I have reflected more on my time in an abusive relationship over the past 11 months than I did in the years that came after it. This has happened for various reasons, the most obvious being: writing and talking about my experiences after the recent release of my debut novel, See Her Run. Because the topic of domestic violence––an underlying theme in the book––was in my head so much of the time, I realized there was still emotional and psychological baggage to deal with. That is why I am writing this blog: in the hope that it will aid in healing that chapter of my life once and for all, as well as assist others reading this who might be going through a similar situation.
So, what have I learned from my reflections thus far?
First of all, I will never get that girl back. The one I was before him. The one who was too trusting for her own good with a lollipops and unicorns view of the world. For the most part, she is gone . . . and that is okay. I had to change. That relationship gave me a more balanced outlook on life and the world. A world that isn’t always fluffy, kind and well-intentioned. There are some people that will never have positive intentions toward you no matter how “good” you are to them. Sure, it was a hard way to learn that lesson, but, looking back, I’m not sure I would have learned it any other way. Having said that, there is one thing I still share with that girl: the belief that love can change the world, and the people in it.
Secondly, I cannot emphasize enough how vital it is that you keep your voice. I was rarely “allowed” to voice my opinion, needs or wants. It was all about him, all of the time. I became so used to it, I forgot I had my own. After leaving the relationship, it took years to figure out what I believed, and even longer to feel comfortable expressing those thoughts to other people. This is what it taught me: once somebody controls your voice, they control you. Speak your truth. Loud, proud, and often. Some people won’t like it, some people will outright hate it. Speak it anyway.
Thirdly, always believe what your heart tells you about your dreams. I hadn’t told anyone about my dream to be a writer. It felt like the holy-grail to me: a perfect and unattainable treasure. Yet, my heart refused to let it go. I finally worked up the courage to tell my ex-partner. His response? The PG version of what he said was, “Who do you think you are? Only smart people write books”. I was devastated. It seemed like the axis of the world had shifted and I was standing on the wrong side. I tried to persist with my dream, but his continued interference in my attempts at writing made me give up. Well, at least that’s what I made him believe. In reality, whenever he wasn’t home, I would write. I hid the pieces of paper in a box underneath the bed. He never knew. As you are reading this on my blog, you can see that I have indeed become a writer.
That leads me to my next point. Vulnerability. By confiding my secret dream, I opened up and exposed myself . . . and was shut down in the most humiliating way. It was not the only time. I could not cry, be sensitive, or show any hurt feelings in a way that was considered acceptable to him. Writing and speaking about my experiences has forced me to let go of the need to appear strong and unaffected in each moment. Even so, something I’ve noted that still needs work is knowing who to trust my vulnerable side with. I am confident I will get there.
Another issue I am still working through is the fact that somebody else’s opinion of me is not my business. My ex-partner said many nasty things about me––both privately and in front of others––and I took each one as gospel. I never thought to question his motives or the truth behind the words. Sometimes these memories are activated by the interactions I have with other people. I am learning to see them as opportunities to practise self-acceptance and discernment.
There have been many more things I have come to understand as a result of my reflections over the past 11 months, but the one that has shocked me the most is this: I forgive my ex-partner. For everything. There is not one cell in me that wishes him ill. In fact, wherever he is, I wish him well on his journey through life. I hope he learns to love himself, and others. It is the same wish I have for everybody.
P.S. Yes, I still have that box of papers J
About A.K. Leigh
A.K. Leigh is an international-selling romance author, identical triplet, writing instructor, incurable romantic, love guru, self-love advocate, amateur mystic, mother, sometimes blogger and vlogger, and trauma survivor.