Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

I feel like I can never say “no” to anyone. I must always put my children’s needs ahead of my own. I feel obligated to make my significant other happy first, because if he/she is happy, I am happy. I can get more sleep when I am dead. I do not have time or the means to exercise. I feel guilty for spending too long in the tub/shower. I feel guilty watching Netflix instead of cleaning. I feel guilty for buying something for myself instead of my family.

If you’ve been on an airplane, then you know that the stewardess will tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping your children or the person beside you. If you can’t get oxygen, you’ll die before you’ll be able to help anyone. Seems obvious, right? So why do we have such a hard time applying this in our daily lives? You better listen to every word I say, because you won’t be able to avoid turbulence your whole life. If you listen to me, you’ll be safe when your airplane starts to nosedive… and trust me, I work in aviation for a living, so I know what I’m talking about.

Self Care

It has been three months since I have posted. I was on a rough patch of turbulence, and I needed the time to really date myself. I learned a lot about self-care and how detrimental it is towards my healing process. I found that writing this blog, as great of an experience as it has been, brings me a lot of depression. It’s hard to reflect on the abuse I’ve survived. However, it is all worth it. I have my oxygen mask on so securely, that I am confident that I’ll be able to help you with yours, so here we go. Don’t panic, it will be okay. I’m going to teach you how to safely ride out the storm.

What do all of the things I listed in the first paragraph have in common? These are typical thoughts of someone who doesn’t do enough self care. What is self care? Self care is taking care of your mind, body, and spirit before all else. You may be thinking that this sounds selfish. I should be taking care of my family, my work responsibilities, household chores, schoolwork etc. before focusing on myself. Um, no. How can you do all these things if you’re depriving yourself of oxygen? You’ll die before you can help others. Remember? Put your mask on first!

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I’m not saying you’re going to immediately start helping people with their problems. The whole point of this post is to help you realize how incredibly important taking care of yourself needs to be. If you have a significant other, children, or someone you care for, you will not be able to fully provide for them if you are not providing for yourself.

If you do not have anyone but yourself at the moment, you will have a hard time being happy, living life to the fullest, finding that significant other, being a good friend, coworker, daughter, son, sibling, etc. if you are not taking care of yourself.


Trust me, it took me many months of my counselors telling me to do this before I finally took their counsel, and before I finally saw a change in my life. It takes practice. I’m going to share with you a few things I have done and a few personal insights I have learned along the way.

  • Don’t Beat Yourself Up So you had a bad day. You have been working on being positive, and you realized you said a lot of negative things about yourself and about others. You are working on quitting smoking, and you had a cigarette. You are an alcoholic in recovery and you had a drink. You are a survivor of abuse and you miss your abuser. You feel like staying in bed all day. You don’t feel like cooking a healthy dinner and eat a greasy hamburger instead. So what? You are not perfect. There are days where you will slip up. As long as those bad days don’t outweigh the good days, you’re still ahead! There will even be days that you feel like you’ve taken five steps backwards for every one step forward. As long as you don’t give up, you are still making progress.
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  • Positive Self-Care Quotes There are so many quotes on self-care on Pinterest (where I’ve got all the cute pictures for this post), and everyday I take at least 15 minutes to find quotes, write them in a journal, and write about how that quote matters to me. It felt like another chore at first, another thing to add to my to-do list. I’ve been doing it at least three times a week for two months now, and not only is it amazing to read my older entries to see how far I’ve come, but I’ve come to realize that reading positive thoughts and really pondering them have really helped my self-esteem. I wrote this one on June 10th, my very first entry:

“One day, I woke up and realized I was not made for anyone. I was made for me. I am my own”


I worry too much about what people think of me, especially at work. I find myself saying things to “fit in”, and when I’m not included in something, I feel bad and question myself. What I like/dislike, speak about/don’t speak about, agree/disagree, how I spend my time, my religion, where I live, none of that truly matters to anyone but me. Who cares what others think? The most important person’s happiness is mine and my daughter’s.

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  • Take a Bubble Bath or a Long Shower I am a huge advocate for bubble baths! I was a skeptic at first. They take too much time, and I’ll get bored. I started taking them when I was pregnant. My sweet daughter kept knocking a rib out of place, because I’m short and had hardly anywhere to put her, and my lower back was constantly aching. A bath was the quickest form of temporary relief. The more I did it, however, the more I noticed how calming it was. My abuser created a lot of unnecessary stress, obviously, and I loved the alone time taking a bath gave me. Sadly, though, there were times where he’d barge into the bathroom and yell at me for something while I sat there naked and exposed, trying to relieve the hurt he constantly put me in.

There are many different ways to make your bath time extra special: bath bombs, epsom salt, bath salts, candles, oils, sugar scrubs, and bubble bath soap. I like to take a book or a magazine in with me, and even just play on my phone. I also bought a waterproof pillow specifically made for taking baths. It’s heaven!

Believe it or not, there are actually health benefits to taking baths. I could do a whole post about this, but someone already did the hard work for me! I’ll highlight the best ones , but you should check it out when you have time. Baths reduce stress, reduce joint pain, decrease depression, improve your immune system, increase your metabolism, and aid in reducing insomnia.


  • Learn and Practice Saying “No”My mother is a perfect example of someone who serves everyone before herself. She is seriously amazing. She decorates incredible cakes, and doesn’t even charge very many people. It takes her an entire day, sometimes two, and although she loves doing it, it requires a lot of sacrifice. On top of that, she runs my younger siblings around, does cooking, cleaning, shopping, is in the Primary Presidency at church, a member in our state’s choir, and I could go on and on. She hardly has time for herself. She would sacrifice whatever small amount of time she has left to herself to help someone else. When I first left my abuser on the day I gave birth to my daughter, she sacrificed months of her life to help me through the most difficult time of my life. She is the best person I know. My father has tried to tell her, however, that she needs to learn how to say no to people, because she never has time to relax. She has good intentions, but she isn’t taking care of herself. All of the good things she piles on top of each other become just as stressful as things we don’t like doing. Don’t feel guilty for saying no, it’s critical for your self-care.
  • Exercise Walk, lift weights, run, play a sport, swim, whatever it is, get your heart pumping, use those muscles. I know, you don’t have time, exercise isn’t for you, I’m too old, I have an injury, what do I do with my kids? I’ve heard and used all the excuses in the books. BUT, exercise releases that commonly heard of chemical called endorphins. It’s not a load of bull. I promise, it really helps. Not only does it help you feel better, look better, make you stronger, and control weight. According to the University of Michigan, “The Lancet released a series of studies that attribute positive outcomes to physical activity, including ‘a sense of purpose and value, a better quality of life, improved sleep and reduced stress, as well as stronger relationships and social connectedness'”. You should really read this article too.
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  • Keep a Journal I can’t stress enough how essential this can be. Journaling is a way to relieve stress. All the things you wish you could say to someone but could never say to their face, write it in your journal! When you feel like no one would understand you, no one wants to listen to your problems, write it in your journal! Sometimes getting a bad day out on paper is what you need to calm down. Not only does it help relieve stress, writing about positive events and experiences is a special way to be grateful for the good things in your life. It’s really neat to go back years from now and read the good and the bad feelings and events that you recorded. By the way, if you despise hand cramps and inky-fingers, online journaling is a thing now too.
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  • Read a book or watch a movie Who doesn’t like an excuse to read all day or binge-watch your favorite T.V. show on Netflix? Need another excuse? Reading and watching a story is one of the cheapest, quickest ways to forget about our problems. Doing so helps us escape into the story and the lives of our favorite characters. Want to forget about your problems? Need to focus on someone else’s for two hours? Read a book. Watch a movie. When your spouse gets on you for spending too much time reading or watching Netflix, tell him/her you’re taking care of yourself today. You deserve it.

