Inner Strength & Blessings
Shenae Osborn, LMSW, MA
One of my best friends is going through a really difficult time right now in her marriage. Seeing her cry takes me back to when I was going through things in my former marriage. It didn’t take me back to the actual partnership but rather the things that were done to me on so many levels and how it impacted my kids along with me. The divorce was a blessing. For me, I was alone. I was so fortunate to have my mother- in-law help in many ways but she also knew that I had to walk alone in many ways. I was isolated from my own family and many friends due to circumstances in the marriage. You see, I did not realize at the time, but I was a victim of psychological, financial, and even sexual abuse in my relationship. I was so enveloped in what my husband at the time wanted I could not recognize the signs of the abuse I was enduring. It wouldn’t be until much later that I would become aware and then fear set in along with increased manipulation on his part. As I see what my friend is going through and the manipulation and emotional abuse she has been and continues to endure I can’t help but reflect on what I went through. As weird as this sounds, I feel like my pain and suffering can be blessings for others. I chose to learn from what I went through.
In learning from my experiences and choosing to obtain a master’s degree in social work, I hope to be able to offer greater support to my friend, and others, as she asks me for advice. The thing about advice is that one must be very careful with how we offer it. We must remember that nobody’s life is exactly like yours so ensuring others that their difficult situations will all work out- and they usually do- also means reminding them that your advice is based on what you went through and may or may not be a good option to follow through on but something to consider. We should empower our friends to make their own decisions while feeling supported. Help them understand they are not alone, and their situation is similar to others. This often helps a person feel less alone, less isolated.
It truly takes a tribe. I was blessed to create an amazing tribe. It took time, patience, and understanding. Based on what I went through, it wasn’t a surprise that people tread carefully around me. Was I the person others, unknown but known to my ex, portrayed me to be? Was I still under my ex’s spell? Was I still naïve? These were not irrational questions. Suffering, learning, and growing, I realized we do need to take a moment to view the scene and look for exit signs. We need to protect not only ourselves but those around us. How you choose to live your life will determine the people that will be around you. It says a lot about who you are. My mom, who I reconnected with after 8 years and now is a huge support in my life, stated, “tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are”. Tons of truth to this. My tribe started with my mother-in-law and came to grow to many more wonderful, supportive people. We can’t go through life without depending on others. It would be naïve to think this can be done.
When we see our loved ones in distress, we won’t always have the answers but simply being there for them to talk to and feel supported is an amazing gift. My friend will get through this because she has support, something I really didn’t have at the time I was going through my difficult times. She has love and the experience of others to get her through this very trying and difficult time but most importantly, she has knowledge growing within her that will eventually make her stronger and a blessing to others in the future when she can reflect back to her experiences and know- it will all be okay just take it one day at a time.
Picture by Sasint