Don't you cry for me.
There was no Hollywood ending when I decided to leave my abusive marriage and the man whom I had devoted my life to, had children with, loved beyond measure, and who was a diagnosed Narcissist. There was no Angela Bassett moment in Waiting to Exhale when she packs up her cheating husband's clothes into his BMW, pours gasoline all over it, then stands back, lights a cigarette, and watches it go up in flames from her tossed match.
I often wish I had a story like that to tell, but the fact is that leaving the darkness and finding your way to the light is a much more complex journey than that, healing is not linear and doesn't allow you to travel from A to Z, which is the reason most victims return to their abuser (as I did) many times over.
One of the questions I am often asked is "At what moment did you know?" But the truth is, there was no one moment. Instead, it was a gradual unraveling of the illusion I had been living for sixteen years (as many victims of emotional/Narcissistic abuse will say, we don't even recognize the abuse until we've left it behind), followed by a knees-on-the-floor reckoning of the truth, which eventually led to my rebirth in the light. My journey from the depths of suffering to the redemption of my soul included nothing less than a full commitment to my own survival, which tested me at every turn.
How did I get here? By placing one foot in front of the other, crawling if needed, but moving forward and away from my suffering. One baby step at a time. And reminding myself on a regular basis of what would happen if I turned around and went back, while also becoming my own best friend - the friend I desperately needed and couldn't find in anyone else, the kind of friend who threw a rope when I found myself in yet another hole, desperate to climb out, who would tell me the truth no matter how much it hurt, and who would remind me of my worth, and what I did and did not deserve.
Because we all deserve love, respect, and the truth. And if we we're not getting it, then honey it's time for us to pack up our shit and get the hell out of Dodge (or in my case load up the UHaul, drive three states south, and head back to the sun in my childhood home of Arizona). But however you do it, it's time to go. You're worth it and it's about damn time you realized it.
from there to here: the beauty of freedom
So how do we know when the day has come for us to make a run for it, escape, leave the only thing we've ever known? Even in our darkest suffering, when hope is a tease and as inconceivable as fairy dust, when our dreams have retreated to the corners of our mind, how are we supposed to find courage we don't believe we own, strength we don't think we possess? How do we find a better place when our current map only has the words YOU ARE HERE without any visible roads that will lead us to ANYWHERE BUT HERE?
Sure we can see the sun in the sky, but what if we can't yet feel it's light? Is that only one more trick by our subconscious, which hints there might be something better out there?
Because even when we're knee-deep in misery, using every ounce of energy to force the fake smile that the world demands of us (or at least what we think it demands), when those we love most in the world are the very ones who have become the source of our pain, when our eyes are empty of water due to the drought of our soul, and when hope has become as illusive as a unicorn, there is still something that compels us to keep searching.
And that something brought you here. So hang on tight, beautiful, because I'm on the same journey you are, just a bit farther down the road where the darkness of my past has been pushed out by the light. All it took was an honest recognition of where I was to start the engine and begin moving toward where I wanted to be.
If you can recognize where you're at today on that journey, then you can also recognize where you can be tomorrow, in six months, a year, and forever. It's time, my love. Time for you to fly.