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Healing From the Inside Out

After suffering years of abuse and ending in what was the worst possible way, I feel like I don’t really know how to begin to live again. I have been struggling with depression, anxiety and all aspects of post traumatic stress. I second guess just about every decision, that is when I’m finally able to make one, and usually it is after talking it over with trusted loved ones. I had to rely on my two best friends from Austin to come to Dallas to help me buy a car. Seriously, I needed validation that I was making a good decision. How I would love to live a normal life…even though most of the time I feel like I have no clue what a “normal life” is…rather than having to live with this hell I’ve been living.

While I keep hearing, “he’s dead, he can no longer hurt you, everyone just wants to move on.” Well I too want to move on, but forgetting about it will NEVER happen. As for him no longer hurting me, well this is far from the truth. Not only did he leave me with a literal physical mess to clean-up, he also left me with numerous internal wounds to heal. I refuse to be one of those victims that wants to pretend it was all a bad nightmare, shove it in a closet and throw away the key. Been there, done that and it only got worse. Yes, it will never go away so why not turn this horrible thing into something positive? Standing up for myself and telling “my story” in efforts to help others is the only thing that makes sense of this horrible tragedy. Yes, he was someone’s son, father and even friend, the fact remains he was “my abusive husband” and the reason why my life is now dedicated to help make this world a better place. So for those that don’t understand…well, think about how you would feel if this were happening to your daughter or son? Yes son, because when I say this can happen to anyone it includes men. Would you just sit back and turn your head, or would you be doing your best to keep your children safe and free of harm’s way? I may not have children of my own, but I know without a doubt that I would do anything to save my children. If the firemen weren’t holding me back, I would have ran back into my burning home to save my “babies”. Hearing them say, “there’s nothing you can do to save them. They are dead, they are dead!”, are words I pray to God that I will never hear again!!!

I was in shock for months after losing everything in my life as I knew it. The hardest loss that I have yet to overcome is losing my pets. They were my “babies”! There is not a day that has gone by that doesn’t remind me of something from my life before, but mostly there is not a day that has gone by that I don’t think of Molly, Lilly, and Sam. While I did not have children of my own, I loved and cared for my pets as if they were my children. While I am doing better and I do my best to look forward to the new day tomorrow brings, I just never know when something big or small will trigger a flashback. I know I can’t change the past, but I can make my future better…which is why I’m so fearful of making decisions because I want to make sure that my future is a better one. Living day by day is about all I can do.

The reason I have decided to be so open about my life is so that others will begin to understand what is domestic violence and know that it is okay to talk about it. I honestly believe that this is the only way we can impact positive change in domestic violence cases. After coming out with my story and details of my life, the one thing I have heard over and over again is that I don’t “look” like a victim of domestic violence. I’ve started responding to this with a question, “Well, what does a victim look like?” Wouldn’t you know, nobody has been able to answer me…hmmm wonder why? Well, the obvious is that you just never know who is enduring domestic violence mostly because people don’t talk about it making it difficult to put a face to domestic violence. I have always been the type of person that cares about others and puts others first no matter how hard my day is and really try to keep a smile on my face. So maybe people think that victims suffering from domestic violence should not be smiling??? Putting a painful frown on my face so that people will know “from the outside” that I’m not okay on the inside will only make it that much harder for me to heal.

Slowly, I am learning to live again. It has been almost 9 months since I nearly lost my life and still find myself numb. Attachment has been one of the biggest emotional issues. I don’t feel attachment to anything. If someone tells me they like something of mine, I just give it to them. If I lose or break something, I don’t stress over it I just go out and buy it again. I’m still living in temporary furnished housing the insurance has provided for me. In less than two months I will have only a mattress, a TV and a car…and I don’t feel a bit sad, angry, stressed, frustrated…I am completely numb to not have all this stuff! I remember that I use to measure my happiness and success by the stuff I had be it my house, furniture, nice lawn, etc, since I had no other means of happiness. The most obvious victim is one with physically visible wounds; however, the ones that are more prevalent and severely impacted are the ones with internal wounds and injuries. Another very annoying thing that people have told me time and again is “You look fine to me!” People that have not experienced anything so traumatic don’t realize the pain and the wounds left on the inside that there is no timeline to heal. What they also don’t realize is this very sentence is deepening the internal wounds even further. It’s like grabbing a hold of the knife the abuser stabbed you with and pushing it in further while you are trying so desperately to remove it. Now, I measure my happiness and success through this charity. When someone I have never met comes up to me and says “thank you, thank you for being so brave in standing up for us”, or “I sure hope you can get these laws changed cause Lord knows we need stronger ones”, or the most empowering is when a complete stranger comes up to me overwhelmed with pain and tears, hugs me so tight and leaves with a cracked smile only to learn later that this person was so thankful that finally someone, a real victim that knows what is really happening behind closed doors, is doing something to stop the cycle of domestic violence.

If you ask any victim, they will tell you they would much rather be hit than endure the emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse. The words and images are stuck with you forever. A bruised face or broken bone heals and well kind of like mothers say after childbirth…you forget about the labor pain. Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever forget about the pain from the internal wounds suffered. Do you remember that childhood saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me”? Well, words do hurt more than sticks and stones. Words leave wounds so deep that affect every aspect of your soul…every aspect for your reason for being.

So next time you are at a friend’s party or family gathering and you see all the happy faces around, don’t be so quick to judge that their life is just fine. I guarantee you that most victims of domestic violence do their best to hide the pain and suffering. If you are a true and loving friend, don’t ever forget to smile and hug those people a little more because you just never know…they may be struggling to heal from the inside out! They need to know that you will not judge them and you will support them no matter a smile or a frown on their face.