Why Did I Stay? Why Did She Stay?

Hearing the recent news of former NFL player Ray Rice, his wife Janay Rice and the video that has caused a sensation throughout social media and newsrooms has left me with such a mix of emotions thinking of my own experience.

Only my close friends would know what I would be referring to but it would be great to break the silence and share from experience why even when I was in a battle for what felt like my life I still stayed.

She was charming, she said all of the right things and I thought she was all I would ever need. My idea of love was very dim in comparison to what I know is true now. Love should never hurt, it should never be mean, it should never be jealous or vengeful — to name a few I’ve learned.

Thinking about this brings back so many flashbacks. The moments where I ran down the streets at 3:00 a.m. to run away from her. The moments where I would want to clear my head and get away only to have myself pinned against a wall or a door being told I couldn’t leave. The moment where I ran down the streets of downtown only to be pinned to a chain link fence where I screamed at the top of my lungs to have someone save me. The moment where she put her hands around my throat. The moments where nothing I did was never right. When I was criticized for everything that I did — even the way I breathed. When every attempt to make her happy almost always resulted in some sort of putdown. When I jumped out of moving cars just to get away from her.

Why did I stay? I’m a strong woman but I felt like I needed to be there for her — like I was her only saving grace in this world. I felt like my life was a whirlwind and I was trying to gain steady ground in order to sort out the issues I was facing. Yeah, when you’re in a situation like the one I was in there is no steady ground.

I stayed because I experienced mental, emotional and physical abuse as a child and I thought that love was supposed to be tumultuous. That they’ll always be someone running amok in your life and you have to make yourself small in order to make them happy. It’s hard to break a habit that you’ve known for 26 years. To leave the security of what you know (even if it’s bad) for fear that the unknown may be worse.

I left on May 31, 2014 and have never looked back. I have to thank Iyanla Vanzant’s book, Peace from Broken Pieces. It had been years since I had read a full book and it just so happened that the first one gave me the inspiration to leave. I’ll never forget this Iyanla quote, “you’ll never get what you really want unless you let go of what you don’t want.” I had had enough and I made the courageous decision to move all of my things out of her apartment while she was at work. My parents would later make the 400-mile drive and show up with my friends on a Saturday to pick up the rest of my things in a U-haul while I sat nervously a couple of blocks away for fear that if I was present she would react hastily. I really was afraid of her. 

Even weeks after leaving I still had so much fear. Her words haunted me. And I even felt bad for her and felt I left her in a bad place and was heartless for it. It wasn’t until I called Dr. Laura weeks later during her live streaming radio show that it was really put into perspective for me. She said, “you have two options — you can either go to school, study psychology and be her counselor or you can move on and make a better life for yourself.”

I chose the latter. I now live in south Florida with my parents, have a great job and have made some amazing friends. I have been working out, got a haircut, eat healthier and have a great deal more balance in my life. My insides finally match my outsides (I had gained 15-20 lbs. in that relationship).

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I hope for nothing in this world than to love people, love life and to help those who need it. I want to inspire the younger generations to really take a step back and look at their life and make sure they’re happy and making the right decisions for them not for anyone else. Thank you.

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Slice of Wisdom

There are many types of jails. Some people are in the jails of their limited minds. Many people are in the jail of drinking alcohol, taking drugs, working on a job they hate, or living in bad relationships. We are all doing some kind of time. The only difference is that some of us have keys to our cells and others do not. Nobody but you can imprison your mind. Nobody can imprison your spirit.

-Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried

Slice of Wisdom

“Then it hit me. Some people don’t know how, and others never think about going back and cleaning up their crap. Most people want to start today and feel better tomorrow. They want to take a yoga class, listen to a meditation tape, rub a crystal on their head, and believe they have fixed their lives and healed their soul.

You cannot create a new way of being in one day. You must take your time remembering, cleaning up, and gaining strength. If you push yourself too fast, before gaining the strength you need to go in a new direction, you are going to fall and bump your head.”

-Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried 

Slice of Wisdom

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you can now make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you.

In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity, Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.”

– A Course in Miracles 

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Who is the Girl in that Selfie?

I’ve convinced myself of the reason why I like to take selfies. I’m trying to see if I still recognize her, especially after the life-altering year I’ve had.

For years I’ve lived my life on autopilot, trying to fill every minute of every day with work, friends, relationships, concerts, restaurants, clubs, dancing, and I drowned out the voice inside. The voice that held the answer to who I was, my dreams, my purpose and my inner peace.

I was in a constant tug-of-war between a boss who projected all of her anger onto me and significant other who did just the same. Had the new people at work not asked why I let my boss mistreat me, it may have taken me a lot longer to realize how bad it actually was.

Now, no one asked me about the girlfriend, because I never told anyone the truth of what was happening. I never told anyone that she yelled at me for the smallest things, that she became jealous of anyone I spoke to, criticized me constantly and manipulated me into thinking she was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Those who know me have been in total disbelief that I would allow such people in my life for as long as I did. The thing is that the broken me – the girl who never made it past May 31, 2014 – didn’t realize that I had a choice.

I was taught to learn that love would always hurt one way or another. That if you made people angry with you they would hurt you and that love would always mean pain. That you should accept that you’ll always be the punching bag. And that’s exactly what they represented to me — another chance at proving all of those things right.

Having these two individuals in my life during a 9-month period completely wreaked havoc on me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was anxious all of the time, gaining weight, losing interest in seeing friends, not feeling motivated to take care of myself, and preoccupying myself by pleasing the two people in my life who did not deserve it. I was definitely in a state of depression.

Several months ago I had had it at work and I courageously (some would say foolishly) quit my job without having anything else lined up. That alleviated some anxiety and stress but something still wasn’t right. A week after I quit my job, I moved in with my significant other and things started to spiral down quickly soon after. The fights became more intense, the words became more hateful, and I cried almost every night.

If it hadn’t been for the few weeks I spent at the local public library, using the computers to job search I don’t know where’d I’d be. During that time, I checked out a self-help/spiritual healing book by author Iyanla Vanzant, titled Peace from Broken Pieces. In the book she shared so much truth about her life struggles and how everything that happened in her life was a direct reflection of how she felt about herself.  Being a fan of hers from years back and seeing her on the Oprah show, it was mind-blowing to me that this woman endured so much turmoil.

A quote of hers that still gets me choked up is, “You can only get what you really want by letting go of what you don’t want.”

With that, I decided I was leaving the toxic relationship. A few days later a temporary job fell through and I ended up not only leaving a relationship, but also leaving a job, an apartment and my city and moving hundreds of miles away to live with my parents.

Nowadays when I take a selfie it serves as a reminder that I’m not completely lost. That even though there are parts of the girl prior to May 31, 2014 that no longer exist, I’m still here slowly picking up her pieces, healing them and using them to shape the me I thought I’d lost. 934771_10100505330996512_4189002201993813681_n

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Slice of Wisdom

When you need to be loved, you take love wherever you can find it. When you are desperate to be loved, feel love, know love, you seek out what you think love should look like. When you find love, or what you think love is, you will lie, kill, and steal to keep it. But learning about real love comes from within. It cannot be given. It cannot be taken away. It grows from your sense of self. It grows from your ability to re-create within yourself, and for yourself, the essence of loving experiences you have had in your life. When you have not had loving experiences, or when you do not have a sense of self, the true essence of love eludes you. Instead, you hold onto, reach out to, and find yourself embroiled in, your mistaken beliefs about yourself and love.

-Iyanla Vanzant, Yesterday, I Cried