Why healing starts by recognizing their crimes were not my fault.
“If you alter your behaviour because you are frightened of how your partner will react, you are being abused.” ― Sandra Horley
Recently, I read a Facebook post about domestic violence. A post about the silence and shame it hides behind. It was a post affirming victim’s rights to leave, their/our right to live.
"If you have ever cried yourself to sleep. If you've ever prayed for God to change his heart. If you've ever prayed for strength to leave.
Leave before you are the one on the news. Leave before your family is questioning what/how/why it happened. Because "they didn't know"
He is strong... but you are stronger.
Do I believe people are capable of change? Yes... I pray they do.
There are GOOD men out there. Men who won't even raise their voice, let alone their hand. Find him. You'll then know love."
Reading the above quote made me choke on the words as memories came flooding back to me. Memories of the hours and hours I spent praying for help, for change, for love and safety.
There were so many stabs of shame embedded in those memories. Painful, toxic shame bubbled up over things done to me.
Today I choose to release shames that were never my burdens to carry.
If you are carrying shame(s) someone else has the burden to carry, I invite you to release your shame(s) too.
And, yes, just like this Facebook poster, I prayed for God to change my husband’s heart. I prayed with tears streaming my face, my voice choking on them as I called out begging for help, for guidance and relief. I prayed and I prayed until the voice in my head was horse was crying out to an empty sky.
When that didn’t work, I began praying for God to make me acceptable to him.
And I kept praying for that year after painfully escalating year until, somehow, by the grace of a God I struggled to continue believing in, I broke free.
I broke free.
I carry the scars in my soul from all those years, and so much shame.
The shame of having married two different men capable and more than willing to tear their wives and children apart, breaking them, instead of being strong and brave enough to see and do the work to heal their own brokenness.
The shame of being twice divorced after a childhood being taught marriage was for life, after being told once by my mother “you made your bed…”, after experiencing the judgment of my now mother-in-law when she learned of those two failed marriages.
The shame of failing at marriage, failing at being a wife – twice, when their failure to grow and heal and just simply be fucking kind and safe husbands was never anything I could control.
Today I am releasing this shame.
I release the first shame – the shame of picking men who mistreated me, hurt me, gaslit me and treated me like a second class human because that is the love my mother taught me to expect. There is no shame for me in seeking love, or in believing love looks like the lessons from childhood. This shame is for my mother to carry. I give her the burden of this shame. I release it.
I release the second shame – the shame of being twice divorced because I was twice able to say ‘enough’, to strike out on my own because I came to realize I didn’t deserve loves that hurt and harmed (no one does). There is no shame in claiming my worth as a human being, or being brave enough to walk away. This shame is for those men to carry. I give them the burden of this shame. I release it.
I release the third shame – the shame of failing at marriage (twice) because all I can ever, and could ever do, is my own healing work, my own learning and evolving and seeking, I was not responsible for their demons, their cruelties, their cowardices. There is no shame is growing and healing and realizing they will not join in healing, in learning to love in kindness and fidelity. This shame is for those men to carry. I give them the burden of this shame. I release it.
If you are living in a toxic, abusive situation, please know that you also are NOT at fault for the way you being treated.
Abusive and cruel treatment is always the fault of the one doing the harming – never the one being harmed.
And you also deserve freedom from harm, and freedom from shame.
If you need help AND it is safe for you to do so, please consider visiting thehotline.org or calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), available 24/7
May all of us be free of harm.
May all of us be free to give and receive love.
Katherine Grace is the survivor of abuse. She is also the author of Releasing Relationships: A journaling workbook for moving on after a toxic relationship.
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