You alone have to decide: When does MY journey begin? How will I begin it, continue it? Why do I need to take this journey? Where will I end up at the end of it?

Only you can decide when you’re ready. Only you can decide what your first step will be…and how you will overcome the obstacles that appear before you along the way. Only you can know why you need to take the journey and where you hope to be when you reach your destination.

Don’t allow anyone to discourage you. Or tell you what you “should” do. Or pressure you to start before you’re ready. Or trivialize your needs, feelings, goals, ideas. Seek people who can help you and leave behind the ones who can’t/won’t help or the ones who try to hold you back.  BUT, remember that you are the one who has to do most of the work. After all, it is your journey.

My journey involved soul-searching; much of my identity was stripped away over the years because I tried so hard to meet my abuser’s approval and be the woman he expected me to be, without realizing that, no matter what I did, pleasing him was impossible. Gradually, he forced me to sacrifice parts of myself, piece by piece, trying to fit into his pre-defined (but totally unrealistic) “perfect partner” mold until I was left with a barely recognizable version of me.

Finding your identity will undoubtedly take time because you will have to get rid of all the anger, hurt, fear, negative internal dialogue, self-doubt, unwanted habits and anything else that interferes with your sense of self. You must stop believing that you need the approval of other people and that you “should” do whatever other people think is best for you. Of course your loved ones know you well and they DO have the best intentions when they offer you advice. Still, it may not be what’s best for you because only you can decide that.

Ask yourself what YOU want out of life. What are YOUR interests? Goals? Opinions? Plans? Dreams? Traditions? Beliefs? You are the only one who has the right to define these things for yourself, without compromise, and those around you MUST show respect for your whole identity, even if they don’t agree with your choices.

Once you begin to re-discover your identity and living your life the way you choose, you’ll realize how much happier you are. And relaxed…because you’re no longer knocking yourself out to please other people or gain their approval. Your renewed self-confidence gives you the motivation to take better care of yourself, physically, emotionally, spiritually. You may find that you feel more able to speak up when someone says or does something you don’t like and ask for things you want.

With my freedom from my abuser, I made the conscious decision that I am never going to tolerate abuse from anyone in my life again. I have experienced abusive relationships throughout my life and I have had enough. I don’t deserve to be treated that way and my past experiences have set the standard for the way I expect to be treated from now on.

Be the person you want to be. Live the life you want to live (and to the fullest). Follow your dreams. Create your own traditions. Practice your beliefs. Pursue your interests.

Celebrate YOU by being who you truly are.


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