Below are few other ideas to try, but I’m not going to expand on them:

  • enjoy nature
  • color, create, enjoy art
  • go on a drive
  • cook your favorite meal
  • eat something “naughty”
  • serve others
  • volunteer
  • be grateful
  • be kind
  • compliment others
  • read this 64 self care ideas from another blogger
  • and this 108 self-care ideas from yet another blogger
  • Go to my Pinterest Board of a TON of other blogs with self-care tips!
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The more you give yourself clean, healthy oxygen, the more you will be able to withstand any thunderstorm that hits you. Once your mask is on securely, you’ll be able to take care of yourself and others around you. We all have valid reasons for giving up. Life isn’t easy. But life can be so much easier, so much more enjoyable, if you don’t give up.

As always, I’m here for you. Feel free to comment or email me if you need a friend, advice, or a listening ear.



Time Heals All Wounds



I’ve decided to write this post about how time heals. I can honestly say, with a flood of relief, that I no longer miss him. Every time I feel that stab of loneliness, that familiar wave of anxiety, those annoying whispers in the back of my mind that tell me I’m better off with an abuser rather than spending every night alone, I find myself reminding myself almost reflexively that it is not him I miss, but having someone.

I’ve been on a brief hiatus from this blog because of some drama DVP (Domestic Violence Perpetrator, a.k.a. my abuser) was causing. It has been two months now, and I’m ready to dive back in head first in the deep end of my very deep pool of experiences, grief, and emotions in hopes I can help others cope with theirs. I have to say, though, that the deep end is slowly becoming more shallow!

I bet you are asking, “What was the drama about?” DVP somehow found out about my blog. I thought I had deleted everyone on Facebook that was connected to him, but after closer review,  I found that I was still friends with a few of his friends and even some of his relatives. I’m still unsure who told him, but the fact is, he read it and decided to comment on my posts. He’s probably reading this right now, but it doesn’t worry me. My intent is not to bash him, though it may seem like it. I truly mean it when I say my intent is to help other victims. It is this reason that I have not used any names and locations. He was foolish enough to post with his name, and claim in his comments that he was the DVP.

I was going to let the comment go, but after it turned into three, hurtful comments followed by a nasty threat text message to my father, I had to report his repetitive violations of the protective order to the police. I knew that it would be best to lay low after that, and I’m glad I did. I was able to focus a lot on healing and becoming happy again, and I’m on my way to making a full recovery.


One piece of advice that always annoyed me after a break up is what I’m about to tell you now: time heals all wounds. We’ve all heard it. It annoyed me because it felt like a cheap “go-to” piece of advice people use when they don’t know what to say or don’t care enough to offer sympathy. Regardless, I am going to say it to you, because (dare I admit it) it is absolutely true. Truthfully, part of it is owed to the anti-depressant I am taking, but looking back on the last two months, I can see a huge difference.

Leaving an abuser is one of the most difficult break-ups a person can go through. Breaking up with any companion is hard in itself. It’s like a part of you died. All the memories, feelings, experiences, etc. suddenly come to an end. All the time you invested in and with that person now doesn’t matter because it becomes too painful to think about and you know you won’t be spending any more time with him. Someone you saw and spoke to everyday is gone. As far as you’re concerned, it’s like you are dead to him, and him to you. You may lose mutual friends and people in his family you’ve grown to consider your own. You lose part of your possessions. Your children are confused about why they have to split time between the two of you, and are just as heartbroken as you, if not more. You have to spend thousands of dollars on lawyers and fees. You have to move out, get a new bank account. The list could go on.


As if all of this isn’t enough to swallow, there’s a whole other side to leaving an abuser. You are left with a lot more emotional, physical, spiritual, and even financial damage than the average breakup. You are left with feelings of self-doubt. Are you at fault for the abuse? Could you have done more to fix your relationship, to fix him? Is leaving him really the best thing for you? What will my family and friends think when they find out the truth? Am I broken?

You are left with physical scars and marks. How many times did he choke, slap, hit, pull your hair, smack, leave bruises, break bones, leave black eyes, or push you down or against a wall? You probably can’t even keep track anymore. How many times did he call you names, tell you to kill yourself, threaten to kill you, threaten your kids, harm your kids, threaten to take them from you, tell you that you are worthless, tell you that you are nothing without him, tell you what to think, isolate you from friends and family, and so much more?

You are left with court dates not only for a divorce (for my married victims), but for a protective order and the countless domestic violence and other related charges. You have to listen to people pick apart your personal relationship and relive horrible experiences nobody should ever have to experience to begin with. Worse, you have to hear him lie through his teeth to a judge. You get to hear his lawyer twist every abusive situation into being your fault or not as bad as it really was.


When you realize you must go through with leaving him no matter how hard it is, you will eventually go through all of this. It’s overwhelming, and it plain sucks! It’s unfair. Haven’t you suffered enough? I’m here to reiterate that time does heal all of that suck.

I have been seeing two counselors. I took a group class on domestic violence. I am on an anti-depressant. I meditate, listen and watch motivational videos, read motivational books, use a diffuser, run way too much, lift weights, binge-watch Netflix, surround myself with family and friends that love me, spent quality time with my daughter, focused on college classes, experienced the true meaning of retail therapy, and have immersed myself with my religion.

All of those things and more really helped me get through each day, but at the end of the day (and often random times during the day), I would still feel like it wasn’t worth living another day. I’d feel like it would be better to be miserable with my abuser than to experience this type of pain. I felt like I had no friends, that no one understood what I was going through. I misinterpreted everything people said or didn’t say to me. I felt like people were going out of their way to ignore me. I felt like no one cared. I felt embarrassed about my situation. I felt ashamed.


