By the age of 35, I had been through childhood trauma, experienced tragic losses, felt the impacts of loved ones addictions, traveled the country and the world, received a Masters degree in Counseling, broke free of two abusive relationships, been through one divorce, lost two amazing women to intimate partner violence, and had two amazing children. When I made the decision to leave the last abusive relationship, I took the time to heal from the impact of being shattered to my core. I picked up the rubble that remained of my life, thoughtfully reassembled, rediscovered myself, and worked toward developing a career dedicated to empowering others.
This quote above by Pema Chodron helped pull me through an incredibly dark and disorienting time. I felt psychologically raped by a master of illusion, a true con artist who made me doubt my own reality, stole my voice, crushed my sense of self, and destroyed my sense of safety.
In those moments of being shattered, seeing the life I thought I had surround me with its rubble, I had the simple, distinct, and powerful realization that I was still standing. For the first time, I knew there were core parts of me that no person and no experience could ever destroy.
Reading those words by Pema Chodron, I began to connect with my own strength and my true self. I became stronger, confident, and learned to love myself, my body, and deconstructed so many toxic messages I had come to believe over the years. I finally believed that I was enough. I did not have to prove my value to anyone.
I often tell people that while I would not wish the experience of abuse upon anyone for the sake of a life learning curve, there is something incredibly valuable about having your life blown up in front of you, followed by the fortunate opportunity to rebuild. I looked through the rubble around me and made conscious choices on what parts I wanted to pick up, which parts I needed to repurpose, and which parts no longer served me. I redesigned my life and placed boundaries were there were none, created openings where there were walls, seeing the purpose in each piece of the reconstruction.
I share my story of survival for the purpose of normalizing experiences that are usually kept under a shroud of secrecy and shame, to teach people that even as a therapist, I was not immune to finding myself in an abusive relationship. I now understand the steps and societal factors that can so easily lead women, myself included, into the traps of a predator.
I want to share my empowering experience with you, an experience of learning that there is another side of life after abuse, past the darkness, past the fog, through the power of connection, where you discover a life you never even knew was possible and step into the strength you always knew you had!