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.