Dating In A “Hook Up” World…

We live in a society of revolving doors. Guys picking a new girl every time they change their underwear. What happened to courting someone? Going out on a few dates before hopping into bed with someone?  The worst part is that its not just men doing it to us, ladies we are doing it to ourselves.

We have lowered our standards immensely from the time that our parents dated.

We have gotten to a point where its okay to waste each others time. We date, get close with a person, then drop them as if they never existed.

We should want so much more than what we are settling for.

I want to get to talk and get to know you. Date nights and the awkward meeting of the families. I want to laugh with you and to earn trust. Most of all I want respect.

I want you to respect me enough to tell me what is going on. Be verbal with how you are feeling than actions to follow that. How are we supposed to know when a relationship is over when it never really started?

I know that I want an old fashioned kind of love. Where doors are opened, trust is earned, respect is given, and time is valued.

But now we have millions of people at our disposal every single day. Look at all the dating apps- if someone doesn’t look the way we like we just swipe left and then a millisecond later a new face appears on our phones. We judge everyone by their looks and not who they actually are.

We guard ourselves so much because of the fact that everyone views the other person as disposable. We never let our walls down. We don’t have real, deep, or meaningful conversations. I want to talk about your feelings, I want to know about your deepest darkest secrets and fears in life, your goals and where you see yourself in 10 years.

Instead we “talk” for a little while, a few months go by and then its the classic line of “I really like you a lot but I am not really interested in a relationship right now, but we can still hangout.” We refuse to put labels on our relationships. We hangout all the time, talk to each other every day, you can become intimate but no we are not boyfriend and girlfriend. God forbid anyone knows that either of us are off the market. We have to keep our options open incase someone better comes along. We might have to actually put someone else’s needs before our own? What a shocking concept.

What happened to opening doors, pulling out chairs, going on multiple dates, meeting families? Taking the actual steps of a relationship? Instead, we will go out to dinner, send these pictures of ourselves, hook up, and accept not being boyfriend and girlfriend. When did this lack of respect and fear of commitment become our new normal?

 

You Owe It To Yourself To Never Settle

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Everyone is settling. Thinking that because we hit a certain age we need to settle down and have children. We put this undeniable pressure on ourselves to do so. Settling down doesn’t have to mean settling for a bad man. We owe it to ourselves to wait for real, respectful, caring, genuine, and happy love.

We deserve someone who will make us see the world a little brighter than what it is. Someone who makes us feel safe and comforted. They can assure us without having to say it with words that they will always be there.

No matter what, you are always allowed to leave. If you ever find yourself in a relationship that starts to make you question your self worth-leave. It is okay to leave people who are holding you back, discouraging you from accomplishing your goals, or bringing you down. The person you are with should make you smile, not cry.

Dating in our generation is nothing more than a silly game. I don’t know how we went from our parents generation to ours. We hear of stories of our mothers being wined and dined, flowers bought, chairs being pulled out, flowers given. It sounds like a foreign land to us. How we went from that to a cheap dinner and “send me nudes” is beyond me. Or how about the late night text -“You up? Come over?”  Because that is exactly what I am going to do at 12am. Who is going to text who first? How many days should we wait in between phone calls? We don’t want to seem too needy, but still seem interested. What happened to respect? Not wasting each others time? Getting to know someone before getting in bed with them?

Don’t fall for someones charm and sweet words.

Don’t fall for someone just because they are giving you attention at the moment.

Don’t stay with someone just because you think you won’t be able to find someone better.

Don’t settle.

Fall for someone’s heart.

Fall for someone who motivates you and celebrates your achievements.

Fall for actions, not words.

Fall for someone who is going to stay.

It’s okay to forgive yourself for being human. We all have made mistakes and chose the wrong partner a few times, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for anything. Be kind to yourself. Don’t apologize for waking up and loving who you are. Look in that mirror and find yourself beautiful. A man that doesn’t respect you, doesn’t help you grow, or bring joy to your life isn’t the right one.

You owe it to yourself to never settle.

A Thank You Letter To My Abuser…

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I never thought I would be thanking you for the hell you put me through, I never thought I would be abused either, yet here we are. I am writing you this to let you know that besides Beau, you were the best thing to ever happen to me. I wouldn’t be the strong mother, friend, or advocate I am without you.

For the longest time I was so scared of you. Thinking you would be the monster under my bed at night. I knew every night I would go to sleep I would meet you there in my nightmares reliving the abuse I went through with you. I would literally wake up drenched in sweat, crying, being completely terrified of just the thought of you. I would sleep with the lights on just incase I saw you in my window, never sleeping with them open just incase you tried to break in. I was scared to go out in public. Circling every parking lot to look for any trace of you or your family. The humiliation your family caused me, saying I lied about it all. The rumors that flew around this tiny town about me were crippling. Now I just laugh.

