If you are in an abusive relationship, you might have a million reasons to want to stay in the relationship. However, I’m here to say it is infinitely worth it to get out. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll lose custody of your kids because of the unjust way the family court system operates. Do it anyway. Maybe you think you don’t have enough money to leave and no place to go. You still need to leave. There will be people who come out of the woodwork to help you. They’re probably the family and friends who you alienated during your abusive relationship. They’re waiting on you to come back to them. Maybe they’re workers at a domestic violence shelter who have a place for you. Either way, you are worth fighting for. Despite what you’ve been told, you are enough.
Even if you feel like you can’t leave, how can you stay?
You are sacrificing your very soul. No amount of money you could lose in a court battle is worth losing your own humanity, your self-esteem, and your ability to parent effectively. The person you remember yourself as has been effectively erased and replaced with a shell. Even though being single is existentially lonely, you will be far more lonely with a person who is incapable of true intimacy. Your brain has created a loving persona that you have projected onto this person. That figment of your imagination doesn’t exist. It is actually you, yourself. The abusive pretender learned how to pretend to love from you and all the beauty you embody. All he had to do was pretend to be you and everything you wanted, so he could seem like the perfect partner. Unfortunately, the man you loved or thought you loved isn’t real. Grieving him will be hard but you can get through it.
The reality is your kids will suffer so much more if you stay. They’ll think abuse is normal and ok. If you leave, they can see one parent living a liberated, peaceful life. That is enough for them to learn how not to be abusive and how not to accept abuse from others.
I know I deal with the daily struggle of how maybe it wasn’t worth all the hassle of leaving. All the thousands of dollars I’ve spent in court that I really don’t have. But I was so depressed being abused and constantly gaslighted. As painful and raw as everything is every day, at least I have the freedom to feel something. I cry and no one tells me I can’t cry or that I’m “too sensitive.” Nobody yelled at me today, nobody told me I was stupid. I can choose to only be around positive, life-affirming people. I can’t control what my kids experience when they’re with their dad, but I can control how I support them when they’re with me.
When you experience real love – the constant, unconditional love of family, for example – it brings to light the poverty of emotion that I lived with for all of those years. It’s inspiring being out and surrounded by people who go out of their way to help me just because I’m a human in need. It woke up my heart at a time when I didn’t know my heart was actually sleeping. I’m determined to help others in a similar position and I believe I’ll be given an opportunity to do just that.
Seeing how he has devolved into a callous, egotistical nightmare validates my decision to leave. You’ll see it too. When you leave and become Public Enemy #1, you’ll be so glad you are not attached to him anymore. His little psychopathic world doesn’t operate the way ours does so you will always have an advantage, living in a world where you know how to feel empathy and love for your children. Everything he does from then on becomes a ridiculous waste of time and money but it’s his to own this time. I know someday other people will see how crazy he acts and he’ll have to find a whole new group of friends and a new job like he does every couple of years. Instead of dealing with that, I can finally have a stable and consistent place to raise my children.
I channel what the domestic violence advocates have said to me repeatedly. “Look at you, you’re doing it!” Just putting one foot in front of the other, taking it one second at a time. Focusing on only this one moment because anything more is completely overwhelming. Before too long, things are suddenly different and I’m feeling better than I have in years. I am becoming actualized through an experience that I thought would literally kill me. If I keep taking baby steps, I will get through it and have the freedom to grow through the pain. It is worth it. Your soul longs to be free. You can’t forget or erase who you are. She deserves to be heard.