Since I began sharing my story of survival a few years ago, I’ve often been asked if there is anything I would change from or about my past. People want to know if there is one thing I would do differently, re-do, or not do. The answer has always been the same: there is not one thing I would change. The most immediate reaction I get is almost always one of surprise because in most cases, people know of the things I endured and they know that I almost died because of the mental and emotional abuse. They know of the spousal rape. They know that he was the one who filed for divorce. Here’s why I wouldn’t change anything.
Some of us are dealt hands that suck, plain and simple. We end up in jobs we hate, we end up in abusive relationships, we lose all the material things we own, we’re blindsided by people we trust; hell, we destroy our own lives! Some of the things that happen to us are unavoidable like the deaths of loved ones, getting laid off from a job we’ve held forever, and natural disasters. Then there are things that can be avoided, but that we allow to happen like dating the same type of guy or girl and getting crushed again in the very same manner as before, or rushing into relationships and then finding ourselves sorely disappointed when that man or woman turns out to be everything we don’t want. I fully believe, though, that once we’ve found our way out of those situations, we’re supposed to share our experiences so that we can help others. You see, a man can do a pretty good job of describing PMS and childbirth, but there is not a man alive who can tell me, with 100% certainty, what labor is like. He can’t tell me what it’s like to have boobs so sore from PMS that the gentlest breeze feels like an uppercut to the nipples. I feel the same way about all the things I’ve gone through in life.
How would I be able to reassure you that there is life after abuse if I hadn’t lived to tell the tale?
How would I be able to tell you that all men are not the same if I had not allowed myself to fall in love again after all those years of abuse?
How would I be able to tell you that starting over at any age is okay if I hadn’t had to do it at 45?
How would I be able to assure you that it’s okay to stomp on the fear and shame that kept you weighed down during the fight because part of your calling in this life is to share your story after the fight so another person can draw from your strength?
I wouldn’t be able to do any of these things had one thing gone better, had one day be easier, or if I had decided that I wasn’t going to celebrate every trial and turn it into a triumph. So my answer will always be no — I wouldn’t change a thing, I wouldn’t re-do a thing because the lessons I learned and the privilege I have in being the bridge for others to cross over on is payment enough for my troubles.