I’ve been out of my abusive relationship for nine months now. My divorce still isn’t final, but I’m patient. I know that it was the best thing I could have done for myself and my daughter. It has been two months since my last post about how much I struggled to not call him. Time has passed. Each day, though I struggled, I grew stronger. Did I realize it at the time? Definitely not. I learned about my self worth through counseling, reflection, spending time with myself, serving others, making new friendships, becoming self-reliant, and most importantly, discovering my new-found freedom. Admit it, you didn’t (don’t) have freedom in that abusive relationship. Did all of it happen over night? Did I wake up one day and pick which aspect of my life I was going to work on? Not really. I knew that I couldn’t return to abuse, so I pushed forward. I lived one day at a time. Before I knew it, nine months had passed, and I can see the significant amount of change in myself, and others have noticed too.

If it’s been nine months for you, or longer, and you don’t feel like you are at this point, that is perfectly okay. Everyone has their own timeline. The most important thing is to not give up, and please do not return to your abuser! I promise it gets easier. One day I realized that I could think about him and not feel hurt. I mainly feel anger, but even that is passing. I read one of the comments he left on my blog, which used to make me cry and long for him, and now I can read it and laugh at how absurd it is. I can look at his profile picture (which is all I can see of his Facebook since I blocked him) and not wish I could see him in person. I can drive by our old apartment and not care that we used to live there. I used to avoid that place, and now it’s just part of my past life. When I see his features in my daughter, it used to eat me up. Now, it doesn’t bother me. She is beautiful. She looks a lot like me too, and without him, she wouldn’t be here.

Eventually, my divorce will be final, and I’ll be able to date again. Once that happens, I feel like I won’t put as much thought into my abuser any more. I’ll be in a healthy, wonderful relationship that I always deserved, but didn’t have. However, I don’t need a new relationship to feel better either. I am learning to love myself and my daughter, regardless of having a companion.


Time will pass regardless. Make it count. Try to find happiness, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t find it. You’ll have good days and bad days. You will go back and forth on your decisions regarding your abuser. Just remember that before you know it, you’ll be able to look at your life as it is now and compare it to how it was with your abuser and see how far you’ve come. In a year from now, I’ll be able to see more progress. I promise, things will get better. Hang in there.


Conquering Your Internal Battle


It’s been a while since I’ve posted! I was on a business trip, and when I returned home, DVP was in town for court, so I decided to wait until he left town to avoid any unnecessary confrontation. The following week I received surgery, and didn’t think it wise to post while on pain medication! A lot of you have reached out to me in concern, and I’m thankful for that! I’m okay, and ready to write again.

Today’s post is about the inner conflict many survivors struggle with after leaving their abuser. During the trip I was on, I had a few experiences that just about led me to get back together with DVP. Each day since the hospital security staff escorted him out for abusing me, I’ve struggled with accepting the fact that a) he truly is an abuser b) we are never ever, ever getting back together and c) I deserve to move on and by happy by myself, with or without a man.

I was in Hawaii, for business, and we were on a bus back to our airplane to get it ready to take off for a different country. The previous day, we had most of the day after we landed and did our inspections to just relax. I was on the beach, with great co-workers, time to relax baby-free (though I missed her dearly), and was just soaking up the sun. It was great. I didn’t even think of DVP. On the bus, however, Facebook notified me of “memories” from prior year posts of that day. Most of my posts included DVP. When I looked at the old posts, I noticed that his name was tagged on my posts again, although I had blocked him. I clicked on his name and found that his page was no longer blocked. I was able to see his entire page.

I should have immediately blocked him again and put my phone away, but curiosity got the best of me. I spent the rest of the bus ride, about thirty minutes, stalking his page. He has lost a ton of weight. He talked about going to the gym. Some posts were of him missing me and my daughter, some talking about his hope of us getting back together, and some of him being bitter and angry towards me. I was starting to get that sick feeling in my stomach, and had to fight back tears. However, I came upon a post of a picture of a car he said he had followed for twenty minutes because the car cut him off.  He was still hanging out with the same friends who do drugs. I realized that he really hadn’t changed all that much. Regardless, I still had that longing, deep, stabbing pain that I wanted to call him and work things out.

Thankfully, we arrived at the aircraft and I had to put my phone away and get to work. By the time I had time to pull out my phone again, it was time to taxi, so I turned it off. I can’t tell you how stupid it was of me to Facebook-stalk DVP right before an EIGHT HOUR FLIGHT. I had eight hours to lay in my bunk (most military aircraft have bunks for the crew and it’s amazing) and think about him and how badly I missed him. I was ready to just give up on all the progress I had made. I was ready to give him back my freedom in exchange for his controlling and abusive behavior, and I just didn’t care! I was sick of feeling lonely. After all, we did love each other most of the time, right?

A lot of you are not religious, and that’s okay, but I prayed to my Heavenly Father for help. I asked Him to take away my grief, to give me strength and comfort, because I was weak and I was ready to give in. I read some scripture, and amazingly, the pain melted away. I was left with a calm, peaceful feeling and I was able to get a few hours of sleep for the rest of the flight.

When we landed, I was doing tons better. I didn’t feel the need to call him. I decided to leave my pain on the aircraft, and to enjoy my time in the foreign country. I was at the poolside bar of the hotel where my coworkers were waiting for me to meet up with them so we could go get dinner. My coworker was finishing his beer, so while I was waiting I noticed I had a notification on my most recent blog post. It was from a username I didn’t recognize and it was a really long post. I started reading it and then realized it was from DVP. This is the second time he has commented, but I never approve his comments. My heart stopped. Again, I shouldn’t have read it, but I just had to know what he said. He basically was trying to appeal to my emotions and it worked. My coworkers told me to ignore it, and to not let it ruin my night.

If we weren’t in a foreign country, I would have called him. The rest of the trip went pretty well, until we landed back in Hawaii. We went into a bar that reminded me a lot of the type of bars DVP liked to go to. Irish, small, pool tables and darts, and packed. As soon as I walked in, I had a trigger. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I felt claustrophobic. I told one of my coworkers who also didn’t drink that I couldn’t handle it, so we left. Part of this was a trigger from DVP, and part from the sexual assault. I realized then that there was no way I could ever go back to him. My reactions, the emotional trauma I was still facing, is not something someone should experience from a healthy relationship. He did this to me. Why should I go back?


