I blamed myself. I always blamed myself. And to a point, I was right to do so. I believed that was the life I was destined to live. One of fear, abuse, and recrimination. “You made me do it.” “You asked for it.” Were regular responses to a punch in the chest or a kick in the stomach. As I sit here and relive those memories, I feel remarkably calm. When I wrote my first novel, I did the same, I revisited those memories. That was almost four years ago. I screamed, I cried, and I swore my pain and hurt onto the piece of paper, breaking many a pencil in the process.
I can now be more objective about it. I must say that at no point do I condone violence of any description. I look back now and realise I should have got out sooner. I have been in two physically abusive relationships and countless mentally abusive ones. It’s taken me many decades to realise that my energy was wrong, and I wasn’t being myself. I was looking for the answers to all my problems externally. No wonder I got myself into so many scrapes over the years. I wanted a man I could ‘mould’ to be my perfect ‘happy ever after,’ my dream love and true romance. In doing this, I wasn’t being true to myself, and I wasn’t allowing them to be either. Staying in those situations I was doing both of us damage. They were as well, but they probably didn’t and still don’t see it that way. With both physically abusive relationships alcohol was involved. The answer is NOT at the bottom of a bottle, as I found out. Both of us drank a lot of alcohol. At the time I couldn’t see the damage it was doing. I was terrified to go home. Scared to death to close my eyes at night but also pretending to be asleep to stop the punches, depending on the time and state he arrived home in. Being shaken awake on many occasions to be a slave to his needs soon put paid to the peace of my dreams, if there was any.
I was 16 years old when I found myself in my first abusive relationship. For me, that was the norm for a good, (or bad, whichever way you look at it,) decade. Repeating patterns, many of which I have only recently broken. I suppose I’ve always been quote vulnerable and that’s allowed others to take advantage of me. Whose fault is it though, theirs, or mine? When you believe it’s ‘normal’ behaviour you don’t question it. Well, I didn’t until I finally snapped and was encouraged to walk away. I didn’t walk very far from the one as I ended up living in one of the pubs he drank in! Not the best situation but at least I’d taken the first step. (Before I went back for a short time.) Anyone who has never experienced domestic abuse will ask, “Why didn’t you just leave?” It’s not easy. Believe me. But it is possible.
I was fortunate. Unlike so many who suffer at the hands of another, I was never hospitalised. I managed to outsmart them, especially if they were very drunk, or I’d get in a position where the damage to me was lessened. Since leaving all of these relationships behind, I’ve been able to look back and see where it all went wrong. Being true to myself and being honest about things was the key to it all. That and love and forgiveness. I didn’t love myself enough. In fact, I didn’t love myself at all. Once I’d learned who I was, I stopped attracting the wrong relationships. Most people will say ‘a leopard never changes its spots.’ But I have. I no longer allow men to disrespect me and that brings me to one of many catalysts I’ve experienced throughout my life. I know I’ve healed. How do I know? Because I’ve recently worked in a prison. As part of the project I worked on, as a visiting author, I talked about my novels and my story. My novel Katie, A New Chapter is based on my experiences, and I use domestic abuse in that story. I visited the prison several times to work with the men there. Many of whom were incarcerated for sexual offences and domestic violence. I’m a survivor of both and speaking to them was very cathartic. I never reported anything I went through to the police. Looking back, maybe I should have. I didn’t. I dealt with it, eventually, in my own way. A big part of that way was forgiveness.
Forgiving myself as well as them. They have to live with what they’ve done, and karma can be a bitch! That aside, we all have to live with and take responsibility for our actions. We also all have different coping mechanisms. I’ve tried many, but the best one for me is writing. I’ve mentioned forgiveness a couple of times now, but it’s hard to do. I was always looking for someone or something to blame. Once I had accepted my part in the situation, and forgiven myself and them I was able to move on in a loving way, as opposed to a hateful one. I had to love myself, forgive myself and find myself. Working in the prison was just a small part of this journey. The men I worked with were normal human beings. Yes, I know a lot of people would scream blue murder at that, but they are. They, like me, got lost on their journey. Many of my closest friends are former prison inmates. I trust them more than some of my oldest friends, colleagues and associates.
Looking back, alcohol was a big part of my downfall. I’m teetotal now. I know that at least one of my abusers had a drink problem and 2 of them were from broken homes. I’m still trying to work out what led me to abusive men. Confusing attention of any description with love was a big part of it. A large part of my recovery was discovering my spiritual side, learning all about our energy and helping others. And it’s all starting to make sense now. The only thing I could change, and can change, is me. By doing that, my life started to change. As they say, ‘It’s an inside job,’ and it really is. I surround myself with like-minded people and I’ve learned to say no. I’m no longer a people pleaser who gets dragged into shit I don’t want to do. I’ve had an immense amount of support and a fair amount of backstabbing but I’m grateful to everyone who has helped me become the person I am today. Thank you all.
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With Love, Light & Gratitude.