The Scenic Route
I did not have an idyllic childhood. This lead to my becoming a teenaged mother and wife to a very abusive and equally-as-young husband. If I’d ever had any self-esteem as a child, this marriage destroyed it, along with any sense of pride, semblance of confidence or self-respect, and any chance I felt I had to lead a happy, fulfilling life.
For over six years, I dealt with daily abuse – emotional, mental and physical. I would occasionally find the temporary courage to leave, but back then there really weren’t places for battered women to go. My family was not supportive at all, so I would return.
One of his favorite things to do was to hold me up against a wall by my neck until I started to pass out – then he would drop me. He liked to push our daughter to the ground and then step on her. Or I would come home from work and she would be on top of the refrigerator because he didn’t want to watch her. She was a toddler at the time.
There were times he would call me at work and demand I come home to bring him lunch, then he would tell me I was not dressed properly and he would demand I change clothes before he would let me return to work. The list of ways he would torment and control my every move is pretty much endless.
Finally, I did get the courage to leave and stay gone when I ran into someone I had known in high school in the grocery store. She and I had been friends at one time and she was shocked at the way I looked. At that time, I was incredibly withdrawn, way too thin and simply did not make eye contact with anyone. She pretty much forced me to acknowledge her. Immediately she asked if I was being abused, and told me I really needed to get out of that relationship. Turns out, she had just removed herself from a similar relationship and recognized the signs she saw in me for exactly what they were. We became our own private support group and helped each other rebuild our respective lives.
You would think that would be the end of my situation and there would be a happy ending. However, during the midst of my separation from my soon-to-be ex-husband, his mother and my mother got together and decided that, since I had asked my mother for support during my transition to single parenthood, I was not able to care for my daughter. They joined forces and threatened to go to court to get permanent custody of my daughter if I didn’t agree to leave her with my mother for a while – just until I got settled, they said.
Because of my emotional and mental state at that time, I truly believed the judge would give them my daughter, so I did as they wanted. It took six more years and hiring an attorney to get my daughter back.
I ended up moving to another state because my ex was stalking me and had even broken into my apartment on one occasion. I struggled to make ends meet as a single parent, and with no help at all from my family or my ex-husband. I started doing odd jobs for other people. This lead to my starting side businesses, like a gardening service, pet sitting service, and even a secretarial services company. I found that I really liked being my own boss, and through my business endeavors, I began to build my self-confidence and self-esteem. Additionally, I found I really enjoyed helping other people who were transitioning away from abuse find their own confidence and self-esteem. Eventually, this realization lead to my becoming a mentor and certified life coach, and writing my book and having a couple of blog talk radio shows.
Today, I own a real estate brokerage in addition to being a life coach, radio show host and author. I love that my troubled past has lead me directly to my calling in life, and these days, I feel extremely lucky that I’m able to do what I love for a living. I have gone from wondering if I should be alive to showing others they are definitely here for a purpose.
My daughter is now grown and has blessed my life with two amazing grandsons. I use my story to show others they can make it through anything, and more importantly that they will make it through whatever they’re going through as long as they never give up.
This obviously is the abbreviated version of my story, but really I don’t know if the dirty details are that important. I think the main point is that I’ve been through some really dark times and have come out the other side. I’m not that special, my story is not uncommon; it has made me who I am today and for that, I am very grateful.