Top 10 Songs That Have Touched My Life and Helped Me To Heal

I think we can all agree that music is the language of the soul. There are so many songs that have helped me heal and become a better person. Actually many many more than I could possibly list. I did decide to pick the first 10 songs that came to mind. The ones that I still pull up and listen to every once in while no matter how long it’s been.

1.Stupid Boy
Keith Urban

First, I want to apologize to my readers…. I am not a country fan (my extended family would cringe at those words). So it was my lawyer who introduced me to this one. And it was actually the first song I remember ever hearing about domest violence.

2. Face Down
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

This one I heard on the radio driving home from work one day. It was reassuring to me that there are so many men who stand against abuse. This song gave me faith in humanity.

3. Over It
Katharine McPhee

Yeah sure, I know this song is about a break up, and just the lyrics alone was what I needed to hear.
“I’m over your lies,
and I’m over your games.”
“I’m over your hands,
and I’m over your mouth.
Trying to drag me down,
and fill me with self-doubt.”


4. Fly & Moment 4 Life
Niki Manaj

Fly (featuring Rhianna)
This one hit me in two ways. One it filled me with the belief that I would make it through the divorce and rebuild my life. And two it still gives me the fire to keep going and help others, no mattet what naysayers may say. (There will always be critics).

Moment 4 Life*
The lyrics in the first verse hit me the most (in fact that’s all I usually listen to. Over and over again).
” I fly with the stars in the skies
I am no longer trying to survive
I believe that life is a prize
But to live doesn’t mean you’re alive”

5. Russian Roulette 
Rhianna

I love going to the gym and doing classes. It’s what works for me. One of my favorite classes is Les Mils Body Combat . And my favorite track ever was to this song. It’s an older track, so it’s hardly ever done any more, but if you ever get the chance it’s super empowering. In fact, I would love to teach a 3 day class helping people to heal from abuse and have a Les Mils instructor come in and teach this one track to my entire class. It’s that good. It helped me to feel powerful and like I am in control of my life.

6. Titanium
David Guetta feat Sia

I was volunteering at 3 Key Elements Master Your Influence class and the instructor played this song and had the entire audience of 500 people walking up to each other, pretending their fingers were arrows and pointing them at each other, then bouncing off of an invisible shield really giving everyone the visual for ” I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose
Fire away, fire away
Ricochet, you take your aim
Fire away, fire away”. I listened to that song non stop for months after that.

7. If I Were A Boy
Beyoncé

How could I have a list of power songs without Beyoncé? I could actually choose a lot of her songs, but this one in particular describes so well how we sometimes feel as women. Powerful.

8. Guts Over Fear*
Eminem feat Sia

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The first few times I listened to this song, I listened to Eminem’s lyrics, I didn’t pay much attention to Sia. My sister text me a few days later asking me if I had heard it and I told I had and that I loved it. A few days later I heard it again, and this time I listened to Sia. I couldn’t hold back the tears, even 8 years after leaving him, I could feel the emotions of it all over again.

9. Be Still My Soul
Hymn sung by Vocal Point

I had this illusion that after my divorce relationships would be easy. I was so wrong. I still knew very little about what made a healthy relationship. I had my heart broken and broke other hearts along the way to learning what that healthy relationship looked like. I remember one day when my heart break was particularly deep this song was the only song I could listen to. It was like a healing balm and while it didn’t take the pain away completely , it did ease the sting.

10. I Wanna Get Better
The Bleachers

I don’t know what other people have done to heal from their trauma and abuse, but for me it’s been a journey spanning many years and actually a lot of hard work. I went to classes, I prayed, I journaled, I discovered energy healing, I even hired mentors. And this song reminds me of the first mentor I met. He taught the concept of expressing our emotions in a safe way rather than taking them out on someone else or holding them in. Both of which are extremely damaging.

11. Trouble
Never Shout Never

Okay, this one is a bonus. So I once hated love songs. I didn’t believe in them at all. I didn’t think that a man would ever really love a girl enough to write a song about it and sing it for her. I thought they were fake. When I started dating my now boyfriend, he made me two cd’s with nothing but love songs. So this one song actually represents both CD’s and it was right about the time he gave me those CD’s that I began believing in love songs, and so, believing in love.

