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  • Writer's pictureChristine Denis

A girl in search of peace

Updated: Apr 9, 2018

That would be me. I remember not so long ago hearing myself constantly repeating the phrase "I just want peace in my life". Little did I know that I would only find peace once I got rid of the people that were toxic to my very being.

I always thought of myself as an intelligent person, capable of understanding the simple and not so simple things in life. Working as the Clerk of the Court made me feel like I should have known better. But the fact is, I didn't know better. I couldn't figure out how I kept finding myself in situations where I felt so powerless. And the real question was "why do I keep attracting abuse in my life?"

Let me explain. Until now, every man I ever had a relationship with ended up beating my spirit so badly that with time, I thought I would go crazy. Let me let you in on a little secret: when you feel like you're going nuts, it actually means that you are closely approaching madness. It's your mind's way of warning you to change your path, or pack your things to go to the nuthouse.

It all started after high school. I was engaged at 17 to a guy I'll call Peter that ignored my feelings. It wasn't that way at first, but after a year of being with him, I spent most my time trying to convince Peter that I was a good person. Why I thought that was important could only be explained by my feeling ashamed that I, Christine, was in an emotionally abusive relationship. My pride got in the way of asking my family for help. So I suffered instead, defended myself against hurtful words and tried to find ways to make him love me. When I finally left Peter, I entered into a relationship that would last for 15 years.

I was deeply in love with "Eric". He showered me with his attention and it soon became apparent that I would be with him forever. Or so I thought that is. Life with Eric was like being on an emotional rollercoaster. Some days were amazing and others were very painful. Just before I got pregnant with my first child, I had the distinct feeling that I was headed for disaster. I could feel in my heart that the peace I was looking for wouldn't be found with this man whom I felt carried much pain in his heart. Why else would a person be so angry all the time? I knew it had to come from pain, I just didn't know what pain.

The day I decided to leave him, was the day I could have lost my own life. He was very perceptive and felt me backing away. He said that if I wasn't in his life, he wouldn't be able to live. He had a shotgun, I struggled to take it away from him, and I won. I felt powerful then because I had just spared his life. I made a decision that day that I could not leave Eric, for if I did, I would kill him.

I was only 24 years old when I made that choice and I took on the role of savior. He was a victim in my mind and I was to do everything in my power to save him. And I was able to save Eric for a long time. Helping him fed my ego and made me feel like a superwoman. When he was down, I would be funny and make him laugh. When he lost his job, I would find one for him. When he was in a bad mood, I would stay quiet. When he was sad, I would try and ease his pain.

When we had our first child a year later, I realized that I was a single mother. I figured out quickly that to keep him happy, I had to do it all. And I got to be pretty good at it too. Paying the bills, cooking, doing the laundry, getting the groceries, cleaning the house, bathing and feeding my daughter and taking care of my child's every day needs were my life, all the while working a full time job which was an hour and fifteen minute drive from our home. I think about it today and ask myself "what the hell were you thinking?"

But that's the thing. I wasn't thinking because I was trying to survive. And surviving is far from peaceful. The day my life fell apart was about a year after my son was born. I was 31 by then and the energy had already started to evade me. I started to feel my superwoman powers quickly escaping me. I was able to take care of one child, my husband and me, but the wonderful new addition to my life had to be taken care of too. After much contemplation, therapy and soul-searching, I came to realize that if I stayed with this man, I would eventually get physically ill. And who then would take care of my children?

I left the relationship to save myself and my children. It wasn't easy and it was incredibly painful to see the man I once loved crumble to pieces. It's the only time in my life that I truly felt depressed and lost. I remember one day trying to drop off my daughter at school so I could just get to my sister's house. While she took care of the baby, I thought I could get a grip, write out my thoughts and somehow try to find peace in a terrible situation. But my daughter wouldn't leave me. She attached herself to my leg and refused to go to school. So I put her back in the car and cried all the way to my sister's house. I rang the door bell with my son under my arm and my daughter still attached to my leg. I only remember my sister taking me in her arms and the rest is a blank.

