I have always been a dreamer. As a child, I would dream of being a famous actor. As a teenager, I would dream of living in a faraway country, writing bestselling novels. As an adult, I would dream of owning a large house in the countryside, making art for a living. In those dreams, there would also be a loving partner who idolised me and treated me like a princess.
But that’s all those dreams were, just dreams. Wishes inside my head that were my way of escaping all the horrors that no one should ever have to endure.
As a child, I was born into a dysfunctional family, neglected and abused. As a teenager, I was rebellious and formed unhealthy and dangerous relationships. As an adult, I ended up in a violent relationship, fearing for my life every single day.
But those dreams got me through my horror movie of an existence, until one day, I decided to make them come true.
- The first thing I did was to buy myself a notepad and write every dream, wish and goal. No matter how big or small, I got it all down on paper and it suddenly felt like a great load had been lifted from my shoulders. My main goal was to escape the clutches of the madman controlling me. I wrote everything I needed to do in that notepad and kept it hidden at the back of my wardrobe. So if you do only one thing today, then let it be that you write down all your dreams. Because once you write them down they become goals.
- The next thing I did was to visualise that big brave dream as if it had already come true. Every spare moment that I had, I would let my mind wander. I would imagine myself living in a nice home in a pretty little town far away. I would be happy doing things just for me and without anyone yelling at me or kicking and punching me until I couldn’t breathe. I would imagine having a great job, new friends and basically having a life.
- Then I created lots of little reminders to keep me motivated and my eyes on the prize. My prize was FREEDOM. I would use post it notes with words of encouragement in places only I would see. I even wrote things on the palm of my hand. Things like: “You can do this” I would sometimes cut out images from magazines, that represented my dream and stuff them inside an envelope. I would get them out and look at them when I was on my own. I couldn’t create a vision board with the images because my abuser would definitely find that and give me a good telling off. No everything had to be in secret and at the back of my wardrobe.
- Then I created an action plan with mini goals and action steps. As an example here is what I wrote in that notebook:
- Pack an escape bag
- Secretly save some money
- Speak to someone
- Stay out of his way
- Choose the day and time to leave, if not sooner
So I packed a bag and hid that at the back of my wardrobe (It was a very big wardrobe) Every day I would put any spare money in a purse in the bag. Another day I walked into the police station and asked how someone could leave an abusive relationship without them finding you and the policewoman gave me a leaflet about Women’s Aid. That got hidden in the bag and a day and time was fixed in my head. It was the scariest time of my life but I knew that if I didn’t follow this through I would be dead within a year: either by his hand or by my own.
I celebrated every achievement, no matter how small it was. Those celebrations were things like: waiting until he left for work, playing loud music and dancing round the house with the kids.
Yes, I had four young children all under the age of 7, but I did it. I made my dreams come true by believing I could do it and taking action. The day I left was terrifying, exhilarating and overwhelming, but I waited for him to drive off to work and within an hour I walked out my front door and got in a taxi to the train station. The train journey lasted 5 hours but I eventually landed in Wales and went into a woman’s refuge. I got my nice house in a pretty little town with the help of Women’s Aid and a really nice life. And trust me when I say:
“If I can do it, then so can you.”
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