Those War Wounds Are my (Well Earned) Badge of Courage
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November 17, 2013 - Updated March 10, 2014

lizzy1.jpgI was married to an alcoholic. My husband was verbally and mentally abusive throughout our time together. When I finally escaped the marriage, the divorce process was as abusive as the marriage was.

Initially, my husband and I were still communicating many times each day, usually by text or email. The exchanges were downright bizarre and mean and juvenile. I would wake up in the morning, see a text message and start shaking before I even read them.

One day, I simply had enough. I emailed him and notified him that I would no longer have any direct contact with him. From then on, it all had to go through my attorney. He didn’t believe me and kept texting and emailing. I simply deleted them all without even opening them. It was amazing how easy it was. Taking control of my sanity was incredibly empowering. Why the heck didn’t I do that sooner?

I knew that I had finally had enough and it was time to start healing. But how was I supposed to do that? I sat down one afternoon and started making a list on how to move forward.

First, I wanted to start exercising again. When I first left my husband, I had just been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. Before I got sick, I loved to run. But after some nine months of intense treatment, which included chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants, I was incredibly weak. I stumbled upon a new Bikram yoga studio. I didn’t even know what Bikram was but I watched the class and I knew that is where I needed to be. I purchased a monthly membership and I was hooked. After every class, I felt like I had detoxed mentally and physically.

I started hiking in the beautiful canyons near where I live. While initially I could only hike very flat trails, my strength was slowly building. With every extra mile I could walk, I felt like my mental and physical stamina was returning. The fresh air and beauty around me was inspiring. In many respects, I felt like I was coming alive again after many years of slumbering.

I started getting frequent massages.

I purchased several books on verbally abusive marriages, forgiveness and living with an alcoholic. And I read every one of them.

I started journaling, which I soon replaced with my blog. Writing became surprisingly cathartic.

I prayed and meditated.

I took hot baths with Epsom salts before bedtime.

The healing process was in full swing.

A few days ago, a friend asked me if I felt like I had healed. I had to think about that one. The answer is… yes. And no. I have healed as much as one ever truly heals from a terrible relationship. I have wounds that will never go away. It’s like some of my physical scars. In fact, I’m looking at one right now. It’s on my left hand, which you can see in this photo. I got it while riding down the alpine slide in Big Bear, California. There’s a funny story behind that scar. It doesn’t hurt or bother me but there it is—deep and ugly.

My emotional scars are even uglier, but I’ve made peace with them. I look back on the emotional trauma I experienced and how far I’ve come thus far and I’ve made huge progress. My experiences have shaped who I have become and I kind of like the new me. I am a survivor in every sense of the word. I survived an alcoholic husband, a horrific divorce, and cancer. Those wounds are my badge of courage and, dare I say, I rather like them.

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