Statistically I should be a self-loathing, man-hating addict.
My parents divorced and despised one another, an example set by each of their parents. My grandfather was a pedophile. I remember thinking at his funeral, “I will never be a victim again.” So, when I married who I thought would be my forever soulmate, I chose to think of him as troubled. Difficult. High maintenance. I was too strong to be a “victim” of his insults and angry tirades.
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One of the most important lessons I learned during counseling after our separation is that you cannot be in a toxic relationship without being sick yourself. To avoid repeating the cycle, healing meant digging in deep, no matter how intimidating, scary, and just plain messy. (The book, MEN WHO HATE WOMEN AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM was extremely therapeutic.)
But, even in my lowest points I realized I could choose whether I simply survive or thrive. One weepy, 3 a.m. morning after my separation, I was lying in bed wondering what was next? I had been kicked out of my home to drive away in my 22 year old car (with what could be packed in about 20 minutes). I had no job because the previous 12 years had been spent helping him with his business, and no access to our bank account. My thoughts went from, “I have nothing. How will I set up housekeeping, and how long will that take?” to “I have nothing but my clothes and my dog. I can go anywhere. My options are endless.”
I was a good wife and was supposed to be a mom. I never pictured myself 44, single, and childless. But, notice I did not say, “alone.” Lonely was not having a voice as a kid. Lonely was being married for 14 years to someone that needed me but didn’t want me. I have a voice now, while the voice of those feelings of worthlessness have quieted down. I am loved, wanted, and surrounded by the most wonderful friends, family, and coworkers.
Because my Heavenly Father had taught me healthy ways of coping and a balanced view of injustice, I did not become a statistic. My personal relationship with my Him took on new depths after I learned to love myself the way He had always loved me.
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Motivational speaker Mel Robbins said, “Confidence is a skill, not a feeling.” If I want confidence, I have to brave what scares me. No grit no pearl, right? The young woman I was did not want to sit facing a window for fear the natural light would show how unattractive I believed myself to be. Now, I stand with my face on a large screen in front of hundreds of women at beauty trend shows talking about how they can find their “Brilliant Confidence.”
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Happiness and contentment are mine. Henry David Thoreau said, “Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will evade you. But if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.” I had to focus and work on myself for a while. I learned I’m brave enough, smart enough, and deserving enough to own my “Brilliant Confidence.”
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