You do not need to the scan the news for a long time to see that physical and emotional abuse is a huge problem. Whether the relationships are parent-children, husband-wife or something else entirely, it seems like folks continue to find new and inventive ways to hurt each other. We always hear about the boiling point – when people cross the line and do something that lands them in the headlines. We are almost numb to it by now.
We rarely hear about the recovery, though. About how someone withstood the abuse and came out stronger on the other side.
During a recent trip to a San Francisco airport, a man came across this note.
He was probably a bit hesitant to open it at first, however, his curiosity got the better of him. This is what the note contained:
I recently left an emotionally abusive relationship.
After months of insults I won’t repeat, false accusations, lies, delusions, broken mirrors, nightly battles…. I left. I know that I was being poisoned by each day that I stayed. So with a heavy heart, I left my lover of three years, knowing that I had already put it off too long. At first he begged, then he cursed, but eventually he packed his bags and faded out of my life like a bad dream.
For the first few weeks, my body seemed to reject this. For three years I had seen the world through him-colored glasses. I didn’t know who I was without him. Despite the kindness of friends and even strangers, I could not help feeling utterly alone.
But it was this sense of aloneness that set me free. Somewhere along the way, I let go. I released all of the painful memories, the names he had called me, the shards of him buried deep in my brain. I stopped believing the things he had made me think about myself. I began to see how extraordinary, breathtakingly beautiful life is. I meditated, drank too much coffee, talked to strangers, laughed at nothing. I wrote poetry and stopped to smell and photograph every flower. Once I discovered that my happiness depends only on myself, nothing could hurt me anymore.
I have found and continue to find peace. Each day I am closer to it than I was yesterday. I am a work in progress but I am full to the brim with gratitude and joy. And so, since I have opened a new chapter in my life, I want to peacefully part with the contents of the last chapter. The end of my relationship was the catalyst for a wealth of positive changes in my life. It was a symbol. Most importantly, it was an act of self-love. It was a realization that I deserved to be happy and I could choose to be.
And so, in an effort to leave behind the things that do not help me grow, I am letting go of a relic from the painful past.
I wore this necklace-a gift from him-every day for over two years. To me, letting it go is a joyous declaration that I am moving forward with strength and grace and deep, lasting peace.
Please accept this gift as a reminder that we all deserve happiness. Whoever you are, and whatever pain you have faced, I hope you find peace.
Hearing stories about abuse is important because it shines a light on something that otherwise would go ignored. But it is still great that, every once in a while, we get a story about someone who endured something terrible, persevered and gained strength and insight from the experience.