Did you, do you, feel trapped. Trapped in a situation, a relationship and feel like you are drowning, disappearing? Did you know, there is a way out, you just have to put your trust in someone….. YOU!
I was 19 when I realised that I had this ‘power’.
I got engaged when I was 18. It was a magical, deep emotional love. A whirlwind romance. We got engaged after 3 months. I was completely swept off my feet.
He was kind, funny, attentive. Until after about 6 months, when attentive and kind, turned to possession and obsession.
It was a slow and gradual transition, so slow and gradual, that it almost evaded me. I was young and naive, and in love.
It started first with words, then a shove, a push, a punch, a kick and a strangulation. There is a new word for how it begins these days, ‘gaslighting’. Back then, anything to do with gas light, was exactly that, a light.
How easy we can be manipulated without really knowing what is happening.
It went on for 18 months and all the while in silence. I was ashamed and had no voice with which to tell anyone what was going on in my ‘secret life’.
On the outside, all looked fine and dandy, because that is the picture you want to portray. We all portray a fine and dandy picture one way or another, at some time or another. Yet, we all suffer, one thing or another.
It may be a bad relationship. It may be caring for a sick child, a disabled child. A sick or disabled parent. A job we hate. Ourselves, that we despise. What ever it is, there is something that we all tend to gloss over and hide.
At almost 20 I had decided that it was time to find my power to escape this secret life.
He came back from the pub, drunk, so drunk and I pretended to be asleep. It was after 2.00 a.m in the morning. He decided he wanted a fight. First he raised his voice to ‘wake me up’, then he smashed a few ornaments before throwing me on top of them. Next he hurled the bed up onto its side, before sitting astride on me and placing his big hands around my neck while screaming and shouting and strangling me.
I was terrified. I screamed in the hope that the neighbour would bang the door down, or at the very least, call the police. They did neither.
Next, he grabbed me by the skin of my chest and swung me from the floor to the window, all the time holding on, and bashing me against it, over and over and I screamed some more, thinking I was going to die by falling through the upstairs window to the ground below.
Exhaustion took hold of him and he finally let go. Thank god it was a sash window. The horizonal wood across the middle almost certainly saved my life.
I tried to calm him, apolgise to him, appease him. Eventually, it worked and adrenalin had left his body and left him as weak as a kitten
I escaped. I quietly tip toed down stairs, opened the front door and ran, in nothing but my bare feet, underwear and flimsy dressing gown, into the night.
I told myself I would rather be raped and murdered by a stranger than stay with this monster who purported to love me.
I realised, as I finally made it safely, to a fiends house some miles away, that the choice was mine to make.
I loved HIM dearly and with all my heart. However, I despised and was terrified of his behaviour when he was drunk.
We had been in this abusive situation many times, but that night, I decided, would be the last. Love was not enough to endure this abuse any more.
We all have our demons, our faults, our capacity to deal with adversity, whatever the adversity may be. However, we all have our strength, our power, our resilience, there within us. It is a matter of choice, not chance, when we decide to tap into it, hold it by the hand and bring it to the forefront of our battle.
That time of making that choice, is usually when we have had ‘enough’. Our ‘enough’, not some one elses. We have to decide, when we want to stand up for ourselves. Ask for help, for ourselves. Let others know what our demons are, what our cross is that we have to bare, and share the load.
It is not weak to ask for help. It is not weak to walk away. It is not weak to stay. Transition often takes time. As gradual as this new situation crept into our lives, can often take a gradual transition to deal with and cope with and understand or even break free from it, depending on what ‘it’ is.
In one way I am glad that I encountered such horror so early in life because it set me up, on alert for every situation that I found myself in ever since. It prepared me to weigh up my options, to accept or become absent. To seek help or to walk away.
Each relationship, good, bad, indifferent teaches us something. There is learning in every single encounter that we have. It is in the learning, that we grow stronger and more resilient.
But, it is in the choices we make whether we decide to stay stuck in our secret lives or whether to share our ‘secret life’ and offload our pain, our troubles, our worries and tales of woe with others so as to feel not so alone, ashamed or isolated.
The power of sharing is the secret to unlocking the power within you, me and everyone.
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