I’ve felt different for a while now. I wasn’t sure what exactly was different: I knew I was more confident, happier, more sure of myself. But why? What had made me that way?
I love sitting alone, just me and my thoughts. Today in the airport on the way home I was thinking about my future. My goals have changed….maybe changed isn’t the right word. They’re more defined. I was unsure before. Then I thought, why was I unsure? And why wasn’t I now?
That’s when I realized it. Fear. Fear was the difference.
Before, I was so unsure of my own decisions and choices. What if I made the wrong one? Chose the wrong career, the wrong partner, lived in the wrong place. Would I waste years of my life? Would I be unhappy? Would I struggle and barely manage to get by and then call that a life?
And then, it happened. The worst thing I’ve been through. The odds stacked hugely against me. I was treated unfairly. I was abused. I was taken advantage of. I was scrutinized at work for a situation in which I was a victim. I was targeted. I wasn’t believed. I reached the lowest point I’ve been to so far. These last few years of my life have been hands down the hardest. Through it all, not only did I survive- I fought. That was the turning point. Even when I didn’t think I had it in me anymore, I somehow kept fighting. It was as if it was engrained in me and it wasn’t even a choice- it’s what I do. It’s who I am.
I had always hoped to be a fighter. I envied those who were. I wanted nothing more than to look fear and challenge in the face and smile knowing I have what it takes. But when it came down to it I really didn’t know if I would or not. Until this point, I had never had much to base my reaction off of. I had an amazing home life before I moved away. My family is loving and supportive. My friends are amazingly selfless and giving and my inner circle are all people I can genuinely say I look up to. I was given a healthy body and blessed with athleticism and a logical mind. I had it easy until now. I had no idea whether I would fight when it came down to it. I knew I would for others because that has always been who I am. But for me? I knew I could handle taking it, but would I fight?
I was on autopilot for much of the worst of my situation. Even now I’m relatively numb to everything. Writing these posts and going back through old screenshots, they seem like years ago, and even now some of them don’t seem that bad because that was my daily life. I sought assistance because I needed it. Honestly a lot of the initial actions I took were more out of a victims desperation than anything else. A lot of what drove me was not being believed. I knew what had happened was wrong, that it was abuse, that it was against regulation and punishable by UCMJ. My counselor told me to move out before my ex got back because he thought he might kill me if I stayed. To be told that, but then told I didn’t need to try to get any kind of restraining order, or that it didn’t matter if he knew where I was, or that all he did was cheat on me and it wasn’t that bad, was mind blowing. I’m still thankful I had that counselor to steer me in the right direction or I don’t know why would have happened.
Once I got my protection order and paperwork started things improved slightly, but it wasn’t until I talked to a social worker at family advocacy that I realized exactly how serious my situation was. I think that was what flipped the switch. The day after my first appointment I was called back and told he had already had a case opened on him for a similar situation. I think that was when I knew- this wasn’t for me anymore. I could handle it, yes. But this was now for the rest of the girls after me. I had learned previously that he had been doing this for years, and now I had learned he had been INVESTIGATED and was still doing it. If I didn’t do everything I could, he would continue longer still. That was when there was no longer a question or a doubt. It didn’t matter how much it hurt, how hard it was, how low I got, how many people didn’t believe me, how many obstacles I had. This has to be done, and I was going to be the one to do it.
That was when the fear began to dissipate. What could he do to me? Threaten me? Stalk me? Harass me? Make up rumors? Any negative thing he could attempt against me would be evidence against him as soon as he did it. I may be relatively untouchable, but she is not. His current victim, his next. They are very, very, touchable. The longer they are with him the more he will poison their minds until one day, she’ll find herself laying in bed crying and wondering how she got to this point. Wishing she could leave but not knowing how because she’s afraid he’ll kill himself. Wanting to leave but being afraid to because his boys will be stuck alone with him. Longing for freedom to be herself, or even find herself again, only to be gaslighted to such an extent that she can’t remember if she did actually say she’d go to the store and pick something up for him today or not.
She is touchable.
I’m still fighting, and I will until I either exhaust my options or justice is served. During this fight is when I learned probably the most valuable lesson so far that I hope you can learn from my hardship instead of having to go through it yourself.
YOU are worth the fight.
He was just as bad to me as the rest. Why should I not also fight for myself? I knew I didn’t deserve that treatment. I’m not perfect- I’m flawed like the rest of us, very much so. But I knew that I tried my best to be good, I tried my best for a person who barley qualifies as a human (humans need souls, don’t they?). I realized I have a lot to offer. I was raised well- with ethics, morals, and a helping heart. I didn’t deserve to waste my potential as a great partner to the right person on someone who told me daily I was a whore and disgusting because he was insecure.
I finally realized that isn’t self absorbed or cocky, it’s just true. So many of us put up with unacceptable treatment because we’re afraid to say we’re worth more than that. Don’t be. You are worth exactly what you put in. If you nearly kill yourself trying for someone who not only doesn’t recognize your effort, but degrades you for it- leave. If you feel unappreciated and looked over and know in your heart you’ve done everything you can? Leave. Why stay somewhere you aren’t fulfilled? Because it’s comfortable? This is where fear comes back in.
Fear is an excuse.
Fear is nothing. Why be afraid? Because something may go wrong? But what if it goes RIGHT? What if you leave and it’s a mistake, but what if you’re happier on your own or with someone else? What if you move across the country or globe and hate it, but what if you love it? What if you take that risk and do the degree you’ve always wanted? Or take the job no one thought you could get?
What if you marry an abusive narcissist while living 4,000 miles away from your support system and get targeted at work for trying to get help as a victim?
You fight your way out. You fix it. You find what you can control and you change it. You find what you can’t and get past it. You learn about yourself and fix things that need fixing, strengthen things they need strengthening, get rid of pieces of you that hold you back, and you pull yourself up and keep going. You adapt. You troubleshoot. You attempt any possible avenue and try again if the door is locked, or have a little celebration for yourself when it opens.
Failure is an opportunity. It isn’t something to fear.
That is one of my favorite things about me now- I can look a challenge in the face and smile. I’m better equip to handle them now. I know how to think and fight my way out. Each failure, each challenge that follows- no matter how hard- will end the same way. I will learn, I will adapt, I will fight, and I will improve. Embrace your failure. Embrace your fears. Seek them out and crush them.
I fight for myself now. Fight for yourself too. You are worth a fight. You are worth effort. Show people how you will and won’t allow yourself to be treated and don’t move the line.
Look fear in the face…and laugh.