Category Archives: wellness

My Independence Day – My Story of Domestic Abuse

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As I write this, we are hours away from Independence Day and it’s always a bitter sweet day for me. July 4, 2008 was the day I reclaimed my independence

I make reference to domestic abuse, domestic violence, PTSD and the violence against women act in various social media channels I am present in – but I haven’t really spoken openly about it in a public forum to any great degree, but 5 years on from my independence day, I feel like it’s a  fitting time to open up.

Last weekend my story was written and published by a London journalist and featured in the Sunday newspaper (see below) – this was the very first time my story was shared outside of my immediate family and friends. It hurts to read and I know neither my husband or my parents have read it and I understand why, but it isn’t something I am ashamed of, it is something I gained from.

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On July 4, 2008 I left my, now, ex-husband. Saying “I left him” takes away the emotion and the drama – what you don’t read in those words “I left” is the angst, fear, pain and suffering. My story of abuse is much like what many other women are dealing with – chances are you know someone who is dealing with abuse at home, it could be your mother, your sister, your best friend, the girl in the office, your daughter,  or it’s you. We, the victims, or survivors, hide abuse well, our abusers hide it even better. We feel ashamed, we feel like failures, like we are letting everyone down, like it’s our fault. When I left my ex-husband, I was running, literally running for my life, running for help, terrified, terrified, that July 4, 2008 was going to be the night he actually took that last step in the familiar abuse pattern, and killed me.

At the hands of my abuser, my husband, the man I loved, I was psychologically tortured every day for over 2 years – living on a knife edge, walking on egg  shells, never knowing when the explosion would happen and what it would be. I was strangled, kicked, thrown out the house, humiliated in front of friends and strangers. I was chased down and dragged down the street. My belongings were destroyed or thrown in the trash when I didn’t ‘behave’. Walls were punched inches from my head. I was held down, strangled and raped. This was, what he called love. I tried to leave, I left 6 times, he talked me home every time, with tears, apologies and promises. I believed him. I loved him. I was embarrassed.

I have been diagnosed with PTSD. A lot of people don’t realize that mental and emotional abuse can damage you, affect you that badly to leave you with post-traumatic stress disorder – but it can, and it does. My abuse is over, my abuser far away, but the trauma hasn’t gone away, including frequent nightmares, night sweats, crying, screaming and panic attacks in my sleep. It took me 4 years of therapy to be able to speak with emotion about what happened – for years I was clinical in my explanation of what happened, cold, I took out the emotion because I didn’t know how to process it. I saw myself outside of my own body. 5 years on, I can now connect me, with the facts and the emotion.

5 years seems so long ago, yet I remember every minute of that night vividly.

It’s times like those, that you learn who your true friends are – the ones who want to stick around and go through the trenches with you. The friends who pull you out and hold you up and support you in any and every way that they can.

I vowed, that with every friend that helped me I would pay it forward. It has taken me some time to get to a place where I am financially and emotionally comfortable. Where my life is better than it has ever been and I can start to help others.

I can’t donate hundreds or thousands of dollars, but I can donate my time and my experience and my advice. I am now a mentor to women who are going or have gone through what I went through. I am not a therapist, a counselor or a doctor, but I can help. I hope that my talking to each of these women, I am giving them the support that I had, the understanding shoulder to cry on and the strength to know that there is a way out. There can be the ‘happily ever after’.

I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other women survive and find their strength. People ask me if I regret my choice to be with my abuser, to stay with my abuser for so long – I regret what happened to me, and wish it on no one, but I love the person that I have become, the strength I have. The courage I know I have and the bravery that I can be proud of. I love the strong bonds I have with those that were there for me in my hardest time  they will be my friends eternally. Lastly, without that experience, I wouldn’t be where I am now, physically, emotionally, financially – and I wouldn’t have this amazing love with an incredible man, who has shown me what true love means, what a true man is like and how after such darkness and fear, there is love and light  – for all of these things, there could never be regret.

To my dear friends, Diana, The Kaufmans, Nick & Jenny, Andrew (amongst many things, the man who taught me to pay it forward), Jonathan and the Weisman’s  – thank you for being there in 2008 and now – you have my eternal gratitude.

My parents and my husband  – I know these things are hard to read and thank you for your never ending love and support.

So, as I am about to celebrate my first Independence day as an American, I will look back at how far I have come and how there is life after abuse.

Wishing you all a safe and happy July 4th.

Information:

If you, or someone you know needs help please contact the domestic abuse hotline (US) for guidance, contacts and safety plans on 1-800-799-7233 or 0800-2000-247 in the UK

Don’t hesitate to call 911/999 in an emergency – know that is always better to be safe and protected.

survivors-mentor

I am a Domestic Abuse Mentor – please contact me or use the information page here to seek help from one of the group of mentors available to help for free.

