The Dreadful Twist of My Teenage Life…

My life was pretty normal up until Valentine’s Day of 2001. It was a gloomy Wednesday afternoon at around 6:00 p.m. My mother came storming into the house with my father awkwardly following her. I cringed at the words that were frantically flying out her mouth — “your father was caught with another woman…” 

From that day, hell hit home. In the months that followed, I was at the eye of a storm of physical and emotional violence. Not too long after, 13 year old me was standing inside what now felt like a cold, dark empty house; I was looking out the window at dusk as I watched my mother leave with one suitcase of her belongings, headed for the airport, never to return home. In that exact moment, my heart sunk in my chest. I knew my life was never going to be the same. Since then, it’s been extremely tough picking up the pieces and just getting by; and to add insult to injury, my father was a borderline alcoholic. It felt like a nightmare waking up every day to that life — a household that was falling apart, missing countless meals, learning to take care of myself, dealing with the stigma of being from a broken home, and pursuing my education with almost no parental guidance and support.

 

The Twelve Year Toxic Relationship…

My circumstances at the time led me to a committed relationship from as early as age 16.  It was a twelve year relationship which I became quite dependent on for the support I was lacking. I assume that as the years piled on, it appeared as a healthy, happy relationship to the outside world; but it was secretly toxic. The gist of it was an unhealthy cycle that repeated itself every few months where I allowed myself to tolerate deception, unfaithfulness, disrespect, and emotional and physical mistreatment for a very long time. Every time something bad happened or I heard rumors through the grape vine, I justified it in my mind to make it seem acceptable, then quickly forgot about it and moved on like it didn’t matter.  I was somewhat oblivious to the reality of the relationship. I considered my ability to keep going as strength, but didn’t realize it was making me weaker and weaker. I didn’t known I was unhappy until the day I started to wonder what happiness felt like.

After many years of suppressing my emotions, it finally got the best of me and I became numb and nonchalant. The only thing I felt was absolutely trapped in a life that I couldn’t live a day longer. It was not the kind of life I wanted and I seriously needed to get out — but given the type of person I was in the relationship with, getting out was easier said than done. I had to prepare myself for a small window of time for when I would be alone, to literally escape unharmed. When my sliver of a chance finally came, I anxiously awaited the moment to set myself free, but to my dismay things just weren’t going as planned.  Pure agony filled every inch of my inside when my one opportunity to get out was passing by. I remember that evening — I was sitting on the couch  motionless, my mind blank — I called my best friend and said in a monotone, lifeless voice: “I can’t get to do it, he’s not going out again” — and busted into tears. Shortly after, by some heavenly miracle, I got to be alone for a while and I grabbed hold of the opportunity. Without hesitation, I desperately tossed everything I owned into garbage bags, loaded every inch of my car and fled. The taste of freedom felt surreal — this was really happening… I finally got out.

 

“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” – The Scarlet Letter

 

The Moment I Thought My Life Was Over…

I stumbled a bit to make it on my own but I was doing just fine. However, as time passed the fear of being alone and never finding someone else flooded my mind. After just a few months, I became extremely mentally weak. I caved and was back in the same relationship again. Sigh… Nothing changed. As usual, everything was swept under the carpet. The cycle started to repeat itself yet again, this time, even worse than before. In the midst of it all, there I was, holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand. I had unintentionally gotten pregnant. In an instant, I got a flash of my future and boy it sure did seem f*cked up -– I saw my older self as an unhappy divorced woman and my children were facing the same hardships I endured as a teenager. I felt completely shattered — like I’d let myself down. I saw all my dreams crashing to the floor one by one. That was it, I thought to myself… my life was over.

 

Hitting Rock Bottom…

As hard as it was to swallow, I accepted my fate and did what was required to take care of my health during the pregnancy. One morning, I woke up with an extremely high fever that I had been battling for some days before. Panic and despair quickly grew on me as I realised I was having a miscarriage…

The weeks that followed were the absolute worst experience of my adult life. Notwithstanding the emotional wreck I was, the physical pain was excruciating and left me drained and lifeless. As the days passed, I felt myself slowly drowning. I became absolutely miserable. I had no idea what to do, where to go from there, or how to pull myself up and move forward. As much as I thought I did before, it was actually at that point I had completely hit rock bottom.

 

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” ― J.K. Rowling

The Epiphany that Changed My Life…

One night while lying in bed tightly squeezing a pillow to ease the cramps, I began thinking that there was a reason why all this was happening. I couldn’t help but believe that I was being given a second shot at life to live the way I truly wanted. Just a few days after recovery, out of nowhere I met a complete stranger — Andy. He was the most remarkable person I had ever met, with  an energy so vibrant and positive that it radiated onto me. He was living an amazing life and was like a breath of fresh air. I started to believe he was sent into my life with a purpose. He introduced me to a book that opened me up to a completely different world — one I never imagined existed. I started to see life from a brand new perspective –- where I had full control, where possibilities were endless, where I could do anything and be anything I wanted.

Since then, my entire mind-set evolved. I developed new, healthy habits and grew positive, brave, and strong. I started to feel a burning desire inside me to do amazing things, become my absolute best, and live a rewarding life. In no time, I built up enough emotional strength to walk away from the toxic relationship and cut a lot of negative people out of my life. It has been a rough transition building a new life, doing things for myself, and being alone, while dealing with the criticism of friends and relatives for the life changes I made. Despite all, I had the full support of my inner circle and I was able to keep my chin up, stay strong, and focus on what truly mattered –- me.

 

“Happiness is a choice. Your choice.” — Valerie Bertinelli

 

A Stronger, Happier & Healthier Me…

Months went by and my past was still lingering. I had to battle with it over and over — dealing with threats, blackmail and guilt trips in attempt to draw me back into that old life. For a split second, I questioned if this new life was worth it, and my answer — Hell Yeah! I kept reassuring myself of the complete power I had over my life and my happiness. Since then, I have been working on being the best I can be. I have been reading and learning a lot to develop my awareness and uplift myself. I write, meditate, and journal to keep centred and focused.  I developed a positive mindset and I constantly smile. I eat healthy and train at the gym to build an amazing body. I maintain very few genuine friendships and enjoy an amazingly, beautiful relationship with Andy.

I have never been better — in just a matter of months my life and well-being took a complete 180. I’m living a radiant life — a life I never imagined possible and I know the best is yet to come. I wake up smiling every morning. I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. ‘Till today, I still look back on my life and think to myself “wow, how did I get here?” I remember wondering what real happiness felt like; now here I am — optimistic, truly happy and at peace to my core. My experiences taught me a lot, so now I’m on a mission to share my lessons and help others achieve this kind of happiness, freedom, and peace, so they too can live an absolutely radiant life.

Thank you for reading 🙂

… Keep Smiling – Love, Candace