I promised my readers a blog post about Domestic Violence Awareness Month a few weeks ago. I had been working on a piece, and I decided to scrap it. Those who know me well know that I rarely scrap anything that I write, but you see, I have to get this right.
A lot has happened in the past two years that I was determined to keep quiet about. Not because I don’t love my readers, but because there are some things that should be handled privately. I am fiercely protective of my privacy, and I will continue to be, and that’s okay.
But there are some things that should be talked about. Things that get swept under a rug, and we carry on with a brave smile and pretend that the past didn’t happen, and that’s just not right. It’s not shameful to live life, with all of the messes that come with it.
Sometimes the biggest mess of all is the thing that we once believed was our safe place. Our sanctuary.
I’m not going to dwell on the who’s and why’s of my journey in this post. But I am going to briefly explain what happened, or pieces of it anyway, and then I’m going to focus on the good things.
Because there is so much good now, friends.
Trust is a tricky thing. For me, trust is all or nothing. I’m probably not alone in that. And once trust is broken, it’s pretty hard to repair it.
I was in a marriage that I trusted and believed in. And it started out pretty good. We all have issues, and we were no different. But not long into the relationship, the trust began to be whittled away.
Words are powerful, and once they’ve been said, you can’t erase them. You can apologize, but you can’t wipe them away. Words can make us bleed. They can be devastating. And it seems that they’re easily flung around, with little regard to the destruction as a result.
I’ve been hurt with words. With rolling eyes and sneers and the silent treatment. With manipulation and disrespect and just plain meanness.
I look back at pictures of myself from that time, and all I can think is, “I look old. And just so damn sad. So fucking sad.”
I was sad. But I lifted my chin, pulled my bootstraps up, and carried on, making excuses.
He’s just having a bad day.
He doesn’t understand.
It’s not always bad. We laugh sometimes too.
And I carried on, knowing that I wasn’t happy, but not even thinking that I would try to leave. For one thing, I couldn’t afford to. And for another, I was in survival mode. If I can just get through today, I’m fine.
That’s the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself. I’m fine.
I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t even in the same hemisphere as fine. I was hurting and sad and I felt trapped and unloved and certainly disrespected.
One day, when I knew that I’d done or said something that was going to make someone else mad, and I thought I’m going to get punished for this, I knew it was time to get the fuck out.
I’m going to get punished for this? When did that thought process ever become acceptable? In what world is it normal for an adult woman to be afraid of being punished? Are there consequences to actions? Yes. Anger, disappointment, frustration are all normal and happen every day in relationships in every town in the world. But punishment as a result?
It’s not normal. It’s not okay. You don’t deserve it. You didn’t earn it.
And now we shift to the good.
I left, and as a result, I’ve had the most fantastic year of my life. The love and support from my friends and family has been nothing short of incredible. I live in a beautiful place, and my community is fun and welcoming.
And I’ve learned a lot.
If a friend had come to me five years ago, and confided in me, describing what was happening in my own life, I would have told her she didn’t deserve even one minute of that, and I would have believed every word. I am my own best friend. I need to love and see me the way my best friend does.
But I think that what’s opened my eyes the most is being in a healthy, loving, respectful relationship, and experiencing what real love is supposed to be. It’s made me realize that what I had before was even worse than I thought, and that makes me sad for the woman that stayed in an unhealthy relationship for too long.
And when I see photos of me now, I look happy. I look content and confident and like someone I am proud of. I’m soaking in the good, and I’m loving every second. Because I deserve it.
And so do you.
I don’t want to ever just survive again. I want to thrive. I want to love and be loved. I want to laugh and explore, and feel safe knowing that I am respected and admired. I want to argue passionately, and then make up and not be afraid. I want to not be ashamed of my successes, worried that they’ll be mocked or sneered at.
I want to live a happy, good, loving life. I can honestly say that I am doing exactly that. Every day is a good day.
Oprah said, “I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.”
Choose love. Choose you. You deserve it. I promise you won’t regret it.