How I Survived Domestic Violence & Eventually Kicked Its Ass.
From Pieces to Peace: Finding Light and Love in an Encounter by Chance.
Today as I was out and about, I heard a familiar voice call out to me,
“Ms. Tara, how is that you’re always smiling?”
Without a moment’s pause, I simply responded,
“I smile because I am grateful.”
And just like that, our conversation ended as quickly as it had begun—two people sharing a few words, working very hard to bridge that awkward space between knowing someone’s day and really knowing their heart.
As we nodded goodbye and went on our way, I wondered how often our stories are missed.
I am grateful.
I am overwhelmed by how much these few words mean to me. As I say them silently over and again inside my mind, I cannot help but replay the fantastic story that is and has become me. As these thoughts settle in, for what seems to be their longest rest, I realize the most unexpected:
I am not afraid anymore.
People may tell you to walk away, growing disgusted as their words appear wasted on the ears of someone who has stopped believing in all those ways they are, and continue to be, most wonderfully special. True friends will try as they might to stay the course—ever hopeful that they may soon find that one very simple combination of words and emotions to save you from darkness. Yet, I stayed frozen in all of those ugly moments, afraid to step away for fear of falling deeper into the shadows.
You cannot hurt me.
I’ve always felt that something has been watching over me. Even at a very young age, when my hand first slipped into my father’s I could sense this strange energy. In my small little mind, not quite able to comprehend something so big, I suppose I rationalized it simply as the moon following me about and lighting my path. But there was always this sense of knowing that my life and the energy surrounding it were different. Even if the moon wasn’t actually following me around, there was something nudging me along my path in ways I’ve never quite been able to put into words. As I grew older, life became much more complex and my path’s twists and turns became harder to follow, even harder to see. Still, I never lost the belief that I wasn’t in this alone.
It was just at this moment, many years later when I had grown tired of traveling on a journey to not knowing where, that the pieces finally began to fall into place in a way that I could neither have imagined, nor expected.
I promise you, fate will find me.
I met him quite by chance, in a mad rush through an overly lit hallway on my way to somewhere—I could not care where. Our eyes only quickly glanced—who could ever have imagined that in this single moment, our energy would become forever intertwined? There were many millions of reasons to keep to that dash, to turn away from fate and chance—yet, something unseen caused us both to pause and helped us to believe again.
Love sometimes just works that way. It only comes to us when our eyes are left wide open—when we can finally see. Only then will it slow its pace and allow us that one chance to catch and embrace it, to hold it confidently in our arms, gaze into its eyes and see forever. Love comes when least expected. And real love has the power to transform our worlds.
As he took my hand, much as my father once did many years before, in an oddly special way I felt completely safe again. And in that one small moment beginning with a mad dash through that overly lit hallway, my world was forever changed.
With my hand in his and in this space, I found a power that was limitless and the strength to let my voice be heard again. I could finally stand up to my own monster in the closet, pull back the coats and see there was nothing but shadows there, after all. It was then I realized that in this light—my light—even the darkest shadows would disappear.
And that’s just what I did—I let my inner light shine brightly and suddenly, the monster was gone. Love came when I needed it the most and with it came something far greater than any fear I could ever hold in my heart—hope.
Because with hope, all things are possible.
Although I may never know, I have to believe that had it not been for that momentary pause, when fate slipped in to nudge my way and to share with me the hand and heart of someone, with the right mix of words and emotions to compel the greatest change of all, this story may never have been told.
And had it not been for my wonderful friend, who came to me unexpectedly and who pressed so hard to fill that gap between knowing my day and really knowing my heart, I don’t believe I would have ever found my light.
As I walked away, I wondered, how often do we miss these incredible stories of love and strength, unstoppable spirit, hope and fate? When is it that we move too quickly throughout our day, never having taken the moment to look beyond someone else’s day and getting to know their heart?
And as I took that one quick glance back, I smiled again; this time with the strongest knowing of who I am and all that I may ever come to be.
I will never walk in your shadows again, because real love is not ever afraid.
And I am forever and endlessly grateful.
To my wonderful friend, Gary, for the brilliance of your light and spirit. Because of you, I will never be afraid of the darkness again. Namaste, my friend—I love you.
Editor: Malin Bergman