October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
It’s more affirming and appropriate to refer to this as “Intimate Partner Violence” these days.
This month, so many of us, year after year, get jumpy.
My beloved therapist always had this simple quote that shook me at my core: “The sick get sicker during the holidays, and the healthy get healthier.”
There were so many signs, so many red flags, so many warnings. I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t know how. I didn’t have the words for what I was experiencing yet.
I was in a relationship with a person gaslighting me from every corner. If I said anything or made a “wrong” look, it was worse than staying quiet. I tried to keep my head low. I tried to make an escape plan. I tried to find a way to survive. I did.
Many calls to the cops later, many reports filled later, and many break-up-and-get-back-together cycles later were all too maddening. Many successful attempts at destroying my property and harming my body were terrifying. And many finding the true words later were gratifying.
I wrote the following, a year after no contact (goodness, did they try), and while it pains me, I think it’s important to share the process:
“One year later. A relatable within the skeletal of our bodies. I committed my story with those that have been there for me when I would have preferred to run back to you and hide in my torturous shame.
They say easier. A life of meaning and simple pleasures is what I hold onto; an endless array of individuals and I am able to accept the care. It’s been a miraculous year of growth. At times my body has felt like it would collapse from the inside out and yet, I got stronger. I continue to with faith and unrelenting support from the angels in my life, my spirit, when they get too heavy.”
Whether you are someone in it and too scared to leave, as a survivor, or as someone thriving, this one’s for you. You heal in time, and the scars stay with you. That’s my honest truth. You have to continue to teach your body what safety feels like.
It’s not a lie, though. It really does get easier. I didn’t know then (even a year out) what I know now, years later.
I should probably mention I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Now, this may have you asking yourselves the same things I asked myself, “What the actual f*ck? How could you not know better?”
Trust when I say how much of this kept me in it. I was too ashamed. I’ve spent a long time working on not defending myself, so I’m going to leave it at, “It can literally happen to anyone.”
Wherever you are in the process, please know there is hope. Time does heal.