A Hopeful Sadness.

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I am feeling incredibly vulnerable lately and this is not the norm for me; I am always the strong one. As an empath I am able to feel everyone else’s pain, sadness, and anxiety; but in doing so I shut my own out. I have boxed myself in by wearing this suit of armor. Today, I am taking it off and folding it nicely for a rest. It is my calling to empower people and help them transition from a life of just existing to one where they can truly feel all that life has for them. To drop the fear and jump on the adventure.

My belief has always been, and still is, that what is in the past is in the past. You are not your past. You are not what happened to you. You are here and living in the now.
Face your past, forgive, make peace, and then let it go. I still believe this for I have seen too many people get away from their pasts only to live forward with it. We get used to carrying the weight of our burdens and it’s hard to put them down. In an odd way it feels comfortable because it is what we know.

I am always looking within myself and trying to see what is making me tick, where am I heading, and what is really happening in my soul. It’s not easy to do when so many look to me to inspire them every day. My mind switches to auto-pilot and I just walk the talk. I keep moving and push through the pain. It seems to have caught up with me and I am at a bit of an impasse now.

I’ve been crying for days. I don’t know why. Perhaps it started with a case of the mid-winter blues and then just spiraled out. I can’t pinpoint it, but I know I am not trying to stop it. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel weak and vulnerable at times. It doesn’t make you less strong it makes you whole, and honestly isn’t that what we strive for?

I believe with all of my heart that life is all about ebb and flow. I don’t often allow myself the ebb part though. I fight it and dismiss it and soldier on. It’s what I know how to do. It’s what saved me in my past. However today I am feeling as though it has caught up with me and I am learning a new way of being. I am sitting with my sadness and I am trying to understand it. Right now I am not sure why it has surfaced. Perhaps it is a workshop I am taking about being tender to my own soul. Something that we all need to learn to do better.

What I do know is that this sadness is all-encompassing. The tears are flowing and I am feeling lost in my own space. A feeling of tremendous loss is here and sadness. The loss of people who I loved dearly in my life, the loss of innocence as a child, the loss of my dreams for my future, and the loss of even myself. For how can I be whole if I am not in touch with these darker sadder moments of myself? I am learning to listen. To reach down and hold my own hand; the trembling hand of a girl who has seen too much and suffered far more than ever necessary.

I am looking at her in the mirror and her reflection is so sad that it makes me cry.
I feel a disconnect from her. I am the girl who has survived so much and yet has never been able to grieve the losses that have accrued over my lifetime. This is scary shit I am not going to lie about that. However, in my sadness and my uncontrollable crying I feel more connected to myself and to others then I have in a long time. I am learning to be vulnerable in a new way. I am understanding my life within a new light. I am scared, but I am okay. I am sad, but I am hopeful. It is just going to take some time. xo Ella

I Hope That You Never…

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I hope that you never have to make a call to save your life. I hope you never know that kind of fear. Knowing that your life hangs in the balance; on a thin thread which is about to snap. I hope you never feel hunted or like your next move, if you are lucky enough to get one, has a narrow margin of success. I hope that you never know what it feel like to face death in the face of someone you thought once loved you.

It’s that time of year again where the subject of Domestic Violence gains media traction because the Super Bowl is approaching. Urban Myth has it set that it is the day with the highest rate of reported abuse of one domestic partner to another. This year we saw the NFL struggling to keep face after Baltimore Raven’s player Ray Rice knocked his then fiancé out in an elevator. Rice was initially suspended for two games. The relatively small penalty caused national controversy. He was later suspended indefinitely, but that decision was overturned. We saw other players being called out on domestic related violence as well. It wasn’t a stellar year for the old boys club.

I want you to know that Domestic Violence Happens Each Sunday—Not Just Super Bowl Sunday.

I am glad to see the NFL responding to this with a little proactive flair. This Super Bowl Sunday which is quickly approaching will have millions of people world-wide watching. Some just watching for the ever so famous commercials. On February 1, 2015 the Super Bowl will air, but what is a little different this year is that there will be a PSA about domestic violence.