While I absolutely despise you for everything you did to me, my family, my son, and even your family, I love that you helped me find myself. You made me become a fighter, an independent woman, and you pointed me in the direction to find my passion in life.

Domestic Violence is one of the worst and most feared things a woman can go through in her lifetime. You took away the happiest time in my life. A time where a woman is supposed to be the most respected and valued, you turned into hell. You made me fight for my life, you broke a lot of hearts, caused a lot of stress, and you caused my child to come prematurely. You would yell, scream, and break things. Push, hit, and force yourself upon me. You poisoned me and you almost successfully killed me. You had broken me. You are and will always be the person I hate the most, yet I am so thankful for that.

You showed me exactly who NOT to date. In fact, I want to date the exact opposite of you, though you didn’t set the bar very high. You showed me that a man doesn’t hurt the person they love, a child does. You were, and probably still are an alcoholic. You were never driven to succeed. I now look for strength in the man I am with. Someone who wants to succeed, build a life, and respects me. Someone who loves my family and wants to be a father figure to my child. Let that sink in, I want someone else to help me raise the child you fought me for, you know the one that “needs his daddy”. You never changed a diaper, fed him a bottle, or sat up all night crying with him. You haven’t taught him to swim, ride a bike, or to open a door for a woman. I have. My family has. I have taught him to thank police officers, firefighters, and any military member. I have taught him to say please and thank you. I am teaching him exactly how to not be the man that you are.

By showing me what love was not, you taught me what love is. I am not just talking about relationships either, I mean in everyday life. I appreciate my family so much more. They have stepped up and all taken a huge roll in Beau’s life to fill the void that you left. Everyone of them has taken on a roll in raising him. He thankfully does’t have you, but he has one hell of a team behind him. I appreciate my friends more than ever. The true friends that have stuck by me through the hell of a life I lived with you and are still here today, watching me succeed. Those people are the ones you were trying to take me away from. By attempting to do that you have shown me who my real supporters are. I know who will stick by my side no matter what.

You lit a fire in me. By destroying me you forced me to rebuild myself. I am back stronger than ever. By crushing my self confidence I was able to find out what makes me feel empowered. I want to thank you for that.  You always blamed me for your drinking, anger, and resentment. By having all of those blow out, abusive attacks you taught me patience and how to remain calm in hostile situations.

Thank you for making me less trusting. Before you I would trust everyone, believing that everyone was caring and genuine, now I know that some people aren’t. I know to believe someone when they show me their true colors the first time. Trust actions, not words. If someone disrespects me its not because they are having a bad day, its because they don’t value and respect me enough to treat me the correct way.

Lastly, this is not an invitation to come back, call, email, or contact me in anyway. This is not me forgetting what you put me though or letting it go. This is for me to show you how amazing my life is without you. A small glimpse of the amazing life my child has. I am happy, truly happy. Happy just being me, single, full of love, and having tons of support. I love my family and I love the family my child has. While yours has zero involvement, that leaves room for future family members and more love for Beau. I hate the fact that you put me through so much pain, but I love the person I am today because of it.

Without love,

Alyssa

25 Things I learned by 25

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When I turned 25 I had a sort of mid- mid life crisis. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I was still working on recovering emotionally from a very abusive relationship, balancing trying to be a single mom yet still have some sort of a social life. I think in the past year I grew so much emotionally. I am more thankful now than ever for my struggle because it lead me to all of you.

Here are the lessons I have learned by 25:

1)  Love yourself first- This one was huge for me. I never felt as though I was skinny enough, pretty enough, or good enough after leaving my abusive relationship. That lack of self confidence leaked over into my new relationships, work, even friendships. I wouldn’t want to go out and do things because I felt so terrible. I would constantly second guess myself at work thinking I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Leaving an abusive relationship where someone has completely taken  the love you had for yourself away really damages a person. You start to neglect yourself. Remember to always love yourself- you come first. You can’t be the best mom, sister, daughter, friend, or employee if you don’t.

2) Stop Over-thinking- When we over think we manifest problems that aren’t even there. We create these massive “what if” situations in our head that just create more anxiety than we already have. Living with those “what if’s” is a very painful way to walk through life.

3) Wear Sunscreen, take care of your skin, moisturize–  I didn’t really learn this until I started working at a dermatology office. I was a sun worshiper-tanning beds, outside, laying out- you name it. I never wore sunscreen, rarely even really washed my face, never moisturized. I started seeing patients come in with all of these sun spots, wrinkles, SKIN CANCER, and I completely changed my ways. Your skin will always tell your age if you don’t take care of it.

