By Eileen Martin, See the Triumph Contributor
As a survivor, I understand the dynamics behind dysfunction and abuse, and most importantly, I know that our past does not have to define us. It is my mission, and my passion, to go forth and help others help themselves. I like to call this planting seeds.
Having the opportunity to view life differently through the lens of a survivor rather than a victim, I have spent a great deal of time contemplating the seeds I would like to plant in order to connect and engage with other survivors. It is also important for me to plant seeds of what domestic violence looks like so that someone can recognize the signs and walk away from a potential abusive relationship.
These things I know for sure:
You can learn to love and respect yourself. Though this journey is often fraught with obstacles because your self-worth has been beaten down and loving yourself was not an option, with support from a counselor you can redefine yourself on your terms. You are reclaiming your power, and from my experience, this is an amazing feeling. Be curious about what makes you happy.
You are strong. You have survived violence, you have survived psychological warfare, you have been put down, told you are worthless and unlovable, yet here you stand. When you feel like you do not have the strength to move forward, remember that you can choose your path now, you are in the drivers seat. At first this may feel scary, but start with small steps like choosing what you will have for breakfast, or whether or not you will answer a phone call. Recognize that you have the power to choose!
Not everyone will respect your journey, and that is okay. Change is hard; many people do not like change for themselves and also do not like to see change in others. Some will work really, really hard to change you back when you attempt to hold a boundary or choose a different, healthier journey. I liken this to the crab pot mentality where “If I can’t have it, neither can you.” You are working to climb out of a pot, to achieve freedom, mental health, and fulfillment, yet you are being grabbed and pulled on by those who may be afraid because you are shining a light onto something they do not want or refuse to see. You may have to walk away from those who do not have your best interest at heart. This is really hard when people you love and care about do not understand what you are trying to escape. You may hear things like “well he/she is such a nice guy, he can’t be that bad” and “you married him, didn’t you?” Remember, it is not your job to convince others, but to recognize your truth and climb out of that crab pot.