Once upon a time… I believed in Fairytales.
I believed Prince Charming would come calling…and he did… but he didn’t ride up on a white charger, He drove up in a Red Ferrari and it was sleek and fast and he swept me off my feet and we drove off on the road to happily ever after, and I was in love like never before.
And then, he started to lie – but I couldn’t see the lies – my eyes were clouded in the rosy glow of my dreams come true. I was lost in Love.
‘Cause here’s the thing – when you’re falling in love, the last thing you’re looking for is lies and deceit. In love, all you see and feel and hear, is what you believe to be true — his love reflected back at you. Until the first time you suspect, and then you wonder, but he (or she) doesn’t admit to the lies, he (or she) admits only to love. So you breathe a sigh of relief and fall back into that place where love is all you need to believe in him.
And then, it happens again. You wonder and he denies and while you think maybe you’re wrong, you don’t actually let yourself think he’s lying. Because to do that would be to question all the things he’s told you about who you are and what you’re capable of that you want so desperately to be true.
And so, you fall.
And he continues to smother you in your heart’s desire until it’s too late to see that while his right hand was holding out love, his left was getting ready to cast a mighty blow of fear and terror as it spun a dark, deep web of lies and deceit all around you. by the time you see the blow coming, it’s too late. You’re already lost in the mists of abuse. You’re already lost.
When I was in love with the man who abused me, I learned to tolerate abuse in small, imperceptible ways until abuse became the norm. I kept struggling to keep the vision of my Prince charming alive as he kept spinning his web of confusion, lies, deceit, fear, terror and shame.
Eventually, shame consumed me. I was so ashamed of what had become of my life, I could not tell the truth, I could not tell anyone. and I was too proud to even believe I could be wearing a label called, Abused Woman.
In my shame, Silence consumed me. Silence is a powerful co-conspirator of abuse.
In my silence, I let go of everything I ever was, and everyone I loved – because I believed I didn’t deserve Love – I believed I deserved only what he gave me, only what he told me I could have — and that was his lies.
And then, one day, he told me we had to leave. He was fleeing the police. I wanted to get him away from those I loved. They deserved life free of him. I didn’t.
And so we disappeared and for almost four months my daughters waited for the police to come and tell them they had found my body. And I waited to die.
Every morning I would stand by the river that ran in front of the place where we were hiding out and I would imagine that I could unhook gravity’s hold upon my body and of its own volition it would fall forward into the river and be washed out to sea. And in that act, all memory of my having been here on earth would be erased and my daughters would be free of remembering I had ever existed.
but I couldn’t do it, the only truth I had left was the fact I love my daughters, and I couldn’t make a lie of that truth by taking my own life.
And so I turned away from the river and as I did, a miracle drove up in a blue and white police car
and I was set free
I was lost, frightened, alone, broken and broke. I had lost my home, my job, my life savings, my belongings, my relationship with my daughters and my self-esteem and self worth. I had 72 cents in my pocket, a few clothes and my golden retriever.
I had no choice — I had to reach out for help
I had to trust that when I did, help would reach back. And it did and I was given the gift of rebuilding, reclaiming my life.
Falling in love should never wind up on the road to hell – but it happens. It happened to me.
It’s not something I asked for, invited, expected or wanted. It’s not something I planned for or desired
We don’t go searching for abuse. we go looking for love. And that’s the thing, an abusive relationship is never about love – it is always about abuse.
Healing from abuse is not about healing from a love affair gone bad – it’s about healing from abuse. Because when someone lies and deceives and manipulates and hurts others to get what they want we need to call it what it is — Abuse.
Abuse is wrong. Abuse hurts. Abuse destroys. Abuse kills.
It is possible to heal from abuse. I have and in my healing I know, ending abuse – is possible.
I learned a lot of things on that journey through hell– I learned to forgive, to breathe and to trust in Love not abuse. I learned that Miracles happen and in their happening, anything is possible.
and here’s the thing — it doesn’t take a miracle to end abuse. It takes us, all of us, working together, committed to creating a world free of abuse to make it happen.
We can do it. We must because abuse hurts. Everyone.
Once upon a time, I was an abused woman.
Today, I am free and I am grateful. Because I know no matter how hard someone else wanted me to keep believing in fairytales — I believe in Love. Love is and always will be the answer.
November is Family Violence Prevention Month. I am speaking at the launch today and the above is taken from my speech.