Celebrating Your Independence Day
By Jenn Rockefeller
When we get away from our abusers, the last thing we think about is celebrating. All we know is that we got away and that we are free. Many of us don’t even want to think about or have anything to do with that day from that point forward. All we think about is keeping our heads above water and trying to survive.
But it is important for us to celebrate our freedom. It’s important to celebrate the day we left our abusers. It’s important to celebrate our “Independence Day.”
Why it’s important
In the beginning of my healing journey, I dreaded that day each year. It reminded me of the day I was forced out of my children’s lives. I was ashamed of my situation. All I wanted was to hide from the day and not think about what it meant. But someone in my healing journey explained to me that she views that day as an Independence Day. She explained that we as survivors need to change our mindset and think of it as a day to celebrate our freedom.
At first, I was fearful of taking those first few steps to celebrate something that I thought would always bring me down. But that person who spoke with me that day was right – in order to truly begin our healing journey, we need to change our mindset towards any “anniversaries” that roll around year after year.
It’s important to celebrate our independence because we were never given the choice before. We had our choices and our identities taken away from us. We couldn’t make our own decisions. Now, we have the freedom to do as we choose. We have the freedom to spend our time (and our money!) however we wish.
Ways to celebrate
At first it may be difficult to truly celebrate your independence. Taking those first few tentative steps outside of your situation might seem frightening. We aren’t used to doing anything without the abuser’s say so out of fear of being reprimanded.
So how can you celebrate your freedom? Below are some ways you can begin to enjoy your new-found freedom:
- Take yourself out to a movie,
- Go for a long walk,
- Spend time with friends,
- Buy that piece of clothing or jewelry you’ve been looking at,
- Laugh out loud,
- Celebrate an accomplishment at work,
- Count your blessings every day,
- Dance around to your favorite “strength” song – one that reminds you of what you overcame,
- Treat it as another birthday because it truly is a “rebirth,”
- Take a long shower or bubble bath,
- Go see your favorite musician in concert.
An article on Project Life Mastery talks about how to celebrate yourself every day. “You deserve to have your accomplishments and unique personality be recognized. When you condition your mind for success, anything is possible.”
You can begin celebrating yourself by doing little things in your everyday routine, not just the big “anniversaries” that roll around. One big way I celebrate myself every day is in the decisions I make for myself. Survivors are taught to never think for ourselves, to never make a decision without the abuser’s say so. Celebrate yourself by choosing the clothes you like to wear or where to eat dinner. Maybe you’ll make a decision that leads you down a better career path. Whatever the choice you make, just know that it’s a decision that you are making in your new life of freedom.
“When you celebrate your successes, it will motivate you to achieve more, which in turn, will elevate your confidence even more,” stated the Project Life Mastery article. Be proud of the things you have accomplished. Don’t be afraid to celebrate yourself and share your positivity with everyone. When you celebrate yourself, others will join in and celebrate too.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.
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