March marked the four-year anniversary of when I left home with Theo. In past years, the first week of March has been an extraordinarily painful one in which I've reflected on what a horrible mistake I made by going to Bellingham with that miserable excuse of a man. In fact, my whole life before Theo, I admit, I was a coward. I was a spineless, weak, spoiled brat. I ran from everything that I considered "too hard" or "too stressful". Even when I returned home, pregnant, I was still looking for an escape.
I don't indulge in fantasies of running away or leaving any more. I took inspiration from my boyfriend, Tanner. I've dated this man almost four years and every single day he gets up, he makes a choice to battle his own, very real demons. It's made him stronger, and I feel very lucky to have witnessed how much he's changed for the better. The most important lesson I take from his struggles is that I should not be afraid. He's there for me when I fall and tell myself I can't go on any further. He pushes me to be stronger through example. It's the kind of relationship I've always desired.
I feel no shame in admitting how weak I was. I could look back and hate the naïve girl I was, with my delusions of fame and my obsessive, desperate need for acceptance. Spring has always been a hard time for me because it reminds me of the girl I was. I placed so much faith in people and merely expected them to be good, but that isn't the way of the world. Bellingham took away that childlike innocence and ignorance and made me a stronger woman for it. I want to be a strong as possible. I know there are a lot of women out there who have faced trauma like I have, even worse, and I want to set an example, just like Tanner did with me, that you shouldn't be afraid.
I have come to the conclusion that I may never see him behind bars for what he did to me. Does that change the fact that I still struggle? Some people would answer yes, but while it's certainly less intense, the trauma is still there. Once I made the decision to stop running from what happened I felt more at peace. My main goal now is to focus on what's in front of me: not simply recovery but the will to strengthen myself both mentally and physically. I'll always battle demons, but I know the stronger I get, the easier it will be to face them.