The day I was flying back home was the day DVP had court and visitation with my daughter. I was worried, obviously, about her, but he brought his aunt with him so I knew she’d be safe. When I got home, around nine that night, there was a pile of new clothes and some toys he’d bought her. He drenched everything with his cologne. My first reaction was anger. I was mad that he bought her all those clothes, but he couldn’t send me child support to help pay for formula, diapers and daycare. I was mad that now, all the sudden, he wanted to be a good father, when he showed little interest of being a good one when I was pregnant. After I calmed down, I realized that I’d rather have him be loving and buy her things if he was still going to be in her life. It’s a whole lot easier to be a good father from a distance. It hurts, but I want what’s best for my daughter, and if he’s going to be in her life, then I hope they can have a decent relationship, for her own good.

Since I knew he was still in town for the night, it was all I could do to not call him and ask him to meet up with me before he took off the next day. I didn’t though. I held my sweet, beautiful daughter and reassured myself that if anything else, I sacrificed for her happiness and protection. Yes, I did it for me, but knowing that she will never witness his abuse was comforting enough to keep me from calling him.

I want to reassure anyone who has left their abuser, and even to those wanting to leave but find it’s hard to do so, that if you feel like going back, miss him, cry when you think of him or hear any news about him, that it’s perfectly normal. It’s actually part of the cycle of grief, which lies hand in hand with the cycle of abuse, both of which I’ve posted.


You are strong. You can overcome any and every temptation to go back or stay in your abusive situation. If you give in, that’s okay. Each day is a new day, and as long as we keep trying and never give up, each fall will only make us stronger. As hard as it is to wake up in the morning, to get out of bed, to fight those urges to give up on the hapiness, safety and freedom you deserve, don’t give in. One day you will be able to push that part of you that wants to stay in that toxic relationship away with no more than a simple flick of your wrist. You will be able to take control of your feelings and conquer every battle, no matter how long or hard, and retain your freedom.

Until next time,


Forgiving Your Abuser


Forgiveness: a concept that is much easier taught than applied. I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, and my heart is full of hurt, anger, betrayal, sadness, and pain. How do I forgive my abuser after all he’s put me through? I am religious, Christian, and I’ve been taught my whole life that to become more like Christ, we need to forgive others, like He forgives us. This just seems so impossible. Even if you are not religious, forgiveness is a principle that should be applied, because forgiving your abuser will help you on your path to healing. In no way am I saying you should forget what happened, or minimize his/hers actions, but to forgive and try your hardest to move on.

The one major source of hurt that my heart and mind keep going back to is the day I gave birth to my child. The whole experience in the hospital was far from what I anticipated. DVP just wasn’t as supportive as I thought he would be. Yes, he abused me while I was pregnant, but I had hoped that, maybe, just maybe, the day of her birth would change his perspective.


That morning, I was being induced, so I was told to be at the hospital at 0600. DVP had complained beforehand about how early it was and asked me if I could reschedule to a later time, which of course, I couldn’t. So, to avoid a fight or feeling more stressed than I already was, I asked my mom to drive me to the hospital. DVP didn’t even seem to care. I hoped he would step in and offer to drive me, as my husband and father to this child, but he was content with letting my mom get up to drive me while he slept in.

A few days before I was induced, DVP complained about having to stay in the hospital for three days. Our midwife had told us that there was a possibility of only two days, so he told me that we were going to leave at two days, not three because he just “wanted to be in our own home with our baby”, when in reality, it was because he wanted to be able to play video games and smoke marijuana. When I told him I wanted to take advantage of three days of recovery in the hospital with nurses that could help me, he said I didn’t need it. So, before DVP arrived, I had to tell my midwife that I was concerned that DVP would try and convince me to leave after only two days of recovery. I asked her to tell him that I must stay for three days. I was embarrassed that I had to do this!


When he did finally arrive, he showed up in his pajamas. Maybe I’m a little picky about this, but I was irritated that he couldn’t put on decent clothes. We were going to have visitors all day and I didn’t want him looking like a bum. So I asked him to go change, and he and his mom argued the whole way home. Not sure of what, but I could already tell that DVP was on edge that day, and the argument was most likely his fault.

The whole time I was in labor, he just laid on the couch next to the bed, leaving uncomfortable chairs for his mother and mine. Yes, he was the father and should be on the couch closest to my bed, but I was irritated that he lounged around and took up most of the seating, by laying when he could have sat and opened up more room on the couch, while our visitors, our closest family members, had either no where to sit or sat in uncomfortable seats. My mom waited on me hand and foot, and he did nothing. He complained about what we were watching, started debates with his mother which ended in lots of tension or her leaving the room for a while to calm down. Later, the nurses and my midwife would tell me that they noticed he was acting like a jerk and was surprised at his behavior.

He did hold my hand during the delivery, and was happy to hold my daughter after she was born. He isn’t completely awful. But, his behavior in the recovery room is what is appalling. We were lucky to have a bigger room, a room that the nurses explained are usually reserved for hospital staff who are recovering from childbirth. DVP got his very own, twin-sized bed that folds out from a couch. Immediately, after getting settled in the room, he unfolded the bed and laid under the covers, even when we had visitors. He wouldn’t turn down the television when visitors came, and made no effort to visit with them. When we were picking a movie to watch, I wanted to watch one thing, and he wanted to watch a comedy that I really didn’t like, but he put on his choice instead of mine.


I had asked him to close the blinds so I could sleep and he said no. Outright refused to get up out of bed to help me out. I slowly and painfully got out of my bed to close the blinds and then of course, he got mad at me for not being patient, like he had just “forgotten” that he just told me he wouldn’t do it. Later, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and as I was eating, for the first time since before having my baby, took it, ignoring my protests, and took a huge bite, which was most of the small sandwich. When I voiced that it upset me, he said that he was much hungrier than me and is a bigger guy so he needs to eat more. Didn’t I just go through this incredibly exhausting experience of giving birth? I guess it didn’t matter to him. I have to mention, too, that this happened in front of my mother. She was appalled. He used to be very careful of what he let other people see of his true nature, but he just didn’t care.

The third day, when I was to be released,  I asked him to pick up our things so we could be ready to leave while I showered. When I got out, he hadn’t done anything. He was holding our baby, so I tried not to be irritated, and was hopeful that this was a sign that he cared about being her father. As I was picking up our things, he started bad-mouthing my home state because he just hated living here. He was telling her about all the things she wouldn’t be able to experience because we didn’t live in Big City. This was a constant argument between us. She obviously couldn’t understand a word he was saying and I knew he was saying it to get to me. Having little patience and being exhausted from childbirth, I sternly said, “Stop”, and he lost it.

He went on a rant, telling me I had no right to tell him what he could or couldn’t say to his daughter. He was getting really angry, and was yelling at me, in a raised voice, in the hospital room. I begged him to stop so nobody would hear, and he said he didn’t care. As he got more angry, he told me to jump out the window, to put my head in the toilet to drown myself, that he wouldn’t care if I died, that if I said anything to anyone, he’d take my daughter away from me. If I tried to say anything, he would tell me to shut up. I was so hurt. I had just had our daughter, and he was treating me like this?