No More, an anti-domestic-violence campaign, and the ad agency Grey New York have come together to produce a few chilling reminders that THIS is still a HUGE problem in our society. The NFL donated a 30-second slot for the ad and paid for its production. The video is a chilling reminder that so many women live in fear in their own homes. Everyday, not just on Super Bowl Sunday.

To some I realize that it will be a mere bleep in the days advertisements. It may not be memorable to many. It may even cause a backlash in some homes, but it is worth it.
This weekend when millions are riveted to the television, my hope is that it will create a ripple across the land. Something positive out of a horrid situation that occurred the day that Ray Rice decided to finally call the darkness into the light.

The PSA is very simple. There is a woman making a call for pizza from her slightly disheveled home. When the other end answers you don’t hear “Hello Domino’s”, but rather “Mam, you have reached 911. This is an emergency line.” She continues to order her pizza, “Large with half pepperoni, half mushrooms.” The 911 operator keeps trying to tell her that she dialed the wrong number and she just keeps ordering her pizza, until he asks her if she is okay. Is this an emergency?

I hope that this will resonate across the millions turned into the game that will be peppered with commercials of scantily clad women selling chips and celebrities self promoting. I hope that this commercial is THE ONE that will have people talking. I know that my hopes may fall on millions of deaf ears and blind eyes, but I desperately want this to be seen. This is the real deal. According to Grey New York, the ad was based on a real 911 dispatch (paywall), found on a Reddit thread asking dispatchers about their most memorable calls.

Reality really sucks sometimes. I once had to make a call like this myself. It was either me or him, and I decided that I wasn’t going down like that.   xo Ella

Try a Little Tenderness

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“I have learned that the most important things are tenderness and kindness. I can’t do without them.” – Brigitte Bardot

Tenderness and kindness are a necessity in the work that I do, as are empathy and compassion. It’s something that you learn especially if you have been kicked in the gut and to the floor as many times as I have. When a person is hurting its heart wrenching for me and I focus on trying to help them see that there is a way through the pain. The pain will end. This is best shown through a gentle spirit.

I am taking a class that my friend Samantha is giving. When she asked me if I would like to join, my first thought was that I am already spread out too thin. Something though told me that I needed to do this for my own growth. When I got her workbook I quickly realized that this was going to kick my ass. The course is called Tender to My Soul. This journey is about focusing on showing myself a little bit of tenderness. What did I sign up for? I don’t have time for this. I have way too much to do!

Tenderness, (noun).
1. A tendency to express warm, compassionate feelings. (check)
2. Concern for the feelings or welfare of others. (check)
3. Gentleness, kindness, compassion. (check)

Am I tender with others? Absolutely, but with myself not so much. What does it mean to be tender with yourself and whats the best way to go about it? The thing I love about my friend Samantha is that she is a wordsmith in the most gentle of ways. Instead of giving us a traditional workbook to trudge through she gave us a beautiful work of art that is a place to sit, ponder, listen, and understand. Most importantly is has given me the message to SLOW DOWN. What is the rush for any way?

How can we see to be tender to ourselves if we are constantly rushing around. We are so over scheduled and working towards the next best thing that we think a 5 minute meditation in the morning is going to be fuel enough to get us through. Not quite so true. When you think about it we give much more time and tenderness to other people. How can we be our best if we aren’t taking the time to lavish ourselves with a little tenderness as well?

“You don’t blast a heart open. You coax it and nurture it open like the sun does to a rose.” – Melody Beattie

I just finished writing an article on finding clarity. I state that you don’t seek clarity you become it. It goes hand in hand with tenderness, don’t you see? In order to truly evolve you must be tender to your own soul. This means taking a holistic approach to your life. You must learn to slow down. Create healthy boundaries and learn to say “no”. You must clear out some of the static that prevents you from having your personal time. Hey, this is really important. You are really important.

