Often times, as educators, people forget that we are human. We are superheroes, after-all. Our lives are not always the picture of perfection. For the first four years of my career, I walked into school wearing my “life is amazing” mask. The kids that I taught were such a source of strength that to this day, I feel that I owe them more for giving me more of a reason to smile. As strong as I am now, that was not always the case. Four years ago today, I owned my strength and my life.
It’s been four years since my “independence day”.
I’ll never forget it because of the significance of the date…12-3. I woke up that morning and told myself to suck it up because taking my life back would be as simple as 1-2-3. It was not. As necessary as it was, it was the single most difficult day of my life.
For 11 long years, work/school was my refuge. It was the one place that I could go without receiving calls and messages on the hour telling me to come home. It was the one place where no one reminded me daily of how much “my life meant nothing” or that “I would never be anything”. It was the one place that the abuse couldn’t come. I was in control.
I used to tell myself that it wasn’t abuse. He was just using words, right? Those thoughts worked until words became physical. The emotional scars of 11 long years were deep. I lived in it and saw no way out. I joke around that technology saved me because it was an extremely hard knock upside the head with a cell phone that said…”Get out NOW!” The irony of that moment is certainly not lost.
I always felt guilty for selling kids on the idea of “never letting someone make you feel less than you are” when I could not find the strength to heed to my own advice. It wasn’t a lie but it wasn’t my truth. Four years ago today, that changed.
I left the home that we built that morning without a dime in my pocket. I had my children, the clothes on our backs, a job and my car. That’s all that I needed. For 11 years, I relinquished control of my life to another and in doing so, I created a “living hell” that somehow became my normal. I had no friends and was banned from seeing my own family. I had no access to the money that I worked so hard to make. He controlled that.
I’ve never “heard” tears of happiness like the ones that my mother shed that morning when I told her that I was ready to leave. She prayed for that moment and I’m glad that she did.
To this day, I can’t remember the day that I got married nor the exact date of my divorce.
I will never forget the day of my independence.
This morning my heart smiles just a tad bit brighter.