*some of these songs contain explicit lyrics, veiwer discression is advised

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The Shelter

I could feel the soft pull on my nipple and let down as my twelve month old suckled in the early morning hour, the soft yellow of the rising sun. I half dozed as he nuzzled in close, and I was cherishing this sweet bond between mother and son, enjoying the sweet flow of life in this moment I so rarely experience.

A knock rattled the wooden door, I lifted my head, “Time to get up…” sang a woman’s voice. I let my head drop back down to the pillow as thoughts ran quickly through my mind. I’m nursing my son, can’t I just have a moment of peace. I’ll get up soon, I’ll be a good girl, I’ll do what I am asked, just let me have this moment. “I’m nursing my son.” I called out. “We’ll be out in a minute.” I planned on weening him at twelve months, but when our world was suddenly turned upside down, us homeless and me a single mom, living together in a shelter with strange women and unknown children, our schedule dictated to us by some random third party who did not know us, our lives, or our circumstances; battling the justice system, all while terrified of what my then husband and father-in-law might do, the words of my father-in-laws threat constantly running through my mind, influencing all the decisions I was making I have worked for the city, I have worked for the county, I know all the judges and all the judges dirty laundry, if you leave my son again, you will not get custody of yours.” With all of that, I knew we could both use the comfort and normalcy nursing provided.

The Shelter
I finished nursing, but not before another knock rattled my door, this time with the woman coming in. There was no real privacy here. After dressing myself and my son from the limited clothing options I had and changing his diaper, we were out in the common area of the shelter. Shelter life was not quite what I expected, I remember walking in with visions of something like an elementary school cafeteria with cots set up in rows and public bathrooms. I expected meals to be served from the school kitchen on plastic trays with little milk cartons, the whole scene with a faded tonal quality. Instead there was a large open area divided into two sections, a living room with three couches set up in a ‘U’ and a large flat screen TV on the open end, we even had Dish network, and a dining room with two large tables and benches, there were three or four highchairs lining the back wall, satelliting out from the main living area were offices for the counselors, a play room with donated toys and movies, a large kitchen and pantry where we prepared our own meals, and five bedrooms each with their own bathrooms and the capacity to sleep 5-6 women and children.

Shelter Rules
We had to take turns doing daily chores, vacuuming, dusting, sweeping and moping, cleaning our bathrooms, and preparing the meals they told us to. They provided a washer, dryer, and laundry soap, I remember walking down the five flights of stairs into the dark unfinished basement where we did our laundry, the other women staying there told ghost stories about the creepy room, though I never saw anything. One evening the assigned meal was meat loaf, while I had seen my parents make it all growing up, I never had prepared it myself. I’m not sure why she was there, because she rarely was, but the director taught me how to make the meatloaf, it was a tender mercy to be standing there in the kitchen, cooking dinner together she felt like a mother figure to me and that brought me a small bit of peace in a then otherwise cold world.

There was a 9 o’clock curfew, if we weren’t in by 9 o’clock, with a few pre-approved exceptions we would be kicked out, period. One night, shortly after beginning my stay at the shelter, I found myself in the doctors office with my son at 8 pm I was lucky enough to have my mom and Grammy in the office with me, my son had just been diagnosed with RSV the nurses instructed me on how to give him a breathing treatment and had ordered a machine for me. It was miserable to stick the silicone mask in my one year old’s face as I held him tight and he cried and tried to get away. When I knew the appointment would get me back to the shelter past curfew, I called and told them what was going on, this was obviously and exception, and I had no problems getting back in when I showed up half an hour past curfew.

Shelter Living
We lived on the fourth floor, no one was allowed in except those of us staying there and a handful of counselors. It was that fact that brought me the most comfort, I knew my ex and his family had absolutely no access to me. There were legal advocates to help us file temporary custody papers, divorce decrees, and protective orders as needed, she was a liaison between us and the legal system, some thing I was particularly grateful for as I had absolutely no experience with the justice system. There was a daycare we were allowed to leave our children at free of charge for when we absolutely needed it. We had to take Domestic Violence, Self Esteem, and Parenting classes that would continue on after we left the shelter and optional one on one financial and sexual assault/abuse counseling available as well. We could only stay in the shelter for 30 days, then we were kicked out, we had the option of getting assisted living, and in order to be approved for that, we had to have a job and pass a drug test. That was my first and only experience being drug tested, and having a woman assigned to you to watch you pee was a little weird.

