At the age of 20, I found myself sitting in a police interrogation room, asking my then-husband if what the detectives told me was true. He told me it was. He had coordinated the murder of his own father. The man that I had married… that I had trusted… that I had expected to build a life and a family with admitted to this horrible act.
In that instant everything I knew – I thought I knew about him, about me, and about the future, suddenly didn’t matter. Just barely an adult and 7 months pregnant, a darkness that was like no other I had ever experienced fell on my life. I didn’t know how I was going manage on my own. It was crushing. It was suffocating. I wanted run, but I didn’t know what to run from, or what to run to. This was my life, and I couldn’t escape it. But I didn’t know how to be in it either.
The next couple of years that followed brought an almost inescapable reminder of my connection to that horrific act. Headlines about the case regularly showed up in the Sunday paper. On occasion a journalist would take mercy on me and not include my name in the article, but many didn’t. I heard judgement and whispers from my community and peers, and even in my faith community. I lost friendships. Sordid details of the act and dangers that I and my unborn child were in because of his actions were revealed. The trial brought more press coverage and the handing down of a 22 year to life sentence for the man I thought I knew.
Those years also brought the birth of my daughter. They brought the realization that I had choices to make. They brought the decision that I would not allow us to live the identity of victim of his actions, but instead be victorious in life. As a young single parent, I had to figure out how to woman up and do this thing of life. As I took accountability over my own life and identity, the darkness began to lift.
It wasn’t easy to take the actions I needed to take to move forward. As I navigated the divorce process, I had to stand up and use my voice in ways that were not my learned normal of passiveness. I had to fight custody and visitation conditions. I had to battle finance companies that hounded me for his debts as I was strapped with the total financial obligation load. I had to choose to distance from relationships that were keeping me stuck in the darkness. I had to make choices on how I was going to share this story within my relationships. And I had to make choices about how to share this story with my child and navigate all that would bring in her life.
In every choice, I received push back, opposition, and judgment from others. Everyone had an opinion about how I should handle my life.
But, I also knew that when it came down to it, the only one that was truly and fully accountable to the choices I was making, and the direction my life went was me. The only one that got to define me, was me. That empowered me.
I knew that I could not always choose what life brought to me. But I OWNED that I could ALWAYS choose how I act, react, and respond to what life brings me. I could ALWAYS choose what I bring to life.
To this day, I own this. Each day I choose my actions, reactions, and responses to what life brings. I make a choice about what I bring to life. I get to choose how my story goes. That act by my former husband, and the horror it visited on our lives, could have driven my daughter’s and my life statistically in a dreary hopeless direction – poverty, behavioral and education issues, flawed relationship templates, acceptance and normalization of anti-social and criminal behavior.
But it didn’t. Because I chose different for us. I acted, I reacted, and I responded with accountability for a victorious life for us.
My story looks like this. I have a healthy and loving relationship with my husband of 25 years. I have earned a college degree. I have raised all 3 of my daughters to be independent, creative, compassionate and contributing members of society. I am traveling the world. I use my voice, my words and my talents to empower and inspire others to embrace the power of victory through choice. I am living a life of victory.
Do I always get it right? No. Owning your choice is a simple concept, but not always easy in practice. But I do my best to live in integrity, character, owning my value, setting healthy boundaries, and walking in victory. Every bit of effort in becoming my best me, and living my best life is worth the work it entails. I am not a victim of his actions. I am victorious in mine.
I’d love to share my story and strategies for a victorious life with your group. Connect with me here -> CONTACT