The biggest secret to getting your life back on track is forgiving yourself. You don’t have a time machine. You can’t go back and change the path you have already walked. There is no parallel track that will allow you to change what you have already gone through but you can start working on changing your life here and now and get back on track to the life you wanted.
When you are beaten down by another person who devalues you and has taken every last bit of your self-esteem, it is hard to imagine having enough energy or strength to save yourself from drowning in the barrage of all the negativity that is being thrown at you but if you don’t get back to loving yourself then who will? It is up to you, not anyone else to save you from the hell you are living.
I can only relate this to myself and hope that you can take away something useful to help you move on. My reality was this:
- Every single day I was told that something was wrong with me. It could be the way I cooked, my looks, my role as a Mother or a wife. He even attacked my volunteer work at our kid’s schools.
- Every single day I was ignored. I was married, in a relationship and lonely. When I asked to do something together, even trying to plan once a month I was flat out told “I have no desire to spend any time alone with you.”
- I soon began to realize we had only good days once in a while instead of how normal relationships have bad days. Those days were dependent upon his mood and whether or not he wanted something from me or not
- I was not accepted for who I was. If I was happy, I was too happy. If I had an off day, I was always a bitch. If I was loving, I wanted attention. If I told him he looked great in those jeans, I was told to stop.
- I was told I was not worthy of love. That no one would ever want me. That I was useless.
- I lived every day trying to make man happy that only saw what I did not do. (for example, cleaning the whole apartment on my day off and after making dinner leaving a rice box on the counter near the stove mid cooking…it was the first thing he noticed when he came home from work. Not the clean smell, not the shining wood floors or freshly dusted and vacuumed rooms, that one small 4 by 7 inch Rice a roni box. That is no way to live!!!
I could go on, but I won’t. What I will say is I never lost my sense of self. My fire had gone out but I still had embers glowing. What I did not understand is why this man did not see me for my true self.
So, how do you get your life back on track? YOU START WITH YOU!
Knowing that I had to stay for my children because I could not trust him alone with them, I started healing myself in the marriage and looking toward the day when he was out of my life. From that day, I expected nothing from him. I did not expect him to change, be nice, kind. Nothing. I started to post affirmations at the age of 43 on the fridge and mirror. Olay had an ad out that year that said something like “43 is the new foxy”. I hung it on the fridge. When he threw it out, I found another one in a magazine and hung it back up. I started writing notes to myself and hanging them on my vanity mirror that was in our bedroom. “Remember the Goddess you are”, “Don’t let anyone snuff out your light.” etc… Then I started to amp it up for myself. I asked friends to email one word that described me and I put them on my mirror with the person’s first name under the word. Passionate, came through quite a few times. Eccentric, caring, sensual, beautiful, always smiling….to name a few. I continued to not care what he had to say. I was in self preservation mode.
I then set out to win a Presidential Physical Fitness Award. One: Because he “hated my body” and two: because I am not thin but I knew I was fit and I wanted to prove it to myself and I did. I won the award. I hung it on the fridge to find it in the garbage the next day so I dug it out, got a frame for it and hung it in my sewing room and then I sewed the patch that came with the award to a jacket I often wore. This self affirming life style continued for another 5 years. By the end, he was sleeping on the couch, the kids and I had an emergency plan in place if he lost his temper and he was spending more and more time at work which was a relief. He no longer had control of me and it drove him insane.
The day he walked out the door, and I did not let him back in, I was ready emotionally for him to be gone. I’m not going to lie, I was not ready for the onslaught of emotional abuse he put our kids through. I was not ready for him to hang on and drag things out for 6 years and continue to abuse me through the courts and emails and texts but the not having to walk on egg shells in my own home and being responsible for my own happiness allowed me to be strong enough most times to handle the devastation he was throwing at our family because I knew I could close the door, not answer the phone or email and find refuge and peace and regroup and replenish for his next battle attempt.
You see, a lot of very caring people get into abusive relationships. We hang on to their good traits, have faith in them as a human being. We are supportive and loving and accept very little in return even though our needs are not being met. We are unselfish and kind. I learned the hard way and it took too many years to finally see my truth and I had to allow myself to mourn those years I lost and I learned that I should be kind and caring to myself first. That I should support and love myself and make sure my needs are met. I lost myself and I yearned to be free of that life and just be me and to just not deal with people who did not appreciate me for me.
I’ve accomplished that. I did not date right away although many of his friends came out of the woodwork and expressed an interest which shocked me and I never did date any of his friends. When I started dating, I was not on my best behavior trying to hook a man. I was me and I found, that was a good thing. A good year after the divorce, it takes a 2 year separation to get divorced in New York, I did end up with a college friend of ours and it was a wonderful relationship. We were together a few years but ended it when we both were going in different directions. It was a mutually loving decision and we remain the greatest friends today. I am thankful for his love and healing in my life and I am once again in a committed, loving relationship that seems absolutely perfect and I feel very blessed.
My point of telling you this is if you take the time to heal and if you do the work, there are amazing, loving, wonderful men and women out there and the life you wanted, is obtainable. I’m the same weight as I was when my abuser and I got married. I am very much wanted and loved for who I am. He was wrong. Your journey? It all starts with forgiveness. Forgive yourself and move on into your new life. It’s waiting for you.