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.

A Letter to His Next Victim

Dear Future Victim,

If you are reading this, its probably already too late. You are already trapped without even knowing it. He already has his grasp on you.

I am sure he has told you his sob story:

How he was abandoned by his drug addict father.  How he didn’t see him until he was 16 years old. How he was raised in poverty and wasn’t loved.  He had to fend for himself and sleep on benches in the baseball field. That he grew up missing meals because his mother couldn’t afford to feed him. She was always off dating new guys and neglected him.

My personal favorites were his war stories. He will tell you he drinks because of the bad memories, the alcohol helps him sleep. He will break your heart when he tells you about how he had to blow up a school with children inside and watch them die. How his troop was on a convoy and they missed detecting an under ground explosive device resulting in the tank he was riding in blowing up and the tiny pieces of his best friend’s body getting splattering all over him. He was the only survivor. He will tell you stories that sound like they are out of movies, spoiler alert-they are.

He will get close with your family. He will act like the perfect man. Loving, caring, genuine. Don’t be fooled its all an act. He will tell you how amazing you are. Create a life with you, move you out of a loving home. Slowly his drinking will become an issue, the bottle will matter more than you. He will hide bottles where you least expect it (hint: check under the hose storage box). He will humiliate you in public when you ask him if he really needs that next jack and coke he ordered. He will slowly isolate you away from your family and friends. He will leave you alone all night while he is out with other girls spending YOUR money buying THEM drinks. He will make you feel like you deserve what happens to you next-the physical abuse. He will tell you that you made him hurt you. You shouldn’t act so controlling and mean. You shouldn’t be insecure, those girls are just his friends. You will lock yourself in different rooms trying to hide from the abuse but he will kick and punch his way through the doors. He will make how much bigger he is than you well known. He will slam your head into the ground over and over until the pattern of the carpet is imprinted on your forehead. He will tell you multiple times how he hopes you die. He will hold a knife to his throat and to his wrists threatening to kill himself if you leave him. He will break anything in his path like a tornado running through small town. He will kill dogs you have and he will make his best attempts to kill you. After those blow ups happen you will come home to the holes in the walls covered, the mess of the fight cleaned up, dinner made and your favorite flowers on the table. He will apologize and profess his love for you. He will set his trap and you will walk into it with a smile. You will think this is okay because he is sorry and promised it won’t happen again, but it will.

I am sure he has told you about me. The evil baby mama. The girl who ruined his reputation. The spoiled rich bitch. The liar. He will show you pictures of a little boy who he will say is his son, but it isn’t, its his little brother. The son he claims to have an amazing relationship with has no idea who he is. And no, he doesn’t fly back here to see his child every few months. The truth his he couldn’t even tell you my sons birthday. No matter what he tells you, his family doesn’t see that child either. The majority of them haven’t ever even met my son.

So, please if you are reading this,leave, get out, run.

Sincerely,

The Survivor

 

 

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