Finding Peace

This article is the conclusion to a journey I began years ago. I’ve shared some personal stories about domestic abuse, some destructive coping mechanisms I used, and now it is time to talk about the peace I found after it all. I kept reiterating in my previous articles how we are not the victims forever, and I stand by that to this day. I wouldn’t be where I am without these humbling experiences. I grew my own wings that my gut was trying to tell me to do for years. With the help of my friends and family and self-determination, I was able to be the woman I always knew I was.

Initially, I was scared. I had no money, no motivation, and felt like my career was in the hole, and I had to block out a lot of people in my life. But what was really happening was that I was saving money, building stronger relationships with my close friends, and truly focusing on myself for once. I found myself developing a skin routine and a forming a healthy diet. I planned my future. I went back to college and now am on a path to graduate in a year.

What also became a constant in my life was spirituality. I never had been a religious person and I’m still not. Yet, I found spirituality really explained and helped me with a lot of things that have happened in my life. We all say cliche things like “everything happens for a reason” and “there are no such things as coincidences.“ Heck, I truly believe all that now! I believe people are put into and removed from your life and it’s all apart of the journey. Some people are not meant to be along for the ride and that’s okay. I came to the conclusion that I could find peace in knowing the things I can control vs the things I cannot and should not force. I have everything I need in my life to make the difference I’ve always wanted to make.

I made a vow to not let another person, especially a man, ruin or disrupt my inner peace. Yes, there are days where that was very hard to do, but ultimately, I am happy without the stress and chaos. I truly am blessed to have gotten to know the side of a man that I never thought I’d see again. I had been given a gift in the form a gentle, kind, selfless, respectful human. My boyfriend was put into my life and I have cherished every waking moment with him. He is a significant factor that has played a huge part in my searching for peace. He helped me realize that just because I was a victim and enabler before, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again and that is such a relieving feeling to know I’m still able to love and to be loved.

For the women or men that have walked in these shoes, there is happiness and success resting on the other side of this hill. Peace is found in many forms: a loving friend’s smile, a cup of coffee in the morning, and instead of thinking about your troubling past….you think about your exciting dreams, a week secluded in the woods watching the sunset, connecting with a religion or your spirituality, starting a self care routine, or even writing about your journey and being able to appreciate the things currently around you that you never thought would come from it. We all deserve peace and you will find it.

. . .

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.

How to Heal a Broken Millennial Heart

My fiancé left me a week before our wedding day. On a Saturday night last fall, with no apparent reason after nearly 8 years together. (Not to mention a house with a mortgage, two pets and a few thousand dollars in wedding expenses.) I was told, “I need space,” and he left. It’s safe to say my life felt like it was in complete shambles, decimated in the course of three words. Never did I think I’d find myself at a Starbucks at 5 am on a Sunday sending out cancellation emails and texts. Personally, I was wrecked; but professionally, I was in the midst of the busiest and most important weeks of my life.

This is what I learned on this wild healing journey.

