I want more!!!

The past 22 years have been one heck of a journey.  In that time I met my ex, got married, had babies, was abused,  broke free, only to be followed by years in recovery.  

The beginning of my recovery was full of numbness. All I wanted to do was sleep. Everything in me was shot; my nervous system, my focus, my emotions, my whole being just fell apart. I lay in bed for hours. Sometimes sleeping and sometimes just staring at the wall in silence.  I was in shock for two years. 

 Thankfully I had loved ones who cared for my children and I. My now fiance picked me up more than once and my sister listened to me tell story after story of my exes abuse. They were and are my rocks. 

Slowly I started to live again. I started to get out of bed and interact with my family. I started to be an active mom again! I felt the sunshine on my face, the air in my lungs and that “zombie” feeling,I felt for so many years, started to slip away.  I was finding me again. 

Recently I bought a horse. She has given me so much in the last six months. A positive focus, a friendship and a desire to be more. Yes more. I want more than just being in recovery! 

Many move through trauma recovery wanting who they were before their trauma back. I admit at one time I did too,  but not anymore.  If I went back to her I wouldn’t have the life lessons my exes abuse taught me or have found the amazing  strength within me to survive it or the skills to help my children heal and grow. I wouldn’t be me and I like the me I am post trauma. 

  Recently I registered to go back to school and I am excited! I am excited about what the future will bring. I will admit that  a part of me is nervous. Nervous that I will relapse in my recovery by adding school to my schedule, but I am doing my best  to quiet that voice. I am trusting the survivor in me and continuing to move forward. All we can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and make positive life choices. That is how we survive the uglies that life throws at us and learn to live again. 

Peace, 

Janet 

How do you trust after abuse? 

Trust. Trust is something most of us have when we are in a relationship with someone. Whether it’s family, friendship or a romantic relationship there is an understanding that you trust the other person. It’s almost a given. What happens though if you have been abused? How do you trust after someone you trusted and possibly loved hurt you in undescribable ways? Let me tell you, it’s not easy. 

Trust. Trust is something most of us have when we are in a relationship with someone. Whether it’s family, friendship or a romantic relationship there is an understanding that you trust the other person. It’s almost a given. Trust starts when we are a helpless newborn. We trust that our parents will care for us. That they will feed us and keep us warm. What happens though if you have been abused? How do you trust after someone you trusted and possibly loved hurt you in undescribable ways? Let me tell you, it’s not easy. 

  Twenty two years ago I met a man whom I fell in love with. We eventually married and had a family. Under the grace of God I should have been able to trust him. I should have been able to trust him with our children’s lives and my own. We were married,  we were one flesh under the eyes of God, so of all the people out there I should have been able to trust him with my life. I did give him that trust, I handed my life and my care over to him, but what did he do? 

He abused me and our children. 

He threatened my life. 

To top it all off, he enjoyed hurting me! (which was apparent when he smirked when I cried). 

It was a sick marriage and one that I left just over six years ago. 

How do I trust after that? How does any Survivor of abuse trust again? It’s a pretty tall order, but believe it or not it can be done. What do you have to do? 

Baby steps. 

When I first ended my marriage my world closed in around me. I struggled to focus, to get out of bed and I was scared of everything. I “hid” from the world in my bed. After suffering this way for a year, I was diagnosed with PTSD and Deep Depressive Disorder.  Medication helped my moods, but they didn’t build my trust in others. In my head, my husband had hurt me in unbelievable ways, what was stopping some stranger from hurting me too? I barely trusted anyone. 

During this time I started a new relationship.  It was a new relationship with someone from my past, my Highschool sweetheart. We had  a history that had been built on trust. I knew that in many ways I could still trust him, but there were also parts of me that made him earn my trust. It took time for me to learn that if we had an argument it didn’t mean he would beat me. It took time for me to know that if he carried my son to his room it didn’t mean he was going to hurt him, it just meant that my young son was being put on a time out. With each incident that happened that was free of abuse I relearned that I could trust him. In time I realized he was there to protect me and care for me and the same for my children. He gave me what I never had before; safety. 