He got so mad, that he threw a hand sanitizer bottle at my belly. This whole time, he was holding my daughter. I was worried about him intentionally or unintentionally harming her, so I walked over to him, with my hands outstretched and calmly asked him to give her to me. I didn’t yell, raise my voice, nothing, in fear that he could hurt her if I did. He said no, and grabbed my left palm and dug his fingernails into me as hard as he could. Shocked, I went to my bed and grabbed a towel to wrap on my bleeding hand. It was bleeding more than I expected, and I didn’t know what to do.

At this time, the nurse walked in and saw me crying, holding my injured hand. She asked me what happened, so I told her, and she took my daughter, called security, and wrapped my injured hand in gauze. It doesn’t sound like the injury would be that bad, but he dug his nails so deep that I had scars there for an entire month after it happened. The nurse helped me move to a different room, for my security, and DVP was kicked out of the hospital. As they cleaned out my room, they found a marijuana pipe. He had been sneaking out to smoke, and I had no idea!


Because they found the marijuana, they had to call the police, so I made my second DV report on him. My mom was on her way to come pick me up. While I sat in my new room, alone with my new baby, I sobbed my heart out. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. All I wanted was this fairytale, normal experience of going home with my new child and enjoying my maternity leave with my husband. But all of that was ruined. I knew, at that moment, that I was going to have to divorce him, though it took me two weeks to make that decision final.

I went home with my newborn to my parents and slept on the couch. I have never felt so broken. I hope to never feel this kind of pain again. I can’t find words to describe the hurt I felt. I wish more than anything that I wasn’t getting a divorce and that my daughter could have two parents to love her everyday. Unfortunately, because of my abuser’s choices, I had to do what is best for the safety and welfare of myself and my daughter. He couldn’t even make it without abusing me until we left the hospital. What would he have done with the new, added stress of being a new parent? I am glad I never have to find out.

After all that I have been through, which I still haven’t written all out, I sometimes feel like he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness. He hurt me in the hospital, recovering from childbirth. He almost killed me and my daughter while I was pregnant. Nevertheless, I still have moments where I want to go back to him. Other moments I despise him. It’s a vicious cycle that I go through almost daily. When I look at my sweet daughter’s face, I am reminded that I made the right choice. She will never remember the hurt, the yelling, the abuse, because I left while she was only three days old.


So, how do I forgive him? It’s not easy, and it’s a daily struggle. I’ve realized, though, that the more I hold on to the pain, the longer it takes for me to feel at peace with myself. He doesn’t deserve one more thought from me of him. He doesn’t deserve to cause one more moment of unhappiness on his behalf. I deserve to be happy. How will I ever find happiness if I never forgive myself or him for what I’ve endured?

1- Go through the process of grief. You need to follow this through, before you can learn to forgive. Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. See this article here for descriptions: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/.

2- Forgive yourself. This is important. Remember that everything you experienced was/is not your fault. You are not to blame for his actions. Tell yourself that you deserve to be happy, you deserve to be loved, you deserve to feel peace.

3- Let go of the past. Easier said than done. But, if you can let go, your future will much better, more hopeful, much happier. Don’t let him have any more control over your life than he already has.

There are many more things you can do, and so many articles about forgiveness that I encourage you to seek out. I could spend a lot of time covering this, but this post is already pretty long. Just remember, that it is in your best interest, whether he forgives you or not, or even cares, he doesn’t even have to know, to forgive him and to move on.

I truly believe that God, or Karma, whatever you believe in, will hold him accountable for his actions, even if justice fails, or even if justice is served. Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive, forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”. We are strong for standing up for ourselves and putting an end to abuse! We are not weak! I know it’s hard, but forgiving your abuser will help you find inner peace, and help you move on. Not doing so will just keep all that anger and hurt inside for a long time, and can make you more bitter and miserable. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, that’s okay. It takes time. But, I highly encourage you to try!


Finding Support in Unexpected Places


In all our grief, turmoil, confusion, and hurt, it is easy to seek self pity. Darkness. Seclusion. Substance abuse. There are days where it feels so much easier to give in to those harmful feelings, and some may even physically harm themselves to escape it. I am guilty of such thoughts crossing my mind in my own personal torment.

However, in ways that were unexpected and quite possibly taken for granted, I found solace, peace, happiness, relief, even enjoyment, and hope from people and activities without even realizing it at the time. Some of the ways I felt this was from my mother, music, and even my ex mother-in-law (MXIL).

My XMIL gave me a lot of dedication and support when it came to my music. The first time she heard me sing, she knew I needed to pursue a career. She encouraged me to take lessons, even paid for them, put my music on YouTube in hopes of being found. When I did so, an Independent label in Nashville recruited me. I was ecstatic! However, I didn’t have the money to buy the equipment I needed for the band, or to help pay for the label (some labels offer a loan up front, or an advance, and they get a percentage of all music, advertisement, and ticket sales and the artist pays back the advance with interest. Or, you can pay upfront, and keep all the earnings from these things), so I was going to recline the offer. My XMIL graciously offered to pay the amount, in hopes that when I made it, I would pay her back.

Looking back, I wish I didn’t accept this offer. It is really hard to be in business with family, and now that things are over between her son and I, the money she gave to me has been thrown in the middle of my mess with leaving him. But, I’m not here to trash her or make her out to be a bad person, so I’m going to leave that information out. What I’d like to focus on, rather, is the help she gave me in my time of need.


As I was saying, she was a huge supporter of my music. She drove down with me to Nashville for recording sessions, helped me find a band, paid for a lot of expenses regarding my music, found gigs for us to play at, created websites, etc. She did so much for me. Although we don’t get along now, I will never forget all of the things she did to help me. Because of her, I gained the confidence I needed to pursue a music career. It’s on hold for now, as I am now a single mother working full time, in school part-time, and taking the time to heal from what I’ve endured, but I plan on getting back into it.

When I was on stage singing, I lost my pain. I forgot about the confusing situation I was in with my abuser. I was finally beginning to feel happy. I gained some great band members who became like brothers to me. I had positive attention for once in my life. People would tell me how great my voice was, how beautiful I was. I wasn’t used to getting these type of compliments. I felt amazing. I was humble, but my life finally had hope. I owe a lot of that to my XMIL. She brought me to that point.

