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.