4) Always forgive, but never forget– Forgiveness is a huge part of emotional growth. Forgiving my abuser felt as though I lost a 50 lb. weight I was carrying on my chest. I had so much hate, resentment, and emotional baggage built up that I would unload on anyone who messed with me. Who ever hurt you doesn’t care about the pain they caused, they aren’t carrying around the burden- you are. Forgive them. Don’t forget the lesson you learned. Don’t put yourself in the position to let that happen again. Every failed situation is a life lesson.

5) Believe the actions people show you, not the words they speak– It’s important to understand that everyone was raised differently and have different definitions of respect. Good character and a good moral compass are very hard to come by. The fact of the matter is if someone values you, they will show it. If they care, you will know.

6) If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen– Your true passions will always make their way to the surface. Work your ass off to put the pieces together, make moves, and watch it all fall together. If you sit and do nothing you aren’t working toward making those passions a reality.

7) Never underestimate the power of music, laughter, and good friends– Sometimes on a really bad day all your need is some music, your best friends, and a good drink.

8) Happiness starts with you– If you aren’t happy internally then you aren’t ever going to be happy with anything in your life. Another person won’t change that, a new town won’t change that, and a new job won’t change that.

9) Crying is okay – Let it out, you will feel better.

10) You can always change your path in life – If you aren’t happy with your job, your friends, or a relationship- leave. So many people are settling with an okay life, DON’T.

11) Trust- Let people in, sometimes they will surprise you.

12) Don’t take things too seriously– Laugh, joke, make a fool of yourself. It’s okay to be a little childish every once in a while.

13) Talk to strangers– This is where I love my job the most. I meet new people every day. I love the random conversation, advice, and laughter. For some reason whenever I meet someone they tell me the most amazing stories. Where they came from, what they want to change, why they are changing. They could come in completely stressed and frazzled and they leave with a smile on. Someones people need to unload- be that understanding person. You can learn from anyone, anywhere. At the gas station, food shopping, even walking around.

14) Travel- You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to go to a different country. You can travel to a new nearby town, a city close by. If you have the money and the PTO by all means take it! You won’t regret it.

15) Find a creative outlet– Ride a bike, write, take pictures, crafts, paint. Do whatever calms you down. It will give you a period of time to escape from the stresses of the outside world.

16) Be Real– I couldn’t hide how I am feeling if my life depended on it. My face will always give it away. If I like you, you’ll know it. If I don’t, you will know why. People may see this as being harsh but its better than being fake and lying to people.

17) STOP APOLOGIZING– I would constantly say sorry to people. Someone was blocking the isle at the store “oh excuse me, sorry”, someone was giving me advice “Oh I’m sorry”, someone didn’t like what I was wearing I would apologize and change. There is a time and place to be truly apologetic. Don’t take away the authenticity of the words.

18) Love hard– My heart has been broken a few times in my life, but once I care about you, you are locked in my heart forever. I would go to hell and back for my friends and family. Love genuinely and love with all your heart. The people who you actually let in will deserve that love and cherish it.

19) Tell your friend and family you love them and tell them often– This has taken me longer to learn for some reason. I thought being vulnerable and saying you loved someone was weak and ridiculous. Yea I would tell my family I loved them here and there but not near enough. I almost lost my life and the last real conversation with my mom was an argument. Don’t miss a chance to tell them you love them- you won’t always get another chance.

20) Say sorry when you need to,and mean it- SOOO many arguments can be solved by just apologizing for what hurt the other person. Validate and appreciate their feelings. They are hurt because of something you did, don’t tell them they are wrong.

21) EAT THE FOOD– Starving yourself isn’t a diet, believe me. You gain it all back. Stop with the crash dieting and skipping meals, all you are doing is slowing down your metabolism. Eat healthy and eat often.

22) Age doesn’t equal life experience– I have experienced a lot of major life events before I turned 25. While wisdom does come with age, experience is different. You can learn more from a young person who has gone through life’s up’s and down’s than an older person who has had an easy life.

23) Appreciate your fears, then over come them– This may sound absolutely ridiculous but after leaving R I was afraid to be anywhere in the dark alone. The sun set and that was it for Alyssa being outside. I slept with my lights on the brighter side of dimmed, I refused to walk to my car IN THE DRIVEWAY alone, in fear that I wouldn’t be able to see him lurking around the corner. But slowly I have gotten over those fears.