For me tenderness for myself is a new concept. I have worked on a lot of other things, but not this or at least not from this perspective. I am just starting out on this journey, but the first thing that I have noticed is the freedom I am giving myself to carve out time for joy me. Constructive time and a safe space to really dig deep to my soul. I am tired of short-changing myself while giving my best to others. In truth, I will serve better if I am in tune with myself. I am ready to stop the inner battles, name calling, and the wicked critic. I am ready to learn to love all the part of me that I haven’t given myself space to do yet. This is the year that I learn to be tender to my soul and I would love to invite you to do the same.  xo Ella

“There isn’t an agony in the world more powerful than tenderness.”                   - Marlena De Blasi

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The Clarity in Being.

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You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.      - Marianne Williamson.

Ever since I can remember I have been hyper organized. In fact, I used to be called anal retentive. I laugh at the thought of that now because my life has changed so incredibly much since then. When I reflect on the young woman who was so fastidious with everything I see fear. In an attempt to fight back I tried to control. What I learned was that I have no control. It was an illusion and I felt like such a failure for trying so hard to beat an invisible opponent that could never lose.

A shift happened in my life when I left my abusive husband. I finally saw my borderline OCD for what it truly was.  An all-consuming attempt to cover up the real lack of control I had been living with for so long in my marriage. My desire to keep things looking “together” for everyone else was a failure. I was a fraud and one hell of an actress.

I left and let as much of it go as I possibly could; I let go of the husband, the career, the abuse, the money, the fancy car, the clothes, my home, and my friends. I left it all behind, and with it I left my need to control. My attempt to create the facade of “normal” just kept me bound to the abuse. If I had exposed the truth of my situation I felt like I would look a failure for not succeeding in my relationship. In trying so hard to win I lost.

I have been searching for clarity ever since my divorce years ago. If asked what I am looking for in my life, I respond with one word, clarity.  Unfortunately, most days I live with what I refer to as brain fog. My thoughts are disjointed and so very far from the woman who had once run an empire in a busy city. I couldn’t figure out how I could have gone from being so hyper-aware and organized to this. I decided that I would passively seek for clarity. I had no idea what end was up, but I just knew if I stopped trying to force everything, it would present itself to me at the right time.

I didn’t know how to seek clarity. I thought if I read books, took classes, and sought guidance that I would finally come into it in my own time. I found myself always looking for some sort of clear channel that would tell me what the hell to do. It never came, and so I waited and attempted to sit with the unknown. Moving forward on my foggy journey was hard because I had no idea where I was going. I wasn’t able to look at the big picture. Starting over is hard, especially when you have a lot of baggage to unpack.  I was on the one step at a time plan, and it was here that I learned to rely on my faith.

It took me many years to see that I wasn’t gaining clarity, but learning patience. I finally understood clarity when I stopped looking for it, and decided to be it. If I had taken time to focus on my inner self rather than just keeping busy (in a lame attempt to hide the fact that I had no idea where I was going) I may have realized sooner that it was futile. You can only become clear when you are able to sit and just be. No journey. No seeking. No controlling. Just me, myself, and I, sitting very quietly and listening.

xo Ella

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The Fine Art of Forgetting.

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.    – Milan Kundera

I escaped my abusive marriage nine years ago this month. I didn’t celebrate though for I have taught myself not to look back. A silent acknowledgement of a job well done at this point in my journey is all that I need. When I first left I never thought that I would make it to this point in my personal development. I have arrived at a place where I have gained hard learned wisdom. It has taken tenacity and sheer willpower to keep believing that I would come out on the other side of this battle stronger.

Almost everyday I am asked, “How did you do it?” I know that the answer that most are looking for is not what I have to offer though. There is no quick fix to letting go..it takes time. I must tell you that it may not heal all wounds, but will it certainly softens the edges.

Now by no means do I have it all packed together in a nice and neat package. My PTSD is so often beyond my reach, and it can send me reeling at a moments notice.
How do we balance the conscious from the subconscious? How do we find balance there? I believe that it is in learning how to react, or NOT react, to the intruding memories. That is what we have control over. It is in this fine mingling of memory and now that we can create our balance.

Forgetting

Last night I awoke from a bad dream. It was one of those dreams that you continue to have though out the night even when you break your sleep. It just keeps going and it seems so realistic that you are not sure that you are dreaming at all. These dreams can shake you to your core.

