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  • Writer's pictureCate

The First Steps Into the Unknown

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

The unknown can be a very scary place. Finding this house was big. Planning to move was big. All the plans I had were big. But what I found out when I was on my own was that I was truly on my own in a way I’d never experienced before.

The first marriage I left was more scary and the unknown was more brutal, but back then, I still had people in my life. A lot of the people that helped me then turned out to be the people that abused me the worst when I was a child. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now.

I effectively cut off all of my abusers. I did it so severely, they don’t know how to find me. They don’t know a thing about me. And I am so grateful for that. But it’s left a gaping hole where once there was a family.

I didn’t expect anyone to help me, but my Aunty Jody really did all she could to help. And I was so grateful. But she is limited in what she can do and though I appreciate all of the things she did to help me, I found that when it came to the big stuff, I was on my own.

It hit me like a freight train. I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to look. My kids were in school and that was a great place for them. But although my daughters were thriving, my son was sinking. He just couldn’t handle all the change. He’s still afraid of school. He doesn’t know how to build the bridge between his fear and his education.

It is heartbreaking to watch. The school doesn’t understand. I’d love to get him into counseling, but my hands are tied. Every counselor has a waiting list. Everything costs so much money. And now I have a nearly $2000 monthly mortgage payment that I have to contend with. Even though I’m making more than I ever have in my life before, money is tighter than ever.

I returned to work and realized my coworkers hadn’t taken care of my clients in my absence. Work became stressful the moment I walked back in the building. Even though I was closer to work, now I had to get all three kids to 2 different places on opposite sides of the city. Figuring out our schedule was tough. Now my oldest kids, Mina and Parker, would have to take public transportation home.

We’re afraid to lose Parker again though. It wasn’t so long ago that he was catatonic and not speaking at all. When he gets to that point, it’s hard to bring him back. I am struggling to get him engaged in school. And I’m terrified to put him on the city bus.

My boss was cutting into me deep. She could never see how much work I’d done or let me know if I was doing well. She could only see what I’d missed or done wrong. She could never understand that by not training me, she had deprived me of essential knowledge pertaining to my position. How could I know what I didn’t know but needed to know until I’d experienced it?

Work was stressful and I began to hate it. Monday morning was the worst. I’d wake up with my stomach churning and my hands shaking. I was afraid to see what she’d have to say to me. She would gaslight me and talk down to me as though I were the village idiot.

I was doing my best, but the kids were really struggling. Mina was doing well. She was thriving in school. She was making new friends and had settled on what she wanted to work towards in the future. She was keeping her room clean and doing her laundry.

It was strange to me that the kids stayed in their rooms even thought they didn’t have to. I thought I’d get my kids back when we moved, but they were almost more distant now that we’d moved. I finally asked Mina about it and she said that it was because they had a choice. They didn’t have to be in their rooms, but that is where they were used to spending their time. They weren’t afraid to come out of them anymore, but they had built their lives around being bedroom dwellers.

As the first few weeks of being on my own passed, I struggled to put my life together. Money was a mess. A huge mess. I was so disorganized with everything in boxes, I couldn’t keep my life straight. It took two weeks to find all of my work clothes. I was piecing together furniture for bedrooms and the house.

I’d had this vision of what I wanted to accomplish before we moved in. I had high hopes of getting it all done. But things weren’t as cut and dried as they used to be. Everything was new and everything seemed to take twice as long and be twice as expensive.

I was stressed out on every level. I was worried about my work performance, not because I wasn’t getting my work done, but because I wasn’t allowed to not think about work. I had to be available 24/7. Work was bleeding into my life and I was powerless to draw a line. I couldn’t get anything done because I was so focused on not losing my job.

Parker’s situation continued to deteriorate. My youngest child, Juniper, was having a hard time going back and forth between Dad’s house and Mom’s house. She was doing well in school and her teacher is an amazing person. She was also Parker’s kindergarten teacher. I value the teachers in that school highly. I know them well because Parker was a hard kid to raise and get to school. They were taking good care of her, but she needed time to acclimate.

