This week I got to talking to my significant other about our proudest achievements in our lives so far. I didn’t skip a beat and said:

The way I have come to terms with, protected and healed myself since realizing the true extend of my family’s toxicity.

There are some other things very high on my list, but that one is by far the most important one. Many of the other ones can, in fact, be directly linked to my healing journey. I now have a wonderful job that my parents insisted I would hate (so I never pursued it). I am approaching my 11 year anniversary with a wonderful man, who my parents continuously told me was only with me to take me for every penny I had. I have friends in my life who are like family to me, who are helping me with every hurdle, laugh at every joke and celebrate every victory… most of them I would never have met if not for my healing journey.

1 July 2012 was the day that forever changed my life!

It was daunting. Cutting ties with everything I knew. It felt like I was cutting away my safety net, and they had me convinced I could not survive without it!

Over the years my family tried to continue their abuse in many varied ways. Up to, and including trying to have someone cause my partner and me bodily harm. I became obsessed with hiding.

Even from that, I gained strength. I learned to stand up for myself. I learned that the best defense against my family was just to live my life. To be myself, and gather more and more people around me. People who know ME, not the image that my family created of me.

Not the community that judged me as the girl who supposedly was an alcoholic at age 1, who was such a troubled teen and dealt with drug and alcohol and drug dependency all her life (none of which is, in fact, true, just saying) (okay, I didn’t tidy my room when I was a teen, I confess).

Instead, I am surrounded by a group of people who know me as a strong and confident woman, a loyal and caring friend, who see me develop my talents, who love my loud laugh, my intense frustration at social inequality and injustice. That group of people is growing every day.

I was terrified leaving my parents a letter asking them not to contact me. I dove off that cliff and just trusted that I had enough innate talent and support to learn how to fly on the way down.

I was right! I learned how to fly!

Carefully and hesitant at first, but with increasing confidence and grace. I still get very tired some days, but even the most experienced birds need a break from time to time.

I took a leap of faith that day. It was the best thing I ever did, and I could not be more proud of myself that for the strength I showed on 1 July 2012, my personal independence day.

Thanks, past me, you did good!

 I added to this story in The Day that Forever Changed My Life – Part 2

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While I may technically be the Director here at SwanWaters, my unofficial title is Healing Cheerleader! I’m a survivor of childhood emotional abuse and workplace bullying. And believe me when I say that I’ve walked the walk when it comes to healing from trauma. I firmly believe that we can undo some of the damage that abuse has done to us, and learn the necessary skills to handle life and all it brings us.

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The day that forever changed my life was daunting. Cutting ties with my parents. It felt like I was cutting away the safety net I was convinced I needed.

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