In my dream I was reunited with my abusive ex-husband. He found us and I was forced to pretend that I was happy to see him. I found myself back in my former life…one that I have so frequently chosen to forget. In my dream there was no forgetting though. I was in a hyper vigilant state as I slept. I was re-living my past. I was trying to prepare to escape with my kids without him discovering my plan; knowing all to well that if he caught me leaving that would have been the ultimate end for all of us. I was re-living my past reality in my sleep. The past I work so hard on forgetting.

When I woke up I was in a panic, but I went back to sleep and continued to dream. I woke up again having heart palpitations. I was caught between wanting to go back to the dream so that I could finish it out again victorious and staying awake. This continued for hours and it brought up memories and feelings that I haven’t had in a long time. Remember that I have chosen to forget. What did this dream teach me? I believe that this dream was a message.  That while I want to forget, I must not become complacent. The scenario of my dream could so easily become my reality if I am not careful. It was an eye opener for me and I really feel that I have been given an angelic warning.

How did I choose to proceed with my day? I laid in my bed and separated the reality of the situation from the dream. I thanked my inner self for allowing me to remember this scenario so that I could remain safe. Then I decided to let it go. There is nothing for me to hold onto. There is no reason for me to cling to the fear of the nightmare.  I continue to learn the fine art of forgetting, which by now I know is not really about forgetting at all. It is about letting go. xo Ella

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.                 – Herman Hesse

Love the Skin You’re In.

If being thin is the answer.  What is the Question?                                                                                                                                                          – Emma Woolf

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There was an interesting question posed in the midst of World Cup fever this year. Should we be concerned that our young men might develop body image issues as a result of the world’s attention on the magnificent bodies of the male soccer players? Seriously, that just makes me want to scream. The fact that the question was posed is actually good in a backhanded kinda way. It will hopefully cause a discussion in other forums as well. Men are not immune to the pressures of society when it comes to body image. Seriously though? They have nothing on us women.

I read a preview for Emma Woolf’s new book ‘The Ministry of Thin: How the Pursuit of Perfection got out of Control’. She says, “These are the rules: ‘Thou shall not age; thou shall not be ugly; thou shall not be too emotionally open, nor too obviously clever  -but being thin trumps them all.'”

I have grown up within our society’s body image bubble, which is much like trying to breathe through sand or walk through quicksand. Women have been dealing with this issue for a really long time. The beauty industry is literally, an all-consuming monster, that has trapped almost everyone. I say, almost, because I do know women and men who have decided not to drink the “Kool Aid” and join that party. Have they really though? Is it really that easy to get away from that voice in the back of your head that whispers to you that you are not good enough? Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not skinny enough. Let’s be honest here…it’s a human condition that most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, are not immune to.

It’s a really tough monster to fight. We are constantly fed images of often impossibly perfect women every single day, as though it is our birthright. Then as we grow up under the scrutiny of our parents, our peers, relatives, and society as a whole; the pressure mounts. Every one is hoping that they are blessed with good hair, straight teeth, glowing skin, long legs, and a nice smile, but most importantly are we thin? Where can I get off this train?

Everyone’s idea of perfection is different. For me as a young child, my blonde hair and blue eyes were not interesting to me. I felt like Jan Brady. I always yearned to be different; perhaps Italian with beautiful tan skin, Korean with beautiful long black shiny hair, or French with that impeccably sexy accent . I always wanted to look like anyone other than me. It’s not that I disliked me, actually, everything is good with me. It took a long time to be able to say that I like myself. I really do like myself…But, I still wish I looked better.

Most days I like who stares back at me in the mirror. She even smiles. She would like to be thinner though, as though that would make her happier. It’s a lie though. I bite into the lie most days, but I spit it out as soon as I can. I am so very grateful to be healthy and fit. I started to write this earlier and I had to call bullshit on myself. When I realized how whiney it sounded to be lamenting about body image when I have some friends who are very sick. I feel like an arse writing a piece on body image. As if I have anything to complain about. The truth is when it comes down to it I don’t. However, I think there are many women who can relate to this post and so I am going finish writing it.

