Learning to Let Go
I just finished reading the book The Dandelion Spirit written by my friend, Louise Gallagher. It is subtitled "A True Life Fairytale of Love, Lies and Letting Go". An excerpt from the back cover says "The Dandelion Spirit tells one woman's courageous journey away from abuse and into her one true self."
In this intensely moving book she tells the horrific tale of her relationship with a psychopath, a relationship that ultimately nearly cost her life. She then goes on to write about her recovery from that experience, and how her life has unfolded since then.
I first learned of this book after discovering Louise's blog, Recover Your Joy. As I've noted here before, her blog is a treasure of hope, inspiration, and yes... even joy! In corresponding with Louise, I requested a copy of the book, and it arrived in my mailbox in Texas after it's journey from Calgary where she lives.
It was my intention to read it as I read most books, in just a couple sittings, immersing myself in chapter after chapter until I reach the end. I soon learned that would not be possible. As I started to read, I began to see bits and pieces of my life upon the pages mingled together with her story and her words. I began to recall experiences and feelings long since stored away.
On several occasions I found it necessary to put the book down for a few days, to give myself some distance from the fear and pain I remember too well. But always I was drawn back, able to continue in the knowledge that this story has an amazing ending, it is a story of self-recovery and salvation. I wanted to discover how Louise managed to travel the distance from who she was then and what her life was like, to who she is now, and the wonderful, joyful life she has restored to herself.
Louise's story is not mine, not in the details. None of my ex-husbands could be accurately labelled as psychopathic, which involves so much more. But all three of them clearly exhibited mental health issues that caused my life to be at times a living hell. My daughter is 36 years old now. I lived in one abusive relationship after another from before she was born up until four years ago. That's a long time to endure abuse. It's a long time to walk on egg shells, to keep secrets, and to put on fronts to the world. It's a long time to go on living long after you wish you were dead. It's a very long time to dream of freedom, and a long time to cling of hope.
Like Louise, I am a survivor. As I wrote in the preface to my earlier blog entitled "Picking Up Pieces", when I finally broke free of my last husband I embarked on a journey to rediscover myself and recover my life. Recovery doesn't come easy. Healing takes time... a great deal of time, and perhaps some scars will remain forever. But just as in Louise's wonderful story of triumph over evil, I too have come out on the other side... wiser, and yet willing to risk everything to find true love such as I have been blessed with now, and to truly live again... to cherish freedom as never before, and to finally begin to know what it is to feel joy!
As I read Louise's amazing book, I could have taken a yellow highlighter and marked passage after passage that spoke for my experiences as well as hers. I keep reading on in stunned silence, shaking at the revelations of what it is like to live in the prison of abuse, thinking "me too", "this is how I felt too!" As much as I have read about abuse over the years, I really had no idea how common my experience was. I remember a friend telling me that I had been living that way so long that I no longer recognized it as abnormal. I had begun to accept it as just the way life is. That's the greatest lie of all... it is not normal, it is not the way we were intended to live. Our spirits were meant to be free of oppression, we were meant to soar, and indeed, I am finally learning to fly!
This post is dedicated to Louise Gallagher and her book, The Dandelion Spirit. In it she has not only shown me myself and how my life was, she has shown me the path to recovery and joy. My life will be forever changed because she had the courage to share her story. I am eternally grateful. I believe that nothing in life happens by accident. Teachers are sent at various times to help us find our way, and Louise is surely one of these. If any of what I've written here about living with abuse resonates with you, read the book. I promise you it will be a life-changing experience.