The Other Women
When I walked into the shelter, my son and I were the only ones staying there, the first woman to join us was older, in her 50’s or so, she had left her abuser several times before. I was blessed enough to have a car, and after my ex canceled my sell phone service, my Grammy gave cash to buy a new cell phone, the woman knew I was going to get a phone, and asked if she could come along and visit her bank while we were out, I drove to a mall far away from the one my ex and I had frequented, when I took her to the drive through for her bank, she found her accounts had all been frozen, she had no access to money and shortly after returned to her abuser again.

Another girl had two children, and pre-teen boy and a four year old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome the mother had little time and attention for her daughter, as she was so wrapped up in everything else going on, I stepping in as I could, and I now understand her come from as my son falls somewhere in the behavioral needs spectrum.

One girl, somewhere in her 30’s I remember as being super cute and nice, I even let her borrow my shoes, then had to claim them back after she cut herself and they kicked her out for drug use.

A mother came in for one night with her five children, the children were frightened and unsure of everything going on, I remember talking to one of the daughters about anything that didn’t have to do with the shelter to help comfort her, that family was out the next day as the mother had taken legal measures to kick her abuser out of the family home.

There were many more who came and went in the 3 weeks I stayed there. I was surprised how many women had been in the shelter before, and come back several times. We would put all our children to bed and sit up on those three couches in the living room with the TV off talking about our lives, children, and abusers. There were woman who had it far worse than I had, I was the only one with a car, steady job (even though it was seasonal and I was furloughed, I knew I would begin work again soon), I had a strong support system of family, friends, and angels. Some women had no hope of living a life on their own, believing they didn’t have the skills to do so. Some women had been beaten so bad they had had hospital stays, one had been locked in her house with her children whenever her abuser left with absolutely no access to the outside world. I remember being told I was beautiful and tearing up over it, it had been so long since I had heard those words and I had forgot I was. It was humbling and frightening to hear each others stories, but we lifted each other and buoyed each other up, we were all we had.

Shelter Classes
For me, it was in the classes that I began to find hope and faith again. I didn’t think I really needed them at first, I thought I was above them, and as I continued to go, I began a journey of self improvement that has not stopped in the seven years since I left. I remember sitting in the Domestic Violence class as the teacher was speaking and letting my mind wander, I was pondering the fact I never thought I would be where I currently was, I never thought I’d be a single mother leaving an abusive marriage, I realized there was a long road a head of me, and my life had taken a complete 180 degree turn, and I didn’t know where to go from here, anything was possible, it was then I had a thought come to me, Everything will be okay, you are going to get through this, and you are going to come back and teach other women what you learned. It was four years later that I found a company that teaches how to be a trainer and a mentor, I knew this was the start to my journey as a teacher to help these women, and I have taught in several locations, including the very shelter I once stayed at.

All in all, I am truly grateful for the shelter experience, it opened my eyes to the truth of the world by taking off my rose colored glasses, it gave me a safe place for myself and my son. The shelter taught me lessons I could have learned no other way and set me on a new and invigorating life path, I won’t trade that for the world.

CRASH!

CRASH!!!! CRASH!!!! CRASH!!!! The locked door bowed in and creaked as my husband repeatedly slammed all of his weight against it. I sat on the toilet, stunned. I could hardly think as all my senses attuned to the cracking door and I focused my gaze on the door knob. I could see the wood around the latch splinter as the door began to give way beneath the pressure. CRASH!!! CRASH!!!! How long would it hold?

