One day, shortly after I'd turned 28 years old, I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror. Outside was my husband, screaming and banging the door, yet I could barely hear him. I was staring into the eyes of the woman in front of me, looking for something I could recognize. A sign that she wasn't completely gone.
Eight years earlier, following a sexual assault, I'd been diagnosed with chronic PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
Now I know this is not true, but it was like the diagnosis immediately turned me into a magnet for bad situations. Including marrying an abusive man.
(There's a real reason for this but I'll save it for a future podcast episode or book.)
I'm sharing this because this was my turning point.
You know how people say you have to hit bottom before you do something about it? This was my bottom and I didn't think I was going to make it out alive.
I texted my mom, "If I disappear, can you come and get Molly?".
Molly was my dog and I didn't want her alone with my husband who had started planning on how he would get rid of me.
While looking into the mirror, a thought came to me. To escape him and the house I was trapped in, I would have to make some changes.
I couldn't keep doing the same thing I'd been doing for almost a decade of my life.
Therapy sessions, medications, self-help books... everything except the knowledge I was born into. Our Indigenous knowledge.
Here's the thing. As long as we are just managing our symptoms of the survival instinct (in my case, PTSD, depression, etc), which is what we do with western coping methods, all of our energy goes to just keeping our heads above the water.
But if we use our instincts right, if we let them move through their cycle, allowing us to rest and heal our wounds in between the fights, we become stronger.
And I needed strength to get out.