Her Escape, Her Words

One month ago, I wrote about someone close to me who had just escaped an abusive relationship, thanks in part to wisdom gleaned from the pages of The Gift of Fear.

Then I bought de Becker's other books.

Today I wanted you to see how she is already growing and thriving in her new SoCal life. I imagined writing an update myself, but texted her to see if she’d want to write a part of the post. Did she ever! She wrote not the paragraph or two I anticipated, but an entire post about her recent struggles. I cried reading her words and seeing parts of the story not previously revealed to me, and found redoubled my gratitude she escaped.

If you are being abused, I urge you again to consider that “the certainty of abuse is not better than uncertainty that includes limitless hopeful possibilities.” Please read my sister’s words and know that happier endings are possible–not easy, but possible–if you permit yourself to reach for them.

Resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing partner abuse, or you even suspect it, please, please make use of these resources:

* National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.thehotline.org/or 800-799-SAFE
* Gavin de Becker’s risk assessment page: https://www.mosaicmethod.com/

You could save a life, or even–if children are involved–many lives.

Her Escape, Her Words
The Gift of Fear part 2

A month and a half ago my life was spiraling out of control. I had moved with my boyfriend from my hometown in Oregon to a small town in Washington 500 miles northeast. I was out of my element there, only partially due to the cold dry climate, but mostly due to finding myself in the middle of a co-dependent whirlwind in which nearly everyone I knew had a major addiction. My relationship exposed to me the depths of drug addiction and the violence that often comes with it. I made many compromises in this move, including trying to accept my boyfriend distributing narcotics. The fast money was appealing. I had drifted so far away from my values that I didn’t want to share my experience with any of my many close friends. The shame I felt brought me into severe isolation. There didn’t seem to be much of a way out at that point. Financially I was tied with no way out, and emotionally I was drawn to patterns of abuse I had witnessed throughout my life.

The more I discouraged my boyfriend from selling drugs, the more he resented me. The more I complained about traffic in our house, the more people I’d find in my living room when I came home. The more I buried the problems, the more they would fight their way back up. And the more I tried to ease my anxiety, the more I took Xanax (which created a problem of its own). I woke up everyday wishing I was somewhere else. Despite all of the misery I felt there, it still didn’t seem quite as bad as going back home. There was a reason I left Eugene. I was born and raised there, and I didn’t want to go back. I thought I could somehow turn it around, that with enough will power and patience I would be able to create the life I wanted there in Washington.

Finally things reached a climax in Washington. My boyfriend’s relapse on heroin was exposed and all came crashing down. This stirred up so much emotion that he and I fought (physically) four times in two days. The violence began pouring out of me as well after he tried forcing me to let him into our house at gunpoint. This was the point of no return, or at least in my mind. The point of no return in my sister’s mind was the first time he’d pushed me to the ground, which was just a few weeks prior. I was in a hazy state of mind, and I thank the heavens I had the pull in me to reach out for help. I called my sister, down and out, and told her how lost I was. Humiliating as my situation felt, it was extremely relieving to share with my story with someone who knew and loved me. My sister had offered me twice already to come down to California with her. It wasn’t until her third offer, when she and her fiance said, “You can come down here, we’re not just saying that. If you need a way out, we’ll be that”, that I made the decision to leave. And so I began planning my trip out of Washington, down to Oregon and beyond, to Southern California.

The next day I told my boss I didn’t feel safe staying in Washington. She graciously said, “Go now,” as she gave me a hug and tried to hide her tears. So I said my goodbyes to all the beautiful people I met who proved to be the silver lining to that dark cloud (there was literally a dark cloud directly over the town as I left). That day I didn’t have to come back from my lunch break and I went on to pack all my belongings into my car. I sold my gold jewelry and used that money to fill my gas tank, and with that I was on my way. (It felt like a sign that the sun began shining 20 minutes outside of town, and continued to shine for the duration of my trip). As I drove I was approaching the unknown with every passing moment. I didn’t know if my car would make it, and I had even less certainty about what stood before me if I did make it. Would I be able to find work? Would I be able to find a place I could afford to rent? Would my car be repossessed if the answer to question 1 was no? There of course would be no answer to these questions without a leap of faith.

Six hours later I arrived in Portland (Oregon). I was greeted by my mother who adopted me when I was 15. She held my hand as she listened to my painful story, and gave me all the comfort I needed. She tucked me in that night and I was so thankful. I stayed a few days there and did not want to leave my happy place. There is no place like home. But six hours was not far enough from where I came from, I had to keep going. Two hours past Portland I stopped to spend a few days in my hometown Eugene. The familiarity was both comforting and horrifying. Eugene was the place where I had just about every good, bad, and in-between experience of my life. Eugene was the place where I had met Cory, the boyfriend I talk about in this story. Many of my friends asked why I had to leave. They thought I was out of the danger zone. There were two answers to this question: one being that I was ready to leave Eugene, hence moving to Washington in the first place, and second was my fear that Cory would leave Washington and come home to Oregon. No one wanted me to leave but everyone wanted me to be happy. I was thankful for the support, though I would have left anyway.