I knew he was angry, I had not yet seen him exude such physical force during a fight, I was frightened what would happen once the door gave way. Maybe if I could reach it and unlock it first, he wouldn’t be so mad and he wouldn’t be ruining my door. It’s funny the thoughts that float through your mind when something like this is happening, I was really concerned about the state of my door? The problem was, I was legitimately using the toilet. Before I could finish my business, jump off the toilet, and open the door, it gave way with one last harrowing CRASH!!!! As my husband stumbled into the room full force he was fuming, chest heaving up and down, eyes laser beam boring into mine. And I sat there, dumbfounded and frightened, on the toilet, completely helpless. I couldn’t even hide or climb out the window; I was stuck.

As a person who is experiencing abuse, your mind set is completely focused on survival, on not getting hurt, the choices you make and things you do all focus on keeping yourself (and often times your children safe).

You do your best to hide what is really going on behind closed doors from your friends and loved ones for several reasons:

• You don’t want people to think poorly of your spouse.

I know this sounds weird. Why protect someone who is hurting you? The best way I can explain this is you do still love the abuser. We as people tend to do things to protect the ones we love.

•You don’t want people to think poorly of you.

This kind of goes hand in hand with not wanting people to think bad of your spouse. You want people to think you are smart enough to make good decisions about who you allow into your life.

• You have been threatened by your abuser.

The abuser actually knows what they are doing is wrong. The abuser also knows in order for control to be kept, there needs to be silence. No on else can know. The abuser can either threaten verbally or through their actions.

• You are just plain scared.

As a person experiencing abuse, you don’t really know the lengths the abuser will go to keep control over you. You hear stories in the news, and you see your abuser do things you never thought they would. I remember when the cases of missing and murdered women began to surface (such as Laci Peterson and Lori Hacking ) my husband said, “Is that the norm now? Is that what I need to do to you to fit in?”. I didn’t know what to do or say. and my fear of him grew.

• Religious beliefs

This was another factor for me. Being raised in the Mormon faith, which really emphasizes the importance of family and marriage, it was hard for me to make the choice that would end my eternal marriage. I prayed, fasted and pondered. Even after I left, I wondered if I had made the right choice. I can tell you this: I know God would not desire any of his children to live a life of hurt, fear, control, and abuse. That is not his plan, and as I look back, I can see his hand in my life as I took the steps to leave and stay away from my husband.

If you know someone experiencing abuse, you may not understand what they are going through or why they make the choices they do. You may wonder why they stay when it seems so obvious to you that they should leave. Know that this is their choice and something they will have to live with. Know that they are afraid and insecure and uncertain. Just be there for them as they need you.

Questions

Have you ever been a people pleaser? You know, done or said something not because you want to, but because you know it will make another person happy or fulfilled even if it is highly inconvenient for you?

I was a huge people pleaser growing up. I thought it was the right thing to do, and I took the responsibility upon myself to make sure everyone else around me was happy and cared for. Oh, how wrong I was. And while I have improved, I still struggle with this desire today.

When people hear my story, they ask many different questions, and I am open to these questions. I understand people are curious, and even if the questions can be personal or intrusive, I welcome them.

Here are a few questions and answers:

“Couldn’t you have just tried a little harder?”

No. I did my best. I know that God (or whoever your higher power is) will not suffer that one if his children (or creations) be subjected to such abuse. If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, know that I don’t believe anyone should be subjected to abuse at the hands of anyone else, (and I suggest you get a Higher Power, they are free). I do know the people who ask, have no idea what my marriage was really like, otherwise the thought would not even cross their mind. I did my best (as most victims do) to hide the truth and the suffering, sometimes all too well.

“How could you ever let someone abuse you like that? I would never allow that to happen to me.”

This one is a hard one. When I hear this, I feel emotion rise up within my chest. Fact is, you don’t know how you would respond to any situation, unless you have been through it. You have no idea the fear that is being experienced.

