Celebrate with me today
Today, April 20th, is the fourth anniversary of a very special day in my life.
The anniversary of my rebirth.
This rebirth was not a religious experience, but it was something totally pure, amazing and healing.
It had nothing at all to do with the Society, or rather, of freeing myself from it.
It was however, a giant first step in that direction.
Today is the fourth anniversary of the day I got letter that changed everything. The words on the pages were alive, and magical: they released me from my old life and for the first time. I saw life no longer in black and white. I saw it in rich, glorious Technicolor.
I stopped seeing in tunnel vision. Finally, my eyes broadened and saw the full scope of my life. Not just what
it was at the time (which was in shambles) but what it could be.
Four years ago today, Justin said "I love you."
I was at the time quietly going about the business of getting my affairs in order. Planning my exit from this life
into what I believed would be a peaceful sleep, free of pain. I thought so little of myself at the time the man I was married to at the time convinced me that I was worth so little, that I imagined my child would be better off if she were raised by someone else. Someone who could be happy, because I didn't believe I ever could be.
With this declaration that he loved me, without expecting anything in return, Justin gave me the keys to freedom. Even though I never imagined then that we would ever meet in person, he said that he knew the
position I was in, that I was "trapped", and that he would be there to be my friend, supporter, a safe place for me to fall apart, no matter what happened.
Even though he was hundreds of miles away from me, and I'd never heard his voice or seen his face other than in pictures, I felt closer to him than I ever had to anyone in the world. I knew that he accepted me exactly the way that I was: something that no one else in my life had ever done, especially not my Witness family.
I didn't have to be anything or do anything to earn his love. In fact, I didn't even try to make him love me: it just happened and it shocked the hell out of both of us. He didn't know how I would react to his announcement. He
told me later that he believed that I'd never speak to him again after he said what he felt.
At the time I felt a sadness about loving him in return. I didn't believe I could ever get free of the man who controlled everything in my life. The man who I had to ask for five dollars if I wanted to take my child to McDonalds: the man who told me what I should wear, how much I should weigh, how to wear my hair, and what I was allowed to think and feel. The man who called me every filthy name in the book and berated my performance as a mother at every opportunity. The man I could never, ever please no matter what I did.
It was with those three magic words, the greatest gift anyone has ever given me. that I began to even imagine that my life could be different. They broke the spell of the words that Mike had been saying to me for so long:
Words I still hear echoed in my nightmares.
"Do you think anyone will treat you better than I do?"
The road to freedom was built with that first stone. From that day I began building my path to freedom, even though I didn't realize at the time that was what I was doing. Though it seemed impossible to even fathom on the day I read Justin's letter, just four days short of a year later I was legally divorced, and planning to meet Justin in person for the first time (which happened a month after the divorce was final)
Without Justin I certainly wouldn't be alive today. He gave me a new life, and that in turn helped create a totally new life for my child as well. I am grateful to him for so many reasons. He not only gave me the gift of his love, he showed me how to begin to accept myself, and that gave me the vision to create a new life.
I never imagined that I'd ever stand before him, look into his eyes and be able to hear him whisper I love you in my ear. But he believed in me. And in beginning to see myself through his eyes, I realized that I was a hell of a lot stronger than I ever imagined.
So celebrate with me today, my friends. Remember that no matter how desperate your life seems at times, that one day, one hour, one moment can change it forever for the better.
Rejoice in the possible that rises above the improbable: the victory over obstacles that everyone in our lives considered insurmountable except the two of us.
Don't let anyone tell you what you can't be. Instead trust in the ability you have to be anything that you want.
Peter Gabriel said what I'm trying to say very well in the song Wallflower...
"They put you in a box
so you can't get hurt
let your spirit stay unbroken,
may you not be deterred:
You have gambled with your own life
and you face the night alone
while the builders of the cages
sleep with bullets, bars and stone,
They do not see your road to freedom,
that you build with flesh and bone."
To those of you still fighting...don't give up on finding love, happiness, and peace in this life. It can happen. I'm
To Justin, who is now my husband, Thank you Imzadi, for not giving up and walking away
like everyone warned you to do. Thank you for believing in me, when I couldn't believe
in myself. For seeing that goal at the end on days when my eyes were too clouded by
tears to see it myself. You truly saved me "in every way a person can be saved."
