Last night I was privileged to sit in on the last session of an 8-week Wellness program. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I had. When the group was asked what progress they had made, one beautiful fighter said, “I’ve lost 190 pounds. This morning, after years and years of trying and struggling, I asked my husband to leave.” Gahhhh. It wasn’t her words that got me; it was the energy coming from her. It was the fact she was finding herself again and had the courage to start taking back her own Power. It awoke some pretty powerful personal memories for me.
Two other women shared their stories and I had similar responses to them as well. Then I focused on the moderator. I know her personally and professionally and I know what she’s had to overcome. The fact that she was taking a piece of coal and turning it into a diamond by supporting, encouraging and empowering these women, moved me to tears again.
Super. I’m there to do a meditation and I’ve teared up four times already. In 15 minutes. How professional! But, I do have a blog forming in my mind on crying so I’ll save my thoughts on that until later.
Whenever an emotion hits me so strongly, I’ve learned I need to examine what it’s triggering inside of me. This one was rather easy. I did survive an abusive marriage. I did find the courage to walk away. I did find the strength to examine my part in the abuse and the death of what I now call my ‘starter’ marriage.
Let me take you a little deeper into my old life. I won’t go too far as the pain is, even now over a decade later, still achy.
I married for life and I loved the beautiful man I’d married, when he was sober. When he was drunk, he became a man that scared me. I used to call it the ‘Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde’ syndrome. Again, this man was larger than life to me when he was sober but when he wasn’t? I was afraid of his temper and the man he would morph into.
Was he like this when we dated? Yes and no. We both drank a lot. I just thought he’d ‘outgrow’ the drinking part once we were married. My thought about his drinking was this: going to the bar is a social thing you do when you’re single and looking. I thought once we were married there wouldn’t be so many nights spent at the bar and more nights spent at home.
Well, I was half right. I spent more (lonely) nights at home and he spent more nights at the bar.
Yes, we went to counseling and while that was a disaster for us as a couple, it did help me personally.
A one point, probably one of the lowest points, I remember sitting on our stairs thinking, “I’m either going to kill myself or I’ve got to leave this marriage.” I wasn’t sure which would be easier or which one I would choose. I didn’t believe in suicide but…. When you are being mentally/emotionally abused, your self-worth/self-esteems goes right into the crapper. You start to believe what you’re being told (‘you’re the reason I drink so much’ or ‘if you wouldn’t have said that, I wouldn’t have drank so much.’). The person you were slowly fades to a mere shadow of your former self.
I tried to find ways to cope. Those ways usually involved alcohol, trusted friends and avoidance. I blamed him for everything when in reality I held an equal share of the blame. I didn’t discover this aspect until years later when I had forgiven him and myself for so many horrible things.
Back then I wasn’t spiritual. Not at all. I didn’t even know I was intuitive or I had the support of God. I felt all alone, as most abused women do. My mom was gone and my family was not a huge source of support for me.
One night after a particularily horrible fight, I curled up in a tight, protective ball in the corner of our walk-in closet. All the doors were shut and if they could be, they were locked. I was so damn afraid. I was shaking and crying uncontrollably. Counseling later taught me you NEVER engage a person who has been drinking. NEVER. But I didn’t know that then.
I called my sister who, being 18 years older than me, had literally helped raise me. My mom was sick most of my childhood and teenage years so my sister stepped in even though she was a state away and raising her own family. I trusted her. I needed her. I relied on her. She was, essentially, my second mom. Unfortunately, this conversation did not go well. Or maybe it did, depending on how you look at it. I had made the call when I couldn’t get a hold of myself. When I apologized for calling, she responded, “Well, Mom’s gone now and I guess this shit falls on my shoulders.”
Whaaaa? I’m bleeding out here and that’s what you say?! I felt like I’d been slapped in the face. Hard. But that little sentence was the catalyst that started the change within me. And change me it did, deeply and profoundly. Something (fear maybe?) started to die inside of me and something that felt cold (determination, maybe?) was replacing it. I wasn’t angry with my sister and the cold feeling had nothing to do with her. Even back then I could recognize that this was all about me. It was as if, after all my life of depending on others to take care of me, I stopped being the child and became the adult in that instant. Or if you’d like to look at it a different way, I stopped being the victim and started being the survivor.
I don’t believe in coincidences. My sister, saying what she did WHEN she did, was divinely inspired. I didn’t think so at the time, but looking back, that ‘tough love’ sentence was exactly what I needed. To this day, I believe that was the turning point for me to start taking back my power and getting control of my life.
And with that, my friends….you’ll need to wait until the next blog entitled, “Abuses.” Awww…I know, I know. But, as my friend Ganesh says, “I’m not worried about a happy or sad ending…it’s the story leading up to it.”