A few years ago, my colleague Angie Aker heard terrible, violent words coming out of her neighbor's house. Not knowing what else to do, and fearing what was happening when she couldn't hear, she wrote this.
You don’t know me and I have no business writing you this. You may have 50 people around you who are helping you with this situation and need nothing from me. On the other hand, you may have no one you feel you can candidly speak with and need just one person to tell you that you are not alone. You are not alone.
He yells at you. We hear it. He calls you demeaning names. We hear it. I don’t know what else happens when the doors and windows close and we are no longer your witnesses — but make no mistake about it, you are not the things he calls you. Everyone on this block knows that. He has not stripped you of your credibility with us. You may feel stripped ... of your personal power, of your personal dignity, of the things that used to make you feel special before he made you feel like everything you do is wrong or bad. The only person who has the authority to give those things away is you. The only person who can restore those things, a bit at a time, is you.
You are not bad. You are good. Whatever little thing you didn’t do according to his standards doesn’t matter in the long run. You can keep trying to jump through the hoops, hoops which he will purposely change at the last minute so you are designed to fail, desperately hoping that he will see when you do something “right” that you are worthy of his love ... that you can be trusted ... that you really DO love him. You can keep waiting for this man to CHOOSE you once you’ve proven yourself “good enough.” Or you can tell him to go to hell and you can choose yourself.
Years ago, it was me jumping through hoops. It was me waiting desperately to be considered “good enough.” I realized it just before it would have been too late to save myself. I salvaged the little remnants of love for myself that were left and quietly, defiantly rebuilt everything inside of me that he tried to break down. He didn’t like this. He almost killed me for it. But I chose myself. I lived to tell. Come ask me how it worked out.