  • You can’t heal where you were hurt. I didn’t feel comfortable in my house anymore, it just reminded me of the years of memories and time spent there. I went on my honeymoon to Paris with my mom (begrudgingly); thankfully she was able to get off work at last minute to come with me to the City of Lights or Love or for me – the City of What Could Have Been. The trip itself was fairly miserable, with many days spent lying in my hotel bed or walking endlessly through the city so I could try to feign sleep. However the physical distance allowed me to detach. (Note: This is a phrase that I would tattoo on my forehead just because of how perfectly true it is).
  • Support may come in surprising ways. I’m a fairly private person naturally, so when my private life was catapulted into everyone’s eyes, I was mortified. I would go to work and be met with sad, wondering eyes which only made it that much harder. Not to mention the endless embarrassment. Some people in my life, who had once been just on the periphery came forward to help support me; including a long-extinguished old flame, a casual coworker and even someone I’d known for only two weeks. These people without reason or explanation, stepped up and took care of me at my worst.
  • Sometimes there’s no real reason and that’s okay. As a long-time sufferer of high-functioning anxiety and depression, it’s hard for me to accept something that is gray. I need to have a black and white world. Right and wrong; good and bad; yes and no. Not ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I can’t explain it’. But sometimes, things are truly murky. Sometimes, there’s no good answer or reason. It was a tough pill to swallow. But every day I had to remind myself of what was true; actions.
  • Take your time. There is no perfect path to healing, or a one-size fits all plan. I tend to keep myself occupied when I’m anxious – but that prolongs the healing because you’re not actually confronting what happened. Sometimes you need to feel it – even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time in a safe environment. I spent a whole day of my honeymoon, cooped up in our hotel room, watching shitty French murder documentaries and purging myself of everything I’d been avoiding. I made myself confront what happened in its entirety, piece by piece before neatly letting it go. My one-time old flame was the one who really brought me to my senses. He told me, “he doesn’t care right now. I know it hurts, but you need to hear that.” Which was 100% true. As much as it hurt, I was wasting a perfectly nice vacation and being sad about someone who clearly did not care in that same moment. That mindset really helped me to take that first step.
  • Get it out of your system. Holding on to something from the past that is beyond your control is just draining. There will be no good ending. Having spent a solid two years in therapy during college, I consider myself to be fairly familiar with coping mechanisms. I chose to write a letter (technically an email while wine drunk in the bathtub, but hey, it still counts). I wrote to physically manifest my thoughts and feelings into something that could be set free, therefore releasing its toxic hold on me. I wrote to let go of all of the questions, thoughts and feelings that I’d been drowning in. The local radio show I listen to in the Midwest set a standard – “for however many years you’ve been together, take one day to mourn.” By that logic, I had 8 days to mourn. It was closer to 15 but giving yourself a deadline can help. I was determined to not spend an ounce more energy or time on this.
  • Only talk when you’re ready. After such a public catastrophe, everyone is bound to have questions. Even those with the best intentions will still want to ask questions that will feel like nails being driven into your always shattering heart. It took me months to fully open up to friends and family about what happened. On the other hand, you may have to ask close friends and families to stop mentioning it – stop treating you differently. It drove me nuts when people would look at me with sadness or remorse or embarrassment – no matter how well intended it was. I wasn’t some broken puppy in a cast or a bird with a broken wing so don’t treat me as such.
  • Healing isn’t linear. You will have good days and bad days. Maybe even good weeks with a few bad days sprinkled in. You will have nights of crying so hard, you’re sure the walls are about to cave in. But there will be joy. Remember that just because there’s a few slips on the journey, doesn’t mean you’re done moving forward.
  • Get out of bed. Physically. Metaphorically. While yes, those blankets and pillows may feel like your only comfort right now, but you’re not helping yourself by staying there. It may be painful and annoying, but you must get up and move a little. Don’t get me wrong, you need time to feel and process (see previous point) but know that there is a point where enough is enough. Even if it’s just to get a drink of water, get out of bed. I continued going to work (albeit at a heavily modified schedule) just to not be in my house. Was it easy? No. Was it comfortable? No. Did I want to accost every person who looked at me with sadness? Absolutely. But it helped give me space and to see that everything is still moving.
  • Heartbreak is temporary. While in the moment and for weeks or even months and years later, it hurts; little by little it will fade. You will rebuild – yourself, your life and your heart. You will become a stronger version of yourself. During this journey you will learn endlessly about yourself, your expectations and those around you. It may not ever be the same as before, but you’ll be better for it.

While everyone will surely have their own experiences, these were the few ways that I was able to move through my situation a little easier. Rely on those close to you and reach out when you’re feeling down; you are not a burden.

Warning Signs

If you have read my previous article, you were made briefly aware of my experiences with domestic violence with “John Doe”. I never will give his name. This is solely for awareness purposes. I brought up certain things that cannot and should not be tolerated in a relationship as they will lead to inevitable abuse of some form. As much as I would LOVE to jump to the happy, joyful life I live now, it’s just not realistic and frankly not appropriate.

It is important for me to dive a bit further into specific situations that occurred so that I can shed some light on the reality of being an enabler; furthermore, providing people, especially women, the tools to recognize the warning signs. It is important to know that due to certain things I went through, my brain has wiped some of them from my recollection. And it took me awhile to accept that and understand why it’s OKAY to not remember everything, it’s just apart of my experience.

❗️ I also must make known some content will be graphic and might be triggering to some people. Proceed with caution ❗️

Warning Sign One ⚠️

Consistent lying and hiding things


This was an early on sign I was too young to decipher. He had a need to do drugs (marijuana, etc) and I was ultimately the one thing standing in his way. I went against my gut despite him hiding the act behind my back and finding out from one of his friends that he never stopped, nor intended to stop. I will later down the road expand on my opinion about addiction’s effect on mental illness. Ignoring this sign led to poor money management, risking job opportunities, further damage to his already fragile mental state, and opening the door to future lying.

Warning Sign Two ⚠️

Never following through.


Time and time again, whether it was after a rage outburst or getting caught in a lie, he would always apologize and say he would do better.

Things would go so well for about a week, then we’d be right back at the drawing board. A time where this was very prominent was when we discussed counseling or therapy. His lack of consistency in an effort to better himself would often result in outbursts of rage and emotion.

Unfortunately, nothing we had planned to help solve this issue was followed through. It is important to acknowledge this behavior because it will lead to both people lacking trust and ultimately, ignoring it will lead to enabling the abuser. I was a textbook enabler. I kept believing him and saying, “Maybe next time he’ll mean it and do something about it.” It never happened.

