Many years ago I lived as a prisoner in an apartment that most wouldn’t recognize as a cell. I don’t like to go back there in my head…there are some scary memories that lurk there. The truth is that no matter how much work I have done on releasing my past, some nightmares never leave you. Oh you can face them, forgive, and continue to grow, but the visual images in your head, the body memories of the fear and pain, they don’t necessarily leave you. Those are the feelings that are lodged in our primitive brains…they exist and you need to figure out how to manage them. I have chosen to turn my back on them for the most part. I don’t bury them, because some fear is healthy to have…it can save your life.
I have been thinking about my past in contrast to my present. I started Rebel Thriver because I wanted my experience to serve as a beacon to others…DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP. There truly is a light at the end of the tunnel and I know this because I have found it. There is not a day that goes by that I am not incredibly grateful…I know what I have and I know how far I have come. Today, we celebrate the International Day of Women; I decided to celebrate my freedom by sharing with you a little of my story in the hopes that it will bring someone else hope.
Ten years ago my favorite word was Freedom. I used it as my anchor word. When the shit was hitting the fan as it so often did I would repeat “Freedom” over and over in my head. I knew that although I was living in an abusive marriage that freedom still existed for me and my children. I didn’t know how I would find it, but I knew that I couldn’t give up on the dream. From the exterior no one knew how bad it truly was behind that apartment door. When the door opened I was dressed and ready to go…appearances were always up. I had truly perfected my performance over the years. When I look back at it I feel as though I am watching a movie that is staring some other woman.
Freedom: the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.
I clung to the idea of freedom as I locked myself in the bathroom to find solace. I clung to freedom when my husband came home drunk, angry, and looking for a fight. I clung to freedom when he stopped taking his medication and decided that he was going to do whatever it was that he wanted to do. I clung to freedom as I pushed my babies around town in an overused stroller, trying to kill time so as not to have to go “home”. I clung to freedom when I was trying to formulate a plan of escape…a plan that I knew I had to get right or the consequences would be high. So high in fact that failure was not an option. I was scared to death. Literally.
The good new is that I sit here and write about this now as if it were a bad dream…i am no longer connected to it. I found my freedom. I sacrificed the life i knew for Freedom and in doing so I found a new life. I wish it was as easy as that last sentence rolls off the tongue, but it wasn’t. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and it went on for years. It was during this time after the kids and I escaped, while I was relishing my new-found freedom, that my anchor word changed to HOPE.
I had made the great escape; No more terrorist attacks in the middle of the night. No more violence for my children to bear witness to. No more yelling………. Over night I had become a refugee in my own country. The law didn’t hold up its end of the bargain…it let my children and I down. So while I had my freedom, it wasn’t safe for me to use it. I was still under his thumb and I had to be vigilant 100% of the time. There were no holidays for this mother. I was on call 24/7 and I couldn’t fall asleep on my watch if I wanted to stay alive. It took a lot to get out of bed back then. It was so hard, and I had two little children; one with special needs.
I kept going though. A spark of HOPE was inside of me and I don’t know if I was dumb or stubborn, but I kept getting out of bed every single day. I kept doing what I had to do. The truth is though that my worst day was so much better then my best day had been before I found my freedom. Even though I was completely overwhelmed I kept going. I had no goal other than to stay alive and take care of my children. I tried to make everyday fun for them. I tried to make it an adventure. It’s so hard to smile when you feel no joy though. As a matter of fact I felt nothing; I was numb. Working through that was a challenge to say the least.
Hope: Hope is the state which promotes the belief in an outcome related to events and circumstances in one’s life. The opposite of despair.
Fear causes you to numb out the pain and if you want to move on and grow you need to face that pain. That very pain that you have buried deep within and carried around for so long. The reality is that if you don’t commit to doing the work then you are faced with what I found to be a worse senario…to be forever stuck. To be numb, memories repressed, and forced to live out your life in a labyrinth; always trying to find your way out, and frustrated because it isn’t happening for you. The only way out is through the pain. I knew this and Hope helped me through those very hard years.
There are people who are curious; they want to know details of my former life. I dare not get into the details for a few reason. The first one being that it would be folly on my part to divulge specific incidents which would expose who and where I am to a very interested party. Secondly, I have done the work. I am happy to say that I chose to push through the pain and sail to the other shore where my past wouldn’t be a part of my present. I make a choice every single day as to what thoughts I express…i can’t stop my mind from bringing up memories. They are there and they are a part of me. However, I can choose not to give them energy. This is why I don’t tell all the nitty gritty details…not because I can’t face them, but because it does not serve me to do so. The past is left behind for a reason and while I can see it in my rearview mirror, I choose not to turn around.
For those of you who are trapped or just finding your way out of an abusive situation keep going. I know how overwhelming it feels. I know you are probably wondering how the hell I did it; will you ever be this strong. This is why I write…I am blazing the trail for you. I am asking you to not give up. There is freedom on the other side of fear and pain. Lao-Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This might feel overwhelming to you if you are at the beginning of your journey, but it’s that one step that got me to where I am today. I took one step, then another, and truthfully I had no idea where I was going. I just knew I had to keep moving forward. This is when I found my new anchor word which remains with me to this very day…BELIEVE.
I Believe that good things can happen. I believe that my children are going to grow up to be healthy well adjusted adults. I believe that salvation exists for those who truly want it. I believe that I am worthy of my freedom and happiness. I think I decided to adopt Believe when I started this blog. It was then that I decided to face my fears and let it rip. Reaching out to other women has changed my life…and hopefully in some small way theirs. Today I am a beacon of light and a peddler of hope. I Believe with all of me that you can have the life that you dream of. The only thing standing between you and your dream is your fears and self doubt…give them the boot they do not serve you.
Believe: to have a firm conviction as to the goodness of what can come.
If you are struggling right now I ask you to hold on; don’t give up. Find your anchor word…I cannot tell you how powerful they are. These words became my daily mantra. I would repeat, Freedom, and then Hope constantly. Today I embrace Believe completely. I would be a fool to do anything other than that. I am blessed with such an abundance of goodness in my life that it truly overwhelms me. You too can have this. Believe it and manifest it to happen for you in your life. Don’t you think you are worth it? If you struggle with self worth then you need to face down, because you are. Don’t believe the negative voices in your head. Remember that you are not your past…you are what you are going to become. You have the power to choose your path. It might not be an easy road, but your Freedom is so worth it.
Let my story shine as an example that you can move on; you can grow, and you can thrive. No, my life isn’t perfect. I am not sure that anyone in their right mind would want to change places with me, but I am okay. I have learned to love myself and forgive myself for allowing all those years to be lost; for not being brave enough to leave sooner. We are all human and we need to keep some levity while here on earth.
I Believed, and I have risen so much higher than I ever thought was possible. When I glance in my rearview mirror I am reminded about how far I have come. I share myself with you so that you can find Hope in your own life. No surrender; this is your one and only life and you hold the pen. If you don’t then get ready to take the pen back, or in my case just buy a new pen and keep going. Xo Ella