I never wanted to bring children into a world where an idiot with a red button could end every living thing in moments, or, where nuclear fallout could make survival worse than death. What a fool I was. I thought the world was too dangerous for children, but my relationship with their father was the real poison in our lives.

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I was not his victim. I realize that now. I could have walked away a thousand times before I became so stuck in my own mind that escape seemed impossible. In the end, I became my own victim. I decided to believe that the things he said about me were true, his estimation of my worth as a human being, and my abilities as a parent.

He said that I would never leave him because I could never make it on my own, that I would never be able to support our children. And I decided to believe that I needed him. I decided to believe that I was helpless without him. I decided that it was my destiny to have that life, and that I deserved my fate.

Today, I am surprised that my children have survived their mother. I am happy that they both decided that they wanted good lives and that they wanted to have children. If they had stayed in the hole I dug for us, it would have been a much different picture. We all had to learn to love ourselves. I had to realize that it wasn’t just me who had a rotten life. I was giving my kids a worse life than I had. They didn’t get to decide. I had to decide to do something to change it, instead of wishing that something would happen to save us.

I am grateful today. I have learned to have faith in myself and to take action when it is necessary. To take control of whatever I am able to control, and to always try, even if it looks hopeless.

As a grandmother, I am now free to love without expectations. I love every moment that I get to spend with my grandchildren. Each child is different, special, and surprising to me. I love every amazed smile, every joyous laugh, every touch, every song, every hug. Nothing can ever match the joy of loving the children of your children.

If you think it is your destiny to be battered, that you deserve the pain you are living with, please, think again. Life can be good. It can be beautiful, if you decide to take control of your own destiny.