To help you understand more clearly, imagine you are standing on firm and solid soil, you feel comforted and safe. Now imagine someone you love, know, and trust, takes a shovel and begins to shovel a circle around you (like a mote around a castle). As they continue to dig and the circular hole around you gets deeper, a strange thing happens, the piece of soil you are standing on begins to shrink in diameter and to sink, very slowly. At first, you don’t even realize it, however, as time goes on and one shovel full after another is tossed out, you begin to realize you are sinking. At this point you bring it to attention of the person doing the shoveling, they stop and let things settle, they placate you and tell you everything will be fine, and not to worry, they apologize or give you gifts or what ever it takes to keep you on that piece of soil. You know this person, you love this person, you want to trust this person, and trust your own choice in trusting this person, so you do. Soon the shoveling starts again, and you begin sinking again, slowly at first and then more rapidly. And again you are placated and assured. This continues to go on for quite sometime until you are deep enough to realize you don’t want to be in this hole, you don’t like it here. It is at this point, you begin to look for a way out. Quietly and only when the shovel-er is not looking, (for if they do catch you, they will simply shovel away even faster and make you sink even lower, pouring the shovel fulls of dirt over top your head), you begin to place soil beneath your feet and to climb out. It is a frightening and dangerous game to play, and it is often only through the grace of God and by others help you are finally able to build the soil up enough to get out of the hole. After you are out, the hole is still there, and it takes time and help to fully fill it back in so you can walk on that ground again without fear.

“Were you married in the temple?”

Yes we were. Mormons believe when we are married in the temple we will still be married to each other in heaven after we die here on earth (an eternal marriage). Because of that belief we encourage most couples to work together through hard times and not turn to divorce for the answer when problems arise in a marriage. In fact out the 30 married couples that are made up of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins on both sides of my family, there are only 3 (of which I am one) who have gotten a divorce.
I think this is purely a curiosity question, and sometimes people tend to think simply because we are married in the temple, we are immune to such difficulties and problems. However, when we are married in the temple, we have to work just as hard to have and maintain a healthy relationship, family and marriage as any other couple out there. A happy, healthy marriage is a lot of hard work, and it does take both partners. The location where the marriage occurred does not change those facts, I believe it is what we do and how we act in the marriage itself that guarantees the gift of eternal marriage that is promised within the walls of our temples.

I also often get asked, “Did you see any red flags while you were dating?”

The answer is yes and no.

I was 19 when I met my husband and 20 when I married him. I did not just walk into my marriage blindly. I had graduated from high school at age 17 at age 19 I had all my credits but one for my associates degree, I was debt free and enrolled in college my tuition being paid for by a marching band scholarship and grants. I had lived in 7 states (two of them on my own after graduating high school).

Due to being in marching band, choir, drama, yearbook and a few clubs between high school and college I had traveled much, seen much, and participated in much. I felt ready for that next step in life knowing I could continue working full time and attending college full time as a married woman.

I was still a very trusting and naive girl. I had never had a boyfriend until this point in my life. I was so busy doing other things, and was never asked out in high school.

I had never met a person like my husband before. I did not know people like him existed in the world, or at least in my part of the world, so I didn’t see his actions for what they were. I’ll admit there were a couple of times I felt uneasy around him, and I couldn’t put a finger on it, so I just let it slide.
There were three instances that stand out to me now as red flags, I did not see at the time.

First, We had gone to A&W for lunch one day. I was stuffed and he had a few chicken nuggets left over. He offered one to me, and I declined. He then force fed the chicken nugget to me! With the nugget pressed to my closed lips and other people in the restaurant who I felt were staring at us, but in reality most likely didn’t even notice, I felt the pressure to eat the chicken nugget. Huh, I thought as I chewed, weird.

Second, We were at his parents house. He and his dad were having some sort of argument in the basement. Things were getting heated, I did not know what to do or where to go. I just stood there and watched. I had never seen such displays of anger. Right out of the blue, his father lost control, and slugged my then boyfriend in the arm, and he just stood still and took it. I had the impression this kind of treatment was not unheard of in their home.

Third. We had been arguing about something, you know, one of those silly arguments you have when dating someone. We were in his car and had pulled over in the subdivision to have this argument. I was so angry at him I decided I did not want to be in the car with him any longer. I got out and began walking the three miles toward my home in the dark, cold autumn night. He flipped his car around, drove up beside me, got out of his car and without a word, physically forced me back into his car. I thought to myself as the adrenaline began to subside from my veins He’s just worried about me, he just wants to make sure I make it home safe and sound, that’s all that was. There goes the people pleaser in me, making up excuses for him.

