As a mom, we all have some scars. Whether it’s the stretch marks from our pregnancies or the healed cut of a C-section, we’ve learned to live with them. Some have been expected and others have come from trials. Most times we become proud of them. We know they have made us into who we are and given us even more life.
Sometimes it takes some time to get there. Some scars heal slowly. Some scars we never thought we’d have.
Six years ago, I got a call from my sister. Abby is only 18 months older than me so we’ve always been really good at being best friends or worst enemies, depending on the year. That year, I’d been gone away at college and Abby had just had her second baby boy. She’d been living with the father of the baby, Eric, in an apartment and I hadn’t seen her in a while – other than for the birth. That’ll happen when you add a college schedule with a busy mom life.
But, it was summer break and I was home. In fact, I was just finishing working on July 5th and got a call from Abby.
“Can you come pick me up?”
“Yes, I’m at Frisch’s.”
“Eric finally left the house for a minute and I need you pick me up right now.”
“How did you get to Frisch’s?”
“With the 4-week old baby?!”
I got in my car and headed down. It was about a thirty-minute drive so I started to worry and called her back.
“Are you in danger right now?”
“I don’t know. Can you just hurry?”
“I mean, should you be hiding somewhere? Does he have a gun?”
“I don’t know. Just get here.”
It was a big assumption. But, they didn’t live in the best part of town and I could hear something in her voice. Since she had the baby, and even before, Abby had distanced herself from my family. Being at college, it wasn’t as noticeable to me. My assumption came from the history she had, being in relationships with manipulating (narcissistic, abusive, selfish) men.
I finally arrived to pick her up. She came out, fastened the baby in with the car seat, and hopped in.
I can’t remember anything else. I don’t really want to. I remember she had many, many bruises. Too many to count. I remember she had some chipped teeth. And those were just observations physically. What was going on internally can’t be put into words.
This week she got her teeth corrected. Six years later. They are beautiful. She is beautiful. So is her smart, healthy six-year-old boy.
The teeth were last to heal. The bruises went first. Then, starting a life without Eric. A steady job and a new apartment. Then, counseling and time. Day by day, minute by minute, she had to be a warrior not only for herself but for her son.
Over the years, she will always be healing. But she will always be a warrior, also. When I asked her how her experience has shaped her, she said all negative things. She’s easy to anger, self-conscious, uses humor to deter negative emotions, etc.
While those things all still may need healing, I see many other ways this experience has shaped her.
It made her a better mother by putting her and her baby first. It brought her closer to her family, who now live minutes away and are an integral part of their lives. It made her stronger in her faith and taught her what real love is and what real love is not.
While no one should have to experience domestic violence, it happens day after day and year after year. As Abby can attest to, it does not have to be a dead end. It will be a process and take some healing, but you can come out on the other side before it’s too late.
I hope one day, Abby can be proud of how she has risen despite the scars she has endured. I hope she always knows her self-worth and is confident. I hope she knows no matter what, I will pick up the phone every time.
Before she read this, I asked Abby for a closing statement, a piece she’d like to share with anyone who may be suffering from domestic violence or continually healing from it. Here’s what she said:
“You can get out. Make a conscious decision to intentionally be free. Then, make it every day. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.”