I love you, with all my heart.
"There's no one in the universe as magical and wonderous as you."
Wow ess that was beautiful! Hugs to both of you! You just never know do you...what that kind word at that exact moment in time can do...to send ripples around the world. :)
Happy day for you Es. Have great hopes and dare to go all out forthem...Have great dreams and dare to live them...Hope tremendous expectations and believe in them.....Always thanks for your support , nojw
I'll celebrate with you!
I'm just imagining what that must have felt like to finally meet for the first time, how incredible. I would have been shaking in my shoes. I really hope you're going to write a book of your experiences or at least send this to Oprah! It would inspire a lot of women, not just exjw's you know.
I'm going to raise my coffee (upgraded to cappucino) towards your 4 year anniversary.
Essie, Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us this morning. Love and happiness to you always. Seven
Thanks ladies!!! :) Love that graphic, Seven, you're such a sweetheart!
Doubtingsis, I will never, ever forget the moment he got off the plane and I finally
set eyes on him. That was the defining moment of my life. I will write about it one of
these days, I remember every detail and I know I will keep that with me for life.
I remember the first things we said to eachother. I'd been pacing the airport terminal for hours
before his plane came in. I remember that there was a man waiting for a flight who was watching
me, all dressed up, pacing back and forth in high heeled boots that made clicking sounds
on the floor as I moved. He smiled at me as I wrung my hands nervously, I think that he thought that I must be waiting for God himself to pull up to the gate.
When the plane finally arrived, it seemed as though a million senior citizens made their way down the
jetway. The crowd finally started to thin, and I thought, "Oh God, he changed his mind, or
missed his plane, or..."
Then suddenly, there he stood. It was just like watching his picture come to life, and I
had never seen a more breathtaking sight in my life. He finally made his way through the crowd
and walked up to me. I don't remember this, but he tells me that I had my hands over
my mouth when I said my first words to him:
"Oh my god, look at you!"
He reached out and touched my face, gently, as if he was
afraid that I'd disappear if he got too close.
"Why were you worried? Why on earth were you worried? You're
so beautiful." he whispered.
(I had told him that I hoped he wouldn't be disappointed when he finally saw me in person)
He hugged me and buried his face in my hair and said "You smell so good..." and I laughed.
We stood there in the terminal for a long time, just holding eachother. He finally whispered I love you,
and I said it back, words that we'd waited more than a year to say in person. The most
beautiful sound I'd ever heard in my life.
We were both shaking really hard and pale as ghosts, so we decided to just sit down for awhile.
We sat down at an empty gate and just stared at eachother for awhile.
We held hands so tightly our fingers went numb, and when we felt like we could walk toward baggage
claim, we only got so far before he finally stopped walking, turned to me and kissed me.
I will never forget what he said after that first kiss. We'd already discussed marriage
at that point, but still it was amazing to hear:
"That's it...now that you've kissed me, you have to marry me. You don't have a choice."
Every time we walk past that spot in the airport, we get sentimental...
I just can't stop smiling today...
thanks again for celebrating with us!!! :)
love you all
Beautiful and moving. Wishing you bothe love and the best always,Tina
Congrats Essie! Reminds me of the first time I met the man I married.We were penpals and he came where I lived and I met him at the airport...so nervous that I wouldn't be what he expected.We had been writing back and forth for months and talking on the phone..no e-mails back then..lol..That was 20 years ago!We have been married 17 years..18 on newyears eve..so I KNOW how you felt meeting the man you loved for the first time.Best wishes for a long life together :)
powerful words, deep emotion, wonderfully written, you give hope to many who may find themselves in your former position. congratulations on finding happiness and stating it so beautifully.
Essie and Justin,
Congratulations on this wonderful day. What a beautiful story of overcoming the odds! It reminds me of the phoenix rising from the ashes.
When you have been oppressed, and you find an escape, it makes you all the more appreciative of what you have when you find something truly good. It teaches you to not take anything for granted.
Pop open that champagne! It's time to celebrate. I'm so happy for you. <toast; raise your glasses> "To Love!"