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It’s My Life

It’s fascinating how music can transform us to a different place or another time. Just hearing the intense music and the haunting lyrics of a song today transported me into the darkness of another time—nighttime, sitting and sobbing in my car, contemplating the ongoing fear and trauma I had suffered.

I rationalized that he had only raped me that one time and had only punched me twice and how it had been a few years since then and he hadn’t hit me since. Suddenly, the lyrics, “it’s my life” pierced the airwaves, cutting through my thoughts just as I came to the realization that I had told myself I loved him so many times that I actually believed it. I didn’t love him; I simply didn’t love myself enough to leave.

I didn’t have the money to leave, or even much of a means to earn money due to illness, but at that moment I needed to leave. Not knowing how I could proceed, I set forth with little more than some clothes, a bed, and a miniscule bank account balance—little more than enough to cover first and last month’s rent. Somehow, I told myself, I would figure things out.

I still remember his words when I told him that I was never able to get over the fact that he had raped me years before, “Is that what you call it?” “No,” I stated emphatically, “that’s what it’s called,” then turned without further discussion and walked home to my new apartment. I don’t remember whether I cried or felt pride at having stood up to him, but I remember that each step felt closer to freedom. Somehow, I would be okay, maybe even begin to heal and find happiness.

A smile crept across my face today as I heard the song again, all these years later. Not only had I been okay, I had begun to discover that I didn’t need to settle in life and that I deserved so much more than the abuses I had endured. A newer, happier, me had emerged along the way. I mouthed the lyrics feeling pride at the strength I had shown all those years ago: “It’s my life. Don’t you forget.”

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