When being strong is your only option, you will be amazed by what you're capable of. Especially as a parent.
This is a story of survival, hope and new beginnings. The positive thing about the internet being what it is now is that, if you can find the strength to share - you can reach so many with a story of experience.
And if you're not ready to share, you can find someone with a situation that you relate to and derive strength and hope from their circumstances and how they overcame them.
Domestic violence is a very taboo subject. It shouldn't be, because it's a reality for so many, but it remains something people fear speaking about. I want to change that. It is usually the hardest things to speak about that are the most powerful. Oftentimes it's the difficult discussions that are the most important ones to have - and will have the greatest effect on people.
Abuse can look different to everyone as there are many types. They're not all mental and they're not all physical. Often, they're both. They're more than both. I have been in multiple abusive relationships. I was with my high school boyfriend for three years and he really impacted my confidence. He hit me in class in front of friends and classmates who acted as if it didn't happen. He hurt me in public where people looked away. He locked me out of his house in the dead of winter, with no shoes or coat. His parents came home and let me in, but asked no questions. The people who did want to help, I swore to secrecy. It really is such an impossible situation because you struggle with wanting out.. yet being afraid to leave because you believe no one will ever want you. That you will never be enough.
Those damaging, toxic relationships take more from you than people realize. They destroy your sense of safety, confidence, independence, and they alter who you are as a person. You end up feeling trapped. You become attached to a person who you know isn't good for you, yet you feel that you're not worth anything more. Maybe you're afraid to leave, for fear of how that person will react. Maybe they've threatened you. Maybe you're afraid to leave for fear of yourself. Fear that no one will ever love you and that you will spend your days alone, damaged and unloveable.
Please, if this is your current situation - read my story and know that there is life beyond what you believe is "as good as it gets". You do not deserve to be treated that way. You are capable of so much. You are worthy of love. But who is going to love you if you leave?
You will. You will love yourself.
I didn't leave my situation by choice. I wish that I could tell you that I had been so brave, and that I walked away by my own volition, but I can't. Instead, I got pregnant. 18 years old, not quite finished high school, I found myself afraid and alone. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Because with that, my life changed for the better. Instead of living for people who tore me down, I lived in spite of them. I finished school, went to College and built my way up to where I am now. It wasn't an easy road, and I made many mistakes along the way. I did wind up in a couple other abusive relationships. I also struggled to understand what I would classify as an unhealthy relationship and how to work on myself.
Then one day, when I wasn't looking, nor expecting it, my husband (Adam) came along. He was my manager at the time but we developed a friendship quite quickly. Over 8 months, it blossomed into something I don't think either of us saw coming - but we believe was meant to be. Nearly 8 years later, we have a relationship that I never would have dreamed possible. Because friendships and relationships like that.. they only exist in the media, right?
Adam has never said a hurtful thing to me. Never. Not in the heat of a disagreement, not when I'm being my stubborn self, never. He has never allowed me to feel anything but incredible. He will build me up for hours if I need it that day.
Over 7+ years, we have been through so much and have never, not once, lost sight of our relationship.
Through losing 4 babies.
Through marriage and home ownership.
Through paying off debt and accumulating it.
Through weight gain, hidden food addictions and struggling with grief that was too painful to admit, initially.
Through fear of the unknown, a blended family, and all of life's curveballs.
He has never made me feel unappreciated, unloved, unpretty, or undervalued. And I have not once lost my attraction to him in every sense of the word. He is an absolute gift, and I am proud to call him my husband and the father of my boys.
When you meet someone who teaches you to see your value where you can't, who encourages you to be your absolute best self and who inspires you to see the world around you in a positive light - you will wonder how you ever believed it wasn't possible. Then you will look back on your former self filled with pride and perseverance knowing that you grew into the person you are now. This goes for both genders as domestic violence does not discriminate.
So please. If you're in a situation you need to get out of.. You can. You will. No matter how impossible it feels. There is so much love and possibility waiting for you and you will not find it if you don't survive the situation you're in. Find support - because it's out there. And never give up on yourself.