Escaping the Castle

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Kenny Luo

By Stephanie McPhail

How to become your own knight in shining armor.

Thirteen years ago I got married in a castle in Long Island, NY, the same one where the celebrities get married. I was surrounded by my best friends and family from all over the world.

That night when we went back to our honeymoon suite, my new husband drew a bath and when I put my foot in the tub I spilled water on the marble floor, which made him fly into a rage. He chased me around naked for hours threatening to have me killed, telling me marrying me was the worst mistake of his life, and then he threw his wedding band at me. It ended with him pushing me down on the bed and strangling me until I almost passed out. Luckily, he stopped.

Then the begging to forgive started. He blamed it on his stress, alcohol, etc.

He promised it would never happen again.

I stayed. For five long years. It didn’t get better.

I tried to leave a few times but was always roped back in. He kept promising he had changed, and I would let him back in. The cycle got worse each time.

He didn’t change.

One day while working a second job, he texted me to say he had quit his job because he didn’t like how his boss was talking to him. I begged him to get his job back. I had been taking care of the bills as he got us more and more in debt.

I couldn’t do it anymore.

I texted a friend who had told me if I ever wanted to leave I could stay with her and asked if the offer was still open. It was. I left my own home where his name was not even on the mortgage in order to sleep on my friends couch to be safe. 

I got away. However, things got much worse before they got better.

I got a DWI (I learned the hard way sitting in your car drunk is “intent to drive”), my friend started sleeping with a guy I was casually seeing behind my back, my grandmother died, I got a blood clot, and then I was ghosted by another guy.

I fell into a depression…It was awful.

I lost weight, couldn’t get out of bed….spent my time watching self-help videos, all the while repeating to myself, “This too shall pass—just to try to breathe.”

Then I got pink eye and days later sprained my ankle at work. I was sent to the ER, and they called my ex—not knowing he was the last person I wanted there.

As I sat there in the ER with a swollen ankle, seeing my ex and the doctor, I started to laugh and cry at the same time.

I finally got it! I had been looking for someone to be my knight in shining armor—to save me—but I needed to save myself with the right help.

That was the moment my life changed forever. From there I started discovering who I was, built my team/tribe, went on adventures and just fell in love with myself!

Once I was truly secure in my happiness and comfortable being alone, I met a guy. I warned him I was not interested in being exclusive, and he told me it was fine; he wouldn’t force me to be. He just wanted to get to know me—no pressure. We became best friends. He showed me who he was and supported me in being the best version of myself I could be—without trying to control or force me.

I was scared and almost broke up with him because I was afraid it was all an act. But I felt like I would miss out on something amazing, so I decided to let him keep showing me who he was.

We have now been happily married for almost five years, and we have two beautiful children! I never could have imagined it could be like this. I had hope, but I didn’t know.

I knew I needed to help other women get to this place. To help them feel not so alone—to give them hope.

So now my husband and I work together to help women take back their power and create the life of their dreams! I share my story for anyone who is currently still stuck in an unhealthy pattern or relationship and afraid to fall back into themselves for support. You are not alone! I see you! You deserve more! You were not put on this Earth to suffer. You are way stronger than you realize.

Stephanie McPhail received her BS in Psychology from SUNY New Paltz and her double Masters in Education and Health from Hofstra University. A trained crisis counselor, Stephanie’s pursuit of continuing education led to additional certifications in nutrition, various teaching modalities, and working with special needs children. Possessing an innate awareness of our energetic nature, she was led to become a certified level 2 Reiki practitioner. She is also a certified Dream Coach® and life coach, enabling her clients to gain clarity on how to heal from unhealthy relationships and learn to create the life of their dreams. Find our more at

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