There’s a blog relay going on during this Olympic season started by Melanie Crutchfield where she began blogging about hope, and passed the torch to other bloggers who then continued passing that torch of hope, and so on. She will even be conducting a “closing ceremony” with excerpts from this relay. The torch of hope has been dangling in front of me from many fellow bloggers, and I desperately wanted to write on it, but inspiration was failing me. That is, until today.\r\n\r\nThis morning, I woke up from a bad dream. It consisted of me being upset with some sort of thing Greg did or said, but whenever the action was completed, and I began to reason and argue with him, he morphed into my ex, and my past feelings of entrapment and desolation crumpled in around me.\r\n\r\nFor those of you new to my blog, or unfamiliar with the details of my past, I was in a detrimental relationship for 6 years that I finally found the strength to get out of during the early summer of 2009. I told myself that I never wanted to blog in any great detail about my ex, and that he didn’t deserve any mention or acknowledgement, since I’m still recovering from the scars he left. However, with the way he haunts my dreams, I know I will feel better writing not about him, but about my struggles with him, the hope that was lost while with him, and the stronger person I’ve become without him.\r\n\r\nIt’s still too shameful to admit to myself, let alone the public, everything I endured while in that relationship, but suffice it to say that I was verbally and mentally abused, as well as threatened, frightened, and physically harmed. It wouldn’t be fair of me to call him a “beater,” though I bore many a bruise due to his anger and myself being in the wrong place at the wrong time. At one point, I think I was crying out for help by wearing shorts while visiting my family after receiving a softball size bruise on my upper thigh, but when my dad inquired about it, instead of telling him the truth of my ex’s anger, I told him it was just that: a softball getting batted into my leg. For some reason, I kept getting sucked back into that relationship despite my wanting to get out. I knew it wasn’t a good relationship, but I didn’t know how to get out of it, and thus, lost hope that I’d ever truly be happy, and resigned myself to the fate of dealing with him and living unhappily for the rest of my life.\r\n\r\nI sunk into a depression that swallowed me and pulled me into myself. I rarely left the house except for work, and turned down outings with my friends and family. Much of that was due to the dark funk I was in, but just as much of it was out of my distrust of him. Though I never had solid proof of his cheating, I did have proof of his flirting through texts and social networking, and even proof of a dinner date he took with another woman. (He was good at manipulation and lying, but horrible at covering his tracks.) I thought that if I was always home, he wouldn’t be able to follow through on his plans with other women. Constantly being around him, drowning in his negativity, and my creeping depression was slowly killing my spirit, and I was stuck in a vicious cycle where I saw no way out.\r\n\r\nIt wasn’t until our final days, that I overheard him making plans to get away for a weekend with another female. For some reason, even this wasn’t enough to make me want to immediately break up with him. It was when I heard him confidently tell this woman while chuckling, “Don’t even think about telling my girlfriend about our this. Alex(andra) tried that years ago, and it didn’t work.” Which was true, and hurtful to hear out of his own mouth.\r\n\r\nIt’s probably hard to understand my rationale without knowing all of my heartbreaking background, but his evil laugh, and his cocky demeanor, as well as finally getting my solid proof of him sleeping with Alex was the final straw. I had finally found my courage and built up enough anger to exit that relationship. When it was done, there were no more tears. I had never felt so free in my entire life, and as surprising as it was to not cry, it also made sense. For the first time in years, I was truly, and utterly, happy. All at once, my black cloud of depression lifted, and I started to recover my old self.\r\n\r\nI suffered a great deal, but came out stronger. I never understood why women stayed in abusive relationships until I experienced it myself. In hindsight, it’s easy to realize how dumb I was, and tell myself how easy it could have been to get out, but at the time, it was the hardest thing in the world. My hope is that other women (or men) feeling trapped in their abusive relationships will find their strength sooner than later, and that they can find support from others to assist them. For me, it took the love and encouragement from two very special cousins and one irreplaceable best friend. I don’t know that I could have done it alone, and I am eternally grateful to them for not putting me down, but constantly lifting me up and accepting my decisions no matter how harmful they might have been to me.\r\n\r\nIf you are in a relationship that is ultimately damaging your happiness and ruining the person you used to be, my hope is that you look to others to help you find your inner strength. Surround yourself with love, and don’t lose sight of your self-worth. And those of you watching a loved one suffer; I hope that you will be the non-judging stronghold that they will need to pull themselves out.\r\n\r\nAnd now I pass the torch. What is your hope? It can be a hope for you, a hope for a friend, or a hope for humanity. It can be anything you dare to hope for, so hope away!