5 MINUTE READ
For anyone out there who hesitates to journal because they think they don’t know what they will write, this is just to inform you that I never know what I’m going to write, and I’m learning now that that is my ego’s excuse to not sit down to this super helpful practice. I wrote that last sentence more for myself than anyone else.
It’s liberating to change how I show up online. I mentioned a few entries back that I would shift my business’s social media presence. It’s mindboggling to understand why it was easier to post my vulnerable journal entries on my website than to repost other people’s material that would help my audience. When I was married, I’d be punished for posting on IG.
When I was married, I experienced abuse. A good metaphor for what I experienced is a boa constrictor or a frog in boiling water. The person I was married to slowly etched away at my sense of self, my self-esteem, and my successful business—unfortunately, covert manipulation and gaslighting like this run rampant. Maybe you didn’t know this, but the most significant risk factor for anyone falling prey to a cult, abusive relationship, or other manipulation or abuse is to think, “It could never happen to me.” As someone whose job as a social worker was to counsel domestic violence survivors, I would have said, ‘It could never happen to me”. But, of course, I never said that out loud. I just assumed that since I spent so many hours teaching survivors about the cycle of violence, it just wouldn’t happen to me.
It wasn’t until we moved to Texas that the actual cycle of violence diagram I was teaching years earlier popped into my head, and I woke up and thought, “Oh my gosh, this is abusive.” I didn’t learn while I was a social worker that if you say “this is abusive” to the abuser, the abuse will only get worse and more manipulative. Especially since a lot of the abuse was mental, he would find ways to discredit what I was saying. Since this was many years into the relationship, I had already lost my sense of self so much I didn’t think my thoughts and feelings were valid. At one point in the marriage, I was on a call with a support group member, and she said she wanted to give me a hotline for abuse. And unfortunately, like many others in this situation, I refused and said, “I got this.”
For several reasons that I won’t list here, I did leave and not go back. But that is not usually the case. Survivors may leave and return several times before permanently separating from their abusive partner. Research shows that it can take approximately seven attempts before a survivor permanently leaves an abusive partner. And I can understand why. The thing that sticks in my head when I think about this topic is the sad psychological truth that babies will cling to their abusive mothers preferring to be with her, what’s familiar, then be placed somewhere else because it’s the complete unknown. As a child, no one knew how bad the abuse was. If child protective removed me, the chances that I would have been in more danger are high. It’s not that I feel like I deserved to be poisoned, deprived, isolated, and manipulated in my childhood home. That’s not it at all. After deep reflection, I realized that I survived that, and well, like I said, who knows where I would have ended up if child protective services had removed me.
Anyways things are vastly different these days. And I’m happy to report that my discernment is only getting better. My standards are getting higher. And I am discarding things that aren’t worth my time or energy. In a previous journal entry, I mentioned that I Googled a former friend and found some pretty dark information about this person – some cultural appropriation, among other things. I have a spiritual tool that this person created that I use every week in my Sunday evening ritual. And it was about a week ago when I realized that although I love this tool so much and consider it very helpful, it’s time to move on. So I did a quick Google search of a similar tool with the word rainbow and came across something I am excited to replace the tool my former friend created. It feels much more aligned. I’m super happy to get it in the mail, and I will give away the tool I no longer resonate with for free. I have another similar instrument from a friend that I deeply love who I am in alignment with. However, I’ve never really liked this tool. I kept using it, thinking it would grow on me or that I’d learn something, but last night, when I did my Sunday night ritual, I also decided to re-home this tool.
It’s empowering to get rid of things that aren’t toxic, but I’m just not excited about it. I’m happy to get new tools and re-home the old ones. I know the new owners will love them.
This week in my ritual, I discovered that now is the time that I can start to set a weekly and monthly schedule for myself. There is something that I learned over the past year due to getting booted from my family, being homeless, and not knowing where my next meal would come from. It’s in alignment with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you don’t have a safe place to live or financial security, you don’t have the bandwidth to journal or meditate to do other things that the world tells us are essential self-care. The last thing anyone should do in a dire situation like the one I found myself in, and I’m glad I avoided this, is beat yourself up for not doing those self-care things when you need to focus on finding safe shelter, food, and finances. So the fact I am ready for scheduling is a huge sign of my healing! I’m so grateful for this!