Tag: forget me not

Forget Me Not: Loving me, loving you

“If you can love the wrong person that much, imagine how much you can love the right one.”

Valentine’s Day is upon us. It’s a day when couples proclaim their love for one another, and hearts and chocolates seem to rain down from the sky. Yesterday, I saw a brief article on the origins of Valentine’s Day. It talked about everything from how St. Valentine was arrested for marrying young couples to the Pagan Festival of Lupercalia. A simple Google search will provide you with tons of details, if you are so inclined. For the purpose of this blog post, however, I want to focus on one key element; the celebration of love has been around for centuries.

Although I spent almost twenty years in some sort of relationship, last year was the first time I actually celebrated Valentine’s Day since I was in high school. And this year, I couldn’t care less that it is happening. During my entire marriage, I found the idea of this holiday annoying at best. It represented everything that was missing from my marriage. My husband blew it off as a Hallmark holiday, and I stopped believing in the love of fairy tales long before I was even married. It was hard for me to comprehend finding a man worthy of any of the cards I saw out there.

Let’s fast forward to my single years. When I first entered my singledom, Valentine’s Day would sneak up on me like a cruel joke. I carried a lot of sadness, and this day of love and happiness served as a cruel reminder of how alone I really was. It represented the cold reality that no one wanted me, a belief that I carried long after the divorce.

But, as I traveled down my path to recovery, I started to view this day from a different perspective. What if Valentine’s Day was a celebration of the love of those who are important to us? What if I took the romance part out of it? This view gave me a much brighter outlook. On Valentine’s Day, I would focus on all the love I had to give and all the love that I received in return.

That love, the love of my family and friends, was so much more important than the false love of the wrong man. My life had shown me, in more ways than one, that having a man standing next to you is not the same as having a man standing with you. True love is not being in a relationship or having someone buy you flowers. True love is having people around you that care for you, sometimes even, more than you care for yourself.
So, for the past several years, I focused on making Valentine’s Day a day to remember all those who love me unconditionally. Every time I saw a Valentine’s heart or post, I remembered those who loved and cared for me when I needed it most. I was thankful that some of my friends and relatives had found someone to share their romantic love with, and I was hopeful that those who were struggling would stay positive. I focused on loving those who were important to me and on loving myself.

When the right man did come into my life, I struggled with letting go for fear of getting hurt again. But he showed me what true love looks like. He didn’t try to win me over with fancy dinners or over-the-top compliments. He didn’t try to rush me past my own fears or hang-ups. Instead, he stood by me and built me up. He tore down my walls with support and kindness, and he showed me what true love looks like.

Last year, we celebrated our first Valentine’s Day doing something we both enjoy, going to a park. Every day since, we have celebrated love in our words, gestures, and support for one another. This year, as Valentine’s Day is upon us again, I feel no need to do anything different, because everyday, with him, is a celebration of love.

Instead, this year I will be thankful for him as I am the others who have shown me true love. It doesn’t matter what your status is. It doesn’t matter if you are married, divorced, single, or lost your loved one. What matters is that you find true love in those who are willing to share it with you. Celebrate the love you have in your life and you will find that your self-love will grow. That is the hardest love to come by. When you love yourself, you are a bright and shining light to everyone around you.

The celebration of love is what you make of it. Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves!

Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: Just Me


I slowly and methodically pushed the post button, uploading a raw photo of myself that I captioned “just me.” Afterwards, I sat there and started at the ocean as it slowly washed onto shore in the fading sunlight. I had done it. I had shown the world what my soul really looked like. I was done hiding behind the so-called appropriate photos of the smiling girl I was trying to be. There was so much more to me. That evening, as I sat on the lifeguard tower, depression had set in once again. I was so very weary of it. If you were looking in, from the outside, you would say my life was good. What I couldn’t understand was why I was still so messed up?