To make matters worse, everyone was taking turns being sick. Juniper got sick 4 times. I used up the last of my PTO staying home with her as my boss placed me in the unreliable category. My first group back was messy and then the next one was worse. I couldn’t do all of the things I had to do. I was overwhelmed.

Everything was coming apart at the seams. I was only holding it together on the surface. But just beneath the facade, absolute mayhem had taken over. Every piece of my life was on fire and I couldn’t figure out why. I was free, right? Things were supposed to be better. Or was I missing something?

I finally hit a wall. Things had spiraled so far out of control, I was falling to pieces. I had to remind myself that you don’t just walk away from abuse. Once you get free, all of the things you were holding back break loose. You’re allowed to feel all the feels, but they don’t come to you in the order you’d like them to. Sometimes the bad things have to come out before you can experience the good.

My heart was aching. I was so lonely. I needed help, but I was asking the wrong people for it. I should have remembered that lesson I’d learned long ago: If you ask the wrong person for help, it can come with a heavy price tag. Though I was gracious, I felt the animosity in some cases. I couldn’t pay for the help with gratitude. It had to come out in pieces of flesh.

I finally came to a place where I’d had enough. My life was out of control. Where was the fire coming from? I realized it was my job. I knew I’d have to make a decision one way or the other soon. But I wasn’t ready.

The universe has a way of pushing you though. I thought things had gotten better at work, but my boss wanted to send a message. She wrote me up for missing some small details. She said I couldn’t work from home anymore. She wanted to supervise every detail of what I did every day, but not constructively. She wanted to outline everything I was doing wrong.

I went home with the paperwork that night and I thought hard about it. I’d heard from a former boss just the week before. She said the position I’d been waiting for had finally opened up. She wondered if I was interested in starting after the first of the year. I was interested.

With that knowledge, I made a decision. I would give my notice and then do some temporary work for a few weeks and then start my new job fresh in the new year. That would give me time to focus on my kids. They really needed me.

The next Monday, I went to work and handed in 3 weeks notice. I’m not sure they were expecting that. I could tell that people were upset. I realized that I’d actually been doing a really good job, but little things always come up when you’re an event manager. You can’t anticipate everything, no matter how hard you try.

It was almost comical that I’d hit my stride just as I was giving my notice. Here I’d finally found my path forwards, but I wasn’t willing to invite more abuse into my life. I loved my hotel, my team, my job, and all of the wonderful people who worked so hard to get these events off the ground. But my boss could only see that I was having trouble getting my kids where they needed to be. She was willing to let me go for that.

After a lifetime of abuse, I am unwilling to stay somewhere where I am not valued or respected. I have earned the right to be treated as a whole person because for the first time in my life, I am a whole person. I won’t compromise with abuse. What’s more, I will actively seek to diffuse it wherever possible.

What I found in all of this was my strength of will. I found out what I was worth. I was worth so much more than anyone had ever told me before. I’d lived my life believing I was unlovable and worthless. But after everything I’d been through, I couldn’t just let anyone walk all over me anymore. I had to draw a line somewhere. So a line has been drawn and I’m unwilling to let anyone cross it again. I will be damned if I let someone abuse me ever again! Never again.

It’s been a rocky start, I admit it. But I am taking care of me. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and respect myself. My concerns are valid, I know it now. And no one can lead me forward, no one can save me from myself. Only I have the power to move forward in my life, on my path.

Rest assured, my feet are firmly placed on the right path. I am headed in the right direction. It may be difficult now, but I can see that things are about to fall into place as they never have before. I have earned this future that is manifesting in front of me. The world is open to me in a way that it’s never been open before. I am experiencing life, in many ways, for the first time. It’s bound to be tumultuous at the beginning.

But I remain free. I have found my strength. I know what I’m worth. I know where the boundaries lie. I have realized that I am capable of so much more than I’d ever dreamed before. It’s hard now, but I am finding my way. That’s the best I can do. I’m letting that be enough.

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