Anna Smith thank you! It’s been years in the making. We were together from 2014-2019 and I tried to leave twice with an order of protection each time…I always went back. But when he left to be with his final affair (during my tenure anyway) and headed to CA, I received the greatest blessing I’ve ever been given other than my children. I hibernated for a bit as I was shellshocked and then after about a year I threw myself into every narcissist recovery tool I could possibly find (therapy, Pinterest narcissist recovery videos during Covid, self empowerment training, a lot of prayer, a new health journey and a vision journal) and started my rise from the ground up determined to come out stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. With the attacks on me not ceasing after the divorce and in some ways, actually worse in than ever before, I was determined I was not going to spend the rest of my life feeling the way he made me feel. Like dying. I wanted to live and I wanted to live more than I had ever lived before. I think he truly thought he was going to break me when he left for California and I was left on my own and practically on the bottom rung of the ladder from everything. I had been a stay at home mom with Kenzie so my résumé had big gaps, my self-esteem was beyond in the toilet, I was 80 pounds overweight from mood stabilizer medicine that makes you gain weight that I had been taking to numb the pain of depression, anxiety and PTSD (and because I thought I was the problem) and the attacks kept coming and coming and coming. They still keep coming. All the time. My favorite phrase is the fire inside of me burned brighter than the fire around me. When the support and maintenance tanked four months into the agreement and I was left 1400 negative per month just to pay actual bills, the last power he had over me left. Up to that point, I had still been bending over in order to survive financially. So I threw myself into figuring out a solution. Working seven days a week at two jobs with Kenzie in tow for the weekend job, finding a better paying full time paralegal job, etc. The problem with trying to break me was it ignited who I am as a person and I’m a fighter/warrior. I have an enormous heart but I am also a fighter in terms of surviving and thriving. I go down every once in a while with PTSD symptoms from what still goes on currently but I don’t stay down for more than a little less than an hour or so. Depending on how many messages roll in at once; yesterday 8 came at me all in succession. Normally I just watch the attacks float by like a passing cloud unless I’m having a particularly bad day or something and then they get to me a little bit more. Today… Man do I love my life. I have an amazing job, my amazing kids have their mom back and I am blessed with them, my creativity and talents are in full swing, my relationship with my mighty God is on fire, I have more girlfriends than I have ever had before in my life and an amazing boyfriend after I had decided to stay single forever (and if it doesn’t work out, it’s not going to rock me either; almost every date I went on prior to this, I cut contact because of a potential red flag or because it wasn’t right for me, etc. I pay attention to my gut more than I ever have in my life and I’m not settling for anything. I don’t need anyone to share my life like that so if I allow someone in to compliment my life and for me to compliment theirs, it’s going to be with a very discerning and wise heart) and as soon as I am able to, if God equips me to have enough time and to be strong enough to absorb it, I want to help other women so bad. Because you are correct, not everyone makes it out. And that breaks my heart. The phrase that I came up with in 2014 that I think he still copies and purports as his own to this day was “speak your truth with love and grace”…I try to do that to the best of my ability because that is in accordance with my character. But I think today I speak my truth with love, grace and I have since added tenacity, when it is called for.