by Teresia Smith
Have you ever heard the saying “starting over is not an option”. That is a lie that we have been told since childhood. Could have been an art project that went awry, a research paper that just wasn’t developing, maybe a recipe that just isn’t turning out the way it should, or even in your junior year of college you realize the major you chose isn’t what you want to do for the rest of your life. Sometimes we feel that because we started on a journey that we must remain on that path no matter how the voyage is going. That simply is untrue.
I have met many older ladies who have endured years of abuse in their marriage because they felt that starting over wasn’t an option. So instead they basically survived daily with someone telling them how worthless they are, how they never do anything right, and how they will never be enough. They may not have been allowed to work a job, have access to any money, or even have a driver’s license, with no control over any part of their life. They lived their life at someone else’s commands, cooking, cleaning, and even providing sex on demand against their will because they felt they had no options. (Which, in case you don’t know, even within marriage being forced to have sex without consent is rape.)
So what about starting over? Will it be easy? No way! Nothing in life worth having is easy. But living in an abusive relationship isn’t easy either. One of the hardest things to do in life is to let go. Whether that be letting go of anger, guilt, loss, regrets… or letting go of people who are not healthy for you. Change is never easy, but letting go of the toxic people and things in your life is generally the most advantageous way to move forward. Emotionally freeing yourself will allow you to heal, move beyond the past and refocus for your future.
When things end, even bad things, it feels unnatural. We are programmed to feel like we failed when something ends. Healthy emotional processing is so important when you decide to start over, especially if it’s due to leaving an abusive relationship. However, that ending can become a beautiful beginning to a thriving life. So when life takes a turn, think of it as an opportunity ripe with possibilities and remember that you alone have the power to allow it to make you better and not bitter.
Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. For an appointment, please call 256.574.5826. We also offer a 24/7 HELPline where you can speak with trained crisis counselors at 256.716.1000. You are not alone.