To all the weary hearts who are slowly being ripped in two by their angry, cruel, or unpredictable partners, this is for you:
What you’re facing today is terrifying and daunting. I am reminded of what it felt like going to bed every night fearing THIS would be the night he snaps. My worst fears (the ones were never even allowed into my conscious thoughts) ran like this:
What if he rapes me when I’m asleep? He might come in my room in the middle of the night and shoot me. What if he cuts my throat while I sleep? What would happen if my children came in and saw me bleeding… or dead? I can’t bear this. But what can I do? I can’t leave tonight, I can’t legally take my kids and run, I could lose them forever. I won’t leave them here alone, but in staying, I know I’m risking my life. I don’t have a choice. Whatever happens, happens. I am at the fate of his hand. Oh, God, I hope he doesn’t snap tonight…
My heart is heavy with you today as I can imagine your mind and body are flat lining with the bombardment of input, decisions and overwhelm. I just want to tell you this: it’s ok if you don’t get it perfect– all the next steps and right decisions. It’s ok if you don’t know what to do. It’s ok if you just can’t handle it all. My sweet friend, this is the time to lean on your people. Let them make decisions and decide next steps. Let them mash together all their brains, resources, knowledge, and love for you (and your kids) and set the next step in motion for you. Because the truth is, you are actively experiencing trauma and your brain cannot cognitively sort through all of this data in this state. The lies. The tangled promises. The tricky games. The loaded questions. The constant accusations, blame-shifting, and word-twisting… it changes the way your brain receives, processes, and stores information. This is very important to understand because it means you’re not crazy. You’re not overly sensitive. You’re not paranoid. The reason information, options, and decisions seem so fucking elusive and confusing is because your brain is being short-circuited right now… by the trauma… from the abuse. This is what they call domestic violence–one person exerting power, dominance, control over another person. Sometimes it is physical. Sometimes it is financial. Sometimes it is sexual. But it is always psychological (emotional, mental) abuse.
So, there it is. It doesn’t matter what label is put on it, what matters is that you know two things: you are not alone and there is a valid reason it is so difficult to “figure this out”. Oh, beautiful soul, you are not lost, you are not broken. You are working with a partially frozen mind. The months and years of mental and emotional games will rust the brain, making simple tasks (like remembering a few grocery items or where you put your mail) seem impossible. This mental rust will also make the big decisions seem completely overpowering, it might feel your only option is to stay. To that, let me say this: As one who has walked in similar shoes, I officially give you permission to exhale and stop trying to make all the decisions. Let your army take over for the next couple of steps. Let them keep you and your babies safe. It’s time to stop fighting this alone. If you don’t have an army of friends and family supporting you, guess what? There are organizations all over the country crawling with volunteers, advocates, and other survivors waiting for you to call them and give them permission to swoop in and carry you from where you are today to your next right step. You are not alone and you do not have to sort this out on your own. In fact, you were never supposed to figure this out on your own.
You didn’t know you’d have to fight, you were under the impression it was love that was required of you. You were expected to battle when you only promised to have and to hold. Not having the tools (or the weapons) you need for the life you find yourself in can leave you feeling… crushed. You’re not alone. There are many more like you and me. We know the sting of betrayal, the torment of confusion, and the crushing weight of the shame. I have a secret weapon for you as you begin to recognize and swallow the heavy doses of doubt and regret that come with realizing you are a victim of domestic violence. This is it: Shame grows where new tools are needed.
Wherever you feel broken, incompetent, and small is where your soul is asking you to find new strategies, apply new solutions, and upgrade old programming. This means you have all the power to learn, heal, and grow. All the things you wish you had done differently in the past get to teach you how to live more authentically in the present and future. Your life is not wasted. Your story is not over. You get to take all your power back.
So, weary heart, every time you feel incapable, helpless, and unworthy, remember you are ONE new tool away from freedom, clarity, and expansion. Do not give up, not yet. Find the next step. And then the next. And the next. Before you know it, you’ll be fully empowered and sharing all your life strategies with all of us.
Warrior On, Weary Soul
Domestic violence is never a simple fix. It takes victims to the edges of their humanness and asks, “What now?” When we don’t know how to answer that question, we can lose ourselves in the hollowing fear of our own limitations. Through my personal healing journey, I discovered that by simply being able to locate new resources (therein, new tools), I was able to alleviate the otherwise paralyzing effects of my shame. This discovery has freed me to accept even the wildest outbursts of my shadow. Being a victim of domestic violence is not a death sentence for one’s self-esteem or ability to trust or even be loved well. As I continue on my healing journey, I am only uncovering more beauty, openness, and trust with others, but most of all… with myself. My experience is that radical self-love will always begin with having the right tools.