I received a call from my academic advisor today congratulating me on the fact that I have an overall 4.0 GPA in my graduate studies. That, in and of itself, is great. It is, indeed, cause for celebration. I’m proud of myself. There’s more to the party, though.
Once you’ve removed yourself from an abusive situation, you’re able to look back at the times when you were a moving target (or a sitting duck) and that’s what happened today on a couple of occasions.
The first time was when I heard myself speaking on a podcast that will be broadcasted later. The topic was abusive relationships so I was able to speak from first-hand experience. The host asked me to give an example of the mental abuse I had encountered and for whatever reason, I remembered the time my ex-husband told me that my degree was not as “good” as his. Off-hand, I don’t remember how the subject came up, but his exact words were, “Trē, my degree is better than yours; I make way more money than you do.” Of course, y’all know the fight that ensued was of epic proportion.
It was ironic that my advisor called today to congratulate me because sometime after that man said that to me all those years ago — after he’d burrowed his poison into my head deeply enough, I began to believe him. I forgot the fact that I’ve always had a talent for writing. I’d forgotten the fact that I am truly business-minded and am very good at analysis and formulation.
Abusers are excellent in their pursuit to destroy your psyche and I was married to one of the best. Eventually, he had me exactly where he wanted me — mentally and emotionally dead. Well, look at me today tearing up that GPA!
The second reason that I’m celebrating is because, in medical terms, I probably should be struggling. The residual effects of an aneurysm can range from stroke to decreased memory, from peripheral vision deficit to perceptual problems, from cognitive issues to speech deficits. Any of those things could have prevented me from pursuing this degree. Any of them could have prevented me to writing on a daily basis. Any of them could have caused me to give up on everything. The thing is, though, none of them have because I don’t have any of them. I have no residual damage. For that blessing, I’m grateful.
Abuse can and will destroy you. Abuse can ultimately kill you. If you survive though, it should be your privilege to prove that you’ve survived against the odds. It should be your privilege, an honor to yourself to live your new life on your own terms. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you survive, it’s your duty to share your story. You don’t have to blog, speak, write or anything like that; just the fact that you’re a living, breathing testament to survival will suffice.