Once upon a time, I was too skinny, oddly enough everyone told me how GREAT my emaciated self looked. That was a really unhappy and scary time for me. I realized that the man I had recently married was not who I thought he was. I was stuck, and so in a lame attempt to maintain some control of my life, I was slowly starving myself. Note to self…that doesn’t workout to well in the end.

Today I am on a quest for total self acceptance. It’s a high mountain to scale and anyone who says otherwise is playing you. What does it even mean? To be able to love yourself unconditionally. That is a radical thought to me, and yet, why is it? Probably because we have had it ingrained in our lovely brains that “being thin” is the answer. How can it be the answer when we were never asked the question?

 I like myself, but I don’t always feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s like this body almost fits me, but it’s just not quite right. The monster runs deep like a virus. It’s pretty hard not to be brainwashed when the “ideal woman” is actually 8 different women photoshopped together to create one “perfect” looking woman. They morph the best legs, ass, abs, chest, shoulders, neck, and face together. Then they airbrush the photo to a seamless perfection for the cover of a magazine that will in turn continue brainwashing us that we are not quite “right”. Perpetuating the myth to the next generation.

I am giving myself a challenge and it’s really overdo, but one thing at a time I know. For the last 8 years I have been on a journey to my self. I have dug deep, faced demons, loved, lost, mourned, and  learned who I am again after so many years in captivity. I feel like my body is secondary to my heart, soul, and mind. Yet I continually let it disrupt the balance that I have in my higher self. The body keeps getting in my way and distracting me from what I should be focusing on. I am going to learn to really accept my self head to toe. I am on a quest to love all the angles and curves that aren’t quite “right”. I am tired of feeling like I am always having a bad body day (akin to a bad hair day). It’s exhausting and the truth is it’s scaring me. What if I can never get to that point? I want to be a strong woman who can say when she is older that she accepts her self…body and soul. I really want to learn to celebrate my female form in all its glory. I brought children into this world through this body. That alone is the most magnificent and miraculous of all events and yet I cried myself to sleep the other night.

So, this is the beginning of a new path on my journey. I am going to really work at loving and accepting my body. I give thanks that I am healthy and that this body has taken me to many foreign lands. It has served me well and instead of criticizing it I should be thanking it. So, what was the question again?

xo Ella

The Long Road of Forgetting.

“But the thing about remembering is that you don’t forget.”

Tim O’Brien

The long road to forgetting is often very painful. I know this road well and it is the reason that I haven’t written much lately. It’s sometimes feels like I am stuck within the incoming and outgoing tides. I am trending water for many people. Life has a way of circling back on us. We forget things that we try to remember, and we remember things that we’d rather forget.

When we talk about our relationships forgetting is almost a moot point. For if you have loved someone and created memories with them, then how can you ever forget them? There are many examples of why you would want to though. Our minds block out some of the traumas that we encounter in life, but not all, and not always forever.

Memories are like snowstorms. They so often begin to appear like snowflakes…so soft and lofty. Then without a moments notice, a barrage of them hit and block your vision.The road ahead once clear and open is suddenly blocked. You are caught up in the whirlwind of the storm. The memories swirling all about. One memory triggers the next and before you realize it you are swept up. The past has once again become your present…at least for the moment.

“Love is so short forgetting so long.”

- Pablo Neruda

It’s a fine line to walk some days. I want to pull from my past so that I can help others.I want my experiences to mean something. To show others that they too can move on. I am sick of so many of my memories though. They are heavy and laden with pain. I have learned and I understand my past, but who really wants to revisit them? I have so much to say, but it comes at a price.

You can journey down the long road of forgetting. You can create new memories that will overshadow the past ones that you so desperately want to leave behind. They key is that you have to want to. Often times our memories are like heavy cloaks. They can be divisive and trick you into thinking that there is a false sense of comfort there within your history.

I don’t like to remember most of it, but there are shining happy moments within the mix that beg to be remembered. How do we sift through it all? How do we pick and choose what to remember and what to leave behind. This is a fine dance, for you cannot forget the bad and remember only the good. That does not serve you.

