Survivors of abuse face a journey that’s both exciting and terrifying. We are faced with a process of un-learning that takes patience, caring and an even more important journey of re-learning the process of self-love. Actually, the path to self-love may be one that’s unchartered. Many times, in cases of abuse, self-love was never really present to begin with, else the abuse wouldn’t have occurred. I can only speak to those things I have knowledge of. This, I know.
I have faced many realizations since the dissolution of my 19-year marriage. The most glaring one is that I didn’t have a healthy sense of self going into that thing. All my life, I had felt that I wasn’t as good as others, initially because of a mother who held me back from LOTS of things for both religious and racial reasons, and finally, because I had convinced myself that I was no good at anything.
I whizzed through college, getting my bachelor’s degree in 3.5 years but didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities and did very little partying. I just wanted to get out of school, out of Louisiana and on to bigger things. I realized a few years ago that my rush to get out of college was the beginning of a ridiculous amount of rushing that did not come to a screeching halt until 2009 when I suffered that brain hemorrhage. I had no choice to but to slow my roll then. That’s when the shift began to happen. I realized that in my rush to do this, to please him, to be this, to be that, I had further ripped myself to shreds. There was nothing left to give to anyone. I knew that if I didn’t back all the way up and get a hold of my life, I would not be around for my son. Even now, thinking about not being here for him sears my soul.
Over the 19 years that I was married, it was pounded into my head that I was a burden, that I was selfish, that I too hard to please, that I was not attractive, that I was not very smart, that I was evil, that I was worthless, etc. I even doubted the one talent I know was God-given and that’s my singing. Oh, I bucked against all those things in the beginning but any time even the smallest, everyday mistake was made on my part, I heard, “See, I told you.” Eventually, I began to believe it. All of it. In my defense, where I drew the line was when he cheated and told me that it was my fault. I wasn’t that far gone.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t stand there crying when he was saying these things to me. I would argue until one of us went to sleep but it was when the quiet set in that I began talking myself down. As time wore on, I was so far down in the trenches that I saw no way out. I never contemplated suicide because I love my child, my family and friends too much to put them through that agony, but I sure didn’t care about a lot of things.
Things have turned around for me. I believe in myself in a way I haven’t in a very long time. I’ve proven to myself that I am a survivor of incredible strength. While I’m building my business, I’m helping other women rebuild. My story, my testimony allows me to be a bridge for other women to cross over on. My self-worth has been resurrected.