Domestic Violence, the journey to healing is often long, but worth it. The phrase “the will to live” has really been on my mind a lot lately. For me it signifies that while everything in my life suggested that I should give up, I did not. Surviving traumatic life experiences is one thing, but to find healing from those experiences is an entire different journey, a journey that I still find my self on. I want to take the moment during Domestic Violence Awareness month to share some nuggets that have helped me on my journey of healing.
After I finally left the relationship I had to put the broken pieces back together. However, I was nowhere near equipped to do that. In a perfect world, I would have had several months to figure everything out and heal properly. It did not happen that way. My life was very unstable. So, honestly, I did not have time to stop and think about what I got out of because I was too busy worrying about where my son and I would sleep. Compounded by the fact that I was still in high school when a great deal of this was going on. Instead, I started piling on one negative experience after another.
Like most women, we work through pain and trauma until something forces us to deal with it. Getting to know and love myself all over again did not start until much later in life. My breaking point came when I realized how verbally abusive I had become. I was quick-tempered and would say things that I knew would hurt and would not have any regrets about it. I really did not like the woman staring back at me in the mirror. Everything wasn’t just fine. I had to deal in a major way because I know had three lives that I was responsible for.
I remember walking in the hallway one morning and just falling to my knees in tears. I cried loudly and asked God for help. I asked him to show me how to love the way He does, help me be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Help me use my words to build others up and not break them down. To love and nurture my children the way they deserved to be loved and to pursue peace.
Yeah, I had lot of asks. God was probably like, “angles grab me a pen she has a laundry lists of requests”. I was just sick of me, but I wanted to love me. I knew what self hate could do because I attempted suicide. I wasn’t trying to take it there again. I was angry, bitter, and wanting revenge. I’m thankful that my request did not fall on deaf ears because the work began immediately. Change did not occur overnight, but correction and guidance came swiftly.
One of the first things I was prompted to address was unforgiveness. I grabbed my journal and wrote down a list of people who had wronged me and I had wronged them. The first person on that list was myself. I forgave myself for allowing people to violate my body and believing the hurtful things people spoke over my life. That cloud of this must be happening because I did x, y, and z dissipated. I asked my children for forgiveness for being overly harsh and chastising out of anger. I still maintained order in my household, but I also understood that I did not want to rear children that would turn into damaged adults. Starting with forgiveness was the foundation of allowing love in and being capable of giving love back. Love taught me patience, understanding, acceptance, gentleness, empathy and perseverance. All of which I desperately needed.
The next phase was figuring out why I so desperately craved the love, admonishment, and security of a man? Well, I got that answer too. My formative years were broken. That foundational healthy father-daughter relationship did not exist, neither did me witnessing a man demonstrating how to treat a woman properly. Me watching my mom experience domestic violence and indiscretions, yet remaining in the relationship; communicated that the behavior was acceptable. So, I thought men could fill that void and I accepted their toxic behavior, one relationship after another.
I had to acknowledge that violence in a relationship was not love regardless of what was provided. I embraced my relationship with God even more and trusted that whatever I continued to lack he would provide both spiritually and physically. He did! I gave myself permission to receive the love that others had for me and break the cycle. This part actually sparked a three year celibacy journey and to this day, that was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Everything became crystal clear. My self love was on a hundred. I excelled personally and professionally. I became a better mother once was I able to truly love myself.
As I stated earlier, the journey did not occur overnight. I stumbled quite a few times. I was so used to walking in dysfunction that this new thing really felt odd. I learned that rejection was a trigger for me. I would just fall to pieces after being rejected. Eventually, I had to get some affirmations under my belt to counteract that rejection. Some of my favorites were :
I am loved, needed, and wanted
Love surrounds me constantly
I am not a slave to acceptance
God is with me, I will never be alone
Feeling strengthened and healthy enough to encourage others came next. It started at home. I would be intentional about uplifting and empowering my children with my words and actions. Then, I ended up starting my career first, as a Case Manager at a neighborhood family center then as an Academic Advisor and Mentor at the local college. Whew, talk about needing to be equipped. Some of the people I came in contact with while I held those positions were dealing with some heavy issues and were in need of some major encouragement. I could not have done that in my old state, I was too empty. The other beautiful part about it was that, I discovered that in uplifting others it kept me encouraged and helped me maintain a positive outlook on life. New to me, old to God…lol
The other interesting thing that happened was that my dreams about my life grew bigger. I saw myself different and wanted different experiences in life not just for me, but for my children as well. I believed that I was capable of better and pursed better. I ended up graduating from college with my Masters Degree and starting a business. My education journey was a lesson within itself. First I obtained my AA degree, Bachelors then Masters. Taking care of three children as a single mom and going to school full time was tough. The thought of walking across the stage in my cap n gown while my children sat in the audience was my fuel to finish and finish I did. They remind me often of just how much I inspire them. Our relationship is so beautiful. My children are my blessings. I love them with everything in me.
My will to live is stronger than ever. I’m so glad that I embraced my healing journey. I encourage you to start yours and be the person you were designed to be. For additional thoughts on the topic, check out Finding My Happy: Chucking the Deuces to Toxic Thinking written by me.
Take care beautiful people.