“The Loss Of A Dream’

There’s a moment in my life that I will never forget. I was in my attorney’s office years ago going through my divorce. I was emotional and told her that it was so sad to me that the marriage was ending. What she said to me has stayed in my mind ever since:

“Yes, the marriage is ending, but you’re grieving the loss of a dream.”

And that was the best explanation I’ve ever heard… because she was right.

Every loss in life is a “grief of the loss of a dream.”

It could be the loss of the dream of losing someone we thought would be in our life forever, of losing a pet, of losing the job we love, of losing something important to us on our “bucket list.”

We all have dreams.

And when those dreams don’t come true we have to grieve the loss of them.

But please remember this: there WILL be dreams that come true.

I promise.

And it’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

Grief

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“What” Is Not As Important As “Why”

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“What’s” happened to you in your life isn’t as important as “why” it happened. ~AD~

We all experience some difficult situations in our life and I’ve come to accept and understand that the “what” that’s happened to me isn’t as important as  the“why” that it did.

We’re so quick to blame others for our difficult times, yet we have a hand in those situations as well. Perhaps we aren’t being our authentic self or standing in our truth to those around us. Maybe we change “who” we are according to the people we are around at a particular moment. I can tell you that I’ve learned that I am in control of what I allow to happen to me and it’s up to me to set healthy boundaries for my highest good…and it’s not always easy to do.

I had breast cancer and it can’t always be prevented, yet I could have had a mammogram sooner than I had; I went 5 years without one and only had one done when I found my tumor. So while this “what” may have been destined to happen to me, the “why” it happened when it did was because I wasn’t loving myself enough to get that mammogram every year like I should have. I know better now.

I’ve lived through divorce and a bad relationship. The “what” that caused an ending to these relationships isn’t as important as the “why” it happened. It happened because I was allowing those people to treat me in a way I didn’t deserve. What you allow will continue and it did for me until I realized I deserved better and decided to stop it.

And I’ve lived through emotional, verbal and physical abuse. It went on for years until I finally put an end to it. “What” was said and done to me isn’t as important as “why” it was done to me. It happened because I let it happen. I wasn’t as strong as I am now, my self-esteem was non-existent, and I blamed myself for causing all those things that were said and done to me then. I was at the bottom and when I finally decided that enough was enough, I pulled myself up off the floor and began to see clearly of the “why” it happened. I began to get stronger day by day and set up boundaries that were never again to be crossed by anyone, and if they were, I certainly recognized it sooner. It happened because I let it, not because I deserved it. It was yet another life lesson for me to learn.

You have to love yourself, respect yourself, and know that you don’t deserve to be treated badly by anyone, especially by yourself. Let’s face it, we’re all masters of self-sabotage at times…we can hurt ourselves better than the person who is hurting us. Yet that’s not the way it should be; you know that as well as I do.

It’s time we all, myself included, stop focusing on the “what” that happened to us and start looking deep within ourselves to see our truth of the“why” it happened.

It’s then that we learn and grow and move forward into the life we want and deserve.

It’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“Feel, Deal and Heal”

I’ve gone through my share of, what most may say, are traumatic experiences: divorce, cancer, and abuse, to name a few. When I share these experiences publicly many people ask me how I’m still standing, how in the world did I become so positive after so many negative things happened to me.

My answer is always the same: Because I chose to get through and I’m standing even stronger.

And how is that possible?

Because I knew I had to feel all the emotions that came with those “traumas” and deal with them; and that’s how I was able to heal.

No one wants to feel hurt, sadness or brokenness, yet we all do at some point in our life. Many people block those emotions; they tuck them away and believe that they moved on from them. I can tell you that they didn’t. Ignoring what you have to face is lying to yourself and eventually all those emotions you didn’t deal with will catch up with you at some point in your life. They always do.

And when they do catch up with you those around you pay the price for it as well.

Don’t you want to feel happy? Don’t you want to find joy in your life? Don’t you want to let go of an experience that caused you pain?

Sure you do…we all do.

