The police would help in the moment when things were completely out of control. I was too ashamed to access womens refuge and victims support.  I guess I was still looking for some sort of control over my life.  Accessing those services seemed to make it more real.  More final.  More pressure to leave.  If I could just get a moments peace and quiet and let go of all the noise and chaos, I could figure it out for myself and move forward.  

Zen and Stone Ltd is a charity which Sarah and myself have created to support women and children in similar situations.  We would love to eventually build a retreat (think womens refuge and Taranaki retreat squished together) a place where people can go for time out.  A chance to think, escape the violence, and start the journey to rebuilding their lives for themselves and their children.  A safe place to let go.  To all the people that have supported us so far in this journey a huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts.  By giving women a comfort tote in her time of need, you are showing her that she is loved, she is cared for, she is deserving, she is valued and she is supported.  No questions asked.

Sharing my story has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Something that was buried and only comes out in nightmare’s had to be lived through again.  It never leaves you.  It is something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life.  I never want anyone to feel or go through what I have been through.  I felt I needed to share my experience, that it was important to, so that if anyone is out there reading this, going through something similar, or any kind of abuse, I want you to know that you are not alone.  We are here for you.  You are stronger than you think.  You are enough.  You are so very loved.  

Love, light and laughter

Rene xx

Director

Zen & Stone Ltd

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