A long time ago in a land far away .. isn’t that how most fairy tales start?
Well this one started in Scotland on the 26th January 1990. I say fairy tale however it was more like a real life horror story. After meeting my boyfriend when I was 16 we married at the ripe old age of 18 as I had recently found out I was pregnant. Living with a parent who was struggling with addiction I couldn’t possibly bring more shame on the family, or could I? Having the experience of growing up around addiction I had became an expert in walking on egg shells.
Within the first year of the marriage the “temper tantrums” I had become accustomed to, escalated really quickly to violent rages that only stopped when his energy ran out, someone else stepped in or I agreed to everything he suggested.
Both of us were living with the impacts of adverse childhood experiences and that made for a dangerous combination. We were both operating from a place of fear and managed our self’s the best we could with the skills we had at that time. My husband decided somewhere along the line marriage meant that I had became his property and he had control of me and could damage me in any way he chose. I remember on one occasion standing back and watching him completely destroy a beautiful solid pine wardrobe simply because the drawer got stuck when he was trying to close it, this was straight after bringing me breakfast in bed and followed by “Just you stay in bed all day, you need a rest” frightened and longing to please I did as I was told
The days were long and the nights were frighting! In January 1992 I decided to leave, and for good this time. I had left 3 times before but he always found out where I was, came and got me and promised he would change, that never happened, not even for a day. Trying to shield my son from all of this had become too much. After witnessing my 1 year old standing in a doorway watching his dad lift his hand to me I decided no more, this was the last time I would allow this to happen.
Throughout the 4 years we were together I accepted responsibility for everything , unless that thing was a positive because surely someone like me could not be responsible for anything of joy or good in the world. I lost my sense of self and became stuck in my own beliefs and understandings. I went on to spent years hating my husband for “what he put me through”.
One day i woke up, and after engaging in education and training in things like Social Sciences, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Hypnosis, Neuro Linguistic Programming I realised. Hang on a minute if I hold onto this fear and pain then of course my world will be scary and painful. What if i let it all go? What if i take responsibility for holding onto these experiences well past their delivery date? What if I forgave myself for being young and naive and thinking “I can change him, my love will heal him” when in fact i didn’t love myself back then so how could I truly love anyone else? My own healing had began. The realisation that the whole experience was so I could learn more about me, about my strength and resilience was the real lesson. I finally understood that i could make mistakes, even massive huge ones and come out the other side with knowledge and inner truth that only the journey from the head to the heart can bestow.
This was my first tango with forgiveness, not that I forgave my husband, not right away anyway, I couldn’t possibly do that, I hadn’t forgiven myself yet and that is an absolute necessity before you can whole heatedly forgive anyone else. So after a lot of soul searching and personal kindness I found the space within me to accept, acknowledge, forgive and love myself. Doing this freed me from the shackles of the past, it cleared a huge burden I had carried since childhood and brought me to a place of freedom. Freedom to chose what I accept and reject within my own space, my own life and my own heart.
The lessons from our mistakes are most often overlooked as we forget to take responsibility for the learning. We reject the possibility that we have the power of choice. That we do not have to accept whats going on while turning a blind eye what is actually going on, and in the process internalising the emotion and carrying it like a cross to be nailed too. In life people will happily share their anger, sadness, fear, guilt, hurt and pain its up to us if we chose to accept it, or simply let it drop in the space between us.
As for my ex husband. Well i’m now very grateful he came into my life to show me so many deep rooted and buried strength that I had at such a young age. Had he not encouraged me to dig deep for these powerful life tools I would not be the person I am today and for that I am eternally grateful.
Mistakes are our personal keys to success. Should we chose to place them in the lock and set our self free.