The word forgiveness comes into play here. Let me make something clear, forgetting and forgiveness do not go hand in hand. You can forgive and let go, but the reality is that the memories are still there. Forgive but not forget…we know that saying well because it is the truth. Simple human conditioning. If only we had access to our control panels.

“Without forgetting it is quite impossible to live at all.”

- Friedrich Nietzsche

In the end it is living forward through your life that will give you the distance that you need. As you move forward your past will get smaller in your rear view mirror. Thank God for perspective. I believe that we must remember it all, as much as we may distaste it, for it prevents us from ever falling back down the same dark hole. It is the medicine which our soul requires to grow. The lessons learned have become our memories and in that we should find some grace.

There is no easy answer here. As humans we must constantly battle our own minds for there is no way out. I call it the long road to forgetting because it truly can feel like it goes on forever. The good news is that it doesn’t. In time it all sifts out and the landscape of your journey will appear brighter. As you learn to replace the negative thoughts for positive ones you will slowly recognize the new reality that you choose for your life.    xo Ella

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Equal Rights – Human Rights.

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I am a very fair person. I don’t align myself with any political party for I choose to decide on issues. I don’t speak religion, because spirituality is so much more than another organization. When it comes to domestic violence I don’t advocate only for women. The truth is that men make up 40% of all reported victims. Violence is hate and hate doesn’t discriminate.

Today I shared a video on my Facebook page that depicted two actors in a domestic violence situation. In the first part of the video the man got visibly out of line with the woman. The crowd in the park that surrounded the couple were visibly upset. So much so that about 4 women approached the couple and called the man out on his bad behavior and assured the woman that she deserved better. When the script was flipped and the woman became abusive the response from the bystanders was really hard for me to watch. People were laughing. No one came to his defense. The contrast is remarkable.

What was really even more remarkable to me is the discussion that took place under the video. First of all I was pleasantly surprised to see men speak up and in such a respectful and grateful way. Women responded too and they clearly felt the same way that I did. Violence is wrong. Now there was one woman who decided to weigh on this discussion and she took my breathe away. This woman left four responses which made it very clear that she is the demographic that I am trying to educate. She was raw. She was rude. She was banned from my page.

The issue that this has highlighted for me is the degrees of abuse. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people have asked me if I was hit. As though if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have been so bad. Even police ask that question. I unfortunately suffered physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. All were horrible, but the wounds that cut me the deepest and have left me changed were caused by the verbal, emotional, and psychological ones. It is time that people start to understand this. You don’t have to be hit to be a victim of abuse.

I was a successful woman and yet I hid the torment that cursed through my marriage. Fear was the main reason I didn’t speak up, but I would have to say that the shame I felt was equally as strong. I was asked over and over again, “why didn’t you leave?” It’s not a simple answer. For a victim to stand up and leave an abusive relationship it really takes every ounce of strength that they have. The last thing they need to hear is someone asking a question that makes them feel worse. Now, just imagine for an minute what it must be like for a man. The degree of shame they must feel is beyond my comprehension and I understand why so many men are silent victims.

I also want to stress that abuse isn’t just physical. While men may have the upper hand in physical strength a woman can certainly hold her own in all other areas. Women can abuse verbally, mentally, and psychologically. Women can also be physically abusive. It’s so sad that we have such a small view of domestic violence. It is so much broader than what most people perceive. This issue is not about gender issues or equal rights. This is about human rights. I believe that nothing supersedes this. I speak on behalf of women because it I can get through to them. They can relate to me and I to them. I want to help them read my story and know that their is hope. That they can get out and they can thrive.

All of the media coverage in the last week has been focused on Male violence against women. I felt that I needed to be fair and balanced. I needed to give a voice to male victims of abuse. I married a man who abused me because he was abused. If he hadn’t been a victim of domestic violence growing up he most certainly shouldn’t have become the person that he did. Violence is never acceptable.

http://http://mostshared.tv/video/7338

A Call to Action.

