“He doesn’t have to hit you for it be abuse. He can manipulate, belittle, humiliate, curse, blame, scream, ridcule, disrespect and try to control you….Abuse gets worse over time. Get help now!”

I wrote a post last year titled “Behind Closed Doors”, unfortunately I no longer have this post. What happened to it you might wonder? One day my ex found my blog and got very angry. He demanded that I remove the post! How dare I say these things about him in a public place. How dare I speak the truth and show people who he really was, that’s what he was really angry about. My point of saying this, isn’t to out him, isn’t to try to make him look bad, its the feeling I had after I deleted the post that I want others to understand.

For months I had been healing. I had realized where I was in my life, what had been happening to me for the last twenty years. I was beginning to regain my self esteem, my clarity in life. For that one brief moment I became that scared woman again. The one who would do anything to keep the peace, rather then face another night of being screamed at, called worthless and ugly. Being told that everyone hated me and I was a horrible person. Because these were the words I endured for 20 years. I did everything I could to protect him, his image, the image of our family, etc, but I didn’t protect the most important thing, myself.

I always thought that I was protecting my children by keeping the peace, keeping our family together. I didn’t realize it until recently that I was just doing more harm then good. You want to be a brave mom? LEAVE! Do whatever it takes, work 2 or 3 jobs, ask for help, and don’t be ashamed of anything. Asking for help is one of the most difficult things, especially when you have been told for so long how worthless you are. Why would anyone want to help you. Why would you deserve anyone’s help? Even if I don’t know you personally, I can promise you one thing YOU ARE WORTH IT!  It will take time but I promise you, you too will see your worth in the coming days, weeks, months and years.  Little by little you will see who you always truly were beneath the layers of abuse.

As I was going through photos of the past year, I found the first photo taken of me with friends while out one night.  You see, I never went out with friends, because I wasn’t allowed, or I was made to feel completely horrible if I chose to go spend time with my friends.  I never wanted him to go with me because it always turned into an embarrassment from his behavior.  So instead, I made excuses and didn’t go out.  I remember this photo and what my dearest friend said to me….this is a good photo…because that is your REAL smile.  That smile showed the happiness I felt at that moment.

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Within an hour of that photo being taken, I went to the bathroom and for the first time that night had checked my phone.  As I walked back to the table my friends husband looked at me and said, “you got a text from him didn’t you?  Give me your phone.” (So he could hold it and I wouldn’t look at anything else he texted the rest of the night) I couldn’t.  I can’t remember what the words were on that text, all I remember was the feeling.  Even though I had already filed for divorce and had our first court date, I felt like I was doing something wrong.  I was instantly terrified.  I quickly made my plan to exit and go home without being overly dramatic or anyone knowing “why” I was leaving.

Now almost a year after that photo was taken, I was going though photos from this weekend.  Even though I am officially divorced, started dating again, and have my own life, he still sends me texts while I’m out.  It’s as if he has a tracking chip on me.  Once again, I’m out and I get a text from him.  My friend doesn’t try to take my phone this time, just says, “don’t respond.”  The freeing feeling I had of not even caring.  I didn’t want to say anything back, I didn’t care that he had texted me, and I could have easily handed my phone over and went about my day with no guilt.  That’s the difference a year will make.  That’s the difference of realizing your worth.  That’s the difference of realizing though you are not 100% healed, you are healing.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I HATE having my photo taken.  I cringe at the thought and dread looking back at them later.  I however LOVE these photos, because they represent the progress I have made in my healing.  The show that its possible to be happy again.  BeautyPlus_20180125120234_saveScreenshot_2018-03-17-14-32-20received_1021538760991301420180317_21251320180317_16163720180317_15575920180317_212428

If you are reading this, and this is your story, or similar to yours, please reach out to someone and tell them. It may take you time to get out, but you can make a plan.  In reality it took me almost 2 years to fully prepare myself to be out.  I took baby steps before I took giant leaps.  If you are the friend, please know this….you can’t make someone do anything, but your support no matter what can save their life.

Finally to those of you who are in these photos, I want you to know how important you are to me.  As I sit here looking at them, looking at my smile in each one of them, tears are streaming down my face, knowing that they represent pure joy in my heart, you are a part of my story, a part of my healing, a part of my joy, and I am SO very thankful for you!  Some of you I have known for years others have only recently met, but you all represent the joy that comes from finally being freed from the chains of abuse.

1-800-799-SAFE or via the web The National Domestic Abuse Hotline