What I learned about all of us when I went back and tried again.

I remember my days behind closed doors when I felt stuck in my abusive marriage. I knew that what I had was not love, could not be love, but somehow I still felt love for this person that I was living with. This is the most complicated part of the cycle of abuse. How could someone who loves you do that to you? If you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you know someone who is living a life of abuse, you can begin to understand the hurt, betrayal, and utter confusion that they live with on a daily basis – you can never make sense of it – don’t even try.

It takes everything we have, and then some, to get to the other side. We need help from the professionals who are trained to get us out safely. I declined the help and I paid for it, getting injured on the way out. It’s no secret that we come to our new lives with a lot of baggage and emotional scars. How could we not?

So what in the blessed world of worlds are we supposed to do when we decide that we are ready for love in our lives again? Can you imagine? Everything we thought we once knew about romantic love we have now been taught is wrong:

Love is safe – wrong.

Love feels good – wrong.

Love is comforting – wrong.

Love gets us through tough times – wrong.

In fact, we have now been taught the opposite:

Love is dangerous, it hurts, it is uncomfortable, and it makes our lives tougher.

Can you imagine the emotional damage that has been done? Yet there is something in us as humans that makes us resilient and eventually that craving for love comes back. I can’t explain it. I can only tell you that for me there is a hope that somehow I can get it right if I try again and maybe, just maybe, love can be what I thought it was supposed to be the first time.

The question becomes, for all of us, how do we get past what we have learned as abuse victims and turn towards a brand new day in our lives? I can tell you that I look for the warning signs of domestic abuse and see them early on. And I walk away the minute I recognize them because I get to set the terms of what is and is not acceptable to me. And so do you. At any stage in your life, but especially when you are starting over with a clean slate. Not only do you get to walk away if you see warning signs of abuse, you get to walk away when and if someone is making you unhappy, and you should. So yes, I have left more than I have stayed, and this is obviously tough if your overall objective is to find love again and stay put. But you’re also not going to stay where you are not happy, especially once you have started a new life that is yours to claim. It’s a challenge we live with.

But I’ve also learned something about love from the other side of domestic abuse. I’m not the only one inherently flawed. We all are. Life has knocked up against all of us in one way or another and left bumps and bruises, and visible and invisible scars for all kinds of different reasons. So we all have different triggers that set us off in differing situations. And this is key. Because as abuse victims we come to the table and feel that we are so broken that we may not be lovable. That our circumstances are so different that people may not understand us. What I have learned is that everyone has some of this to some extent. If we can understand this about one another, it is the beginning of us forming a connection that may have potential.

What I have also learned is that those who are worth keeping in our lives will immediately understand this about us, and why. Then they will be there to understand and support us as we move forward together. Just the same way we will for them, for whatever reasons life has left them a little bit roughed up too. Because in the end love should be safe, and feel good, and be comforting and get us through tough times. And I’m working each and every day to learn to believe in that again. And I hope as SODAs™ we can all learn to do that again together.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE contact THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at:  1-800-799-7233 or visit the website at: www.thehotline.org for more information.

Many of us have made it to the other side. We are here cheering you on because we know what you have been through. Use our strength to carry you through until you find your own again. You will. I promise. Get help, leave safely, and know that you are not alone.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™