If you have read my story, you know that I have been on a journey for the past several years. This journey took me far away from the person I was. So far away, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. She looked the same on the outside, but if I really looked into her eyes, I didn’t know the person staring back. She was empty. She had little interest in anything. She found no joy in the happiest of occasions. She was a shell. Today, all of that has changed.
Had you asked me six or seven years ago how I was feeling, about my life and path, the answer would be much different than my answer today. It was difficult for me to learn how to be patient with myself and allow myself the time I needed to heal. It took a lot of work for me to learn to live with, and for, me. I expect that it will take many years to complete my healing, but that is ok. I believe that all my experiences have created, in me, an individual who can relate to the pain of domestic violence and help others find hope. One of my favorite singers, Christina Perri, used these words in her song I Believe:
“I believe in the lost possibilities you can’t see.
And I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be.
I known that your heart is still beating, beating, darling.
I believe that you fell so you would land next to me.
Cause I have been where you are before.
And I have felt the pain of losing who you are.
And I have died so many times, but I am still alive.”
So many quotes from this song have rung true in my journey to healing. The beauty of being able to look back and know that I survived still leads to overwhelming emotion. Just hearing this song brings tears of joy to my eyes. I have joy for my freedom, my strength, and for those who stand as survivors of domestic violence with me.
If you are still a victim of domestic violence, please know that you can have that same joy! That is the good news in all of this. You must, however, be aware of the situation you are in. The day will come when you know that you must leave. While in the midst of my marriage, and throughout my separation, I thought that I would never be happy again. I struggled with guilt, sadness, and shame, while hoping he would return to the man I wanted him to be. Eventually, however, the bad times substantially outweighed the good.
I have yet to meet a person who does not wish to be happy and enjoy the life they are living. No one wants to be depressed, anxious, frightened, or lonely. Sadly, victims of abuse often make excuses for the people who take away their joy. It took walking out the door, threats and all, for me to be able to start down the road to recovery. I had to be removed from the daily abuse in order to see the possibility of happiness and peace in my life.
It will not be perfect. You will still hurt, struggle with certain feelings, and have insecurities. But with every day that passes, life will get better and you will find yourself being reacquainted with joy. Remember, leaving a life of domestic violence is not the end of you. It is only the very beginning.