If you want to change things in your life, you must free the things that hold you back. The past can either break you or it can make you. You must be the one to decide your present and your future. Are you a victim or are you a survivor? Our mind set is one of the most important parts of us, we determine our fate. I chose to be a victim for 11 years and it was the worst thing I have ever done. When I grew the strength to take back my life it made me feel like I was free. I have struggled every single day since I left him, but I would rather be broke than abused and controlled. I suffer from PTSD from everything he did to me, but even though I can’t sleep, and have random burst of anger and sadness, I also laugh, smile, and find joy in everything. I don’t wake up in the morning and wish to die anymore. I wake up feeling hopeful that today will be better than yesterday. When I look at my children, I find myself knowing I can be the best mother possible now that it is just us 3. I look at them and I find the strength to face my fears and be the best possible version of myself. I still have many obstacles to overcome, but with each passing day I know I’ll eventually pick up that last broken piece of me and I will feel whole once again. I am the author of my life; I can turn the page and have a fresh start. I still have many bad days, but I do not let them control my life any longer. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life. I choose to see the beauty in things that I couldn’t see 6 months ago. I have wasted so many years being depressed over things that were out of my control, I made more mistakes than I can count, and I was not a good mother to my boys. I couldn’t take care of myself, so I drowned my self-pity with a bottle of alcohol everyday to numb the pain of being abused. I chose to let his actions define my life and change me into a person I did not know. I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw, but still it was not enough to change me. I hated him but I hated myself more. I was taught to be strong but when you know the feeling of being broken you think that you can fix someone else. I couldn’t fix myself so why did I think I could fix someone who didn’t see a problem with their actions. I can look at myself now and not hate what I see. It may have taken 11 years for me to leave but I was one of the lucky ones who did get away. Many abuse victims don’t make it out alive. I see my ex husband in my children everyday and that scares me more than anything in this world because I will be damned if my children grow up to be anything like him. Each day I teach them respect in many different forms. They have screamed at me, they have made me cry countless times, they have made me so angry the only thing I could do was walk away from them, but they learned by seeing it for so long. I will break the cycle in anyway possible. They have had to handle so much at such a young age that I will forever be trying to make it up to them. I will show them how a woman should be treated, and how a man should be treated. A relationship shouldn’t be about who does more, it should be an equal partnership. Love, respect, honesty, and trust should be the most important parts of a relationship. If you are not happy with your relationship, do not stay in it. Do not stay because you have children together, because in the end the only ones it affect are the children. I wish I had this clarity many years ago but when you are so blinded by fear, and hatred you are never in the right state of mind. We make our decisions based on our emotions instead of with our brain which blinds us into staying in relationships that were over long before. I never saw a future for myself in the past, but today I can see that one day I will be happy and content with every aspect of my life. I can see myself owning my own home, sitting on my porch writing another book as my children are doing their best in school ready to head to the college of their dreams. The future holds positivity and hope for me. Hope was something I never thought I would feel again but when you surround yourself with positive people and believe in things that you never thought possible, you know you believe in hope once again. I chose to take my pain and turn it into strength. Strength to grow as a woman, as a mother, as a daughter, as a friend, and an aunt. I will be the ear for people to vent too as I will always believe them when they tell me something personal. I have been called a liar many times in my life because they never thought my ex husband was capable of the things that he did to me. My sisters turned their back on me because they didn’t believe in me. I was hurt, angry, and disappointed but now I realize that I can’t change the opinions of others. I know the truth of what happened to me and to me that is enough. I am proud of the woman I am becoming and will remain working on who I will be. Today, I am doing the best I can with what life has given me. I will make the best of each day and choose to see the beauty in everything. I will be there for my children, mom, cousins (a select few,) my nieces and nephews, and my friends. I will never turn the other way when someone needs me. I have had the people closest to me turn their backs on me and instead of holding it against them I am letting them go. I choose my happiness, and the happiness of my children over anything else. My truth has set me free and for that I will continue to live with joy in my heart and a strength that no one will ever take from me again. I am my own superhero and I will continue to be the best version of myself. To the people who have loved me at my worst, I thank you for never giving up on me. For the ones who chose to give up on me, I wish you the best and hope you too find the strength to grow and find love in yourself before putting someone else down. Hurting people will never make you inferior to them, it will make you beneath them. I choose happiness and self-love, and I hope the same for everyone. Our world has seen so much heart ache that we need more people to stand up for each other instead of turning our backs on each other.