So do it. Take a long look in the mirror at yourself and let your truth come through. Take that experience and all the pain that came with it and deal with it. Feel the pain, the heartache and let the healing waters of your tears flow to release it all. Then forgive the experience so you no longer hold onto it and then forgive yourself for allowing it to hold you back from the happiness you want and deserve.

You can run from those traumatic experiences but trust me, you can’t hide from them until you deal with them.

Feel, deal and heal, my friends.

It’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,
~Anne Dennish~

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“A Flood Of Emotions”

Isn’t it funny how one random moment in your day can bring back a flood of emotions from a moment in your past? I had such a moment yesterday…and for just an hour or so it allowed a literal flood of pain and heartache from my past.

And I want to share it with you because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: when I write from the heart and share my most intimate emotions with you, it’s therapeutic for me. It takes those emotions out of my soul and puts them onto paper…and it’s truly a good thing for me. And I hope it’s a good for those of you going through a similar situation.

Yesterday the Jersey Shore suffered from a tremendous amount of rain, causing massive floods in our surrounding areas. There were those that needed to be taken from their homes and cars by boat. I didn’t go through anything that extreme but what I did go through was painful in its’ own right.

The rains hit hard in the morning and around 11 am my son, Noah, went down into our basement. I heard him say “Mom, you better get down here.”

My heart sank because I knew it wasn’t going to be good and it wasn’t: my basement was flooded. I went down the stairs and looked around. There was water everywhere and all I could focus on was the cardboard boxes filled with their favorite childhood books and memories soaked in water. I knew right then and there that we had lost all of those things we felt “important.” Water was everywhere and I was overwhelmed with where to even start.

Yet I knew in my heart where to start and it was to start throwing things out.

And through the hours that my youngest, Sam, and I filled one garbage bag after another with their childhood memories I began to think of a time in my life over 7 years ago when I was going through another time of throwing my “memories” in the trash.

It was over 7 years ago that I was getting out of a second marriage that never should have happened. At that time I had lost the house I designed, built and lived in for over 20 years. I lost my home, my car, and all the money the kids and I had saved up over the years. That second marriage cost me more than I could say. I remember two dumpsters in my driveway for two weeks as the kids and I threw out as much as we could, knowing that we were moving to a much smaller house.

I can remember the heartache of throwing out things that had meant so much to me and to them but we didn’t have much choice. The home we lived in was so much larger than the home we were moving to and still live in. I had to keep telling myself that it was just “stuff” and that I could take the memories with me.

It was a painful time to lose literally everything I had…that we had…yet we did it. And we moved into our “Cozy Cottage.”

And we were fine. We were happy.

I moved in here with nothing. No car, no money and no job, yet we had each other and within a few weeks I had a job and another car. And we survived.

And I’ve been rebuilding my life ever since.

Yet today brought all those emotions back again and I’ll admit that I shed a few tears as I filled garbage bag after garbage bag with yet more memories. It was tough and I felt overwhelmed. I kept filling bags of their favorite children’s books to stuffed animals, one right after another, and Sam just kept bringing them up the stairs and out the door to the trash. It wasn’t the exact “Mother/Son” day I would have planned.

But we did it and there’s still another couple of days to finish up the task.

Yet after my tears spilled of another time of throwing out things that meant something to me, I began to pull myself together and remind myself that they are just the possessions, just the “stuff” that we had compiled for many years. Throwing the stuff out didn’t erase the memories…it just got rid of the physical stuff, but it will never erase the emotional stuff we gained from the years we had it.

Life is a funny thing sometimes. There comes a moment in all our lives that brings back a moment from the past, and oftentimes it’s a painful memory. Yet we seemed to have learned from the past that when those sad memories come back we know better…we feel the pain, the sadness, and the heartache and let it go much sooner than we had in the past. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the things that we had tried to forget because we shouldn’t forget anything…we should learn from it, accept it and move forward.

Because, after all, we don’t ever lose the precious moments we have of our children or loved ones; they are embedded in our minds and hearts forever. The physical possession is a wonderful thing to have but losing it doesn’t erase what our heart holds deep inside.

