‘Why should I be surprised he sought the company of other women? There were times I prayed he would hit me. YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT.’

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“With all the buzz about the Oscars you have undoubtably seen a ton of news about Lady Gaga. I admit that being born and raised in the south, I typically do not listen to her music, but her story—oh her story—it hits me right in the heart.

‘I had a boyfriend who told me I’d never succeed, never be nominated for a Grammy, never have a hit and hoped I’d fail. I said to him, ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the f*cking deli without hearing or seeing me.’ – Lady Gaga

That, ladies and gentleman, is what EVERY woman (and man) should say when being told they cannot do something, that they aren’t good enough, that they are worthless.

Though I am not an award winning anything, unless you count perhaps a sporting trophy in elementary school, I am a woman who has been broken and beaten down by the very man that was suppose to love her. I spent 10 years in a marriage with a man who verbally and emotionally abused me. A man who told me I’m fat, ugly, worthless, and dumb. He called me trash. He told me every time he cheated on me it was my fault—that I wasn’t good enough for him, so why should I be surprised he sought the company of other women? Those 10 years destroyed my core. They broke me into a million pieces. Those 10 years implanted insecurities that never existed before.

Not to ever belittle the physical abuse that many women and men have had to endure, but there were times I prayed he would hit me. Hit me, and I will finally have a reason to leave. I didn’t value myself enough as a person to realize I didn’t need him to hit me to leave, I just needed to love myself enough. I didn’t have to live like this—I deserved more!

So that’s exactly what I did. I taught myself how to love me again. The journey to loving yourself is not an easy one. And there really isn’t an ending destination. It is full of ups and downs and U-turns. It often takes you in the wrong direction, causing you to back track and start a new path. Sometimes it is lonely, and you have to let go of people or things you love or value in order to completely escape the shackles of your past.

There were little things—changing perfumes, cutting my hair. Then there were big things—moving, starting a new job, relearning financial independence and how to be a single mother. Then there was the biggest thing—trusting someone enough to open my heart, my life, my son’s life, and my newly pieced together soul.

This story does have a happy ending. I met a wonderful man, whom I just married. Sometimes I cry tears of thankfulness that I escaped my harmful past. Sometimes I regress and my old insecurities and scars show themselves. But that’s okay. Part of learning to love myself again was accepting my past, including the way it changed me. I will never be perfectly put back together, and that is okay. Cracks of imperfections are where the light comes in. And that light is life-changing. That light is the dawn of a new day. A new life. A new me.

So to anyone reading this who is waiting—waiting for your partner to change, waiting for them to actually physically harm you, waiting to love yourself enough—YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT. The scars of mental and emotional abuse can be long lasting. Abuse of your soul and your mind slowly changes everything about you, from your self-esteem and confidence, to your dreams and desires. The way someone treats you says more about them than it does about you. You are not their interpretation of you. You are worthy, and beautiful and lovable and deserving.

So maybe you can’t look at them and say ‘Someday, when we’re not together, you won’t be able to order a cup of coffee at the f*cking deli without hearing or seeing me.’ But you can look at your abuser and say ‘Today we are no longer together. Get ready to live EVERY DAY without f*cking seeing or hearing from me.’

So, go be happy. Find your worth. Live your dreams. Learn to love yourself again. Find beauty in your brokenness and imperfections and let your light shine in.”

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