In January 2015 I was a 30-year-old mom of two, looking around me, trying to find a way to get out of an abusive marriage. No job, no money, a cell phone on his plan I knew I couldn’t keep, a car that barely ran, and a credit score in the low 400s and lots and lots of trauma.
I knew I couldn’t fix any of those things quickly. I couldn’t snap my fingers the same week I left and have what the kids and I needed to survive. There was no pregame to set me up for success. All I could really do was jump on faith and cross my fingers I could keep us alive, clothed and fed until I could get back on my feet. It was terrifying. The planner in me wanted lists and a backup plan for the backup plan and for all of it to be in motion before I ever separated myself from the marriage. But I knew I couldn’t make a plan. If I knew the plan then he would know the plan.
So, jump I did. Right into emergency food stamps so we could eat, government provided cell phone so I could keep contact with the kids schools and the outside world. Mornings were spent at the local library… applying for jobs and refreshing my email in hopes to find a response.
After finding a job I relied on my mom to help get the kids to and from school. Things seemed to be looking up. I was heading in the right direction…except for the crippling anxiety attacks and, oh yeah, the PTSD diagnosis, intensive therapy and all while my mom started to seem off kilter. I was going through my rock bottom and she was distant and removed. And I was floundering and exhausted. Not one day was going by without me having some kind of breakdown in the bathroom floor, behind closed doors. With my moms early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis in late 2015 it just seemed like the year of blows. And honestly I don’t know that the following year was any better. Days, weeks, months were going by that felt like I’d never recover from that year. Like all the things I’d heard from the narcissists in my life were true. “You’ll never be good enough” “you won’t have anything without me” “you’re nothing, you’ll always be nothing” “no one would ever want you” “you can’t make it without me”
Trying to navigate the last several years has been hard. It’s been a process. It’s been sleepless nights, therapy, personal development, building a circle of people I trust completely, lots of tears and working through irrational thoughts, surrounding myself with positivity, ice cream, hikes and long car rides with the windows down and music up.
But, I had a moment last week that shifted my perspective and I finally felt like I was on the downhill side of the year 2015.
I got a car. This may not mean much or symbolize much to the onlookers, but it means everything to me.
To walk into a car dealership without fear of judgement or anxiety about the embarrassment of sitting in a finance guys office while he coldly tells you no one will finance that with your credit and looks at you like a nuisance (true story), to pull up and have no one on the sales lot want to talk to you because they can see what you’re driving in with and know you’re not worth the trouble. To walk into a dealership with a smile and not tears because your car is broken down and you’re literally driving it with all 4 limbs because it randomly turns off while driving (again…true story) and you know even if you can get financing, it will be a terrible rate that you can’t afford, but the lives of everyone including your children who ride in the car depends on you finding a way to make it work.
If that’s you, keep going. Keep pushing. You will get there even when you’re at your darkest and you can’t see the light at the end. It’s there. You’ll find it. Don’t stay in the self hatred and turmoil. Keep moving. It’ll be hard, but it’s gonna be worth it.
If I could go back and tell that terrified 30 year old anything, it would be
There will be times you’ll want to quit, but you’ll miss all the good that’s coming your way.
PS I’m proud of you