I don’t even remember what the fight was about but I do remember running down the street to my sister’s house. I was bleeding, my head was pounding and I could hear my heart beating in my chest. Fear was coursing through my veins. I tried to stay within the shadows of the trees that lined the streets. Just in case, she was out looking for me. I was so thankful that my sister only lived a couple houses down from my house. I got to the door and knocked as fast as I could, my sister opened the door and gasped.
With tears running down my face, my voice shaking and my body trembling, I tried to explain that my mother and I went at it again.
As she tried to calm me down, I yelled that I was going to call the police.
“She needs to be stopped,” I said out of breath.
But my sister didn’t want to escalate the situation nor did she want to involve law enforcement. Instead, she went into the kitchen and grabbed a camera. She took pictures of my bruised face, my bloody lip and my head where my mother had punched me so hard that I had knots. She inspected my head for missing patches of hair, since our mother was notorious for yanking hair out.
She handed me some toilet paper to wipe my tears and blood away. She said I could stay with her for a while till things calmed down at home. And she promised me to show those pictures to mom and threaten her to stop.
My memory may fail me but I believe that was the last time my mother laid her hands on me. I was 17 years old and a senior in high school.
The bruises faded, the hair grew back, the lip healed and the knots went away. The physical abuse always fades. Unfortunately, the hardest thing to shake is the mental abuse. The words that are spoken over you tend to haunt you forever.
As a child, I was made fun of, bullied, told I was unwanted. Told that I may have been adopted. Every time I cried, I was dramatic and crazy. I was told I may be beautiful on the outside but I was ugly on the inside. I would be constantly compared to my sister and back then I didn’t understand that this environment was causing me anxiety and a shit ton of stress.
You know that feeling of walking on eggshells?
Having absolutely no control of what I was going to walk into, was hard to cope with. I couldn’t wait to leave my house and be free from it all.
At 18 years old, I was accepted into a University, an hour away from home and just when I thought I was free, I actually walked into a hopeless prison and served 20 long years.
Where is this hopeless prison?
It was in my head.
I spent 20 years of my life repeating those ugly words to myself. Every time something bad happened to me, if my car broke down or I failed a class or if my check would bounce or if I got into yet another toxic relationship or shitty friendship, I affirmed all the reasons why I deserved so much pain and sorrow. Because my mother was right about me.
“I am unwanted”
“I am unlovable”
“I am crazy”
Over and over, I picked people, situations and things that confirmed everything that was written on the walls of this hopeless prison.
When life felt out of control, I would retreat and stay inside my prison, pacing back and forth and reading the words on the wall, repeating them over and over. Hating myself and wishing I was someone else or worse wishing I would disappear.
The tragic part of this story isn’t that my mother abused me, it was that I abused myself.
I built this hopeless prison and I locked myself in.
No one forced me in there.
Not my mother, not the abusive exe’s or the shitty friends, not even the mean bosses I worked for.
Nope, it was me who kept me locked up .
You see I had the key to this prison the entire time.
My mother stopped abusing me when I was 17 years old but guess who kept on abusing me for 20 more years?
It was me.
I had the power to pick up that key and make the choice to stop reading the words on the priosn walls. I had the choice to stop repeating those ugly words over and over again to myself. I could have stopped the record player of negative words.
But I didn’t realize this, until I was 37 years old!
Re-read that please. T H I R T Y – S E V E N years old.
Can you believe how much time I wasted? How many tears I cried? How many sleepless nights I had? How many toxic people I allowed to walk all over me because I didn’t value myself? Twenty years, I held that key in my hand.
I began to pour into myself. I read self help books, listened to inspirational podcasts, watched motivational youtube videos. I couldn’t get enough. The more I learned about our thoughts and the power of our mind, the more I looked down at the key in my hand.
Rob Bell once said “ The mind can be a great gift or a dangerous place” and that statement awoke something inside of me. I realized that I had the power all along. I just had to put the key into the lock and let myself out.
And I did.
The darkness had shifted out of me and the light of hope shined within me.
I’ve been out now for three years and so much greatness has happened in my life but there are still moments when I want to crawl back into the hopeless prison.
But you see, I have created so many barriers in front that old prison, I can’t physically get myself back there. I have planted so many seeds of hope in my mind that my mind has a beautifully bloomed garden with so many words of affirmations, mantras, incantations, and quotes. This beautiful garden chokes out those ugly words and they don’t even exist anymore. I also have created a support network of incredible humans who love and encourage me to stay free. They pick me up when I am down and remind me how far I have come.
Life can be the most incredible ride or it can be filled with so much pain.
It’s your choice.
We have the power to choose hope or hopelessness. And trust me, don’t waste another day in your hopeless prison, look into your hand, YOU possess the key. No one is guarding that lock, no one put you in there. You have the power to unlock it and let yourself out.
Do it now, set yourself free.