What finally did it? Why can I now see so much that I could not see before? Why am I now what people call "strong"? Well, several things. I had daughters, for one. Daughters who were growing up watching their mother be abused and kept under control by violence and coercion. Learning that this is what life is supposed to look like. That's pretty much what kids do. However your house is, that's what life is supposed to look like. I woke up as if from a trance when that heavy mirror came off the wall (that happens when people throw chairs at you and miss) and was inches from piercing my baby's soft spot and ruining her life or killing her. It felt like a literal fog lifted from my eyes. The road stretched out in front of me...years of this. Years of this. How will I survive years of this? There had never seemed to be a choice before. It was my lot in life to be treated this way, I didn't deserve any better. But my children did and that's what made me see that I had to leave. But for years even after that wakeup call and subsequent divorce, I had a long way to go. People used me. A lot. Like the song says, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. "I turned to a stranger, just like a friend." So much drama, so many bad bad people swirled around, like lions on a wounded gazelle. So much fear and hurt and tears.
Then Eric came along. He didn't know what to make of me. Slowly, over years, he worked methodically to build me back up. He nourished me like a newborn, corny as that sounds. With his actions and love and patience and his own high self-esteem he showed me every day that I was worth more than shitty 'friends' who used me and got me in trouble. It's funny to look back on that time in my life. People sure do get mad when you wise up and realize that they are using you and mistreating you. You are all kinds of assholes and uppity-so-and-so's when the jig is up. He helped me to see that I was worth more than minimum wage jobs. I could make CHOICES. Choices!! Choices that bettered my situation and my children's situation. Choices that let my kids see that we aren't limited by our pasts. We can move on and move up, because we are worth it, just by virtue of being human beings.