All That Sparkles
Three and a half years ago I embarked on a journey away from abuse and towards freedom. It has been a long road full of pain, surprises, and discoveries. I won’t lie to you and tell you it has been easy. Because it hasn’t. But I will tell you that, even when it seemed like it wasn’t, it has truly been worth it.
There are many factors that contributed to the kickstart of this journey. You could say it began in childhood with abuse, the decision to be with one toxic person after another, or the police that showed up at my house that final day. I believe all of that played a huge part but truly it began with a simple piece of paper handed to me by a concerned therapist.
When I first started seeing this therapist I knew that my then current relationship would dominate our conversations. And it did. What I didn’t know is how instrumental she would be in what has become my new life. On an ordinary afternoon she handed me a not so ordinary directive. She looked at me and said “When you leave him, you are going to have to change everything”. My breath caught in my throat. “Everything?” I skeptically replied, the panic rising. “Everything” she said. And with that seemingly doom summoning statement she pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down a crisis plan for me to hide somewhere.
A crisis plan or safety plan is an escape plan. It is a domestic violence victim’s plan for when they need to escape from a dangerous situation with little to no warning. This plan could end up saving their life. It absolutely helped save mine. And when it was given to me I thanked my therapist, stuffed it in my pocket, and doubted I would ever need to use it. But I was very wrong. It was this piece of paper that let police know how serious the situation was in my home. It also kept me from believing the lie I desperately wanted to believe: that I was fine and it would somehow be ok. It told me that someone was concerned for my life enough to write it down on paper.
I was going through a box full of souvenirs not that long ago and found that old crisis plan. I held it in my hands and looked around me. In a million years I never thought I would be where I am right now, but here I am. And it is from this end of the journey from victim to survivor that I am able to show you this old wrinkled note. A crumpled piece of paper that carried me from the clutches of fear into the safety of a women’s shelter and, eventually, to a new home and a recovery that led me back to myself.
I didn’t plan on being a victim or survivor of domestic violence. Nobody does. But it’s part of my story and who I am. I have always felt it is my obligation as a survivor to speak out and let others know they too can survive whatever it is they are facing. There are many facets and faces of domestic violence and violence in general. It goes far beyond the physical and does not discriminate based on age, gender, or economic status. If you’re reading this now and facing or recovering from abuse, please know that recovery is possible and you deserve every ounce of healing you fight for.
When someone reads about my life, or talks with me about it in person, I know that it is often hard for them to comprehend. And believe me, I get that. It is often hard for me to comprehend... and I am living it. But life is not always to be understood. It is up for us to live and make the most out of while we have the chance to be here. Sometimes I have succeeded at doing that and then there are times I have failed miserably. I am a work in progress and I am enjoying that progress for possibly the first time in my life. It is not always pretty, this progress I am making. There are a lot of tears, a lot of setbacks, and a lot of hard heartaches. But I have been blessed with a heart that hasn’t hardened and a smile that hasn't faded. And in the end, it’s all that sparkles and lights the way.
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
If you are currently in an abusive relationship you can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-7233.