Our hearts take pictures of those moments in life that mean the most and no flood, no fire, and no one person can ever take that away.

And it’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“Strength And Weakness”

I wrote this quote many years ago near the end of my 20 year marriage. As I began to heal physically and emotionally from all the turmoil of that, I realized that it was at my moments of anxiety, sadness or depression that he became strong. At first I thought he was showing true signs of kindness, yet in time I realized what was really happening: I was feeding his ego and he was starving my self-esteem. He felt like “the big man” helping the poor, defenseless, broken woman. The woman HE broke. The woman he was abusive to; the woman he told over and over again was stupid and ugly; the woman he told would never be loved by anyone.

And I believed him…until I stopped believing him.

Are you wondering how I stopped believing all that negative stuff he had embedded into my brain? I woke up. I realized that I had allowed him the freedom to treat me that way. I allowed him to speak down to me and allowed him to be disrespectful to me. So, one day I woke up and stopped allowing it, and when I did that the marriage was done and over with.

I went through years of healing myself mentally and emotionally, and of course it was with the help of many spiritual teachers and a wonderful tribe of true friends that I was able to. I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

I learned so much about myself and that loving myself first was the answer to preventing anyone anyone from treating me that way. You’d think it would never happen again, yet I’m human; we’re all human. Sometimes life brings you back to an experience that you thought you had learned the lessons from, yet life knows when you forget the lesson. And the Universe will put a similar experience back into your way until you wake up and realize that what you stopped allowing years ago, you’re allowing once again.

Even after that divorce I would find myself meeting someone whose ego was strengthened by my weakness, and for those that know me, they know I’m anything but weak. It would sporadically happen here and there throughout the years, yet now I’m much more able to recognize it when it’s happening. I’ve learned that those people lack control of their own life so they try and control mine; they lack self-respect and are unable to respect anyone else; they don’t feel strong unless they’re paired up with someone weak.

And I am no longer that girl.

I want to be treated the way I deserve and the way that I treat others: with love, kindness, compassion, consideration and loyalty, and I won’t settle for anything less. I want to be loved for the person I am, quirks and all, because I love the person that I’ve become.

We all have moments of feeling weak and that’s okay; it’s those moments that help us to find our strength again and stand back up on our feet even stronger.

We all have moments of finding ourselves back in a situation that we thought would never return and that’s okay; you’re given that situation to remind you of the lesson you forgot.

And we all find ourselves staring into the mirror, looking at ourselves and wondering how we got here and what happened to us, and that’s okay; keep looking in that mirror long enough and you’ll once again see the person you thought was lost.

It’s those moments of feeling lost that we’re actually finding ourselves again, and we’re finding an even better and stronger version of the person we once were.

Life is about balance and we all fall out of balance every so often. It’s when the world around us is spinning out of control that we see the truth of everything, and it’s in those moments that we find our balance again.

Don’t let anyone make you feel weak; surround yourself with people that make you feel strong.

Don’t spend your precious time feeding someone’s ego; spend your time feeding your self-esteem.

And don’t rely on anyone loving you the way you want to be loved; love yourself that way first and the rest will fall into place.

Everything in your life begins with YOU.

Stop allowing what you don’t want to continue.

Forgive yourself when you forgot a lesson you learned and continue moving forward.

And love yourself.

If you do nothing else, love yourself.

Anything and everything is possible if you begin with love.

It’s a good thing.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~strength and weakness

 

“My Strength Is Their Weakness”

strength and weakness

I wrote that quote many years ago near the end of my 20 year marriage. As I began to heal physically and emotionally from all the turmoil of that, I realized that it was at my moments of anxiety, sadness or depression that he became strong. At first I thought he was showing true signs of kindness, yet in time I realized what was really happening: I was feeding his ego and he was starving my self-esteem.  He felt like “the big man” helping the poor, defenseless, broken woman. The woman HE broke. The woman he was abusive to; the woman he told over and over again was stupid and ugly; the woman he told would never be loved by anyone.

And I believed him…until I stopped believing him.