Warning Sign Three ⚠️

Verbal aggression, extensive cursing, & name-calling.


There were times in our relationship, and outside of it, when he would choose to yell and make a point that everyone in our apartment building should hear him. Within the yelling, there would be name-calling and total disrespect for me as his girlfriend/wife. I will admit that there were times when during an argument that I should have left him alone and walked away, but I chose to stay and try to talk it out. It never ended well for me. I ignored his personal warning signs in order to try to solve our problems. That was wrong. However, I believe there is no excuse for verbal or emotional abuse. Ignoring or making light of aggressive yelling and name-calling led to just that – verbal and emotional abuse.

Warning Sign Four ⚠️

Destruction of personal property.


This was also an early warning sign and I chalked it up to him being an angsty teenager. There were several times where this progressed, and also what I personally believe led to the physical abuse in the end.

There was a specific time where he explained to me he got mad at his parents and he punched a hole in his wall. He hid the hole behind his clock. I never told his parents. I never thought it’d happen to me or with me. Well, it did. We would argue, and it would escalate to him punching a hole in our first apartment. I had to lie to the complex and tell them he fell and that’s what caused the hole. One time, he totaled his car and when we went to get his belongings out of it, he punched a large dent in the hood of the car.

Another instance, which made me scared for my safety, was when we got into an argument while I was away from home, and he went into our garage and took a knife to everything that was cardboard and paper and shredded it. He also took my box fan and demolished it. Before I got home, after he apologized for whatever it was we argued over, he told me not to go into the garage because he did something he was not proud of. Well, I went into the garage and I was in utter disbelief of the damage. I never told him or brought it up.

The final time this happened was when we decided to try to work things out before we called the divorce final. We came back after a night out and we got in another argument. He became violent and shoved me. He then threw a picture frame at me and it shattered, destroying the precious contents inside – my uncle’s obituary. That is when the police were called by a listening neighbor.

But again, I chose to ignore this and clearly, I should not have. This is toxic behavior and ultimately led to physical abuse.

Warning Sign Five ⚠️

Total disregard for human life.


Some will argue this is a characteristic of sociopathic tendencies. I am not a medical professional so I cannot draw any conclusions or assumptions. I can only share what I experienced. This began, not early on, but about the last 3 years of our relationship. We would be driving and when cars would cut him off, or maybe just not drive properly, he would make a point to see if they were elderly. And if they were, he would say something along the lines of, “Thank God you don’t have much time left because…” And those words would either be introduced with, or followed by, yelling and cursing, then aggressive driving.

Never in my life would I think that those ideas of his would trickle into my personal family life.

In 2017, my grandmother passed away. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to deal with. However, what was very important to me was that she saw me get married, which she did in 2016. After our separation in 2018, he made a remark on social media that involved my grandmother. It’s honestly burnt in my brain…

Well at least her grandma got to see her marry before she croaked, so I guess that means she wins lol

John Doe

The disrespect and disregard for human life, my grandmother’s life, was a big sign. I was doing the right thing at that point, though. I was already gone and we had nothing to do with each other at that point.

Warning Sign Six ⚠️

Physical changes in appearance when in a rage.


This is probably the biggest sign I had that I honestly could not ignore. I just lived with it. This is a description of what I saw when he would have a rage outburst. This is a combination of mental illness and lack of self control.

Again, his mental illness was not a contributing factor to why I left. It was the lack of care on his end to do something about it despite his family’s extensive efforts.

It was almost like you’d see in a movie where a person would transform or morph – like the Hulk. When he got uncontrollably angry, his green eyes would turn black, his forehead would throb and you could see his veins. He would get this side smirk where the left side of his face would twitch. He’d develop this condescending laugh/chuckle. His fist would ball up. He would grow almost, it seemed, in size. He would pace around, shoving and throwing things. At times, if he was angry with himself, he would punch himself, pull his hair, cry. I was always so scared. For himself and for myself.

If this was a result of mental illness, it was clear he was suffering. But there was nothing I could say or do to convince him to get the help he so needed. I cared deeply for him and his health. Everyone who knows me, knows this to be true. I do not judge a person because of this. But this falls within a warning sign because, I never removed myself from the situations, I stayed and tried to calm everything down. It always ended with him saying, “You make me this way. You make me do these things.”

This is a classic sign of manipulation in order to make me feel crazy or like I deserved the abuse – gaslighting.

With all this being said, I do not share my experiences to criminalize his actions. I don’t anticipate anything to be done. I don’t want any hate being spread. I am fully over what I went through. It mostly humbles me and allows me help others. That’s the goal of this all.

This isn’t revenge. This is education.

