This book is going to be a journey of discovery for both of us. You may never have thought about it, but our own personal journeys are only a small part of a never-ending cycle — one that has been influenced already by countless factors that were completely out of our control. This cycle includes events that happened, decisions that were made, and people who crossed out paths without us having any knowledge of them. Most of this happened long before we suffered the abuse, long before we fell in love, long before we were in school, long before we could walk or talk. It is also so important to remember that what we are doing right now could influence and change the ultimate journeys of those closest to us — possibly even the journey of someone we may never meet, and possibly someone who will be on their journey long after we are gone.
For several years now, I thought I had been out of my abusive marriage long enough to write down my experiences. Those several years are, in reality, ten. The thought of reliving it all in my own memory has stopped me from achieving this for a long time. As I wrote the current draft of this introduction, I couldn’t bring myself to call what I had been in a relationship, I suppose because of the connotation of the word. It was difficult enough to callout a marriage. A relationship, I have always thought, is a positive thing. What I had been in could never be considered a positive thing.
But now I do feel, finally, that I can take on this emotionally enormous project. Make no mistake: I go through periods when I don’t want to write or even talk about any of the things that happened to me. Then, at some point, I tell myself that I can deal with it with our shutting down like I used to. No matter how I hope to react, I cannot help but be taken back in time, churning up the same raw emotions I feel before. Seeing my story reveal itself on paper makes what I went through all too real again. When it’s locked away in my mind it’s much easier to ignore. Trying to pry details out of my brain reminds me how awful and insane the abuse was from the very beginning. I am forced to feel the same feelings that I’ve wanted to keep buried.
Fortunately, this time I can sort out why things happened the way they did, knowing that I’m safe to do so. I don’t have to worry about how I’m reacting or about the reaction of anyone else. I can cry if I need to, instead of being told I shouldn’t do so where people can see me. Finally, I can feel and express the feelings that I couldn’t, that I wasn’t allowed to at the time. That’s where the healing has a chance to take place. With every sentence I write, or every time I discuss it with someone, allowing the memories to come back, I always find a way to grow and heal. And through the writing, I gain more understanding and insight, which gives me the strength to finish this project.
I have no idea why you are holding this book in your hands right now. Maybe you are a survivor searching for anything that will guide your healing process. Maybe you're concerned about a loved one, afraid about what you suspect is going on behind closed doors. My family and neighbors wished they would have asked me if something was wrong so much sooner. They all told me that they had a feeling that something was going on, but since it can be such an awkward and sensitive subject, they didn’t want to say anything. Maybe you're reading this while your abuser is out of the house for a little while. Your hands are trembling as you struggle with what your next step towards freedom will be. You may not believe that that next step is even possible. I honestly believe that the fact that you are taking any sort of risk shows that you are ready to make a change in your life. It will be an incredible, overwhelming change. It will feel like you are trying to do the impossible, to reach the unreachable. But when you start taking those first small steps, they will become huge steps, and you will feel freer than you’ve ever felt before.
No matter what your current situation is, there is a very important reason that you are reading this book. There is also a very important reason that I am writing it. I am writing it for you. If I can help one person by putting my experiences on paper, the purpose of this book will have been fulfilled. My past has taught me what my reasons for being really are, and this book is a huge part of that. I am finally frond to say that I am a survivor of extreme physical and emotional abuse. Yes, some days I still feel guilty, ashamed, and embarrassed, but it has taken years to find any sense of pride in the strength I found to end that abuse. This healing process for me, as I write this book, undoubtedly will be painful, confusing, and sometimes traumatic, but at least I can say that it’s all in my hands now. The same way your healing process will be…