5 comments on “Gratitude in My Heart: A Thank You Note of a Different Kind

  1. Woah girl. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been to write. You are so very brave, especially since it has not even been a year. I can’t even properly comment, I am just stunned. You set the bar high, in terms of dealing with the aftermath of abuse and learning to forgive and move forward. Happy Thanksgiving to you 🙂

    • Oh my dear Aussa, it actually wasn’t difficult for me to write, because it is how I feel. I wasn’t trying to set the bar as much as I was trying to get out from under the avalanche. The things I went through with and because of him had me devastated, and after four plus years, I just had enough of carrying it on top of my shoulders. I was over it. So I let it go.

      Don’t think of it so much as me setting the bar but rather showing you all that if I was so screwed up from what Kevin did and I have come this far, you all will, too. In your own time. And that is okay, even if it doesn’t come for months or years down the road. You can only heal the way you need to. I know, however, that if I didn’t have Jehovah, my Kerwyn, my congregation, or you all here, I would be a walking hot mess right now and I know it. My life, even taking into consideration the disaster I was left with at the end, has been pretty much the best year of my life, but without the support, love, kindness, encouragement, and compassion, it could have easily gone another way. A much darker, overwhelmingly sad way. That it did not is where my gratitude comes from.

      You can ask Kerwyn, though…. I am still not over things completely. The learned responses I have that hold me back, the neurotic associations that I make immediately to Kevin in regards to innocent things people say and do…. And my discomfort with anger and impatience…. They are all still there, but still, if it makes sense I have peace. I am not troubled about the things he did. I have trouble even remembering (except the fear) what being around Kevin felt like. I can’t remember his voice. And I dread having to go to court in January to petition to have my order extended, because I know I will have to be just feet away from him.. But if I did it when I was deathly afraid of him, before I had all the support I mentioned above, and I did not back down, it isn’t anything I can’t handle this time around.

      Don’t try to walk under my bar, dear Aussa…. When you are ready, you set your own. 🙂

      • What an amazing response, a post in itself. What you said makes a lot of sense… both about how important and amazing it is to have a support system and about the lingering effects that continue to follow… I will keep all of this in mind.

        I can’t believe you have to go back in January :-/ But yes– like you said, you did it when you were a lot more fragile and had less people backing you… So you’ll do great this time around.

  2. Thank you for such an honest post. I can only imagine how hard it was for you to write this, as I have often considered but never yet dared to write my own letter to my abuser. So much of what you wrote resonated with me – especially when you mentioned the choices that one person makes to abuse. I guess, in the end, the only person he has destroyed is himself.

    You truly are a strong, empowered woman to have been able to relinquish your load, learn from your horrific experience with this man, and inspire other women to do the same.

    • This is actually the second letter I have written to him. The first one is where I freed myself from the negativity — so I could focus on my healing — and forgave him. At the time, I was in no position emotionally to feel any gratitude for the things I learned. They are not mutually exclusive… you do not have to feel appreciation for lessons at the time you extend forgiveness to someone, but the forgiveness must always come first so you CAN come to a point where you feel the gratitude. So if you are considering writing an open letter, even though you are not ready to yet, it is a sign that you continue to heal more every day. That in itself is a major victory, because so many get stumbled on this part of the journey and caught in the phase where they feel anger they cannot let go.

      When you are ready to write your own letter, you will not have to deliberate. You will quite literally sit down at the keyboard, and it will come out. It may come out after consideration, but just expect that one day if you come to write about something and the letter is what comes out, you will not be able to ignore it. This is what happened to me. I tried to write something several times, but my heart was telling me I needed to let this go. Both times.

      It was important to me that I mention the subject about responsibility for the abuse, because too many believe that if they are forgiven, it means you do not assign them blame just as much as the person who is extending the forgiveness mistakenly can believe that they are condoning or minimizing what the abuser did to them. This is not the case. Abusers do not abuse by accident. By the very nature of the crime, they must mentally prime someone first before they can get away with putting their hands on them… and this takes planning, deliberation. It is a choice, albeit a hugely cruel and devastating one. There is not one thing that we as their then-victims could have said or done that would have even remotely justified the abuse… no matter how bad what we said or did was. There is no excusing, justifying, condoning, or minimizing where the blame lies. No one made them hurt us. They did it on their own. They choose to be hurtful and therefore own the consequences of what they have done.

      Not really all that long ago, I would have disagreed with you about me being strong. But I have learned that if I can look at someone else and their story and feel that *they* are strong for doing much the same that I am doing, why can I not acknowledge it about myself? It takes a brazenly strong woman (or man) to stand up to an abuser and risk her (his) life by ripping away the control in one fell swoop and leaving. It is dangerous. The road out is perilous in the beginning, and despite this, we all faced the fear, the unknown, and the doubt and walked that road anyway. We may not have had our heads held high when we first escaped, but as we began to heal and learn our true value as women (and men), we had no choice but to acknowledge the daring move we made, the consequences we could have faced, and the realities we have been able to forge with simply the power of our strength and courage.

      I believe that everyone of us, woman or man, current victim or survivor, displays endless amounts of strength, courage, perseverance, dignity, and heroism every day of our lives. Every day that we are able to survive the abuse and make it to the next, that we can carry that fear and desperation around and still somehow stay strong. The moment we walk out the door, when we face them in court, when we begin to rebuild our lives and blossom into the wonderful human beings we are now… flawed? Yes. Imperfect? Absolutely. But we have survived unspeakable acts of cruelty, malice, torture, and trauma. We have carried our loads. We have survived and we have flourished. And we have all come forward in one way or another to use the tragedy that befell us as a way to not only heal ourselves but to help others find their footing and do the same. To help those who missed the signs of the evil that was happening to us see what goes on behind closed doors, to bring awareness so that those suffering now can be helped.

      So my dear friend, if this makes me strong and empowered, how true also is it about you and the others who do the same? Even if you have not yet reached the point I have, you are still encouraging and empowering others to find the courage to come forward, and this is no small act. Not small by any means.

      With love,
      Amy

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