I reminded myself that rejection did not say anything about me. It was a basic clarification that the person rejecting me was not meant to be in my life. The self-talk was proving ineffective, though, and with each rejection came self-loathing that was unbearable. I tried to tell myself that my abuser’s words were not true and that the right people would come into my life and stay there. The right people would not walk away. But my husband’s words were always in the back of my mind.

“No guy will ever want you! Look at you!” “You can’t do anything right.” “When are you going to lose some weight?”

These words were poison. They cut to my inner being for years. Some of them still do. Obviously, he was right. Here it was, five years later, and I was still alone while he was married again in less than a year. Sometimes I was ok. Sometimes I would have fun with my friends, ride bikes, hang out, and carry on. Sometimes, however, I was not okay; but, I would pick myself up and put a smile on my face. I was good at ignoring the turmoil inside. I had years of practice doing that. Put on a happy face and take on the world. Although many of those around me thought I was a happy person, in truth I wasn’t. The moment I found myself alone, everything seemed to darken and I felt completely lost and fragile. I was tired of pretending to be someone I was not. I was tired of being strong.

As part of this blog, I’ve been taking a walk down memory lane. For all the memories that I prefer Facebook keep hidden, it is interesting to be able to see what I was posting. It is a small window into my life at that very moment in time. There are so many things that I have since forgotten, such as pictures that speak volumes and quotes that put my feelings to words better than I could. As I was traversing through 2014, I had no idea how much growth was actually going to occur. This year proved to be the year when I would truly let go of my past and strive for a better future. It was the year that everything turned around.

The summer before, I had hit rock bottom. Anxiety and depression had moved in and seemed to be unpacking for the long haul. It took this turn of events to persuade me to get some outside help in my quest for happiness. I had believed that I had it under control. For four years, I had been living on the emotional high of my freedom from him. It never occurred to me that there would be ongoing ramifications to the years of suffering I endured while living in an abusive relationship.

But even after months of therapy, which provided me the insight to understand why I thought and felt the way I did, I still struggled with learning how to actually deal with all of it. Rejection and the fear of being alone forever were my triggers. It is hard to explain this to someone who has never experienced it, but I can assure you that the fallout was very real. My mind was full of irrational thoughts and my reactions were, very often, borderline insane to outsiders. But, to me, they were the reality of the life I lived and, although I knew that they were “abnormal” reactions, I had no idea how to change them.

It was an ongoing battle; a battle that I won in the end! By August of 2014, I had posted the following:

A physical, emotional, and spiritual reboot are about to occur in this girl. Excited to see what transpires when old bad habits are broken, new healthy habits are formed, and roadblocks I’ve allowed in my life are faced head on and removed for good. I am ready!

In upcoming posts, I want to touch on how the year of 2014 brought me from the girl in the photo to the girl who wrote the above post. We all deal with different roadblocks that keep us from being the best we can be. It is my continuing hope that my story will help you overcome yours and that, together, we can grow into the individuals we are meant to be.

Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

Forget Me Not: This is not the end of me, this is the beginning

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If you have read my story, you know that I have been on a journey for the past several years. This journey took me far away from the person I was. So far away, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. She looked the same on the outside, but if I really looked into her eyes, I didn’t know the person staring back. She was empty. She had little interest in anything. She found no joy in the happiest of occasions. She was a shell. Today, all of that has changed.

Had you asked me six or seven years ago how I was feeling, about my life and path, the answer would be much different than my answer today. It was difficult for me to learn how to be patient with myself and allow myself the time I needed to heal. It took a lot of work for me to learn to live with, and for, me. I expect that it will take many years to complete my healing, but that is ok. I believe that all my experiences have created, in me, an individual who can relate to the pain of domestic violence and help others find hope. One of my favorite singers, Christina Perri, used these words in her song I Believe:

I believe in the lost possibilities you can’t see.
And I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be.
I known that your heart is still beating, beating, darling.
I believe that you fell so you would land next to me.
Cause I have been where you are before.
And I have felt the pain of losing who you are.
And I have died so many times, but I am still alive.

