“Everything depends on your attitude towards yourself. That which you will not affirm to be true of yourself can never be realised by you, for that attitude alone is the necessary condition by which you realise your goal.” ~ Neville Goddard.
I tend to never think about the past. For me, the past has served its purpose, and I know I will accomplish nothing if I choose to dwell over it. I’d rather look forward, focus on how I want life to be – not just only at the micro level, but at the macro level too. Yes, I want to see change in the world, in humanity. I want to see a shift towards world peace, and I want to see every person act out of love and not fear. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am one of those dreamers John Lennon so famously sang about in his classic song, Imagine.
I am a dreamer. I have always been a dreamer. Even the darkest moments couldn’t quite diminish the spark deep inside of me, and like many of us, I’ve lived through some dark times.
Relationships are a beautiful and necessary part of life. It is through our relationships and interactions with others that we learn so much about ourselves and the world. We learn great things like love, respect, empathy and consideration. We learn how to relate with others and the art of compromise. We fall in and out love, hearts break and we grow and evolve, and we realise what we do and don’t want for ourselves.
Sometimes, those lessons are tough. Well, let’s be honest, our biggest lessons are always the toughest to learn. The worst thing is when we get caught in a revolving-lesson door – the cycle drill that won’t quit till you make a change in yourself. That was me. I was on repeat – a lesson that began when I was sixteen years old and lasted until I finally kicked it in the butt when I reached thirty-four. That’s right, almost twenty years of enduring one lesson through three relationships – abuse.
I am not a trained psychologist, nor have I earned any qualifications in social welfare. I have studied towards a Bachelor of Social Studies (psychology), earning two years of transcripts before I went on hiatus and began writing fiction books. It was through study that I rediscovered my love of writing. I loved writing the essays for my modules, yet each of my lecturers had at some point mentioned the same thing upon reading my assignments – I wrote too creatively and needed to be more scientific, but hey, I wanted my work to be interesting, even when including the principles of clinical jargon and conventions. I loved writing books so much; the rest is history (excuse the cliché).
The point is, I don’t traditionally qualify as a trained person to guide others going through abuse. But I do qualify as a domestic abuse survivor. I have experienced verbal and emotional abuse, physical and sexual abuse. Image abuse, and stalking. I know how it feels to be that person – the one that lives behind closed doors in a world of shame; the one that beats herself up every day for her weakness; the person that can barely stand looking in the mirror because she failed herself and her children, and can’t find a glimmer of light in a world of shadows.
For a long time, that was me. The worst thing about being a victim of abuse is the guilt that comes along with it. Guilt becomes a constant companion in a fake, plastic world. It’s there when you wake up every morning, and it’s there every second of pretending everything is okay.
There are all kinds of guilt – guilt for betraying your own convictions; guilt for convincing yourself it will never happen again while knowing full well it will, and finally, the guilt that eats you from the inside out – not protecting your beautiful children from the ridicule and violence.
Looking back, I guess I thought I didn’t deserve any better. Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing incident to set off a chain of events that can last a lifetime. I did it for almost twenty years. I lived on my nerves and walked on eggshells, and every now and then I’d let loose and face the demons with a defiance I couldn’t ignore – that spark deep inside of me flared to the surface and desperately screamed for justice, dignity and self-worth.
I know how it feels to have your life threatened. My first husband used to tell me that he would gladly do jail-time for my murder. Words enough to send a chill down my spine even recalling them.
I know how it feels to see the fault in yourself. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I do anything right? I’m a loser. I’m nothing.
And I know how it feels to see no way out of a black tunnel – “You couldn’t survive without me, you wouldn’t make it.” “Nobody would want you, you’re used goods.” “You’re useless, dumb, stupid, fat, ugly.” “I’ll use you up till there’s nothing left.”
Hear some things enough and you start to believe them.
So, what changed?
I’d had two little boys with my first husband, but it wasn’t until we had a little girl that something really shifted in me. My little fair angel was the catalyst in a world of darkness. Maybe it was because of the time when my then husband pegged a TV remote controller at me when I was breastfeeding my newborn. He missed me but he didn’t miss her. Or perhaps it was how he’d ridicule me for not producing enough breast milk and our baby girl began to lose weight fast – my fault. Or maybe it was the times when he came home late at night drunk and woke me just to terrorise me.
Whatever it was, I knew I could no longer live that life. I knew there was more, much more, and that life was supposed to be happy. I could find happiness. I could. I wanted more for my children. I wanted peace for them. I wanted to see them laugh more and make a mess if they wanted. I wanted them to feel confident and to know a better existence.
I remember one night I went outside and gazed at the stars. I looked and looked until I believed in something higher than myself. I asked for strength, guidance and courage, and I knew if my life was going to change it would be up to me to make the change. No one would do it for me. No one.
So, I did it. I took a breath and summoned my courage. I got a house and packed our stuff and with the help of some beautiful friends, I moved myself and my children out of that situation and I never looked back. Not once – even when he begged me to come home, or when things got tough and he made life difficult. Control is not something people easily relinquish. I was out and it was the best thing I’d ever done.
The thing is, I chose myself. I chose my children. And I chose to believe in those stars. Somehow, I knew everything would be okay. I took a leap of faith, and even though it wasn’t always easy going, I still chose to believe. It would take another five or more years for me and my children to sift through the emotional scars that that environment left on us. There were challenging times dealing with adolescents with major anger issues; there was heartache and tears, feelings of hopelessness and working through the guilt. But we got through it together, and my children were my salvation and I was theirs.
I still gaze at the stars and I still believe in them. I know for a fact the abilities I possess to initiate the changes I desire in my life because I’ve done it, and I know that the power comes from within, and not from outside of myself. It’s in all of us. If you want change, only you can make it happen. And if you don’t want to get stuck in the revolving-lesson door, you need to adjust the way you think regarding the specific subject. One of my favourite Wayne Dyer quotes is when he said, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”
Those words resonate with me so much, I wrote them down and stuck it on the wall next to my bed to remind me that no situation is immovable, no matter how static or impossible it seems.
Choose happy. Choose yourself. And please don’t focus too much on those dark times you experienced in the past – give power to the future you desire and be a dreamer like John Lennon. Imagine.