Are you wondering how I stopped believing all that negative stuff he had embedded onto my brain? I woke up. I realized that I had allowed him free reign over me for many years and that by doing that, the behavior continued. I allowed him to speak down to me and allowed him to be disrespectful to me.  So, one day I woke up and stopped allowing it, and the marriage was done and over with.

I went through years of healing myself mentally and emotionally, and of course it was with the help of many spiritual teachers and a wonderful tribe of true friends.

I learned so much about myself and that loving myself first was the answer to not allowing anyone else to treat me that way. You’d think it would never happen again, yet I’m human; we’re all human. Sometimes life brings you an experience that you thought you had learned the lessons from…yet life knows when you forget the lesson. And the Universe will put a similar experience back into your way until you wake up and realize that what you stopped allowing years ago, you’re allowing once again.

Even after that divorce I would find myself meeting someone whose ego was strengthened by my weakness, and for those that know me, they know I’m anything but weak. It would sporadically happen here and there throughout the years, yet know I’m much more able to recognize it when it’s happening. I’ve learned that those people lack control of their own life so they try and control mine; they lack self-respect and are unable to respect anyone else; they don’t feel strong unless they’re paired up with someone weak.

And I am no longer that girl.

I want to be treated the way I deserve and the way that I treat others: with love, kindness, compassion, consideration and loyalty. And I won’t settle for anything less. I want to be loved for the person I am, quirks and all, because I love that person that I’ve become.

We all have moments of feeling weak and that’s okay; it’s those moments that help us to find our strength again and stand back up on our feet even stronger.

We all have moments of finding ourselves back in a situation that we thought would never return and that’s okay; you’re given that situation to remind you of the lesson you forgot.

And we all find ourselves staring into the mirror, looking at ourselves and wondering how we got here and what happened to us, and that’s okay; keep looking in that mirror long enough and you’ll once again see the person you thought was lost.

It’s those moments of feeling lost that we’re actually finding ourselves again, and we’re finding an even better and stronger version of the person we once were.

Life is about balance and we all fall out of balance every so often. It’s when the world around us is spinning out of control that we see the truth of everything, and it’s those moments we find our balance again.

Don’t let anyone make you feel weak; surround yourself with people that make you strong.

Don’t spend your precious time feeding someone’s ego; spend your time feeding your self-esteem.

And don’t rely on anyone loving you the way you want to be loved; love yourself that way first and the rest will fall into place.

Everything in your life begins with YOU.

Stop allowing what you don’t want to continue.

Forgive yourself when you forgot a lesson you learned and get back on track.

And love yourself.

If you do nothing else, love yourself.

Everything is possible when you begin with love.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

“The One Word I Despise: Victim”

I don’t get angry very often and I try not to get upset at someone who says hurtful things to me, but I will tell you this, there is but ONE WORD that will make my blood boil and fill me with an anger that makes my head spin: VICTIM! Aside from those emotions, it hurts my heart, because I’m not that.

And recently someone decided to publicly call me that. The comments were nasty, untrue, and bordering on “threatening.” And they called me a “victim.”

There’s not many people who have called me that, in fact, I know of only two and those two people live unhappy lives and take their negative feelings about themselves and turn them on me. And the moment those two people called me that I wished them love and light and sent them on their way. The friendship had served its’ time and was done, because if you think that’s what I am then you have no place in my life. I will not surround myself with anyone that believes that of me.

I am not a victim, I am a survivor and proud of that.

I am a survivor of divorce, domestic violence, emotional abuse and breast cancer. I never once saw myself as a victim of any of these things because, while I never wanted to have any of it happen, I accepted them as life lessons. Those things happened to me so that I could learn from them, survive them, and use my voice through my writing to help other’s going through those situations.

Me? A victim?

Not by a long shot.

But there are those that play the victim themselves. They are martyrs and portray themselves as good people, when in reality, they are quick to judge and despise anyone who has something they want. They are jealous and insecure, and in reality, they are the ones who choose to be a victim.

And trust me, I’m not one of them.