If your looking for tips on what red flags to look for, my best answer is this: pay attention to how he treats and speaks of and to his: mom, dad, siblings, other children, co-workers (especially those under him in the business pyramid), and animals. When we were dating, my ex admitted to me his mom was afraid of him, and I noticed their family dog always barked ferociously and fled when my ex walked in the room. His excuse? (He always had one). His mom and he just didn’t get along because she refused to get along with him, and the dog was adopted into their family after being in an abusive home and associated my ex with his abuser. If only I had been able to see how he would treat the dogs we ended up owning shortly after our marriage, that alone would have caused me to easily change my mind about marrying him.

One last tip off to me? When he play wrestled with his pre school aged nephews, and they pleaded for him to let go, or to stop, he refused to oblige unless it was under his terms, even when his siblings, myself, and his parents appealed with him to stop. He would then slacken his grip rather than let go completely, and tell the child to wiggle their way out of his arms.

And secondly, trust your feelings and instincts! We are given them as gifts, and if we heed them, we will be better off for it. A great book recommended to me by my FBI trained uncle is The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. It teaches how to learn the difference between true fear and unwarranted fear. I am just beginning to read it myself, and excited for the insight I will gain (I am always learning and reading something). Let’s read it together and see what we learn!

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Be Quiet!

“He’s calling! Turn off the radio! Everyone, Be Quiet!!!” I shouted to my Sisters, Mom, and Grammy as my cell phone trilled. An instant silence over took the mini van as they obeyed. I flipped open the small device, “Hello” I muttered into speaker. “Hi, I got off early, I’m on my way home.” the sentence shot fear deep into my bones and back out and began crawling on my skin. I tried my best to carry on a normal conversation with my husband not wanting to tip him off to the fact I wasn’t home.

It was Friday, December 22nd, I had recently turned 24, and I had spent the day taking my 12 month old son to see my Grammy who was visiting us in Utah from Arizona for the month. We had enjoyed the day together and were driving back from a movie with my two sisters. I quickly ended the phone conversation and expressed my urgency to get to my mom’s house and drive my son and myself to my home before my husband got there. He had gotten off work early that Friday as a Christmas surprise. I went from expecting him home in a few hours to a few minutes. I knew he would be furious I had left the house, especially so I could spend time with my family.

As I began driving my car home with my son buckled in the back, my phone began ringing. I looked at my husbands name on the caller ID, took a deep breath, and answered the phone, knowing that would be the less painful option. “Hello?” “Where are you?!” Snapped into my ear. I admitted to spending time with my family and was immediately rewarded with a barrage of yelled words simply meant to make me feel guilty and inflict pain.

I had been married to this man for just over three and a half years. Our twelve month old son was unplanned, and I remember the fear that gripped me when I learned I was expecting, normally a time of excitement and rejoicing for most expectant mothers, for me I could feel the shackles clamp tighter around my ankles and wrists and the rope tighten around my neck. A divorce with a child involved would be much more complicated.

The more and more he continued to verbally berate me and the closer and closer I got to my home, the less and less I wanted to be there. I placated him, and was able to get him off the phone, escaping from the verbal abuse. Fear and adrenaline coursing through my veins, I pulled into the driveway of the place I least wanted to be. My own home. I immediately pulled back out and drove away.

I didn’t know where I was going, only that I wasn’t ready to walk into my front door to a fuming husband. My mind began racing, thinking of places I could go. I was ready. I glanced at the clock it was nearly 5 pm on Friday, Christmas only three days away. Would a law firm be open? Could I file for divorce right now? I kept driving, not knowing were I was going, only that I had to get away.

I found my car pulling into the parking lot of the local woman’s shelter. I had been in contact with the shelter, knowing that I would soon be leaving my husband, I just didn’t think it would be today. When I first went to the shelter, it was for information, I knew enough that I had a small bag packed with three days worth of clothes for my son and me, copies of important documents, and a small package of diapers in my trunk.

I turned off my car, pulled the small duffle bag from my trunk, unbuckled my son from his car seat, hunched against the cold air and walked across the snowy parking lot to the entrance.

The building was old with thin carpet and 90’s decor. The layer of plastic wood looking laminate covering the reception desk was chipping away. There was a young girl standing behind it packing up to go home.

