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Finding Light Means Believing in Your Strength

Updated on December 31, 2014


There was a time when the darkness was suffocating. I couldn’t see the potential for light and love and happiness. I was lost in a tumultuous world of anger and aggression. Tears spilled out of me daily, but I couldn’t form the words to seek help, couldn’t find the strength. I was lost in feelings of guilt and disappointment. I told myself that I deserved this. He said I did. He told me over and over again how worthless I was. He pointed out all of my shortcomings, built his strength by playing on my insecurities until they were overwhelming.

Moving Beyond the Pain

Writing was my only outlet. My form of therapy. The pen and the paper allowed me to break my silence, but still only to myself. I let myself be brave on paper. I said all of the things that were locked inside of me. It was in those moments that I let go of enough of the poison to keep going. I built myself up enough to prepare for the next round, to survive the blows that would have otherwise destroyed me.

Personal photo.  May not be reproduced or used without written persmission of the author.
Personal photo. May not be reproduced or used without written persmission of the author.

A Day in the Midst of the Battle

I've always been an emotional girl, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, and sometimes a mixture of the two, but I've never considered my emotions an issue. They are simply an extension of the passionate person I am, an outward display of how I feel. I've always loved my openness, my willingness to share who I am. However, now that my life is becoming overwhelmed with stressors and emotionally charged situations, I feel myself struggling to hold it all together. For the first time in a very long time I'm afraid that I won't be able to keep the smile on my face.

I've always depended on my unfailing strength--knowing that I can hold it together and mend in time. Now I wonder, what if I'm not strong enough? The refills to my soul are becoming smaller and I’m running out of the energy to keep trying.

More than once I've considered throwing what I need for the kids and I in the car and driving off--never looking back. That seems like a dream. That’s because it is. I have no means, no plan…I’m as worthless and incapable as he says.

Where would I go? My plan to leave stops there. How can I walk away when I can't provide all that my kids need? What kind of mother would that make me?

And, at the same time, how can I stay?!

Fear is Taking Over

The rages have grown stronger and more frequent. Our house is built on hate. There is nothing good here anymore. I feel myself slipping away, losing all hope. I wear a mask even with my children.

I don't want to lose who I am. I don't want to lose at all, anymore. I can’t satisfy him. Or, maybe I can?

He wants me broken and empty. I will be as useless as he’s always claimed me to be. Can I last that long?

And worse yet, who will I be if I do?

In Love There is Strength

Personal photo.  May not be used in anyway without the written permission of the author.
Personal photo. May not be used in anyway without the written permission of the author.


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    • Ashley Branine profile image

      Ashley Garten 11 months ago


      Thank you. I've also wondered about you and have hoped that life handed you happiness. I walked away from this relationship nearly 5 and a half years ago now and I haven't looked back. Life has continued to get better and better. My kids and I have been blessed with love and opportunity and are blooming.

      Thank you taking time to comment on my writing, a therapy which I don't have a need to turn to often now.

      Take care...and best wishes for all the best!

    • profile image

      Keith 11 months ago

      I could not be happier for you, I had always wondered if you made away from that @$#^&* It appears that you have found peace and you and your family look extremely content.

      Congrats Ash

      Be well


    • Juliet Stewart profile image

      Juliet Stewart-Austin 3 years ago from San Antonio, TX.

      Keep finding your voice, I worked extensively with battered Women and Men. It is unbelievable how many of them, return to their abusers always thinking "this time it will be better". Your Strength and conviction, has led you to this point, where you can speak about the abuse without guilt, with the knowledge that YOU, were not at fault for someone else's anger and deep-seated issues. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

    • Ashley Branine profile image

      Ashley Garten 3 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and to follow it up with your response! Your point regarding studies on stress and the relationship on the hippocampus was intriguing. I can relate to feeling "dumber" than I know I am when I think back to my previous life, but I hadn't taken a look at it from a scientific standpoint. In my mind I justified the life I was living because I thought I had been such a let down to family that I deserved this life as repentance and I convinced myself that I could find a way to make this life work. I was convinced that I was doing something wrong, after all I was new to being a wife. There isn't exactly a handbook and thus I assumed that through trial and error I could find a way to keep him happy. It wasn't until farther into the relationship that I realized I couldn't win. It is sad to imagine that women everywhere subject themselves to such poor treatment and it's even more disheartening to me that there are still areas where cultural and religious norms condone this treatment. Again, thank you for your thoughtful response.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Great Post!

      The secret of male dominance and superiority was based on abuse of women.

      Scientific studies show that chronic stress shrinks the hippocampus area of the brain. That is where many of our short-term memories (up to 3 minutes) are translated into long-term memories.

      So constant harassment makes people dumber--because they cannot remember the facts and draw responsible conclusions. That's where the term "Scatter Brained" arose from.

      Note that in Roman times a man could refuse to feed his family if his wife did not obey him. Also, up until the 1900s, an American woman could be declared insane and locked in a mental institute if she did not obey her husband. Currently, a man can divorce his wife in some countries by saying "I divorce you 3 times." All these traditions were made to create constant stress for women--while the men went out drinking or smoking things like hash and the women sat at home. That home is a jail for women is some countries even today.