Today I almost cried while staring at my laptop screen in the local coffee shop. Someone had sent me the link to an article in the Huffington Post that “would be interesting for the Swan project you work on”. I read, and read, and read; momentarily breaking in half.

Katie Naum portrays a hauntingly familiar story in her article “Motherless by Choice”. Although the details vary, the feelings she describes resonate deafeningly clear. My fellow Founding Swan* commented: “I could have written that. That is my story!” It brought home to us, once again, how frighteningly similar the experiences of abuse survivors are, even when the details and context vary.

The feeling of desperation; loss, pain, and the many times we’ve had to deal with judgements about our choice to limit or cut contact with our personal torturers. The feeling that during our time with them there were also good days. The feeling that there are no visible scars so surely what they did to us couldn’t have have been that bad. Remember that lovely trip? The piano lessons we got? The beautiful ring and necklace? Of course we do. But do we also remember that those experiences and gifts came with strings that were attached?

Other Feelings We Share

But what we’ve been through doesn’t have to end at what happened to us. There are happier emotions to be experienced as we rebuild our lives. Like the feeling of achievement when we prove our abusers wrong. The feeling of validation when we hear we’re not alone. The feeling of connection when we make new friends and create our own Family of Choice; our own support network of people we can talk to for advice, or just a shoulder to cry on when we’re struggling. And of course for celebrating our successes achievements or milestones.

Sharing the Journey

The journey through the Black Swan Swamp and to the Swan Lake, a.k.a. the healing journey, is what truly binds us. Having the realization that what we thought was common sense was actually lies is freeing. Understanding that what our abusers pointed out as  problematic personality traits in us are, in fact, a great big bundle of talent and exceptional skill. This is when what we share transforms from healing to thriving.

So thanks Katie Naum for putting into words our shared story. You are a brave and exceptional Swan!

* We sometimes refer to survivors as Swans, in reference to the story of The Ugly Duckling.

we love to read your comments below



Having gained experience while working for a variety of European non-profits, I am proud to now work with SwanWaters. My connection with the website is not only professional. I am glad to tap into my personal experiences to help those who are living in toxic relationships whether with parents, partners or in their professional life. We need to make the world more aware of the devastating effects of emotional abuse and help more people on their way to heal and thrive.

Leave a Reply

Concerns or Questions?

See our FAQs page or submit a question to our support team - we're here and happy to help.

Ask a Question

Subscribe to receive special offers and the latest news delivered to your inbox for free.


Your privacy is important to us and we will never rent or sell your information.


Go up