This summer, I was walking past a painting in Carmel, CA. It seemed familiar to me and a memory came to me of a painting that my great grandmother painted. A painting that hung in our house growing up. That painting combined with walking through the beautiful artist area of Carmel created an a-ha…moment. All of a sudden, it was as if I saw the path of my female ancestral line laid out in front of me - all the lives of my grandmothers and great grandmothers combined. I saw a common thread: almost everyone of my grandmothers and the females in my family have suffered some sort of abuse or had to leave abusive relationships.
They eventually got strong enough to leave those men. Which in some of their times, was a deadly decision to make, in a time where it was much more normal to be subservient, not work and get hit.
What an awful thing to have to go through! I realize this is something I had to face in my life, too. I too was in abusive relationships where I was abused, controlled and assaulted. At the same time, I am standing on the strength and power of the women who have come before me.
I have also realized that my most core fear, the one I have been working with for years, is the fear of having to leave my relationships because of not feeling safe - feeling like the other person could change at any moment and become abusive or just flip and turn into someone else. That is fear of abuse. You never know when it’s coming, why or if one minute the person is nice and the next a monster. You don't feel safe to be yourself and you’re constantly afraid of being controlled or betrayed, even when you're with safe people.
This is still so strong that I’m crying right now just writing about it. Every time I get scared or have doubts in my relationships, this is the fear that comes up.
My grandmothers had children and a lot more odds against them, plus people telling them they couldn’t do it on their own and they did. They pushed through and left their abusive husbands and broke free from being controlled. I can not forget this. They were powerful and I am powerful.
Fortunately, I have broken the cycle and my partner is not abusive. However, I still get sucked in and pulled back into that fear once in awhile. When life gets a little unpredictable or something happens, I get triggered and go right back to that place, thinking I’m in an abusive relationship and that I need to get up and run to escape. Or I freeze and can’t move for a bit, until I remember I am safe.
I have to remember that I'm standing on the shoulders of my grandmothers’ power. I do not have to live a small life in fear anymore or all their hard work was for nothing.