“In the depths of hell, I learned who I was. It takes a strong soul to endure so much pain and heartache and still make it out alive; to not get stuck in the deep, burning pit of misery. It takes a resilient creature to claw their way back up out of the darkness and back into a reality where your nightmares can finally turn into dreams.”
I stood on the balcony and stared at the the thousands of lights twinkling on the horizon. Car horns beeped, the bell on the draw-bridge dinged as the bridge lights slowly got higher in the sky, and music wafted up from a car stereo. A breeze skirted around the building, bringing with it the smell of saltwater. Darkness had settled in at the condo by the sea, both literally and figuratively.
My body was numb, a shell that was propelled by a base level instinct to survive. Every day was the same; wake up and get through the day. Nothing moved me anymore. There was no laughter or joy, or passion. There was nothing. I recall thinking how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful place. The view was phenomenal and the ocean waves crashed mere yards from my door. People would give anything to live where I did. To me, however, it was nothing more than a prison. I peaked over the rail and imagined how it would feel to fall the 37 stories to the small overhang below. It would be terrifying, yet quick. Then it would all be over.
But I wasn’t ready for that. Other people did not live like I did. There had to be a solution. The idea was fleeting, though. I saw no way out. I yearned for the freedom to live my life. I wanted to enjoy all life had to offer; to smile again. How did it feel to be free? I couldn’t remember.
Even once I left, I clung to the misery he inflicted. There were days that I felt I would never enjoy the joy of life as it should be, and I blamed him. He had created a broken being, someone that didn’t understand how to survive in this world. I carried shame and guilt like a burden that I was not permitted to unload. My life served as some sort of punishment and I believed everything bad that happened was because the world could not deal with someone as broken as I was.
People would tell me to focus on the good and to cheer up. That my life was different now. That I should be thankful that I was alive and free of him. It didn’t seem to matter how much good was in my life, I continually struggled to be happy. And I hated when people told me how to feel. What did they know? It was easy for them. They had no idea what I had gone through. I felt like I sincerely did not know how to be happy anymore. I was stuck in a rut, and the longer I stayed there, the harder it was to see any good coming out of my life.
Just as there is a breaking point for those who choose to leave abusive relationships, there is a point where we have to consciously say that enough is enough. We can choose to stay in the pit of misery or we can choose to claw our way out. I tried to “fix” myself a number of times before I had the endurance to persevere. There were several failed attempts where I clawed my way out before plummeting right back to the bottom. But one day, I simply had enough. There was a very tired woman who didn’t want to waste any more of her life on him, and found the internal strength to make it all the way to the top.
There were months where I danced on the edge, still fighting to hang on to the ground I had gained, but I slowly started stepping away from my pit of misery. It took a lot of work to shed the chains that held me there, but I made it far enough away that I never intend to go back. I won’t even peer over the edge. There will always be nightmares, and memories, but only you can make the choice to chase your dreams instead. Don’t let the chains of abuse bind you any more. Start unlinking them and find the joy of your dreams. I will be here to cheer you on and help you carry your load.