I’ve written before about my experiences with abusive relationships, and whilst I don’t want to dwell on it as I think until recently in lots of ways the aftermath was still controlling my life, I do want to celebrate how far I’ve come. I survived and I’m happy. That deserves a celebration.
Today marks the third anniversary of me being single and I have to say, now that I’m finally able to build my own safe home in my own way, I’m kinda loving it. For the first time in a long time, I am at a point where I feel happy and free. So today, instead of letting ancient memories get me down, I’ve decided to change my mindset and in fact celebrate all of the things that I can do now I’m no longer in a controlling relationship.
Being the list fan that I am, I wrote a list of all the things that I can now do. The list isn’t exhaustive. In fact there are things missing that I don’t feel comfortable sharing yet. To some, this list may seem silly or insignificant because honestly, there isn’t a huge amount of exciting things like travel the world and sky diving. Most of it is everyday stuff. They aren’t even in any particular order either. None are more important than others except that they are important to me. Just being able to indulge in the simple pleasures without fear of recrimination has made a huge difference to my life. And actually, seeing in black and white some of the things that I couldn’t do but now can, is both sad and empowering.
I now can…
1) Watch what I want on television.
2) Have visitors to my home.
3) Pay to get my eyebrows done and not be escorted.
4) Have scented candles.
5) Talk to everyone that I love.
6) Have throws and scatter cushions.
7) Wear bright lipstick
8) Programme my blu-Ray player.
9) Do my job properly without being pressured to leave early.
10) Go to bed after 9pm.
11) Decorate my home with what I want rather than what is cheapest.
12) Save leftover food for the next day rather than throwing it away.
13) Buy a drink if I’m out shopping and thirsty.
14) Use social media.
15) Blog and own a domain.
16) Use my own laptop.
17) Have my own tablet.
18) Have a clean home – as clean as the kids will allow me to!
19) Listen to my favourite music without being told.
“You only listen to whiny black men or aggressive black women.”
20) Visit friends and family.
21) Wear hoop earrings and not be told “You look too ghetto.”
22) Buy fruit that wasn’t bananas.
23) Drive on the motorway.
24) Spend more than £25 a week on groceries.
25) Buy the kids treats.
26) Stay home alone.
27) Park in a car park.
28) Listen to music in the car.
29) Fill my petrol tank.
30) Cook Jamaican food.
31) Get my car cleaned professionally.
32) Go in my garden.
33) Buy food that I like.
34) Have my nails done.
35) Go to the recycling centre.
36) Not have my belongings periodically sold.
I look back at this now and wonder how I lived my life with so many rules and restrictions for so long. It was stifling. Now, when I reflect on it, neither can I. I’ve enjoyed writing this list as it shows me how far I have come. I am fiercely protective of my independence now, and I need to make sure I maintain it. But I won’t lie, at times my need for independence prevents me from sharing my life with other people. So I’m trying to understand the situation so that it doesn’t happen again.
I think the rules about my appearance were not about making me less attractive to other men but more about continuing to erode my self esteem. I never felt I looked good which meant that I never felt good about myself. Stopping me from communicating with the outside world, prevented me from hearing about the reality of relationships and realising that this wasn’t it. The isolation kept my self-esteem low as I could never talk about it with anyone else.
I’ve found writing this list a strangely cathartic experience. It’s good to know I’ve achieved so many things when not in the constraints of an abusive and controlling relationship. It also makes me wonder about what else I can achieve. Because if I can break free from this frankly, I can do anything.
What have you achieved in the last three years? Let me know in the comments.