Last year on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I published a blog like I do every Tuesday. Being the day after a holiday, I had little expectation of this blog being seen or read by very many people. I do very little to promote my blog. It is published to Facebook and twitter and that is about it. I pay every year to turn off ads so it’s a better experience for you even though that impacts my visibility some. That’s not something I worry about! I write this blog to share with my friends and Pilates community and to express what’s on my mind in the realm of health, wellness, and of course Pilates. At the end of the day, I hope that it brings some motivation, inspiration, knowledge, and maybe at times a little humor to the reader. If I were truly applying my marketing knowledge, I would take a more aggressive approach to promoting it, selling ads, and certainly not posting blogs the day after a holiday when people may be still on vacation or playing catch up! Again – not something I worry about with my blog.
One year ago, the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I shared a very personal blog about emotional abuse and my experience in an emotionally abusive relationship. I anticipated in all honesty about 10 people might read my blog. Within the first day and a half more than 2,000 people read my blog! I had gone viral!! I was truly shocked. I was flooded with comments, likes, questions, private messages, shares of my story…. none of which I expected. I was humbled and honored when a therapist and also a psychiatrist shared my story with their friends and colleagues. I was touched by so many kind, supportive messages from friends and even people I had never met. And one bully … here’s looking at you Paula W.! And that’s ok – there will always be doubters and haters out there and we just choose to ignore them.
Through sharing this blog, I have made new connections, talked to many others who have had similar experiences, and learned so much about myself. Through this blog, I gained my strength and confidence back. I stopped apologizing, I held my head high, and moved away from being a victim to being a conquerer.
I’ve had many questions about my blog and I’m going to address some of them today on this one year anniversary.
First off – the obvious question: Why so publicly share this story of emotional abuse? I found myself apologizing for being in a failed marriage and an abusive relationship. I was feeling shame about what had happened and for allowing myself to be in an emotionally abusive situation. In my relationship, I was made to shoulder the responsibility, sociopaths do that to us. Now out of my relationship, I found my default was to continue to shoulder the responsibility. What I did not mention in the blog was everything I had tried to save my marriage including couples counseling, individual counseling, marriage workshop, financial couples workshop, reading books and articles about relationships, date nights, romantic trips, you name it I tried it. I threw everything I had at saving my marriage and getting my boyfriend back … until I finally realized the boyfriend character wasn’t real and the husband I had was a very sick, destructive man. Writing the blog was cathartic for me to accept that this was not ok, it was out of my control, and I was not to blame.
The second reason I wanted to share this story is because I knew I was not alone. I had no idea just how not alone I was! It is staggering how many people experience emotional abuse – the blog really opened my eyes to that in my own circle. I felt it was a topic we needed to be able to talk about. I was willing to take the lead. Not talking about it is like carrying a little shameful secret in your pocket all the time. I was not going to do that anymore.
Question 2: What did you gain by writing this blog? Quite simply I gained the ability to hold my head high again. I gained my confidence back.
Question 3: Were there any unexpected results from going viral on a personal topic? Yes. I heard from people I had never met. I learned about friends and family members who had had similar experiences. That was saddening to me to know they had suffered, too … and I had not known. I learned often we only share the tip of the iceberg and sadly that is dismissed by others. I learned many had been told some version of, “well at least he’s not hitting you” or “at least he’s a good provider” Emotional abuse is not OK and there is no “at least” scenario that makes it so.
I also received a message from a woman who had had a very similar experience with my actual abuser before me. She bravely shared her story with me and the details of it shocked me. It was so similar to my story with details she could not have known about my relationship. I realized my abuser has a pattern and used his plan on me just as he had on her and I can only assume others, too. Sadly, I was later told he was using that plan on someone new. I hate that I know how her story will end. I am thankful this woman had the courage to reach out to me and share her experience – it gave me a kind of closure and understanding of how a sociopath operates I could not have gotten otherwise.
Question 4: Did you ever regret sharing something so personal? NO! Not for a minute. I learned that it is good to open up and share because when we do we meet others with similar stories who can guide us. And we also meet others who need our guidance. My blog is still shared around quite a bit, and I hear from women in similar situations quite often. I am honored that I am able to help them in some small way. I am so pleased my story has had a positive impact on so many people. I am grateful for the connections, stories, and interactions it has created for me. I never intended to be an unofficial spokesperson for emotional abuse but I am happy I can be if that helps others.
Question 5: It’s been a year – what’s life like? Life if good! I’ve rebuilt my business, taken some fun trips, reconnected with friends, and used this experience to figure out what I really want. Last year, I really dove into Pilates training – attending three different workshops/conferences throughout the year. I started running again and doing trail races. I have no contact with my abuser by my choice. There is nothing for me there – and no need for me to know what he is up to. I miss the boys very much but I hope they have someone else in their life who can fill the role I did of unconditional love, guidance, listener, and mentor. I am optimistic about my future and happy with where I am now!