I did get through it eventually. I started to feel peace in my life for the first time and the energy slowly filled my body again. I got to a point where I thought I was ready for a new relationship. Eight months had passed since my divorce and I was living with my best friend and her two kids. Together we were a team and we lived in a peaceful setting in the country. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come.

Do you know what it feels like to have your heart and your soul ripped out of your chest? I do. I'll call him Andy. He was attractive, polite, very intelligent, generous and a narcissist. Now if you don't know what a narcissist is, that's o.k. because I didn't know back then either. Andy was a master manipulator who made it a point of blaming me for everything under the sun. He was extremely good at it too. He used me in every way possible, took advantage of my vulnerability, my kindness and I on the under hand, took it upon myself to please him and make our relationship work.

The first eight months with Andy could only be described as a dream. Our relationship was perfect in every way. I would often see red flags but I would dismiss them because I wanted it to work. One day he would have me floating on a star, so happy, my heart would sing. The next day, he would pull the cloud from other my body and I would fall flat on the ground. When this happened, I would cry for days. Then, he'd call me, would explain that if I hadn't said this, or hadn't done that, things would still be perfect between us. So I forgave him every time and tried to be what I was supposed to be. I became his victim and he was my persecutor.

What I learned later was that everyone plays a role in a relationship. At times, we may be the savior, the victim or the persecutor. This is called the PVR triangle. In a healthy relationship, the roles interchange in a mild and balanced way. In an unhealthy relationship, the effects could be devastating.

My relationship with Andy lasted a year and a half. The effects were in fact devastating. I was the subject of incredible abuse and felt very much like the battered wife who couldn't seem to find the strength to leave him. What saved me was my family. Although Andy tried to pry me away from them, my family would remind me they would always be there for me. I finally left him but not without incident. As I packed up my things, police officers were present to keep the peace. Ah yes, peace was to be found one day I hoped.

I spent the next year single, taking care of my children. I felt peace in my life for the second time. I started meditating and the healing process started slowly. I read a lot about the law of attraction and how it worked. I managed to attract some wonderful things in my life and even made a truck disappear from my driveway. Visualization as it turns out, works with a combination of imagination and energy. In other words, like attracts like.

Peace was short lived unfortunately. I met my fourth broken man while at a bar dancing with a friend. I fell madly in love with "Charles". I could only describe him as a strong, attractive and God-like creature. I felt protected in every way and he treated me like a princess. The problem with Charles was that he had unresolved issues. He was jealous and possessive and with time, I became afraid of him.

One day, after I had spent the evening with my best friend, I came home to find my kitchen and hallway walls full of holes. Unhappy with my being so independant, Charles had decided to remind me of his strength by punching the walls with his fists. Two weeks later, obviously upset, I convinced Charles to get a job in Calgary "to give us a chance" and while he was there, I told him it was over. We had been together for eight months.

Now you might think it was a cowardly act but at that point in my life, the only thing I wanted was peace. I had been through years of abuse, neglect and endured jealousy fits, punched in walls and blame. I just wanted peace. I kept repeating the phrase constantly and I let the universe guide me to it. Soon, I found what I was looking for.

I've been in a peaceful state for a little over ten years now. I did it by learning to love myself truly and profoundly. I did it by forgiving myself for taking so much abuse. I did it by forgiving myself for all the pain I caused my children. I did it by staying single for two years, without committing to any man, until I felt I was ready to attract a kind, wonderful, respectful and loving person in my life.

Abuse doesn't find some random person. You attract it in your life. When you truly love yourself, you can only attract loving people to you. It took me a while to understand that. But I did and today I am happily married to wonderful man. We share a life based on mutual understanding, love and respect.

So the girl in search of peace found it finally. It took her a while, almost 30 years in fact. But the important thing is that every painful relationship only brought her closer to self-love. And self-love brought her to a peaceful life.

Me and my husband enjoying a peaceful day at a cottage in September 2017.

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