Standing in the rubble of my former life, I knew I would need direction and a plan. I suppose it was part persistent hyper-vigilance and part need for a logical strategy so I would not get lost in a sea of emotion. I decided to make promises to myself to ensure I would stay true to my beliefs as I charted my way to into battle. Some of these were based on finding the person I lost while others were clearly a way to ensure I did not become something I did not appreciate or value and yet others were just reminders to stay strong and do what would need to be done. Have they served me well? I suppose there is still time to tell.
The emotional abuse created a challenge for me to live true to myself while being protective. When we reached a point in the cycle somewhere between the destructive behavior and the indignant self-serving apology was the guilt where he would lash out the worst. This always included some sort of blame and the argument always included the statement “Get off your moral high horse”. As if thinking excessive drinking and a violent outburst or draining the family savings on a week-long bender or any of his deleterious actions were morally or ethically acceptable. At one point, I decided it was probably best to stay mounted upon my dapple-grey stallion than to stand in the gutter and sling muck. It has been quite useful. I have regularly called upon that image in times to humorously remind myself of how to protect my dignity and morality; do what I believe is right.
I made the following list of promises to myself.
- I will remain ethical and graceful.
- I will be compassionate.
- I will not act out of spite, hatred or anger.
- I will do what is best to protect my children; emotionally, spirituality, physically and financially.
- I will not compromise my morals or self-respect for any reason; ultimately, I am the person who looks in that mirror.
- I will work to tear down my walls of isolation but will allow myself to use the rubble to create gardens of beauty to replace the pain.
- I will forgive myself.
- I will only engage in supportive relationships that help me become the best version of myself.
- I will laugh aloud daily, deep soulful laughs.
- I will not be involved in relationships, which lack respect.
- Regain my inner peace.
- I will cultivate deep meaningful relationships with those in my life.
- I will remember my commitment of always focus on the good.
- I will find my joy.
These have sufficed, serving me well during the disaster and the years beyond. I have moments of great joy and happiness. I have wonderful supportive friends in my life and I can say I have not done anything I will regret. While it has not been easy and I am aware the path is steep and will be rocky at times, I hold fast to my trusty steed and the list of promises.
“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”