My DVP hardly came to any of my shows. I’d beg him to go to rehearsal, but when he would, he would make me feel guilty for “taking too long”. He would get extremely jealous of my bandmates. Don’t get me wrong, he would come to some of my shows. There were some days he had to work, which is why he couldn’t come. But, there were enough times where he had no other reason not to come to a show or rehearsal, and he would choose video games or his friends/drugs over supporting me that makes it feel like he didn’t really care about my career. Did I expect him to attend every single event? No. But, his mom did. So why couldn’t he? I felt like when things were going well, he’d support it. Who wouldn’t want their spouse to “make it big” and makes lots of money and fame? Of course he wanted that. He expressed that constantly. But, he wasn’t willing to be there for me every step of the way like his mom was.


When DVP would hurt me while we lived at his mom’s house, she would take my side. She could hear how he treated me. There was one time he gave me a split lip, which swelled pretty significantly, and she took pictures and encouraged me to call the police, which I didn’t. She was there for me when I felt like I couldn’t tell my own parents what was going on. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know how I would have endured as long as I did.

Unfortunately, our relationship ended pretty badly. She’s done some hurtful things to me, and I know I’m not perfect and have hurt her in ways too. However, that will never take away the gratitude I feel for her. She bailed my ex and I out of many financial situations. She paid for lots of things for me. She provided me emotional support when I had no one else to turn to. I regret the way things have become. I can’t change the past. I must say this, though, I do not regret leaving my abuser. I do not regret writing this blog. The amount of people that have come to me with questions, need of support, words of encouragement, etc. have made all the pain I’ve endured worth it. I know I am helping people, and I’m aware that there are many I don’t know of that are getting help from my story. I only regret that the relationships I once held close to my heart are now severed.

One relationship that was severed, that is now healed, is my relationship with my mother. None of us are perfect. I was a typical, hard-headed, self-centered, rebellious, disrespectful teenager. I created a lot of turmoil for my family, which is one reason why I left with DVP to Big City. I hated being the source of contention in my family. Because I left, I had time to grow up and mature. Living with another family, joining the military, living with an abuser, really changed my life. I became a different person. Looking back at the hurtful things I said to my parents and the bad choices I made, that doesn’t even sound like me. I don’t know who that person was. I feel completely different.


When I moved back to my home state, I finally started telling my mom about the abuse. They only had heard of a couple instances. She was shocked at the things I told her had/were happening in my relationship. DVP was around my family more often since we lived close by, and they could see the signs. When he hurt me in the hospital, and I left home with my mom, she was my biggest advocate and supporter. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that if it wasn’t for my mom, I would still be with my abuser, possibly dead. If not that, facing the reality of my daughter being abused.

My mother read “Why Does He Do That? In the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” before I did. She read the whole book in THREE DAYS. She highlighted things I needed to focus on, things that were related to my experience and situation, and made notes. She cried with me. She took care of my newborn when I had no energy to do so myself. She has been to every court date. Words cannot describe the love she gives to me in this time. I would not be alive, whether because of my abuser or from self-harm, if not for her.

Why tell you all this? This weekend was a dark time for me. I have never felt so alone. I felt like going back to my abuser. I tell you this because I know there are other victims out there that feel the same way. I can tell you that although you may not realize it, there are people in your life that care for you, whether it’s family, friends, coworkers, or counselors. Maybe you are an artist, a musician, an author, poet, athletic, love video games, whatever it is, find something and someone that gives you as close to peace as possible. You have to take care of yourself. If you don’t, you will never overcome abuse. You are a survivor. You can get through this.

Pain can do two things: cause us to self-destruct, or change our situation to survive. You may be doing both. Self-medication by harmful means is a cry for survival, but won’t get you to where you need to be. Use your pain to get to a better place. Remember all of the abuse you’ve endured and make a promise to yourself that you will not let it continue. I promise you, it’s not an easy process, and it doesn’t happen over night. But, one day you will be able to look back and be proud of yourself for surviving in a healthy way.

Thank you all for your support. I hope we can continue to survive together.


Will I Ever Be the Same After Surviving Abuse?


Triggers. Flashbacks. Nightmares. Hyperventilating. Extreme Anxiety. PTSD. Avoiding places, situations, people. Sobbing. Becoming void of emotion. Depression. Fatigue. Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough. Self-doubt. Hyper vigilance. Eating disorders. Panic. Detachment. Suicidal thoughts/behavior. Anger. Hate. All of these are common effects of experiencing trauma. You are not alone in this. There isn’t “something wrong with you”. You are not broken. You CAN and WILL overcome these things. After all, you have already survived 100% of everything in your life so far. Chances are, you can survive this as well.

All of these things have weighed heavily on my mind over the long weekend. I was officially diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) last Wednesday, so I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it. The more I reflect on the symptoms that come from abuse, the more it breaks my heart that as abuse victims we have experienced enough pain through the abuse, but now we have to experience all of these difficult side effects for years after, sometimes for the rest of our lives. However, I am learning how to be at peace with my situation, and I would like to help you find peace too.

About a month ago, I was at the hospital getting a certain type of MRI where they inject a dye into the injured area, in my case my shoulder, to see the contrast in the tissue. They first injected me with a numbing agent. They had me laying on a table with the x-ray machine inches from my face. The doctor stood over me, administering the shot in my already very tender and sore shoulder. I have had many shots in my shoulder before, and was expecting the pain. However, this time was different. When he started inserting the needle, the pain was more intense than I expected. I started hyperventilating. I started shaking. I started crying. All I could think about was all of the abuse I had experienced. The nurse had to rub my uninjured arm to soothe me. The doctor kept repeating that it usually doesn’t hurt this bad. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I reacted in such a childish manner! The medical staff must have thought I was stupid. I felt like I had to apologize for my behavior.


Last week, I went to the dentist to get some cavities filled. I’ve had cavities filled many times in my life. The shots are uncomfortable, but not anything I can’t handle. Or so I thought. The first two shots went fine. The nerves in my mouth have a hard time going numb, it’s just that way with some people, so I had to have multiple shots. I was starting to panic, but I was keeping my calm pretty well. About half way through the drilling, I started to have feeling back. Ouch! It hurt! The dentist had to administer more shots. At this point, I started shaking, hyperventilating, my hand reactively shot up to block the dentist from touching me. After I calmed down, he continued drilling. The pain was uncomfortable, but not horrible. Yet, just like at the hospital, all I could think of was the abuse I had endured. I almost got up and left, but I couldn’t leave with holes drilled in my teeth. I had to persevere through the experience. Again, I felt silly, childish, and stupid. I can only imagine what the dentist and his assistant were thinking.

What was wrong with me? After relating these experiences and a few other symptoms I have been experiencing to my counselor, he diagnosed me with PTSD. I have heard about this for years, being in the military. I’m not in a combat career field, so I never thought it would happen to me. Little did I know, that after war related trauma being the most common cause of PTSD,  victims of domestic violence and sexual assault follow right behind. Second. That blows my mind. I’ve experienced both, and just so happen to also be in the military, so my situation is ironic.