Once I trusted my new/old Beau he became the person I felt most safe with in my day to day life. If I went out I was calm if he was there. If he wasn’t there I was soon feeling panicky and running home to hide. It took another two years for me to be comfortable on my own outside of our home. At one point we moved to a new town and home. Next door we had a lovely single, retired woman and soon she became a family friend. I was ok if I went over there with my boyfriend, but the thought of going without him brought sheer panic upon me. My heart pounded and my legs shook. I wanted to visit with her.  I wanted to be friends and logically I knew she wouldn’t hurt me, but I couldn’t seem to set my foot outside my front door to see her on my own. 

Trust. It was all about trust. The world had become a scary place, a place where I now expected to get hurt everyone. 

Then one day I did it. One day I gave myself  serious talking to and asked myself if my neighbour had ever shown that she would purposely hurt me or had she been kind and caring at every visit? I realized it had always been the later. I also realized that my life was going to be pretty lonely if I didn’t at least try to put my foot out that front door on my own. 

So I did it! I went to my neighbours on my own and we have developed a lovely friendship. With that friendship and others I have made I have become stronger and now I can go to the grocery store on my own without having a panic attack. I can visit with others and make friends. Looking back over these last two years I see how I have started to trust the world around me a little bit more. Yes I still get overwhelmed at times. Yes I still have times I want to hide and yes there are times when I still do, but I am here to tell you that there can be trust after abuse.  Just take it one baby step at a time. Watch peoples actions over their words and most importantly listen to your gut. Your gut will tell you the truth about a person. 

Peace, 

Janet 

– On a side note I am proud to say that my blog has been featured in the Top 30 Domestic Violence Blogs on Feedspot! Please go to http://blog.feedspot.com/domestic_violence_blogs/ to check it out! 

Five years free!

Soon it will be five years since I ended my abusive marriage.  I wanted to take a moment to reflect on where I was and where I am now.  It is always good to look back when such a milestone are reached, not to stay there, but to see how far one has come.

Five years ago I was living with daily abuse.  My ex screaming at me was a daily event, name calling and telling me how worthless I was, mixed in with a push or slam into a wall were his daily pleasure. If he was wasn’t hurting me then I was watching him hit and shake my toddler son. He was in the all powerful role of being in charge. Achieved by instilling fear and tons of intimidation.  The kids and I walked on eggshells wondering when would “dad” snap next and we did our best not rock the boat.

I knew we needed out, but how? How could I escape with three kids? I weighed a mere 108lbs (at 5’10’), my hair was falling out in clumps, a stress rash had taken over my body, I struggled to eat and sleep was barely ever granted to me.  With nights of forced sex and worrying  it was amazing that I got any sleep at all.  How could I afford to be a single mom, pay a mortgage, daycare and groceries ? Could I do it safely? I knew that the most dangerous time for a woman in a domestic abuse relationship is when they are planning to leave or have just left. If it was bad now, what would it be when I left?

When I finally did end my marriage I really didn’t have all the answers to my questions. I just knew I could not carry on one more day in the hell my ex had created. I took a giant leap forward, praying that God would get me through this, and sent my ex a text telling him it was over.  For safety I did not dare tell him this in person. I told him to be gone by 8:00pm or I would report him to the RCMP.  The text was followed by me breaking down simply out of relief.   I went home that night and he was gone. It was over.

 Many Survivors of Domestic Violence, and those who work to support them, will tell you that the journey is not over when you leave. It just changes.   I had to deal with stalking’s, harassment, and my kids were further abused on visits with him. Nightmares set in for all of us (often I had all three of my kids in bed with me), bedwetting from my younger two and my youngest daughter was diagnosed with PTSD, followed by my same diagnosis five months later. Despite all of these hurdles we learned to laugh again, we started to reconnect with my family and friends (that had long been shut out by my ex). I also began to eat and that stress rash disappeared within weeks. My kids relaxed and started to just be kids. We were free.386844_2170052251634_514982225_n

  I did face many financial difficulties, I lost my house, was put on permanent disability for PTSD and had to move. I moved  to be far away from his family.  Family that were yelling at me in public, about how it was all my fault. It was something my kids and I did not deserve. We looked for a fresh start.

