My soon-to-be-ex-husband once “jokingly” told me that I would never survive without him. I really think he meant it. He criticized my capacity to handle money, to keep our kids safe, to drive safely, to follow directions… In his eyes, it seemed, if he wasn’t there to hold things together, everything would fall apart.
He severely underestimated me. Tonight, I assembled my son’s crib by myself. I didn’t have the hardware for it, so I found the instructions for the crib online, went to the hardware store, and bought what I needed. That may seem insignificant to some, but it brings me pride.
Abuse survivors are tenacious and resilient. We have been through some horribly traumatizing and damaging events, but we survived through it. What our abusers never realize is that, by being abused, we are learning how to survive. We are learning how to withstand the constant assaults to our minds and bodies. How to do damage control, how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations.
Even if you haven’t yet escaped your abuser, you are still a survivor. If you haven’t yet decided to leave or feel as though you can’t, you are still a survivor. You are still learning and growing and you can survive on your own. You are doing what you can to survive another day.
Before I left, I doubted my ability to live without him. I doubted my ability to care for my children, to care for a home on my own, to control finances, to maintain a vehicle, to find another person to share my life with. Now, after leaving, I can tell you that those doubts were all planted there by him and many of them seem insignificant now.
I am thriving. I am happy. My children are happy. I am making decisions independent from him. I don’t feel the need to have a significant other. I’m learning to love myself. Even though I still have to parent with him and we’re undergoing a divorce, which allows him some opportunity to abuse me, I don’t feel so hopeless anymore. I do still feel depressed, angry, and anxious at times, but I know those feelings are only temporary. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
So, if you’re doubting yourself. Don’t. You are strong, amazing, resilient, and determined. It’s okay not to feel that way all the time and even though I may not personally know you, I do want you to know that I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for each and every person who is or has been abused in any shape or form. You are worth respect. You have value. And even though you may not think so right now, you will survive. You are resilient.