Image 1 It’s been thirty plus years since I left my abuser. Thirty years, and still, the reminder of one moment, all that time ago, can steal my breath.

Not any particular moment. There were a lot of bad moments back then. It can be just a random memory, even a sound, or a smell, but most of the time it happens in conversation.

People say things. People who know, somewhere in the back of their minds, that you had a hard time way back when. After all this time, no one would think that an offhand comment could do any harm. Why would they? It’s not personal to them.

A young person said to me recently: “I’m doing dead baby.” I guess it is slang for being non-compliant or uncooperative. I guess they think it is funny. Not to me.

Someone was talking about an upcoming award show, and a highly rated television episode where the husband steals the baby and the wife is running after the car, screaming… “Oh, she will get an Emmy for her performance!” Exciting, I guess. Not to me. I saw the play.

No, I am not the raw, open wound that I was thirty years ago. There are things that I will never forget, never get over, and never stop blaming myself for. Some things will always hurt. That’s my reality.

All I have ever tried to do with this writing is give strength, hope, and direction to those who might need it. I want you to know that it is possible to get away, to be free from fear, and to live a life that you choose. I can tell you that it is. Absolutely. I have done it and you can do it too. It won’t be easy and you will have to be strong for much longer than you think you possibly can. The bad news is that you have to get out in order to start over. You can’t do it in the middle of the war zone.

And I know that leaving is hard, too. I get that. I was battered for eleven of the twelve years of my marriage. The first year was just verbal abuse… which I firmly believe is a must-have for someone to be battered in the first place. If you still have your self-worth, they have a harder time bringing you down.

Why did I stay so long? I lost my baby son to SIDS about six years into the marriage, and I spent the next six years being crazy. But my cousin managed to get through on a “sorry, wrong number” call and let me know that there was a safe place to go. That hope started a fire burning in my soul and eventually got us out of there.

Anyway, I got off the track there. I wanted to say that I am better, stronger and almost entirely back to my old self. I have been better for a long time. I should say that. It isn’t a new phenomenon. I’ve worked at it. But there are still moments that cost me dearly.

So, don’t expect perfection from yourself. Don’t expect that you will never have a bad moment, and don’t, whatever you do, let a bad moment, or even a bunch of bad moments, make you think that you were better off before. I’ve heard women say that. You were not better off being abused. Absolutely not. It’s so easy to think that going back would take less effort than fighting this uphill battle called survival. He might be “happy” to take you back, but he will definitely get even with you for leaving. And, quite simply, you might not survive his revenge.