24) Don’t follow the norm– When I was younger I had this life plan for myself. Married by 22, 2-3 kids done by 28, have an amazing husband and life, following the norm. I had a baby at 22, single mom also by 22, a failed relationship, survived serious abuse, went through family court, won full custody, got R’s parental rights stripped, started a non- profit, shared my story, went back to work full time all by 25. It was not the picture perfect life that society makes you feel like you need to have, but it is my life, and I love it.

25) Be okay with being alone– I can not stress this enough, being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. You don’t need to settle for shitty friends, shitty relationships or a shitty job. Strive for better. Do not settle for a jerk who gives you attention when he wants to, wait for the guy who makes you the center of his world. Until then take time to yourself-be alone. I hate the saying that you are looking for your other half, you shouldn’t be. You should be whole all by yourself and find another person who compliments your independence, respects your drive, and encourages you to accomplish your goals.

So far on this life long journey I have learned so much. I can’t wait to see what 26 has in store for me.

How My Dad Taught Me To Be A Father

Psychologists say that your childhood is what molds how you will live your adult life. The more I look back, the more I realize that this statement couldn’t be more true.

When I was growing  up I had loving parents-who not only loved us, but loved each other, two little sisters, and all my family surrounding me. I always dreamed of having the same life for my future children. Two happy, loving, and supporting parents, siblings, a huge family support system, but my story didn’t end up that way. I got pregnant with my abuser at 22. Ended up being a single mom, a domestic violence survivor, and the sole parent for a child. And by sole parent I don’t mean just sole/physical custody of him, I mean the ONLY parent that my child has. His father chose to be an abusive addict and abandon him instead of owning up to the mess he created and turmoil he caused, but if you read my blog you already know all about that.

I never realized it until today, but God was paving the way for me to be a great father through my dad. My dad taught me how to ride a bicycle, ride a dirt bike, to play golf, throw a football, and shoot a gun. He taught me to always defend myself, defend my family, and always have loyalty to them. He showed me that hard work and determination pays off, math is the only subject you can be sure of, and to measure twice and cut once when building something. He showed me how a man always should put his family first, provide for them, and always protect them. He showed me through his patience that the first person to yell in an argument automatically loses. He showed me that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. He taught me that education is everything (well I may have understood that one a little too late). He taught me to always be punctual, to be respectful and the best at your job. He taught me the difference between a phillips head and a slot head screw driver, how to punch with my thump on the outside of my fist, and if I ever get into a fight, aim for the opponents nose- it’ll blur their vision. He taught me how to jump a BMX bike and that sometimes there are “extra” pieces when building shelves, toys, or play structures.

I never realized this back then, but my dad was teaching me how to be the father I need to be for my son.  While teaching my son to ride a bike I am using the same tips my dad used on me. I am instilling the same values my parents did in me with my son-Family over everything, Loyalty is everything, Love with all your heart, and Respect is earned not given. My dad has stepped up and has been the best grandpa any kid could ask for.

So, Thank you dad.

Thank you for being the best dad to my sisters and I. And being the best husband to mom.

Thank you for not only teaching me how to be the best father I can be, but the father my child deserves.

Happy Father’s Day!

 

A letter to my followers

To all my fellow survivors,

I get so many messages, comments, and shares on here, A Survivor’s Mission page, and my personal Facebook page that it’s hard to thank all of you individually but I wanted to take a minute to write you guys to tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of you.

If you read my blog, we are automatically connected. We have all, in some way have been close to someone who was hurt by domestic violence, or have been victims ourselves. We understand the struggles of everyday life living with an abuser. We all know how hard it is to move forward and connect with people, how hard it is to trust again. We have all had the flashbacks, anxiety attacks, and have been crippled with fear.

If you read my blog and are a family member or a friend of an abuse survivor-Thank you. There aren’t enough of you out there. So many people just write us off as being stupid for staying. They say that we are weak because we couldn’t stand up for ourselves. It’s so easy to judge looking in, until it touches you. I know because I was one of you. Before I was ever abused I didn’t understand how someone could literally be at the point of dying at the hands of someone else and not just get up and leave. How hard can it be to pack a bag? Ask for help? Or just start a brand new life? I judged, but then I became a victim.

So many readers comment or share my video calling me a hero. I am not a hero by any means of the word. I am just a girl who understands what it’s like to feel completely alone, yet be surrounded by so many who love you. To know what it’s like to want to say so much and scream for help yet when you go to talk no words come out. You are so afraid to disappoint your family for the person you have become so you stay silent. You are so afraid to leave because if he/she finds you he will actually go through with what he promises-to kill you.