So, what exactly is PTSD? This article on the VA (Veteran’s Affairs) website explains it well http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/what-is-ptsd.asp:

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur after you have been through a traumatic event.

During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you. Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don’t go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

How does PTSD develop?

Most people who go through a trauma have some symptoms at the beginning. Only some will develop PTSD over time. It isn’t clear why some people develop PTSD and others don’t.

Whether or not you get PTSD depends on many things:

  • How intense the trauma was or how long it lasted
  • If you were injured or lost someone important to you
  • How close you were to the event
  • How strong your reaction was
  • How much you felt in control of events
  • How much help and support you got after the event

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than four weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are four types of symptoms of PTSD:

    1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms)

You may have bad memories or nightmares. You even may feel like you’re going through the event again. This is called a flashback.

                 2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event

You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event. You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event.

                 3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings

The way you think about yourself and others may change because of the trauma. You may feel fear, guilt, or shame. Or, you may not be interested in activities you used to enjoy. This is another way to avoid memories.

                4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)

You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. Or, you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. This is known as hyper arousal.

  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or despair
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Drinking or drug problems
  • Physical symptoms or chronic pain
  • Employment problems
  • Relationship problems, including divorce

Chances are, if you experienced physical abuse, you have PTSD. In fact, those who have experienced all types of abuse, sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, etc. are more likely to develop PTSD.


So, how to cope? How to find relief? How to feel “normal” again? One thing I learned is that PTSD, as well as many other trauma related symptoms never go away. We just learn how to survive day by day. There are many, many survivors out there who experience these things and feel like they are going crazy, that no one else could possibly understand what they are going through. You are wrong! There are support groups, counselors, loved ones, who can help you.

So far, here are ten coping methods that have seemed to help me:

  1. Mediation. I was very skeptical about meditation at first. My wonderful DV counselor is a huge advocate of meditation. We did a guided meditation together at the end of my session, and I was shocked at how relieved I felt after. My pain didn’t disappear, but it lessoned significantly. There are many apps you can download for this, but my current favorite is called Calm, which has a free and a paid subscription service. When I find myself having a flashback, I go to a quiet place and do a quick five to ten minute meditation to calm down. At night, when I can’t sleep or wake up from a nightmare, I do the “sleep” meditation, and almost every time, I fall asleep while I’m meditating. It doesn’t get rid of the nightmares, but at least I can fall asleep. I highly encourage you to try this!
  2. Use a Diffuser. I, again, was skeptical of this as well. My counselor had this on during one of my group therapy sessions and we meditated at the end of the session. She had us focus on the soothing smell, and afterwards, I felt drawn to the lavender scent. I bought some of the aromatherapy lotion from Bath and Body Works and I LOVE IT. There is something about the smell. These people know what they are talking about! So I invested in a diffuser this weekend and I’ve had it going non-stop. When my mind wanders, when I can’t sleep, I focus on the smell and surprisingly, I feel myself relax. Try it out!
  3. Exercise. Don’t roll your eyes at this! I promise, I won’t tell you to try something I don’t personally do myself. We are all at different levels. We all have different schedules. Even if all you can do is a ten minute walk, you are still helping yourself out. I am fortunate to get an hour a day to workout during work, so I have no excuse. But, not only do I need to get my pre-baby body back, working out releases endorphins that help reduce stress. I’ve found that the more I feel good about myself, (going back to loving yourself) and the way I look, the more positive I am about my situation. The days I miss working out, I don’t have as much energy and I’m more depressed. I understand this may not be for you, but give it a shot.
  4. Pray. If you’re not religious, go ahead and skip this method. I am in no way pushing my beliefs on anyone, but I have found that praying to my father in heaven for comfort, support, healing, patience, and strength daily have helped. This is a personal experience that you must have for yourself, but I have found that the days I don’t pray don’t seem to go as well. I also pray that those around me will be more compassionate and understanding to my situation, but also that I will be more Christ-like to those around me.
  5. Counseling. This was the best thing I did for myself. Counselors are trained in how to help people in our situation, and are unbiased and nonjudgmental. Well, they should be. If you’ve experienced a counselor who wasn’t these things, don’t give up. I recommend finding another. You can find free counseling from the local DV Shelter in your area. Talking to someone who isn’t emotionally connected to me is liberating. I can tell them everything, without holding back, and it feels amazing to get it all out. Group counseling is a wonderful thing as well. It’s really helpful to talk to others who have gone through the same thing and to be a support for each other.
  6. Keep a journal. If you can’t speak to a counselor, or want to do both (I do, obviously), writing is a great way to find release. However, if you are still with your abuser, be very careful about keeping a journal.
  7. Color/Draw. Don’t scoff at this! I bought one of those “Adult” coloring books that are trendy right now, and it is so therapeutic! In fact, most of the books I’ve come across talk about how coloring is therapeutic and stress-relieving. They’re right! I lose myself when I color. I put on music, and focus on the design and music. My mind will often wander to the abuse, but it’s not as painful.
  8. Go to the Spa/Pamper Yourself. Whether it’s taking a bath, getting a pedicure, new hair do, massage, whatever it is, feeling good about yourself heals your spirit. I can’t repeat this enough.
  9. Get Out of the House! Go by yourself or with friends. Go see a movie. Go to the park. Go on a drive. Go to dinner. Go on a walk. Just get out. Staying cooped up with your tissues and chocolate is wonderful, but you need to get away form harmful, hurtful, emotional thoughts and find a way to enjoy yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t up to this yet, or if you go out and go back home after five minutes. It’s okay! We’re a work in progress. Allow yourself time to adjust. But, when you’re ready, you’ll be surprised how much you needed time out of the house and how much you enjoyed it.
  10. Avoid drugs/alcohol. Don’t be offended. I say this because I have seen and experienced the damaging effects that come from doing these things. When you are a survivor of abuse/trauma, it is easy to become dependent on the temporary “therapeutic”, numbing effects of these substances. But, it’s very, very easy and actually faster in our situation, to become addicted. When I drank, I went to either a very dark place, or lost all self-control. I would always feel worse about myself when I sobered up. You just don’t need the added guilt and harm that can come from these things. You are strong without it. However, if you do use these things, don’t beat your self up. It’s okay, one step at a time. Eventually you will realize you are better off without it. If you enjoy drinking, there will come a point where you can self-regulate how much you drink, and you may be able to do so without thinking about the abuse. When you’re to that point, and you want to drink, That’s up to you. I, personally, will never drink again for these reasons, and other personal and religious reasons. I don’t look down on anyone that does, though. I love you all no matter what you do.


