I tell this story to benefit anyone who might find it resonates with their own situation and to let you know there is a way out, that to step into your own healing is immeasurably worthwhile. That life can be full, free, rewarding, joyful, stunning. ..not without challenges but you will be different- you will be stronger, living your truth, unleashed to make a difference that only you can make and that we will all feel.
I grew up in a rural ranching home in BC and Alberta, with seven siblings, where I knew my parents loved me but where it was equally abusive and dysfunctional. Despite so many aspects of growing up being conflicted, stressful and heart-breaking, I was idealistic and motivated to have a life and relationship free of unnecessary suffering, that was harmonious, supportive and loving when I left home.
Independent, I studied in Vancouver, worked in the Yukon, got my degree and married a man who presented as all that I wanted, until I signed on the dotted line. Even after his behavior began to change, I called his attention to it but was still loyal and supportive. I believed in the person he had shown me and knew he was capable of being. I worked full-time, had children and then worked as a mother and part-time, in a relationship that became increasingly controlling, demeaning and abusive.
For many years, I was on a sort of merry-go-round where if I was not happy being treated this way- it was ‘my fault.’ I would try to change to make the relationship work, only to be blamed again. I had always imagined that abusive relationships were obvious, and involved a drunken, angry, overtly loud and violent person, but realize now that they exist equally in all kinds of relationships, including white collar.
When I look back, I cannot believe I stayed through what I did. I remember one night receiving a serious injury. He told me it was my fault. In general, I am pretty open, honest and real about both good news and bad news. However, feeling shock and shame, I denied there was a problem when the renter came up the next morning, asking if I was okay. She’d heard it all.
It became so muddled and confusing. I felt invisible, powerless, like I did not matter. I had what every other abused women has, low self worth, emotional and mental exhaustion, brainwashing, pressure from self, for my children, to ‘make it work,’ as well as from family and society.
It was only when I had been practicing mindfulness for some time, going to a Hakomi therapy awareness group, and having a 3 week break from his influence (pivotal), in a healthy environment during a training, that I was able to get the perspective I needed to realize his attacks were ‘not about me,’ that there was nothing I, alone, could do to make my marriage work, and that I needed to leave. This took twenty years.
This alone should make you feel better. Change can take time.
I am now living in closer alignment with my purpose and my own pleasures (rather than subverting my energy and sacrificing my purpose to serving someone else’s). Taking part in mindful art, writing, movement and dance has catalysed insight, passion and joy and allowed me to express and release the negative, celebrate and strongly embody the positive. I now live on a mountain lake with my children where we can swim, hike, kayak, skate, ski, spend rich time with friends and family, grow clean food and live in closer connection with the earth.
I have earned my Masters, trauma recovery therapist certification, as well as training and experience living healing and wellness practices that have aided me in rebuilding a firm foundation and stable, healthy, passionate and often exhilarating life.
I have built a clay cob studio and created sacred space to facilitate this kind of experience and more: awareness, empowerment and healing for those on a journey towards wholeness, discovering their deeper purpose and a richness that simply living in this way with awareness and gratitude can provide.
I’ve been told, “I’m sorry you had to go through this,” but I believe we stay in situations until we are forced to look at the reasons we got into them or that allowed us to stay in them. It is a natural evolution, a way of moving us to address our wounds and deficits, to be so naturally ready to make change and have the emotional energy (anger, sadness, frustration…) to be motivated to make that change.
Our emotional reaction to injustice (for example) can fuel us, give us courage and move us to take the ‘right action’ needed to correct the situation. Without this experience and emotional reaction, we would likely (1) stay oblivious to the wound/issue, (2) not see the need for correction or healing and, (3) not have the fire-in-the-belly motivation to stay with the issue to fix it and complete healing.
I see what I went through in my marriage relationship as what it took for me to start caring more about myself, (which had wounding even before I came into the relationship), protecting myself and accepting the kindness, respect, love and happiness I deserve. These experiences are lessons. When we learn them and when we move into a more easeful rewarding life – is up to us.
What can be invaluable, especially if you feel ‘in too deep,’ overwhelmed or caught- no matter what the issue- is asking someone for help. Someone who’s been there before, who can provide insight and tools that can gently facilitate you in gaining accurate perspective, energy and clarity- sharing with you methods to connect with your own strengths, higher knowing, power and peace.