This holiday season is special for me. It’s not because I’m
getting married or I’ve met my goals or even that I am finally where I want to
be in life. This holiday season is special to me because for the first time, I
am not angry about my past and I do not feel like a victim.
During the two years that I have written for mom.me I have
shared my personal journey, all the highs and lows and my controversial
opinions about current events. Even though I wasn’t proud to do so, I also
shared the stories of how I felt like I was being abused and victimized by my
children’s father. During those very real and very hurtful moments I felt
helpless and stupid for not being able to change the way things were.
It turns out I didn’t have to cry and petition for change; things
changed on their own.
About three months ago I created a blog called Abuse Is Not A Secret, designed to allow
people to share their stories of abuse so they could finally feel like they can
be heard without judgment. I also interviewed abusers, mental health workers
and authors hoping to offer the insight people need to stop the cycle of abuse.
What I wasn’t ready for was the impact this project would have on me, literally
changing my life forever.
Sitting at my laptop, immersing myself in the traumatic
stories of others taught me a very valuable lesson, one that I believe was the
key to helping me heal. I realized that I am not the only person going through
I used to believe I was the chosen one, specifically
targeted to be hurt when really I was hurting myself. After interacting in
online forums and groups of abuse survivors, reading their stories, watching
their progress, sharing my own stories and asking questions I realized one
powerful truth: Women stay in abusive situations when they care more about the
other person than they do about themselves.
I feel a sense of peace in my heart right now, knowing that I wasn’t born to be bruised. I wasn’t chosen to be battered.
Why would I care more about anyone than I care about myself?
Maybe I believe I am supposed to be a martyr. Maybe I was taught that
self-sacrifice was honorable. Maybe I felt that I was supposed to prove my love
by going through rough times. What I found was a deep-seeded need to affirm my
idea that I was unloveable. Because I believed I was unloveable, I would cling
to every word that anyone uttered that could confirm this belief. It gave me a
sense of satisfaction to recognize a harsh tone directed my way or a less than
loving glance in my direction. I wanted to feel unloved so I clung to every
sign that I was correct. Unfortunately, once people learn that you like being
hurt, they offer you more of what you like.
So I’m done with it now and that’s not just a resolution. I
really don’t feel burdened by the need to be hurt anymore. I continue to watch
those women in online forums express their frustration and pain and
trauma over their abuse, and I want to shake them and make them realize that
they are choosing pain. I don’t want to be one of them anymore, complaining and
whining and pointing a finger at someone who hurt me. I don’t want to be a
victim anymore and I don’t have to be. There is a way out of an abusive
situation and the only way out is to be willing to lose everything.
You have to
be willing to lose everything you had, including the warped idea of love, if you
ever want to move forward. I am willing to be alone forever rather than give
the power to someone else and allow them to hurt me anytime they want to. I
don’t want anyone to have a remote control for my feelings. No one is that
awesome to have that kind of pull. No one’s words or actions can define me. I
can be every horrible description you can call a woman and I will still be
OK. I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations, not even my own.
I still can’t shake this pessimistic attitude and I still
believe this world is a horrible place to be, but through all the ugliness in
the world I feel a sense of peace in my heart right now, knowing that I wasn’t
born to be bruised. I wasn’t chosen to be battered.
Those days of placing the emotional needs of others above my
own are over. Just because I am a woman and a mom doesn’t mean
that I have to sacrifice my happiness for everyone else; I matter too. Critics
can say what they have to say and I’ll let the chips fall where they may. I’m
not a victim anymore because your words and actions don’t hurt me. I’m doing