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The Courage to FIGHT Back

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Shulanda J. Hastings

Ambassador Shulanda

Ambassador Shulanda

Shulanda J. Hastings is an inspirational writer, Christian counselor and an ambassador to the faith-based community; helping them break mental health barriers. She is the author of the Beauty of My Thorns novel series and of the memoirs, Keeping My Faith While Saving My Mind.

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Have you ever been in a fight for so long that you forget how to fight for YOU?

Some of you know exactly where I’m going with this.  For those of you who don’t, first – be glad that you don’t. Secondly, keep reading in case you need this as a wake-up call.

If you have been following me for any time, you know that I am big on advocacy; especially mental health and suicide prevention. These are causes that will always matter to me and that I will always be a voice for.

And as relevant as these and other causes are sometimes we overwhelm ourselves (whether intentionally or consciously) with being a voice for others that we end up suppressing our own voices.

Today, I have reached a boiling point.  I have been boiling for so long that the extensive heat had become so normal to me that I became numb to my own pain. Even though there was smoke, the sound of water moving rapidly and even burns, it took the boiling water to move the lid and nearly evaporate the remaining water for me to finally realize that the heat needs to be turned off!

Toxic relationships are like boiling water. They can make you explode or dry you out. 

While we are in them, we try to justify reasons for remaining in them. We try to come up with excuses to explain how we have landed in a place we never thought we would be in.

Have you ever been in a place where you feel as though you have completely lost yourself?

A place where you have found yourself compromising the very beliefs and values you said you would never do?

Sure, it is easy to criticize others for allowing themselves to get to such a dark place, but unless you have engaged with or encountered that type of darkness for yourself, you really can’t  judge.

“Domestic Violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner” (Clinton & Hawkins, 2009 p. 95).

Since a child, I have always used my writing gift as an avenue of escape and later on I found it to be therapeutic. In my novel Marriage Thorn, I tried to use it as an escape from my reality. But reality can only be inwardly suppressed for so long.

For the past seven years, I have lost myself.  I’ve lost friends, family and even prayer partners because I have been fighting to justify the pain that I have been experiencing and no one understood why my behavior and social life had changed.

Although blessed to have a true support system, I have learned that a lot of people don’t really care that you are hurting.  They only care when a cause like mental health or domestic violence is the calendar’s spotlight and then pretend to want to help. But as soon as the observance is over, they no longer observe your plea for help.

Today, right now, I have been trying to delay a fight because I have been either trying to hang on to hope, rationalize how finances or housing issues aren’t in order; therefore the timing isn’t right.

I have been physically ill. Emotional torn. Yet, I’ve been fighting more for the person causing my pot to boil over than for me.

Today, after being so drained at work, I went and picked up literature on Domestic Violence. And as I read the Cycle of Violence section on tension-building, incident, making up and calm, I received my wake-up call.

I have been in this repeated cycle for seven years.

And right now, this very moment, facing reality is scary. Taking the steps to get out of darkness seems so hard when there seems to be no light. It is so easy to focus on the inconvenience this is going to cause me and my child, it is easy to wish that I could wave a magic wand and erase the past seven years.

But, in seven years there is only one day, ONE DAY, that was close to perfect. And that was the day my daughter was born. I thought staying meant I was fighting for her, but….

But now, I know that leaving is me fighting for her and having the courage to fight for myself.

I don’t know if I have ever been this authentic on a blog post, but this is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And I know there is another woman, a woman of faith and a woman of vision who has had to be so many things to everyone else. A woman of respect who has had to help others find their way. And you might be struggling with the thought of shame, rejection or perhaps even tainting the credibility of your ‘brand’.

Only Super Girl can manage the mask of being someone else.  It’s time to stop being Superwoman and realize that our bodies will breakdown.

As I was reminded while reading one of my study books for Christian counseling, “And in order to be effective, a counselor must live out the change he/she desires to see in a client” (Clinton, 2005 p 37).

I ask for your prayers and I will pray for those of you affected by domestic violence. I pray that we are truly able to start fighting for ourselves. Fighting to remember who we are and whose we are. We are not the wall for emotional and verbal abuse and certainly not the punching bag substituting for an anger management class. We belong to GOD and He doesn’t approve this treatment.

I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. I don’t even know what is going to happen if I decide to publish this blog post.  But I do know that I have the courage to FIGHT FOR ME. I will keep you posted!

 

 

 

 


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