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How To Live In The Now – social media, content and unplugging

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We live in a world of now, now, now, gimme, gimme, gimme.

How did we become so obsessed with now. We don’t even have time to focus on the futuresome, it seems do not even care about the past, we just want it all and we want it now.

We are so in need, in lust for the now that anything else makes us impatient.

We are surrounded by the ‘instant’ – Twitter, Facebook. Vine. Insta(nt)gram

I primarily connected my figurative life line to social media in 2007 as a way to connect with my family and friends at home in London and across the globe, an easy way to share what I was doing and get the social reach easily to everyone I cared about when I was on the run and didn’t have time for a call or to write a letter  – technology has allowed me to face time with my Mum while I am out shopping to get her buy in on a dress I like or some shoes I’m contemplating adding to the collection. While I am connected to my family, I am also, now, so conditioned to getting everything out there right now – real time sharing, real time experiences.
I want to know if I’ve won – now. I want to know what people think – now. Who is liking my status, who is viewing my blog, what is my friend in another part of the world doing right now, I want my food order in 3 minutes.  I need the information and I need it now.

Capturing the moment

Capturing the moment

Don’t get me wrong – I love social media and what it has enabled us to do as individuals and as a global community, I like a fast pace, I like to have everything at my fingertips, but I’ve become so motivated by instant gratification that I’m not stopping to smell the flowers. I’m not taking in my life – the memories. Yes; every inch of the memory is captured in 140 characters or a heavily filtered and edited photo stored in a virtual cloud for the future, but am I living in that moment? Or am I merely capturing it?
Am I really listening or am I merely hearing?
Am I missing what’s really going on around me, now, because I’m so obsessed with the now.

My husband has created a social (media) experiment for us, mainly me, but us – can we, one day a week, tune out, shut down and turn off – can we leave our iphones, our ipad and our computer alone and just live in the moment, see the world through just one lens.

It’s time to take my moments. To realise that to really appreciate the now. I need to stop, inhale and absorb. Otherwise, my life will have flashed by in a series of uploads, tweets and posts.

Life is too short to not really LIVE in the now.

For more on our figurative life lines and our constant connection here is a great article on Huff Post – Disconnect: A New Movie Sounds the Alarm About Our Hyper-Connected Lives.

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Just Let It Go

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If December is the season of good will, then January is the season of resolutions made and broken.

I don’t really make resolutions – but I do make choices – I chose last summer to Drop To Shop and I followed that plan to a tee.

With January – comes winter – the most depressing time of year for me. I don’t like the cold, I hate snow and ice and I really don’t like bundling up just to take a 2 minute walk to my car and I live in Texas – it shouldn’t even be cold here. Generally I’m happy, but also miserable – a grumpy mess of whining, complaining and negative thoughts until the thermostat shows a pleasing number above 70 degrees. I’m pretty sure my friends in Dallas are fed up of me complaining, I know my husband is, so in an effort to make everyone around me less annoyed by me, I made a choice, not a resolution – to be more positive.

I have only just started my trek in to positivity. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, I, like most people, find it easier to criticize, complain and speak badly of people or things, than compliment, be positive and smile. As I read in one of the books I’m reading –“ it’s easier to complain than to laugh”* – and it’s so true. How often will you gossip about someone than compliment someone – or for that fact even take a compliment – us girls would rather put ourselves down about our weight, what a mess we think we are or be self-deprecating, than take the compliment about our hair, our dress, our amazing presentation at work or dinner we just made.

My first step in to positivity was recognising I needed a rule for myself – something that was quick to employ and easy to remember – one of my wise, wonderful friends, one day, said to me “you just have to let it go” and there it was – ‘Let It Go’. It’s so simple , a basic concept – take what is bothering you, what is just winding you up, stressing you out and making you miserable, and just let go of it. It’s my modern day version of the much quoted prayer**

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Work hard, make it happen – when I can, but know when to Let It Go – be smart enough to know the difference.

I started using Let It Go as my mantra – when something happened that I didn’t like, when I would normally rant and vent to anyone who would listen, I just said “Let It Go” it’s not important. At first it was hard – so I decided I needed to visualize something – I found an image of a balloon with the phrase on Pinterest and thought it was just perfect – so now, when I find myself on the verge of negativity, I just let go of my balloon and let it float away….far, far away.

How are you letting it go? Let me know.

#LetItGo

Let It Go

*Quote – Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

**Quote – Reinhold Niebuhr

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