Before I continue to take you through my journey, it is important to note how imperative the gift of hindsight is in my being able to articulate what happened.  By themselves, the clouds that arose could be seen as harmless.  Wanting someone not to smoke is in itself harmless and a preference.  What makes it a warning cloud is the immediate flip from acceptance to demand.  Not only that, but also in the manner it was demanded instead of requested.  It was a power play.  That being said, even demanded could be seen as harmless and simply a strong opinion.  However, when you look at is as the first cloud at the start of a storm, it becomes more ominous.  In having the opportunity to talk with survivors and current victims alike, almost all can recall seemingly small instances such as this at the start of their journey.  Abusers rarely start you in the deep water. If they did, many more would leave earlier. To ensure that you stay, they have to ease you in, with little tests along the way to see how compliant you will be.  They need to tear you down mentally and emotionally to make you depend on them.  I was someone that said I would never be in a relationship like that.  As strong willed as I am, the shock was all the more for those closest to me when I finally admitted how I had been living.  It was when I was sitting in my lawyer’s office as a shell of a human, waterlogged and gasping for breath, that I was able to start the process of looking back.  Even I was bewildered as to how I ended up there.  I was not yet out of the undertow, but I was closer to the edge of it.  The more I processed and worked through what had happened, the more I could see the beach.  It was impossibly far away, but I was catching glimpses of it.  I reached a place that I no longer had interest in the deep water.  I was heading to that beach. My processing and desperation to survive for my children and myself  became my life vest.

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