I bravely walked up to her and the words, “I need shelter.” tumbled out of my mouth. The action of admitting this was tumultuous, tears began pouring out of my eyes, a flood emotions rushed out of my heart down each of my limbs and back again, my brain began spinning as I imagined where I would be taken. In my mind, I saw cots lining a gymnasium, a soup kitchen, public bathrooms, no showers, no fun, no toys, everything was tinted grey in my mind. I was leaving a home for that?

The young receptionist picked up the phone and began whatever the process to get me admitted. I sat down on the maroon fabric cushioned metal chair with my son on my knee, and tried to hold back the tears.

Soon I was taken up to the top floor, the intake worker sat with me in her tiny office as I began to fill out paper work rating the type and severity of abuse I had been going through. It was so weird to be writing it down on paper and filing out a questionnaire. My recently walking son was wobbling around dropping and picking up a small plush elephant toy, he had no idea how his life was about to change.

I was blessed, and the workers there were sweet and kind, the counselor stayed after her shift to give me a tour make sure I was going to be okay. The shelter was much more homey than I had imagined. There was a large open room that was separated into two parts: a living room area with a big screen satellite TV and large, comfy couches, and a dining room area with a large table that could seat about 12 people and three high chairs. Satelliting out from that room was the intake room and a couple of offices for the therapists, then a small playroom with toys and books and movies, a large kitchen with a fridge and a pantry stock piled with food, and five separate bedrooms. Three of the bedrooms had two sets of bunk beds, a single twin bed, and a full bathroom, and two of them had cribs in lieu of one of the sets of bunk beds I chose one with a crib.

I spent an hour or so talking to the counselor, she explained the rules, the chores, the expectations, the curfew (9pm and if I wasn’t back in by then, with the exception of working a job, I’d be kicked out), and briefly talked to me about my situation. I was at that time, the only woman staying in the shelter, but with the holidays approaching, they were expecting more. Then the counselor left, rushing home to begin the Christmas weekend with her family. It had been explained to me there was an intake worker there 24/7, answering calls on the hotline and helping any women who might show up, other than that, it was just me and my son in a big, empty, strange place.

Meanwhile, my husband had no clue where I had gone, all he had known was that I hadn’t shown up to our home with my son. After I hadn’t been answering my cell phone, he began calling my family and friends to try tracking me down, no one knew where I was. My family and friends were not allowed to have my cell phone number, otherwise, I’m sure there would have been missed calls from them as well. I knew I had to bite the bullet and tell my husband I wasn’t coming home.

I flipped open my cell phone and dialed his number. I wasn’t as afraid of him as normal, I had been blessed with comfort and peace and I knew that he would not find us here, and even if he did, I knew there were security measures to keep him out. When he answered I did not tell my husband where we were, only that we were safe and not coming home and then I hung up the phone, I did not have to listen to him screaming and spewing pain and guilt on me anymore.

I called my parents next, and told them where I was and what had transpired. They offered for me to stay with them, and I explained my fears of my husband coming and physically taking my son away from me. I had left my ex once before when our son was just two months old, and upon returning my father in law invited me to his house, took me into a room alone and told me this, “I have worked for the county, and I have worked for the city, I know all of the judges, and all of the judges dirty laundry, if you EVER leave my son again, you WILL NOT get custody of yours.” I was doing what I felt would keep me and my son safe.

As my son continued to play, I text my three closest friends and told them what I had done and they all offered their support, love, and encouragement. I made dinner for us both, fed and bathed my son, then put him to bed in the strange crib. He fell asleep quickly, I stayed up for a short while, flipping through the channels, but my mind was racing. Christmas was just three days away, I had walked away from my home, my tree, and the presents that were lying beneath it. My only possessions being my car, and three days worth of clothes for my son and me.

I went into the bedroom and knelt in prayer. I poured my heart out to The Lord, told him my fears, and asked for help and strength to get through the upcoming weeks. I knew that a divorce from my husband would not be a simple and easy process. I climbed into the bed and looked out the window. The white Mormon temple was lit up across the street, its brightness and warmth glowing in the black winter sky, the sight brought me comfort and peace. I cuddled into the blankets and cried myself to sleep.