There is so much more to say on this, but I’ll leave it there for now. Just remember, we are strong. No matter what effects of abuse we experience, they don’t define who we are. Although we may never be the same, we can learn to cope. There IS hope, and we can find it by taking care of ourselves. You can use your experiences to avoid future abuse, to help a loved one, or another victim.  We survived abuse, and we can survive anything else that comes our way.




Falling Back in Love… With Myself


I want to change gears for this post. I posted a lot of heavy stuff this week, and I don’t want this blog to be only about all the negative experiences. My site is called overcoming abuse after all, and today I want to talk about one way we as victims -scratch that- survivors can do this. Even after all I’ve written, I still have a lot of my tragic story left to tell, but let’s get some positive energy flowing today.

Today’s topic goes well with Valentine’s day coming up. I want to focus on love, but not about loving another significant other, or your children. I want you to be a little bit selfish in a way. I want you to focus on yourself. I want you to take the time to get to know yourself. Who are you under all those layers of scars, pain, suffering, trauma, abuse? Who is that person you once were? Who do you want to become? Where are you going? Who are you now?

Those seem like simple questions, right? Uhh… yeah. Not really. It’s extremely hard to figure out after your abuser has spent years making you feel unworthy of self-love, or love of any kind. It is easy to tell yourself that you are incapable of love. It’s easy to feel like no one will ever love you again with all the baggage you carry with you. What do I have to say about that? Leave it at the lost luggage office! You don’t need to pick it up and carry it with you to your next destination, because where you’re going, you’ll be able to get everything you need to start over.


Let’s talk first about what we’ve packed in those suitcases. More accurately, what our abusers packed in our suitcases. One thing I personally keep packing is the feeling that I deserved what happened to me. Truly, there must be something wrong with me. Let’s examine this for a moment. I felt like I deserved every slap, punch, hair pull, choke, pinch, being held down, every object thrown at me, all my personal items destroyed, all the degrading name calling, the crude sexual acts – because he said he loved me. And this is where it gets confusing: I thought I loved him. But, think about it, how could you truly love someone who treated you so awful? Abusers are really good at pretending to love you in the honeymoon cycle of abuse. They are good at pretending to care, to love, to be passionate, thoughtful, romantic, whatever label you want to put on it. Some of you may object-“Wait a minute! If he didn’t love me, why did we get married? Of course he loved/loves me!” In the words of Lundy Bancroft in “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Abusive and Controlling Men”, (a book you need to read!) he explains:

“An abusive man often tries to convince his partner that his mistreatment of her is proof of how deeply he cares, but the reality is that abuse is the opposite of love. The more a man abuses you, the more he is demonstrating that he cares only about himself. He may feel a powerful desire to receive your love and caretaking, but he only wants to give love when it’s convenient.

‘So is he lying when he says he loves you? No, usually not. Most of my clients [abusers] do feel a powerful sensation inside that they call love. For many of them it is the only kind of feeling toward a female partner that they have ever had, so they have no way of knowing that is isn’t love. When an abusive man feels the powerful stirring inside that other people call love, he is probably largely feeling:

  • The desire to have you devote your life to keeping him happy with no outside interference
  • The desire to have sexual access
  • The desire to impress others by having you be his partner
  • The desire to posses and control you

‘These desires are important aspects of what romantic love means to him. He may well be capable of feeling genuine love for you, but first he will have to dramatically reorient his outlook in order to separate abusive and possessive desires from true caring.

‘Genuine love means respecting the humanity of the other person, wanting what is best for him or her, and supporting the other’s self-esteem and independence. This kind of love is incompatible with abuse and coercion.”

Recognizing that he truly didn’t love you in a normal, healthy way is hard. But, once you recognize this, you are on your way to loving yourself again. How? First, remind yourself that you are a beautiful person, amazing, loving, caring, educated, accomplished, or determined. Determined that you will not stand for anything less than what you deserve, and that is to be with someone who truly cares about you and your happiness and wellbeing. You deserve to have someone who is basically opposite of your abuser. Your significant other (SO) should help around the house, help with the children, take you out for dinner where you want to go sometimes (there should still always be compromise), maybe rub your feet after a long day, give you his full attention when you sit down to talk, be intimate with you when you feel up to it and respect you when you don’t, have a healthy argument that doesn’t involve abusive tactics AT ALL, try to get along with your family, respect the things that are important to you, etc. I could go on and on, and by no means is this an all inclusive list. The list will be different for everyone.


What’s another item we keep in our luggage? A low-self esteem. Chances are that like me, a low self-esteem is probably why you settled for someone like him in the first place. Abusers are good at telling you that you are stupid, ugly, a whore, cunt, bitch, slut, fat, too skinny, not good enough in bed, hated by your family and friends, alone, messed-up, broken, that he’s the only one who can love you after the things you’ve done in your past, and so much more. If you’ve heard this over and over, day in and day out, it’s easy to start believing it’s the truth. You feel like the only person that you deserve is the man who slaps you across the face. You can put up with that because he is graciously choosing to love you when no one else will. But you are SO MUCH BETTER THAN THIS. The more you love yourself, the more you will realize that all of this is absurd.

Write down all of the things you are proud of and like about yourself. This will be hard. I know it. Take that list, no matter how big or small, and hang it on your mirror, or keep it in a safe place if you feel like it will upset your abuser. Look at it daily. Repeat it like a mantra. Add to that list when you think of something else that you love about yourself. There will be days that you feel like ripping that paper up to tiny shreds, and that’s okay. Do it. And then start it over the next day.

Think about who you want to be, not who your abuser wants to be. I want to be a country singer. I want to wear long maxi dresses, not short cocktail dresses all the time. I want to watch Disney movies, not horror or war movies all the time. I want to be a good mother, maybe stay at home with my kids, not be the only source of income while my abuser sits on his butt and does nothing all day. I want to decide where to go to dinner sometimes, not to the same Mexican restaurant. I want to go to my church, not to his every Sunday, and not to stay at home from church just to keep him company when I want to be at worship. I want to visit with my family, and stay as long as I want. What is it that YOU want?


You are not broken. You are not unworthy of love from anyone else. If you desire it, you WILL find someone else. But the first step is to empty that suitcase, leave it at the baggage claim, turn it into the lost baggage office, I don’t care, just don’t take it with you! Get a new bag and fill it with things YOU love. Once you recognize who you are, who you want to be, where you’re going, you will begin to love yourself. You will make it through the hard days, and sometimes you won’t. But, you will love who you are and be less dependent on your abuser. The advice I have been given from others who have been through this is that the best thing they did was to learn to be happy with themselves, independent of having a partner. You don’t need to be with someone to validate your worth. But loving yourself and being happy with who you are can make it possible for you to go forward and find someone you want to love and care for and be able to accept their love and care in return.

I am learning to love myself, and that my friends, is the beginning of a beautiful future.

Until next time,