I don’t have a perfect life, but it’s perfect for me. I have a wonderful man in my life and have five beautiful children, all of whom I’m very proud of. I am able to pursue my passion of writing every day of my life. I’m surrounded by some amazing friends who always have my back and see me as a survivor. My “bubble” is filled with the people that support me and more importantly, love me.

And none of them believe me to be a victim because they know I’m not.

I write about my past experiences in a positive light, hoping to let others know that they’re not alone, that there’s always hope, and there’s always a way to get through it.

I know that there are people who will judge me, but if you’re going to do that, make sure that you know me. Don’t see me through eyes of hatred and jealousy, see me through the eyes of “truth.”

“Survivor” is one of my favorite words. It means you had enough faith in yourself and your Higher Power to get through the tough times. Life hasn’t always been easy for me, yet I choose to be grateful for every day I wake up, for every experience, good or bad, that life hands me because in the end everything is a lesson to learn so that we can live the best life possible.

And once again I’ll say this: “If you can’t be kind, be quiet.”

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

 

“Breaking Apart”

break apart 2We’ve all broken apart at one time or another in our lives. We may have endured a broken heart, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or the brokenness of a good friend showing their true colors. Whatever the reason, it’s caused us to “break apart.”

I’ve had my heart broken, endured cancer, gone through divorce, and been hurt by people who I thought were my friends. I’ve been broken many times, yet through it all I learned that all these moments that “broke” me were all lessons I needed to learn. I learned to take the pain of each moment that broke me apart and make peace with it; I learned to be grateful for them because it taught me something about myself and my life that was for my Highest Good; I learned to see it as a blessing in disguise.

So what do you do when you break apart? How do you get through it all? You make a choice. You make a choice to put the pieces back together, and you put them back together stronger. It’s the lessons you learn through them that enable you to put them back differently; stronger, smarter and tougher.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll never “break apart” again, but what it does mean is that the next time you’re faced with a “breaking apart” moment, you’ll be able to handle it differently. You’ll handle it even better. And the time it takes to put the pieces back together get’s shorter and shorter…and that’s because you learned a lesson from each of those moments.

Life is all about perspective and if you can learn to embrace those “breaking apart” moments as a gift towards you having the life you deserve, then you will understand that those moments aren’t forever…just for the time it takes for you to understand the lesson.

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

 

“Getting Your Balls Back”

I once put two brass balls in a plastic bag and gave them to my girlfriend. I told her that if I ever lost them again to give them back to me.

I was a different woman then than I am now when I went through my divorce. It was over 10 years ago and that woman I was seems so foreign to me now.

I remember that at that time I made many changes in my life; I had lost weight, been college booksworking out at the gym, and had gone back to college to take creative writing courses. I was invited by my professor, a published author as well, to join his writer’s workshop. It was the best time of my life, yet also the darkest time knowing that there was a divorce to go through.

Yet I was strong. All those things I was doing for “me” gave me the strength to endure a nasty divorce. I felt good about myself, I felt like my brain was functioning like a writer, not just a mom, and I was in great shape. I will always believe that my Higher Power had directed me to all those positive changes to make me stronger, because He knew what was just around the corner for me.working out

I thought at that time that my children would feel like their mother had “left the building” because I was doing a lot of things, good things, for me. Yet that wasn’t so. I remember them being so proud of me for all of it, and I realized that all the things I did for myself were making me a better “mom” to them. What a feeling and what a lesson to learn. Sometime we “mom’s” think that if we’re doing things for ourselves that our children will suffer. So not true. It made my relationship with my kids even stronger, and to hear them brag to their friends about their mom going back to school and writing a book was one of the best moments I ever experienced as their mother. My oldest son loved the fact that I was working out and used to joke with his friends that “they better watch out because my mom can beat you up!” So simple, yet so empowering.

And that’s when I realized and learned that doing good things for me isn’t selfish. It made me a stronger and better woman and mom, and all that good stuff spilled onto my kids.

