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Doc@DrIrene.com

Choices: Reclaiming My Life

Choices: Reclaiming My Life

April 24, 2001

Dear Dr. Irene,

I wrote to you with my story of abuse - in December, 1999, hoping that my circumstances might help others in making their decision to take a healthier course in their lives. Thank you again for your helpful comments and blessings.

I'm writing you today, to let you know that I now consider myself a SURVIVOR of the abuse and have many reasons that I am thankful for this. I've continued to journal my thoughts and feelings throughout my divorce, and feel this has helped me to move on with my life and to LET GO. Journalizing has also helped me to remember the painful experiences.

This may sound unusual to some, Not to me! but in my case "pushing it under", or giving it less significance only prolonged my decision to eliminate the toxicity in my life. After doing so, I began to live again. I've never been happier. Victims often choose denial. Pushing it under. Call it what you want. It doesn't work for very long...

My friends and family have never been happier for me. I feel very blessed. It hasn't been easy. Along with my journals, I also met with a counselor that was recommended to me by a friend. This counselor was very familiar with abuse recovery, and helped me see where I wanted to go in my life, then helped me to arrive there. The hardest thing for me to realize is that I was not a BAD person, or a SELFISH, or SNEAKY, or SICK person for making the decision to file for divorce after 23 years. It was a matter of survival. I couldn't continue to live with someone that DRAINED the life out of me. The GUILT I felt overwhelmed me. So many people told me that  I was doing the right thing. The affirmation from this and all the reading that I was doing on the Internet, as well as Patricia Evans book, "Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out" was equally as important for me to understand that everything I was feeling was NORMAL. Yes! Codependent people typically have the difficulty you had. Their sense of loyalty is pathologically excess. Good for you for getting past it!  

When going through this, you often feel as if you're losing your mind. On the advice of a loved one, I posted her message to me everywhere I felt I would read it (bathroom, desk, etc.). For your SURVIVOR readers in their recovery, it read:

bulletOne day at a time. (Don't panic)

Remember these things every day:

  1. You're O.K. You are a good person and it's time to treat yourself well.
  2. You have done what you needed to do to stay healthy. We love you.
  3. You allowed every opportunity for things to get better - Now go on with your life.
  4. Keep in touch with your supporters and don't carry guilt for things you are not responsible for! You are loved!
  5. Spend a moment to breathe deeply and say to yourself: "I am right to start my life on an upward trend."
  6. Once God closes a door, He opens a window. (You are loved.)

(My Mom wrote this message to my youngest sister when she was going through a very difficult time in her life. My sister included it with other supportive material she sent to me, and replaced her name on it with my name. Aren't sisters wonderful?) Yes! And, so are Moms

Another helpful message consists of only three lines. I also posted this:

bulletHE CAN ONLY HURT ME IF I LET HIM.
bulletI DID EVERYTHING I COULD TO SAVE MY MARRIAGE.
bulletI AM DOING THE RIGHT THING.

I'd also like to include one important message to all women or men considering a long-term relationship of any kind. 

bulletAbove all else, LOVE YOURSELF. Included in that love, respect and care about your feelings.
bulletIf you feel something is wrong, it probably is. (Trust your gut.)
bulletDon't take responsibility (or make excuses) for anyone else's behavior.
bulletYou're a LOT stronger than you think you are. Your true friends will be there for you (they always have been), and hope that you will turn to them if you need more strength. 
bulletPeople that love you will not hurt you, unless you let them. 
bulletYou have the ability to change your life by making different choices.
bullet You are loved.

During and after my divorce, I was made aware by numerous friends and family members that they felt the CHOICE I made to marry twenty-three years ago was very confusing for them. For the most part, witnessing his disrespect for me (which I had made excuses for), they didn't feel I was doing the right thing. I had reservations myself, and at one point very close to the ceremony nearly postponed the date. His tears and promises to change caused me to minimize my "gut feeling". 

Until now, I had no idea how much I had been hurting the people that loved me the most! Every time there was a family function or an event where we were together with our friends, they were hoping to see a healthier relationship. It broke my family's heart to see me accepting this treatment, but they didn't want to say anything that might make me choose between them. They didn't want to lose me. I never knew. There was no way they could tell me. Until now. What a loving, wonderful family...

On a final note, one day before the anniversary of our divorce, my ex-husband remarried. The "just-a-friend" that he had been dating at work filed for divorce shortly after I did in 1999. She claimed to be in an abusive relationship herself, and if that were the case, her self-esteem would be pretty low because of this. Yes! I know now that she was a good target for my ex, because she would be easier to "take control of". Yes, he did. And you can bet her self-esteem is even lower now...

I was surprised at my reaction to hearing the news. After hearing "they deserve each other" from so many people, I finally believe it myself.  Giggle!

Now I can let the fantasy go. I've forgiven him, but I will never forget it. I have learned from it, and will never feel this pain again in my life.

Some people choose to be happy, some make choices not to be. God has given me many things in my life to be happy for, and shows me more every day.

Your site continues to be most informative and helpful to me.

Thank you for caring enough to spend your time and effort with this and God bless you.

Sincerely, Diana

Dear Diana,

Thank you for sending in your success story. There is somebody out there who is stuck - and who really, really needs to read your inspirational account - to choose life.

May God continue to bless you and those whose lives you grace. 

Dr. Irene

 I want to read the posts.