I can not explain to you the relief I felt when my first birthday came after I was free from being abused. I distinctly remember sitting around with my family and being able to breathe, genuine blissful peace. There was no fear of what will happen when we go home, no babysitting his drinking, no lies to tell to cover up where the bruises came from. I didn’t have to worry about anyone asking me why I looked to tired, or why he was being so rude. That first birthday was only 6 months after I had gotten out of the horrible relationship I was in.

When I put out the video of my story in October I would have never dreamed it would reach as many people as it did. facebook.com/…382713971/10207405038069140 Thats when I started Alyssa’s Story, and now A Survivor’s Mission. I swear by counseling and family support. Please please please let your family in. I didn’t until it was almost too late. If you ever wanted to share your story, I am always here to listen. I felt so much better after I started sharing mine. Everyone hears the lies that your abuser spreads. How he didn’t do it, We are the crazy ones, We are controlling and mean. Once I started writing it was a chance for me to get my side of the story out, finally allow people to hear the truth of what happened. I was terrified of what his family would think if it ever reached them, which it has, but they can deny it all they want. I can understand why they would, who wants to believe their child is capable of being such a monster. R can deny it ever happening but police reports, medical records, and witness statements don’t lie. I know that the road to freedom is long and scary-but its so worth it.

Thank you all so much!

~Alyssa

It’s Okay To Have A Day

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I need to remember that its okay to have emotional days. So do you. Being a single mom is hard. Being a domestic violence survivor is hard. Being a working mom is hard. Shit, just being a woman is hard sometimes.

I try to be strong for everyone-all of you across the world who read this, my friends who are going through things in their lives, my son and my family. I need for Beau to see that I am strong, that my family and I are all he will ever need. I feel this need to show everyone that you can come out of a domestic violence relationship on top. That by being completely broken by someone can make you stronger than you were before. I answer every email, every comment on social media, every text trying to help everyone. It can get really exhausting and I hate looking weak.

Somedays I miss the good in the relationship I had with R. Now, before we all jump to conclusions and think that I would ever go back to him ,the answer is HELL NO. This is a completely normal emotion after leaving a DV relationship. You miss the happy times. Now, in the same breath, today I hate him a little more than usual. I hate that my child has to see other dads in their child’s life and him feel different. I hate that I am going to have to make up some cover story to answer the “Why?” questions Beau will have pertaining to the absence of a dad because I can’t tell him the real monster his sperm donor was. I hate that I feel awkward in situations around married couples with children. I hate that Beau gets asked if his dad cuts his hair or if is dad taught him to do things. I hate that I am always wondering if someone is believing the lies R told about what happened. I hate that I put this pressure on myself to be tough like a father yet soft and gentle like a mom should be. I hate that I get looked at weird at a park for being a single mom when asked where his dad is. I can’t exactly explain over 2 years worth of abuse to a stranger, nor do I want their pity.

At the food store a few weeks ago Beau had his treat of choice for behaving well at the store. While I loaded up the bags in the car he saw a family next to us. He asked “Mom whats that name?” He is three years old so I told him “Its a mommy, a daddy, a little girl and a little puppy.” He responded with ” I want one!” I said “The puppy?” He answered with “No, a daddy mommy, can I get one?” Total stab right in my heart. If you have been following my blog since the beginning you would know that I fought with R to get his parental rights taken away. I fought for over a year and eventually I won. The judge said he had never granted that in his career but he knew it was the right choice for my child. While I am so happy and thankful that R isn’t in our lives, times like that make me really hate him and hurt. My child is the friggen best. I know every parent says that but he really is and the fact that he feels like he is missing something at three years old makes me really want to punch R right in the mouth. Beau shouldn’t have to suffer because of the piece of garbage his “father” is.

Going back to work full time I know that I am going to miss out on a lot of stuff in Beau’s life. Maybe its me feeling the “working mom guilt” but I hate it. I have an amazing family that I know will fill in the gaps when I can’t be there for Beau, but it just drives me nuts that R gets to live his life god knows where, never getting any jail time, not having ever paid a dime for Beau. Let me tell you, I will be the mom that puts on fake facial hair, wearing a baggy t shirt and backwards baseball cap when it comes time for Beau to have his breakfast with dad at school so that he doesn’t feel any different.

As woman we need to realize that it is okay to have a day. Being a single mom I have to worry about my child’s future. While my friends are traveling and getting married, I am having to accept the fact that my life plan is different. I have to worry about preschool, hitting developmental milestones, and saving for college. As moms we compare ourselves to each other all the time,even if we don’t realize it. There are moms whose bodies snap right back after having their child, there are working moms, organic moms, helicopter moms, a million kinds of moms and we all think the other mom is better. We need to stop comparing ourselves to other moms because in our children’s eyes we are the biggest rock stars.

Today was a rough day for me, but its okay to have a day.