Sadly, it didn’t spill onto my husband. He hated it all. I look back objectively now and see that he may have felt threatened that this woman he controlled for over 20 years suddenly had a mind and body all her own, and she did it without him. I actually did it because of him.

Everything happens for a reason and I look back at that time and truly believe that all those things I did for myself were put in my path to make me strong, because once the divorce process began, my world changed. And it was all that I did for myself that helped to get me through.

It was sad enough that the marriage had been abusive on all levels, yet the divorce was even worse. The details aren’t important but the outcome is: I’m a different woman now and living in a happy life with two of my five children and the love of my life.

Yet there were times I lost my strength during it. I was a single mom taking care of the mental and physical well being of five children; I was the woman dealing with lawyers and sitting through mediations, which were a waste of time. I was tired, lonely, and so wanting it to be over.

My serenity at that time was in the backyard of my girlfriend. I could shed my tears there, talk for as long as I needed, and could always count on her shoulder to cry on. I remember one day she looked at me and said “where’d your balls go? You’re such a strong woman but not now? You gotta find your balls again, girlfriend.”

And so I did. I put two of them in that bag and told her to give them back to me if I ever lost them again.

And I never did.

Well, to be honest, there are times I feel weak and ready to give up, but I always remember that bag of balls that she still has and that’s enough for me to get them back.

And I always do…

Wishing you love and light,

~Anne Dennish~

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“A Girl I Used To Know”

This is the story of a girl I used to know. In fact, I’ve known her all of my life. I love her adulthood 1with all my heart and I want to share her story with you, because it’s important…and she’s important to me.

I  remember  her in the early years of her life…she was funny, smart, and focused on her goals in life. She longed for love and a family, yet she was one of those girls that wanted it all. She had a passion for life that it was almost unnerving, yet I always believed in her, because she believed in herself.

When she was in high school she had a hard time believing that anyone noticed her. She was quiet, and a bit reserved, but I loved her. She was a great friend, and was always there when I needed her, yet at the same time there was always a sadness that she seemed to keep hidden, but she couldn’t hide it from me.

We graduated high school and went our separate ways to college. She found her way out of her “high school shell” that first year, becoming editor of the literary magazine, trying out for the school play, and becoming a DJ on the college radio station, which she loved. I knew then she was meant for greatness.

But the second year of college found her home, working full time and going to community college. She still was positive about everything, and in time, transferred into another college by her third year. It was here that she met “the one.”

She told me all these wonderful things about him, and soon she announced her engagement. They married two years later and with that came the stories she would confide in only me: the infidelities, the nastiness, and the way he degraded her. Yet, in spite of her misgivings, she married him.

The marriage seemed to be over within the first few months, yet she believed that marriage was for a lifetime, for better or worse. I was beginning to hear more of the worse than the better.  After two years, she was pregnant with their first child, and for the first time in the last few years, I heard hope and joy in her voice. And I thought that maybe this was the key to fixing their problems and making him love her.

Time would prove that this wasn’t enough for him, and all her babies that followed would never be enough for him.

We lost touch for a few years and even when we did speak, it was as if she lost herself. She only spoke of her babies and how much she loved being a mom. That was her only source of happiness. I felt like I lost a part of myself when I spoke to her because the joy in her voice was only because of her kids, never of her. She sounded like a robot, programmed to speak and behave a certain way.

And I would soon find out why this was, because that is what abuse does to you. It programs you in to behaving a certain way to keep things calm and keep things hidden. But abuse can finds its’ way to your door, whether you leave it open or not.

I felt terrible when I realized what had been going on for years, and the tone of her voice coupled with her body language proved it all: she had died within herself. She became nothing. The only thing that brought her back to life and kept her breathing were her children.

abuse-1Why was I so blind? Why hadn’t I seen what now seemed so transparent?

It’s because she didn’t want me to; she didn’t want anyone to see, because if they saw, they would see how stupid she was for allowing it all,and she didn’t want that. So she made it all look perfect; for her neighbors, her family, her friends, even her children.

Yet it wasn’t perfect; it was killing her and no one saw that it was. No one could see her, so no one could save her, and for awhile, that’s how she wanted it.

