Three years ago, I was lost!
I had been through a really rough patch in life, and I was struggling. I had anxiety, I was hurting, grieving and scared. I missed the military, I missed the Army. I felt so alone. I had to pick up the pieces, and put my life back together. I am a victim of Domestic Violence. I hate the word 'victim'. I already felt ashamed and embarrassed, and then I was given a label. Running soon became a building block to getting my life back on track. I was at a really low point in life. In early 2014, I joined Team RWB, an organization that helps military veterans transition back to civilian life, through physical and social activities. My first Team RWB running event was life changing, and I came back weekly, over and over again. I remember the day I showed up to my first RWB event I was shaking, I was so nervous and anxious. It was my first baby step in creating a new life for myself, and my son. Running became my outlet. My outlet for stress, anxiety, fear, and so much more. It is incredible, the positive impact Team RWB has on people’s lives. We all come from different walks of life, but together, we are united as one. I love the feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself. Team RWB is changing people’s lives, it is a movement, a community, and it is growing every day. I am thankful for the support Team RWB has provided for me.
My former husband instilled fear in me so that I was afraid to speak up. He used threats and intimidation to scare and control me. He made me feel like I could not make decisions for myself, because he constantly criticized and insulted me. My ex-husband threatened and bullied me, and he treated our son the same way. He humiliated me in front of family and friends. He made me afraid to disagree with him, afraid to speak up or and stand up for myself. He frequently put me down, made me feel inadequate, a failure. He withheld money for food and other basic needs. I starved myself, so I could provide milk and diapers for my son. My ex-husband withheld love and affection for our son and I. He made all decisions for me, including financial. He restricted and controlled where I went, who I talked to, who I could see. He isolated me from family members and friends, and would not allow me to contact them. He caused me to fear my safety in many ways.
When I initially left my ex-husband, I had $0.00 to my name and I was homeless. I stayed in a woman’s shelter. I had my son with me, and I was scared. My son was only 15 months old at the time. Being in the shelter, with other women, made me realize I am not alone. There are many people who are suffering.
My ex-husband left me with thousands of dollars of debt. I am now debt free. I work full time, I am in school full time and I am a mom. I wear many different hats. I now have the courage to take baby steps. Something as simple as getting out of bed, making my bed, brushing my teeth. Little improvements every day, while bringing balance to life. I will graduate with a Bachelor degree in 2017. I applied for, and received, a promotion at work. I have completed my first half marathon. I want to be an advocate for others. I want to be the voice, and show people that it’s okay to feel broken. The important thing is to not give up, life goes on. I realize now I can accomplish anything. I have come a long way from being the girl who was afraid of everything and everyone.
You can't change the past, but you can come to terms with it. It’s not easy. There may be something you wish you'd done differently. Everyone has regrets. If we stop focusing so much on what we didn't do, we have the chance to explore what we did do. Revel in what you've achieved, and let go of what didn't work out as you hoped. When you clear the air of regretful hindsight, you'll also clear the path ahead - which can lead to something wonderful.
Grief looks different on everyone. It isn't just death we grieve, its life. It's loss. It's change. We have to remember life is about change. That's how you stay alive. I woke up one day, and I realized I didn’t want to play the victim anymore. I knew I had to forgive my ex-husband, and that definitely wasn’t easy. Once I forgave him, I realized I could start working on bettering myself. Tragedies can strengthen a person or destroy them. What matters is how the person responds, what they do with the life they have in front of them.
I will not let the word Victim define me anymore.
Sometimes you have to battle with yourself to do something new, and the trauma I experienced is helping me win that battle. I now have more self-confidence. It’s a newfound, every-day kind of confidence that comes with that sense of achievement you get by doing something positive. My son is my motivation to always improve and to be a good example. He is my driving force for being successful.