Candid conversations discussing experience with domestic violence and domestic abuse has always been taboo. It’s time to end that. It is OKAY to talk about it. It is OKAY to not be okay. Do not hide and do not protect the abuser. Acknowledge being an enabler. Acknowledge where you went wrong. But never tolerate any of these events in your life as they are toxic, destructive, debilitating, and can be fatal. And if you find yourself as the abuser, seek help immediately. It is never too late to better yourself and the ones you love. Address it now and make sure you are grounded in your values for the future.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.

I Needed Saving

Many of us grew up with like-minded aspirations of falling in love, getting married, starting a family, and making memories with them. This is the story of my first love.

I married my high school sweetheart at the age of 21 and divorced at 24. I lived a life of domestic violence that was somehow disguised as happiness and common place struggles. I spent 9 years of my life dedicated to pleasing him, caring for him, nurturing him, and ultimately enabling him. We had the best times and we had the worst times. I never saw the damage being done to me and my soul until I hit a breaking point. I found myself exhausted from just waking up every morning. It was to a point where I just didn’t want to wake up anymore. I share my story with the hopes that other people that were in my shoes will not wait until it’s too late to see the warning signs of an abusive and toxic relationship.

We met in high school, 2009. We were honestly smitten with each other. We just clicked. We would talk about everything and anything together. We found ourselves spending an incredible amount of time at our local park, as that was the only thing really to do at the age of 13 with no means of transportation. We had so much in common: Passion for music, love for animals, the outdoors, video games — just to name a few. We had all the right ingredients to have and build a solid relationship. And that is what we did.

In the beginning, he made it clear he liked to smoke marijuana. I made it clear I was not okay with it. Him choosing me over the drugs was the best case scenario. Well, I found out later the first year of our relationship, he was lying to me and he was still doing drugs behind my back. We came to an agreement and I caved in and continued my relationship with him because he meant more to me than a “harmless” joint. With that behind us, he continued to show me love and kindness. He respected me and listened to me. We gave each other a reason to keep pushing in life. We were living the dream. Little did I know, he would be the reason why I wanted to stop pushing in life and what made me want to give up.

Fresh out of high school, we both went to college. We had dreams and goals that we shared together and set forth to make happen. Well, life happened instead and we both wound up dropping out and moving in together and took on full time jobs. Things were rocky, but I saw that as typical issues couples go through. I never understood the severity of the yelling, cursing, and occasional abandonment. He always came back and apologized and cried and said he would never do it again. I believed him. Every. Single. Time.

We got married in 2016. The wedding was not ideal. But it wasn’t what mattered to us. We loved each other and we wanted to share it with people who loved us too. This is when the verbal abuse escalated to mental and psychological abuse. There would be days where he would twist stories around and I believed them to be true. I was the perpetrator. I broke him. I never loved him. I used him for his money. I believed I was this monster because he was the one with chronic depression and I was not. At some point, I asked myself, “Then why doesn’t he leave me if I am this way?” I reached out to my good friends who honestly never knew anything behind closed doors; from an outsider’s view, we were the perfect couple. This is when my friends and family started getting concerned. Well, I sometimes listened to them but explained they will never know what it’s like living and loving a person with mental illness. They won’t get it.

I felt alone. I felt isolated. I felt like I was fighting a battle that was never going to end. The days of him attempting suicide were escalating and it seemed to be his shield or defense against me speaking out or retaliating. He was slowly losing his control over me because there was something in my head that clicked one day. I decided enough was enough. I sat him down and had a very deep conversation about respecting me and how he needed to do better and I was no longer tolerating his abuse. He acknowledged his wrongs, like always, and we went about our life together.

In 2018, we split up. We needed space, I needed space really. He did not take it well. He kept blowing up my phone, trying to force himself back into my life. He would get super understanding and be peaceful but then the next day, he was calling me a crazy bitch and that he fucking hated me. When we did see each other, that was the first time he got physically abusive. Sure he’s put holes in our walls and wrecked cars out of anger but never once laid a hand on me. It was the first and last time that happened. It was over. The police were involved and he was gone. That was my wake up call.

My rope was at its end and I was either going to hang from it or swing and jump from it. I chose to jump and take my life back. And boy, I have never looked back, only to reflect on the signs I chose to ignore.

I want people, especially women, who find themselves in my shoes to know lying, cannot be tolerated. Name calling, cannot be tolerated. Using suicide and mental illness as a crutch to manipulate you, cannot be tolerated. Punching holes in walls or destroying property, cannot be tolerated. All these are signs that lead to domestic violence of every variation. We wind up being the enablers but that is what happens when we are THE VICTIMS. However, we aren’t victims forever. We are survivors and there is life after all the chaos. It’s not easy. We will have our fair shares of struggles. Best advice: use the resources given to you: your friends, family, work place, hobbies. Do not deny help as we want to, it’s necessary and will only make the process easier.

My divorce was finalized on a summer day in 2019. This is known as the day I was finally free. I no longer needed saving.

If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse and needing support, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-9474.

You are not alone.