Broken Is Your Best-Self: How an Abusive Relationship Broke Me
“How do you explain loving something that’s bad, that’s wrong, but you still love and fight for that?” This is one of the opening lines of a television series, The War At Home, bringing people an intimate look into abusive relationships in Canada.
Let’s just say “lucky” is an understatement to describe an abusive relationship. A study published in a CBC article says that on average, women will leave an abusive relationship seven times before leaving for good. In Canada, every six days, a woman is killed by her abusive partner.
Each episode of the show runs for 45 minutes, not nearly enough time to fully tell the story of someone who’s experienced this journey.
It’s a journey because author of The Taste of Becoming Me, Murielle Bollen, advocates for calling life after a major downfall a journey, not a battle. It means embracing life and its obstacles with acceptance and positivity.
The journey after an abusive relationship is one I can tell. It’s a story that has a beginning and a middle, but has yet to have an end. A 45-minute episode about my journey would be ineffective, because the ending (if I can even call it that yet) is five years and still counting. Maybe it’s never ending.
It was only a couple months since I’d turned 18, back in 2011. I was living in Burlington, an unknown city to me, with a boy who was newly my boyfriend. Soccer was a common passion of ours, and he was a goalkeeper. An unsettling feeling was overshadowed by good feelings, but neglecting to be absorbed by the dominant one seemed easier. Coming from an Iranian background, I wasn’t allowed to have boyfriends, so rebelliousness became my greatest downfall, as I fell straight into the hands of my abuser.
I yearned to see my parents. I couldn’t call them, as his parents had taken the SIM card for the phone my parents paid for to keep in touch with me. At this point in time, Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird” was my bio, minus the vibrant colors and smiles. Yet I still thought it was all for love.
If only the future was known, everything would seem OK, but it’s in the unknown that we are called to make choices that either make us or break us. Mine came one summer day a couple months before I turned 19, and it did both.
My parents drove an hour to see me for the first time in over a year to have lunch. A silver two-door pulled up to the street, and a woman sprang out with open arms. I saw an expression of pure love, the expression of a mother who missed her only daughter. A mother is the most beautiful woman a daughter may come to ever know, and the biggest blessing God may bestow.
An abuser in a relationship pretends to care, but it’s a mask. It’s not the abuser’s true face that eventually unveils itself, but the eyes of the victim that opens up to see an abuser’s true colors.
After visiting with my parents, it was finally time to return home to him. We had a heated altercation, and nasty words were spat in my face. Each word made my eyes see more truth. I saw who he truly was for the first time.
I knew who I truly was for the first time. Broken, but better.
“Dysfunctional relationships are a blessing in disguise, as they show us what we are willing to accept and what we won’t stand for,” says Alison Brettschneider, a women’s empowerment activist with a quarter of a million supporters on Instagram. “It also shows us how strong we are and how much we can endure as women, how resilient we are and courageous when we finally find our voice and strength to say ENOUGH—NO MORE,” says Brettschneider.
However, getting stronger to climb higher in the trees makes you more vulnerable to getting knocked down by the wind. Strength built off the past makes it hard to differentiate between the sound of your intuition guiding you and your traumas misleading you.
At 24 years old, life had been a constant battle until I embraced it as a journey. Life had me feeling ugly, until I remembered the fact that I am my beautiful mother’s daughter. Life had me feeling worthless, until I felt worthy. God’s word told me this. It may not always feel steady at times, but after the storm, there’s always a rainbow.
Broken is beautiful. The Japanese also think so. Kintsugi translates to “golden joinery,” which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold. The philosophy is that the gold-filled cracks reveal history, rather than disguising it. “Not only is there no attempt to hide the damage, but the repair is literally illuminated,” says Christy Barlett, author of Flickwerk.
And like a broken bowl mended with gold, I not only serve a purpose, but I tell a story. There have been stories of others to help along the way;
“It’s crazy how sometimes you have
to be destroyed to be made anew.
Everything happens for a reason. Just like this moment, I do believe that what you’re dealing with will pass…and present you with a step towards your best self.
Photo credit: Kintsugi: The art of precious stars
Photo Courtesy of Flatgate.com