Conflicting Times *trigger warning*
When I started writing this post, it was about triggers. I wrote about this being a strange time of year. Strange because, on the one hand, Christmas is in the air - the snow, the lights, the festive feeling. But on the other hand,this marks the date for many domestic violence campaigns and abuse prevention ribbon campaigns. I started writing about triggers around the holidays, how we react to them, and started a list of things we can do when these triggers come up. The problem was, I didn’t have much on that list. For those of you who have experienced trauma, you may have found your own tools and strategies to deal with your triggers. The two things on my list are sharing my experience, and time. So as I wrote this post, it became clear that the only thing to do today, on December 6th, the day I decided to eliminate the presence of violence in my own life, was to share.
Five years ago my life looked like an upside down version of what it is now. I was at the tail end of my drinking; I was broke, unhealthy, and in a terrible relationship. The kind of relationship that has you fighting all night and waking up your neighbours. The kind of relationship that makes you wonder if this is normal or if you are “crazy”. The kind of relationship that has you asking yourself “is this it for me? Is this really all there is?”. And the kind of relationship that talks you out of knowing that you deserve something better. Have you ever been in something like that? Something that brings out the absolute worst, “who am I?” version of yourself? This isn’t about finger pointing, this is about seriously questioning what you accept for yourself.
On this day five years ago, I got up early after another night of intense fighting, another night of bruises, ripped clothes, and missing patches of hair, and another night of sleeping on the ground in the shower with my dog and a knife. I took my passport, my broken laptop, and my broken phone and I headed to work. Leaving my dog behind that morning was heartbreaking, but this might have been the first timeI had listened to my gut in years.
After finishing my shift and quitting my job, I went straight to the police station with the encouragement from two colleagues. I’ll note here that if it weren’t for these women, I might not have done it. The police were very helpful, understanding, and clearly laid out what would happen next (for more information on what to expect, contact me directly). I went home, got my dog and left the city.
For the next eight months, I would live a very different life. I had lost contact with most people in the final months of that relationship, in part due to the phone and laptop that had been intentionally broken, but mostly due to my mental state, which meant that I lived a pretty solitary life for the next eight months. It would be during this time that I would quit drinking, get healthy, and turn things around.
Every year on this day, I reflect on where I was not too long ago, how I got there, how it felt, and I think about those who are still in that place today. Though they were the most painful days I’ve ever been through, they have truly led to the most beautiful ones. There is a freedom in knowing that no matter what happens, nothing will ever be as difficult because, little by little, by sharing my experience and enduring the passing of often agonizing time, I have built a shelter for rainy days.