A fresh start is what we found. My kids found their interests and I encouraged them to reach for the stars.  I also reconnected with my own interests. For so many years everything had revolved around my ex, his likes and his dislikes. I lost myself in the process.  It has been fun finding me again. I also started a new relationship, one built on trust and mutual respect.

  It hasn’t been the easiest five years.  We’ve faced many challenges and will continue to do so. Recovery from abuse is a life long journey, but  now at least we are safe. I thank God everyday for that. Every step forward takes us away from a very dark time and brings us to days filled with light and love.

Alright, I think it is time to celebrate! 🙂

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I am only Human

Recently I was thinking about the many roles a person plays in their day to day life.  Myself I am a Christian, a partner, a mom, an advocate, a Mentor, a Supervisor, a friend, a sister, an aunt and a cousin to name a few roles.  I have to admit though,  the hardest role I have ever had to play is being my exes wife.

I went into my marriage naively.  I believed that if I loved him enough it would all be ok.  One day he would heal and he wouldn’t get so angry.  He wouldn’t throw things, or scream at me, or call me names.  I truly believed that if I was the best wife in the world he would one day see the error of his ways and it would all change. Thinking that way resulted in me taking on a number of additional roles.  I was a protector to my children,  a mediator between my ex and my kids, the perfect wife when all I wanted to do was cry. I would go into family gatherings, after being screamed at the whole drive there, with a smile on my face.   I learned how to be fake in order to survive. I became a robot.

As a result my feelings were buried deep down within me.  You see a robot does not have emotions.  A robot just needs to make sure it can function and do the jobs that are asked of it.   Day after day, year after year. Until the robot breaks.

  One day I did break.  I could no longer pretend. I could no longer paste that smile on my face and act like all was ok.  I could no longer ignore what was happening right in front of me.  I had to see my exes abuse for what it was and start over. When that happened all of the emotions came, the endless tears. I was devastated.  A human again who  needed support to rebuild. thOP3RNWEW

  Survivors of abuse will do what they have to do in order to survive.  As a bystander you may think “well I would never do that” or you may say “what you did was wrong.” It’s important to not to be that way.  It’s important to remember that your loved one did what they had to, to stay alive.  It’s important not to judge them.  Unless you have been there you really do not know what you would do in order to survive.  Fully escaping an abusive relationship is like breaking free from a spiders web.  You are entangled by the love you feel for that person (yes a victim of domestic violence did fall in love with their abuser at one point. People aren’t bad all the time.) or perhaps you feel obligated to stay for your kids sake, you have no money to leave, you have been shamed by family or friends to stay, or perhaps you are simply terrified to take the next step, not sure if you will make it out alive. You too are a robot and are not quite ready to breakdown and see things for what they are because it just would be too damn painful.

Survivors need understanding.   They need positive reinforcement and guidance. They need to be given God’s grace as they untangle their web. As they become alive again there are ways you can help;

– Tell them that you are sorry this happened to them.
– It wasn’t their fault.
– Remind them that they survived; obviously they did the right things.
– Thank them for telling you. .
– Tell them that you are here if they want to talk.
– Ask if there is anything you can do for them?
– Listen

Please, please, PLEASE do not say;

– It is their fault.
– You could have avoided it had you ____________.
– It’s been so long! Get over it!
– It’s not that big of a deal; it happens to lots of people.
– I don’t believe you. (that’s the very worst thing to say)

Be there for the Survivor in your life. Rebuilding oneself is hard work.   A kind word or listening ear can do wonders.  After being told by your abuser that you are worthless and no one will ever believe you,  your support can do wonders in them rebuilding themselves.  You do not have to solve all of their problems, you can refer them to professionals for things that are beyond what you can do. No one expects you to solve their problems. Extra support can be found at:

In USA and Canada you can call the National Domestic Hotline at 1 800 799-7233 (SAFE) for shelters visit  www.domesticshelters.org

For Men 1 888 7HELPLINE (1 888-743-5754)

In the UK call Women’s Aid at 0808 2000 247

For Men ManKind Initiative 01823 334244

In Australia you can call the National Domestic Hotline 1800 200 526  and

One in Three Campaign has help for Male Survivors

Or visit www.hotpeachpages.net/a/countries.html to find help numbers for any other country.