I left Eugene at 8:00 am to embark on 14.5-hour drive to Southern California. I knew my family there was waiting for me. I also had friends to greet me on my arrival. These ideas gave me great comfort as this drive was the scariest part of the trip. The “what if’s” “I wonder’s” and “I hope’s” turned into “I am.” “I am leaving” and finally, at 12:30 am, “I am arriving”. The entirety of this drive was surreal. I kept asking myself if it was really happening, and as it got hotter and hotter at every passing rest stop I was assured that it indeed was. I had visited California several times before. It was always a bittersweet experience; I never really wanted to fly back home. This time was different. I had everything I owned with me in my car, and I didn’t have any obligations to leave again. It was refreshing and exciting.


I gave myself one day to enjoy, to spend time with my friends and my family, to read to my 3.5-year-old nephew, and to ease myself into my new life. My second day in California I made a resume, with a surprising amount of ease, so I decided a little online job searching was OK. I spent one hour online and put out about a dozen resumes. To my delight I got a phone call nearly immediately to interview for a full time position as an Administrative Assistant to a small, flexible office. On my third day in California I interviewed for the position and got the job! Three weeks later I found the perfect home to rent a room from, the ladies I live with are very cool and the pool in our backyard doesn’t hurt either. 😀 I also have enrolled in a community college and should be starting school this summer. My days now consist of working, going to the gym, swimming, barbeques and get-togethers.

I cannot guarantee that anyone will have as amazing of a transitional experience as I’ve had… But I can assure anyone coming from a situation like the one I was in that leaving is a far better option than staying, and it is well worth the risk. There is no need to fight the negative. Just feed the positive.

“Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” -Bruce Lee

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  1. June 2, 2013 at 4:48 am

    I think both of you are amazing souls who make this world a better place to live simply by living, surviving, and finally, thriving in it. Thank you for sharing this, Deborah.

  2. June 2, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Very eloquent. Life is filled with choices and you bravely made a good one in April. Thank you for sharing and congratulations on the success I know you don’t take for granted. A very fine post tightly written, too.

  3. June 2, 2013 at 6:20 am

    So beautiful! I’m so proud of your sis. You are both here to inspire and teach others.

  4. June 2, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    So happy, so very very happy that everything worked out so well and that you were able to leave such a truly terrifying situation. We often forget how many people out there love and care for us until we truly are in a time of need. So glad everything worked out!

  5. June 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    So great to read this- your sister is an inspiration and so are you 🙂

  6. Jem
    June 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Deborah…. First and foremost thank you for saving her. She truly is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the good fortune to know. Second, thank you for being such an inspirational person yourself. Its people like you that make the world beautiful. And thank you both for sharing this story. ♡

  7. June 2, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    This is beautiful. Thank you both. So very much.

  8. June 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you both for sharing this story, for being brave enough to stand up and walk away. Thank you, for reaching out and opening your home. Thank you for running instead of staying, so often we don’t. Thank you both for being blessings.

  9. June 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Strength obviously runs in the family. Thanks to you both for sharing. Keep up the good fight!

  10. June 2, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    It’s an old and nerdy quote, but oh so appropriate here. “Do, or do not. There is no try.” She didn’t try to leave, or try to get out of a bad situation, she DID. And I’m delighted that she is in a much better situation, for her AND for you, Deb. That first step is ALWAYS the hardest. (Man, I’m just a font of hackneyed old cliches tonight, ain’t I? 😉 )

  11. June 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Congrats to both of you for being able to support and help each other! Best wishes for a continued smooth path after the hell of the old one, cheers gabrielle in Oz

  12. June 3, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Well done, ladies! Both of you! Thank you for sharing your story. I know it will help someone.

  13. June 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks to you and your sister for sharing this powerful, hopeful story.

  14. June 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Beautiful. Not many words I could add, only this: much love to you both. ♥

  15. June 5, 2013 at 11:24 am

    And with that first big step, a whole new be-you-ti-ful life began. Inspiring and very-well told. Hooray for you both 🙂

  16. Patti
    June 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    thank you for sharing this story…nursing my spirit back to a safe and loving place with time…and realize that a move like your sisters is a big leap in the healing…thanks for the boost Deb 🙂 rock on sister!! 🙂

  1. June 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm

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