A defining moment for me: My partner, my love, whom I agreed to adopt a child with, in his madness and hurt-struck me. It was not the first time but it was different that day. I had my 6 month old son in my arm and I used the other one to protect us. In that moment, I knew I was done. I knew I couldn't raise a child in a situation like this.
I wasn't going to live in fear of knowing what could happen or what would set him off. I knew I had to leave. I didn't have a plan on how I was going to care for a newborn baby. I knew it was time to go. I moved into the attic of a member of a support group I was involved with. He was kind enough to give us shelter.
I can't say that was the last time I allowed myself to be beaten or assaulted. I continued along that destructive path. What I've come to understand is that when you've lived years of verbal and physical abuse then you don't know who you are. I didn't tell anyone but I had friends who knew what was happening. I couldn't tell anyone else because of all the shame I carried.
I am grateful during this period I had help. I had the safety of my family. I had siblings who cared for Sonny as I discovered myself and unraveled this trauma. They are my biggest cheerleaders in my coming to terms with what happened. They held me as I sobbed. They believed in me when I didn't.
There is particular kind of men that are attracted to victims. They sense them. They know them. They understand them. Until I understood the nature of this relationship I wasn't ever going to met or find someone to love me for me. When your innocence is taken so young and you are told you are nothing and useable anyway, you believe it. This vulnerability, they thrive on.
I look back upon my life and understand that many of the men I was with have similar characteristics. I was attracted to what was familiar. Treat me horribly then I was yours. I understood that. Treat me kind then I was confused and ran.
It has been awhile now since I have been in a relationship. I have not allowed myself to be vulnerable again. I needed to break the cycle. Step back and understand that I could love past my brokenness. Kindness was not weakness. I deserved someone to treat me with respect and talk to me lovingly. Hitting was not loving.
As a survivor of sexual abuse and assault, love is complicated. I know that now. Intimacy and sex have different meanings for us. A touch, a smell, a movement can trigger a memory. We learn to live with it. We learn how to manage it. We learn how to silence those voices in our heads that want us to escape. We may even strike out against whomever we love. We may shut down.
I know I have to be honest with myself, I can love beyond my brokenness. Love is beautiful. Love is amazing. Love is unassuming. Love continues along in the universe.
Many of those scars have healed over physically but psychically they still remain. I know my journey is to let it go and forgive. I have.
I choose to know love. I don't wish harm on anyone who hurt me. I want them to have love. I know love now. I know that God loves me. I know that my son loves me regardless. I have the love of friends. I have the love of family. There is no shortage of love in my life.
With all that said, forgiveness is important, letting go is essential, and allowing love in makes your life capable. I know I'm going to lean into it. Love is everywhere.