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I decided to devote my life to telling the story because I felt that having survived I owe something to the dead. and anyone who does not remember betrays them again. – Elie Wiesel

All it takes is one action to cause a reaction. This week I watched Janay Palmer get knocked out in an elevator, and my writers block disappeared. I wrote frantically, as though someones life depended upon it. I wrote because I had no other choice. As a survivor of abuse it is now my calling; I share my story so that others may have an example that says, “If I can do this so can you.” There are so many women who are unable to verbalize the darkness that lives in the deep corners of their soul. I speak for those who can’t find their voice, and I speak for those who didn’t make it out alive. I write so that we remember…

Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. – Elie Wiesel

They say the opposite of love isn’t hate, its indifference. When we see a wrong and turn a blind eye we are in fact perpetuating hate. The Constitution was written to secure the blessings of liberty.  However the truth is so often very far from this for many women in this country. It may not appear so to the naked eye, but close their front doors and the cage is waiting.

In any society, fanatics who hate don’t hate only me – they hate you, too. They hate everybody. – Elie Wiesel

There is a huge gap of misunderstanding in our society on the subject of domestic violence. I understand that for those who have never been exposed, its hard to wrap your head around the concept of trauma bonding. I lived it, and it took me years to wrap my head around it. I needed to be able to step back and understand what had happened to me; what happens to so many women. This is the human condition and we are all a part of the cause and the solution. Hate is an evil parasite that feeds on whatever it can get it’s hands on, so never say that it couldn’t happen to you because hate does not discriminate.

Someone who hates one group will end up hating everyone – and, ultimately, hating himself or herself. – Elie Wiesel

The German philosopher Nietzsche believed that whoever did not control would be controlled. The marginalized often rise up to become the oppressor. It’s written all over our history books and it’s written on the hospital walls where so many battered women go to die. Control is the epi-center for most abusers.  The moment their control is questioned or challenged any facade of order is shattered, and the shit hits the fan. There are many pathologies that can create an abuser, but they have one thing in common, they HATE.

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

It has taken me years to find my voice. Like so many survivors my brain has suffered enormous stress. Understand that not all wounds are visible. My adrenal glands are fatigued, I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and chronic anxiety. It’s hard for me to deal with “me” many days. Can you imagine living with a fight or flight response; adrenaline coursing through your veins? You are in hyperdrive. Let me tell you that adrenaline is not a great bedfellow. In spite of all this, I have worked so incredibly hard to find my way here. To a place that I can string two thoughts together in order to speak not just my truth, but so many countless others. I don’t write for literary accolades, I write to save my life, and hopefully others.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. -Elie Wiesel

Lately I have struggled with the notion that my legacy is simply going to be that I survived my abuser, but I desire much more. It’s an ugly story and not one that any little girl fantasizes about for her future. It is my belief that I survived so that I can hold the hands of others as they struggle to find their way after abuse. There are moments where I feel burdened, afraid, and exhausted. The kind of exhaustion that cuts to the core; along with headaches, stomach issues, and cognitive issues. I battle night terrors, those God awful memories that come out when you are off guard; the insomniacs accomplice. There are days when I just want to wake up, walk away, and declare that I have put in my time. This week has given me a renewed call to action. As awful and ugly as my story is I must keep sharing it because my voice is bringing hope to those who can’t speak up for themselves. Like I did, they are probably trying to figure out “how the hell did I end up here?”.  My gift to them is a voice, hope for a life beyond the abuse, and light to follow when theirs is dimming. It’s a lonely and dark place to be when you are trapped in an abusive relationship.

Our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life. – Elie Wiesel

I quote Elie Wiesel here because he was such a light for me during a very dark time. He gave me hope, not only for a new beginning, but for peace. I believed him and he was right. My life hasn’t been a fairytale. In fact I am covered in invisible scars.  What was it all for? I have to believe that it was for a greater good. That I was called to lead other women to find hope. To show them that freedom is viable and that starting over is possible. If I stayed quiet I would be doing a great injustice. I may only be one person, but I walk with courage, dignity, love, determination, and gratitude. If I remained silent, out of fear, I would be turning a blind eye to the truth and in turn endorsing the abuser. So I write….  xo Ella

When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. – Elie Wiesel

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