So many quotes from this song have rung true in my journey to healing. The beauty of being able to look back and know that I survived still leads to overwhelming emotion. Just hearing this song brings tears of joy to my eyes. I have joy for my freedom, my strength, and for those who stand as survivors of domestic violence with me.

If you are still a victim of domestic violence, please know that you can have that same joy! That is the good news in all of this. You must, however, be aware of the situation you are in. The day will come when you know that you must leave. While in the midst of my marriage, and throughout my separation, I thought that I would never be happy again. I struggled with guilt, sadness, and shame, while hoping he would return to the man I wanted him to be. Eventually, however, the bad times substantially outweighed the good.

I have yet to meet a person who does not wish to be happy and enjoy the life they are living. No one wants to be depressed, anxious, frightened, or lonely. Sadly, victims of abuse often make excuses for the people who take away their joy. It took walking out the door, threats and all, for me to be able to start down the road to recovery. I had to be removed from the daily abuse in order to see the possibility of happiness and peace in my life.

It will not be perfect. You will still hurt, struggle with certain feelings, and have insecurities. But with every day that passes, life will get better and you will find yourself being reacquainted with joy. Remember, leaving a life of domestic violence is not the end of you. It is only the very beginning.

— Forget Me Not

Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.

forget me not: My Journey

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Over the course of several years I have been on a bit of a journey, if you would like to call it that. This journey took me far away from the person I am. So far away, in fact, that I didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. She looked the same on the outside, but if I really looked into her eyes, I didn’t know the person staring back. She was empty. She had little interest in anything. She found no joy in the happiest of occasions. She was a shell.

This was very distressing for all of the obvious reasons, of course. But what was far worse was that I couldn’t comprehend how I had let it come to this. I was a strong, independent, ambitious woman. I had a plan for my life…and this was not it.

They say it takes half the time you were in a relationship to get over it. For me, that would be eight years. I was over him within months, but being over the relationship is a whole other story. The damage that I incurred over those sixteen years has created a number of obstacles that I’ve had to overcome.

It all began as a blissful, high school romance. But, within months, there were signs I refused to see. It seemed that everything he did involved trying to control me. With every good thing that came of our relationship, his behavior and anger escalated. It started with guilting me for wanting to spend time to family and friends, to putting me down and calling me names, to manipulating circumstances to hurt me and raise himself up. Soon, everything he didn’t like about his life was my fault, and I paid for my “wrongdoing” with emotional and physical attacks.

I didn’t look right, cook right, clean right, make enough money, work enough, exercise enough, eat right, or lose enough weight. His temper would flare over the simplest of things, resulting in broken keepsakes, slaps, arm bars, wrist locks, chokes, being slammed against walls, being kicked and punched, being pinned down, emotional abuse, and my broken spirit. Through all of it, I lied to friends and family, covered for his actions and absences, and protected him with all I had. I learned that nothing would change someone who does not wish to change.

It took me sixteen years to decide I could take no more, and several months to walk out. It was something as simple as being accused of cheating that was the catalyst that propelled me out the door. I had done nothing but been faithful, in every way, while he treated me like the dirt beneath his feet. I could take no more. I didn’t realize the damage that had been done and what I had waiting for me. I had to work through health issues and psychological issues. I had to learn to interact with others again and start picking up the pieces of my life.

As I write today, I can say with confidence that I am no longer looking at that same reflection, but I am still learning to live with me. It has been exactly seven years since I faced my fears and walked out the door. Seven entire years since I said I was done and made the heart wrenching, terrifying decision to leave my marriage. It has been a journey like no other, bringing me to places I never comprehended, lows I don’t wish on my worst enemy, and love I never knew existed.

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect. It takes some of us longer than others to realize that. But, no matter how long you have stayed and endured, there is a beautiful life that can be had. Believe in yourself and find it.

Read the Forget Me Not Series here and visit the Forget Me Not Advocacy Group’s website.