Today, my love – the Locksmith watches football and I design the plan for my coming year – personally and professionally. This has been, since my separation a time of reflection, rejoicing and regrouping. Every year I think I have it right, and every year I am proven wrong. But each year is better than the last. Each year, my dreams are bigger. Each year I feel more free and each year I feel I have arrived at the edge of a breakthrough.

***

Today I thought to myself – how would I approach the me I used to be – the me that ignored the disclaimer at the beginning of nearly every advice book on marriage and relationships “does not apply to partners with addictions or alcohol issues” (or something to that effect – I don’t recall the exact wording and I have no books within arm’s reach at the moment)

That is ultimately who I am writing this for…when I get down to the heart of it. The woman who is thoroughly convinced that her man, her relationship are different. That applying steps for healthy people to an unhealthy relationship that you can change it’s balance into the promises the good moments offer. I was there once and I stayed there for a long, long time.

So long that I lost my children (through there own logic and desires) to the man who put me down, called me names and was, at times, violent. Never enough to bruise or permanently damage, mind you – just enough to keep me in check – and to keep me believing it was almost mostly my fault in the first place.

He was, after all, mostly a nice guy.

So I get it when women think that they can outride the outbursts, how they can believe it’s really not so bad. After all, the newspapers and Facebook feeds are full of stories about women who have (or had) it much, much worse.

If I can save someone a little time, a little heartache, a little pain -that’s what I’d like to do.

I have no illusions that I can take it all away, but to lessen it – I think there are things I can say, little things I can do through the experiences I’ve had to help make the way out easier if that’s what you choose to do.

I’d like to be known as an abuse resource that is here to support you whether you stay or leave.

I know how easy it is to justify staying and I remember how hard it was to seek support when I would rev up to leave (I left only once, but I got close many, many times over the years!) and how hard it was to go back to supporters after (yet another) false start. So I want to commit to being here no matter how many times it takes.

I admit I’m an advocate for leaving early – but I didn’t follow that path myself.

And as I look back, I’m not sure there would have been anything that could have brought me to leave earlier. I felt I couldn’t leave until I was totally and completely sure that I had tried everything, explored every channel within my power to change the dynamic.

I didn’t want to fail. And I had to come to the point where I realized that leaving an abusive marriage wasn’t a failure but a victory. Until I got to that point within myself – no disclaimer in the world was going to stop me from trying to “fix this mess on my own”

I have to admit. It gets harder to remember exactly how I justified ignoring the disclaimers – “He’s not really an alcoholic he just has a drinking problem” – “It’s not his fault, he’s had such a hard life…and if I shape up first he’ll be inspired to change too.”

Through my experience, I’ve developed the following steps to escape that can take a person from victim to survivor and beyond.

7 Steps to Escape

Awareness:

Testing:

Acceptance:

Insanity:

Breakdown:

Escape:

Recovery:

I’ll be fleshing out each step in the coming days, but in the meantime just from the titles – is there anything you’d add or subtract based on your experiences or the experiences of those you know?

 

 

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