God and John Mellencamp saved my life. Are you thinking what in the crap is she talking about right now? I would be, but this is a true statement. God and John Mellencamp did save my life and I’m going to tell you all about it. Sit down and relax because this is a long post.
Several years ago I made a life change that consisted of me ending a relationship, relocating hundreds of miles away and starting a new chapter of my life. I’m telling this story because I hope someone out there will read this and think – if she did it I can too. I want to help someone else find the strength I found.
Don’t Be Ashamed
So why did this big change happen? Or better yet why did it need to happen? Here goes, with open honesty, I’m here to let you know I’m a domestic violence survivor. I’ll add, I’m not tossing those words around lightly. I’m truly a survivor of domestic violence. Are you thinking – Oh someone yelled at her and she is claiming to be abused?
No, it was much worse than that. I didn’t survive a few means words being thrown at me. I survived a few years of angry tantrums, insults, put downs, mental games, emotional torment, and physical attacks. I survived being in an environment where I wasn’t allowed to have my own thoughts, emotions, or opinions without fear of abusive retaliation. I lived through an environment where I was left to die emotionally during some of the most tragic times of my life. I had never felt more scared, trapped, worthless, and without hope before or since. I’m not going to put much focus on the stories about what happened to me. For this post, the point is how I overcame the situation. This post is about healing and overcoming pain and obstacles.
I used to be afraid to say the phrase – domestic violence survivor. Actually, I refused to acknowledge that I had survived anything at all. I was ashamed. How could I be in this situation? Not me, no way can I be the woman in that phrase. I’m kind-hearted and I work incredibly hard. How did this happen to me? Domestic violence can happen to anyone male or female. It can happen in all walks of life to anyone. No one is excluded, and it happens at all levels of education and in all walks of life from rich to poor.
For me, my abuser came from a line of abusers. It was like a family tradition. Not only was I abused at home but I had to endure abuse from the family of my abuser as well. The abuse was encouraged and provoked through lies and manipulations. They looked for ways to attack and hurt me. I was scared of everything. I doubted every single thought I had. I doubted everyone. I felt like there was no good left in the world. I just existed in a hopeless world. Left standing was a bitter angry terrified young woman. A shell of a human. I needed to leave but I was terrified. The mind and body can reach a certain place where the fear to leave is stronger than the fear to stay. That was me, immobilized by fear.
How God and John Mellencamp Saved My Life
It is truly the grace of God that I made the decision to leave. It is nothing short of a miracle that I found the strength to get into my car and leave. I know that sounds extreme but it is the truth. I didn’t have the mental strength back then to venture out alone and start over. I was a functioning woman who worked every day and went through the motions of life but I had no mental strength to make clear decisions. Even though I was scared and broken, I knew something had to change and I knew it needed to happen quickly. I had to grab some strength and make a major change because I knew I couldn’t turn another year older in the situation. I made a decision, a tough decision.
I decided to give up that all that was familiar to me and leave the situation. I knew I needed my family and their help. I knew I had to ask for help which can sometimes be hard to admit. I was ashamed to ask for help but I did it. I packed a few belongings into my car and began the trip hundreds of miles from my home. I started the journey to a new life. I put a CD of John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits on to soothe my mind. I took a look at my daughter who was so young at the time and thought – she can’t live like this. With each song the miles passed. My older brother talked to me on the phone for a large portion of the trip. My grandmother talked to me. My friend from church talked to me. Each conversation occupied my mind and gave me strength to keep going. Each Mellencamp song, prayer, and conversation got me to where I needed to go.
This story goes from dark to happy rather quickly. My life immediately took turns for the better after I made the decision to leave. Don’t think I didn’t have major obstacles to overcome because I did. I had to learn each day how to face the next day. I had to make myself be ok on my own. I had times of sadness and self-doubt. I had to face the legal process of ending a relationship. I had to start my life over from the ground up. The obstacles were huge, scary, and difficult at times but I had hope. My hope was based on each obstacle having an ending. The pain was different because it had a purpose. For the first time in a long time, I had hope. Each obstacle had a reason and the reason was to build a new life. In an odd way, all of the hurt felt great because it meant something. It meant I could do exactly what my abuser said I would never do. I made it. I made it! God gave me strength. John Mellencamp sang for miles on end and for weeks after my arrival. And my abuser – well, all that person will ever be is – mean (thanks, Taylor Swift for that lyric).
Flash forward to present day and I am a completely different woman. Where a broken woman had been now stands a strong and confident woman. My life is a reflection of exactly what I want. I’m not talking about material possessions. I’m talking about matters of the heart. I’m married and my heart and mind are healed. I have friends and family who I love dearly. My daughter is strong and has had a happy childhood just like I wanted her to have. She sometimes says to me – Mom, remember when we listened to John Mellencamp for the whole trip? She says that and my heart weeps because I know I made the right decision.
I’m telling you this story because I want you to know that my situation was really bad but I survived. I survived but I have scars and scars take a while to turn from pink to white. The end of my story is happy but it took awhile for the scars to heal. I had some lasting effects from the abuse that even now sometimes surface. For example, sometimes I don’t handle being in hostile situations very well. I get nervous and my reactions are based on fear. This doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes, just sometimes I have a reminder of how I was treated and how I felt all those years ago. Those times are few and far between and all I think about now is how God and John Melloncamp saved my life.