And then she broke open like a river that had been dammed up for years; for over 30 years she had been told she was stupid and worthless, ugly and fat, that she sounded like an idiot when she spoke, and that she was not worth anyone’s time or trouble. And she believed it.

She told me that she didn’t mind the bruises and split lips, they would heal. And she knew the pain of those would go away.

Yet she told me of the scars of emotional and verbal abuse and I knew she would hold these a lifetime.

She said that it was her fault; that she knew what made him upset and shouldn’t have done those things; she blamed herself for every bruise and every split lip. She blamed herself for the hateful and hurtful words. And she blamed herself for being a stupid woman, because only stupid women allow themselves to be abused.

I tried to reason with her, but to no avail. But there was a glimmer of hope. One day she called me and said that she was going back to college for writing courses, and that she joined Weight Watchers to lose the last of the baby weight, and that she had joined a gym to work out. Over the course of a few months I began to see my old friend come back to life; she was becoming stronger, her body and her mind. Suddenly she was laughing again, and that funny girl I knew was back to being funny. The friend I missed for all these years was beginning to shine through, and all the damage he did seemed to be fading  away.

And so one day she told me she asked for a divorce. She knew it would be the hardest fight of her life, but this time she was ready. She wrapped her babies tight in her arms and had him leave. It took a handful of restraining orders, a dozen or more calls to the police, but she did it.

I was amazed at how she made her life look. She got up in the morning, worked out at the gym, and came home, cooked breakfast, made lunches and got all those kids off to school. During the day she did laundry, cleaning, cooking and baking for them. They sat down as a family every night. They took their showers, did their homework and went to bed.

And after the last child was kissed good night, she went outside on her deck…and let the tears flow. She cried for the loss of a marriage, cried for the loss of a family and cried for all that he had done to her. She cried for what was in front of her as a single mom, and for what was behind her as an abused woman.

But she never let her children see her cry.

I was proud of her because I know none of this was easy. I watched her fight her way up from below the bottom and rise to the top. I watched her get back her strength and self-esteem. I watched her learn to laugh again. And I began to see her learn to love herself again…but that took time. Slowly she tried, and with each day that passed, she began to love herself more.

Many years later I see my friend as this woman, who despite the odds, finds her strength and beats them. And to this day, I know she fights every morning she wakes up. She fights to make a difference in the world, a difference to her children, and fights to find something good in herself.

I know to this day she struggles with her self-esteem and finds it hard to take a complement.  She’s working on knowing that she’s worthy and lovable, yet it is something she works at day to day.

Most people don’t know of her struggles, and that she fights every day, but I do. I know that it was her struggles that gave her her strength and I wish everyone knew that about her.

She spent the last few years doing what she loves: writing. She’s been a journalist, an author and a lyricist, yet throughout it all she’s never lost sight of her children and trying to help everyone else. She spends her days trying to make a difference in this world, and I wish with all my heart that she knew that she makes a difference to everyone she meets.

Most that know her see all the goodness in her, yet they never see her pain. She hides it away, yet it’s there, although not nearly as much as it used to be.

She’s been in a relationship for the last two years and seems to finally have met someone who really loves her. Yet I wonder if he understands just what the abuse had done to her, that no matter how much he loves her, she still would struggle with her self-esteem. I wonder if he knows just how much a complement from him means to her, and the smallest of gestures makes her heart melt. I wonder if he knows how important he is in her journey of loving herself.

Time will tell, and as she tells me now: “the scars from abuse don’t dictate my life today, but they have made me who I am. I’m stronger because of it all, yet it will be a lifetime struggle of not letting those scars resurface. It can be a struggle every day to love myself and believe that I’m worthy and of value. No one can do that for me. I have to do it myself.”

I’m so glad this girl I used to know has come back to life, and come back with a passion. She’s never played a victim, and always seems to be a survivor. I’ve missed her for many years and hope that she will always stay as strong as she is now.

I pray every day for this girl I used to know…because that girl is me.

~Anne Dennish~

abuse