Today is the last Friday of October, so I am dedicating this Faceless Friday to the victims, and survivors of domestic abuse. October is Domestic Abuse Awareness month, and as many of you know, I have been a victim, and am now a proud survivor. I have many things every week that I am grateful for, but none as much as my freedom from abuse, and the chance to live the life I want. A life that I can cherish, be proud of, and celebrate every day. So, here is this week’s Faceless Friday:
Breathing. My abuser once asked me if I liked breathing. It took all of my strength not to laugh and scream “YES! Of course I like breathing!” However, I have to be honest here, that was not my only reaction. At the time, I thought he was going to kill me, the threat of him doing so was implied in every measure. I honestly thought my not breathing would be the only ending to nightmare I called my life. I thought about it. I actually sat for a second and contemplated if death would actually be easier than going through the agony of another all night argument, the gut wrenching agony I felt, and the inevitable ending of our relationship. The two thoughts collided in my brain. Yes, I wanted to live, and no I did not want to live like THAT any longer. I chose breathing. When life gets overwhelming, when my heart hurts, or something is stressful, I can still sit and concentrate on that moment and on my breath. I made a choice that night. I chose to breath, to believe in my strength and to surrender all at the same time.
I am still breathing. No matter what is happening I can sit and listen to my breath. I am still here.
Strength. Yes, it did take strength to put my stalker/abuser in prison. That was hard, and I did it, but I believe the real strength I showed was waking up in the mornings when I no longer had anything, when life was completely shattered and torn away. I still tried. I slept on couches, in a few spare bedrooms, and worked my ass off to heal all that was broken inside of me. I took inventory of myself; saw what was broken and worked EVERY day to make sure I never felt that broken again. I fought HARD for my laughter again, for every smile, and for life to feel like a joy again. It was worth it.
Friendship. I will never be able to express how desperately I needed people when I said I did not. Without encouragement, and sometimes the feeling of obligation, I never would have had the strength to put him in prison, to press charges, or to stand up for myself and say that it was no longer okay. I had friends that dropped their lives to help protect me and love me when I could not take care of myself. I had friends that understood that I loved him as much as I hated him and that the entire process of ridding myself of him was overwhelming and degrading at times. I found friendships and love that proved to me that I was, who I have always been, me.
Family. I grew up in an abusive household and because of that, I have always been very independent, very strong willed and very codependent. My family rallied around me and helped to remind me of the strong woman that I have always been. They protected me, sheltered me (in all the ways) and made sure I knew that I was lovable. They got angry for me, and AT me. They never doubted me and never believed that I would not have the strength to move on with my life.
Nico Harper. I wanted to die. I thought about it all of the time, and even thought of ways that I could end my life. I was TIRED. TIRED. TIRED. Tired of trying, tired of being strong, tired of fighting my abuser, tired of going to the police station, and tired, so very, very tired of living in fear… so one day I decided to get a dog. I was living by myself at the time and spending all of my nights looking out the window in case my abuser showed up. I was not sleeping, I did not feel safe, and every particle of my being was in hyperactive drive. I believed that a dog would remedy that, and for me it did. I went to the local shelter’s online sight, saw Nico and went and picked him up the next day (I even paid with a check I knew would bounce). He saved my life. He not only gave me a reason to keep living, but also a life to live… and two years later he still sleeps beside me every night (until he gets too hot of course). If there are such things as soul mates, my dog is definitely mine.
Forgiveness. Forgiveness really is something you have to work at. I hate that about forgiveness. I have always wanted to be able to say, “I forgive you” and move on, never to think about said person or situation again… but it really does not work that way. I have not forgiven my abuser, and I am not sure if I ever will be able to… but I have forgiven myself. I have forgiven myself for allowing myself to be in that situation, and for as long as I did. I have forgiven myself for disappointing my family, my friends, and my dreams. I have forgiven myself every day since January 14, 2010. (Okay, I have worked at forgiving myself every day since January 14, 2010). I forgive myself, every day, and to me that is real forgiveness.
New Life. In 2010, I lost everything material in my life and then some. I lost my house to foreclosure, my job, my relationship, my car, and mySELF… and it has taken time to get back to a place where I can look at mySELF, my life, and say “See, you ARE okay” and honestly, I am more than okay. I have a home again; a new job that I adore, Nico Harper Man Dog Extraordinaire by my side, and a love I did not think was possible with The Fixer. I still do not have all of the material things that I lost, but I gained SO much more in the process. I somehow found some inner peace, a deep and overwhelming knowledge of who I really am and what I am capable of, and more patience than I ever thought possible. I found joy again, and most importantly laughter again.
And now for the short list for this week’s Faceless Friday: You. You strong, beautiful and overpoweringly majestic person… I am thankful for YOU. I am grateful that you have taken the time to read my words, to reach out to someone you do not know, and to share your own strengths, fears, and love with me. I am grateful that you have found a piece of yourself here with me, and that you, like me, keep choosing to breath. It is worth it.
If you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship and would like to take that first step towards freedom please do not hesitate to call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their safe website at http://www.thehotline.org/.