Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
When a custody battle forces her to the mirror of her truth, a woman finds a source of profound healing that shifts her life forever
I spent most of my teens and twenties desperately seeking love, acceptance, and approval from others while paying no mind to myself. The more I worried about what everyone else thought of me, the less I mattered to myself. I transformed into whoever I needed to be to satisfy the needs and expectations of others. I ran on anxiety, fearing I wasn’t good enough, then diminishing myself trying to prove my worth.
It’s no wonder I ignored the red flags, married a man I did not love, and lost precious years of my life trying to escape from his abuse. I struggled like a madwoman, unable to break free. The more I tried the worse things seem to get.
I was a broken girl trying to fix my problems from the same brokenness that caused them. I kept at it, proud of my ability to persevere. Surviving felt like thriving, chaos and dysfunction felt like home. I never considered another way.
A Course in Miracles states:
“Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way.”
My tolerance for pain reached its limit when my ex went for the jugular and sued me for custody of our boys. Faced with the threat of losing them, I fell to my knees begging for peace. There’s a scene in my book, I Got It from Here, where a court decision rocked my world:
Time with my boys felt like scraps of bread and water. I saw a grated window high above me, the sunlight clear but out of reach, to be enjoyed by everyone but me. I gasped for air, unable to breathe. I believed I was a decent person, but I began to question what I was being punished for. I wanted to fall to my knees and plead, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me, and please let me have my babies back. Please, I’ll be good. I’ll follow the rules. Please just let me have my children.”
I finally surrendered, not to my ex but to a higher power. Please God, help me. I was ready to heal.
When the student is ready the teacher will appear. During the darkest days of the custody battle I read A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson and felt a pull towards something familiar, a call to peace and joy. I soaked up her teachings like a sponge, her wisdom led me to my practice of A Course in Miracles. Once I embarked on my spiritual journey, things began to shift. I took small breaks from the chaos and cherished the calm that came over me when I connected to Source. The Course was teaching me things I somehow already knew to be true.
One of my favorite quotes from the Course is:
“Let me look on the world I see as the representation of my own state of mind.”
That wasn’t easy to accept at first, but once I did, I took back ownership of my life. I wasn’t at the mercy of others after all; I didn’t have to live in fear. I had the power in me all along! I stopped focusing on what was happening to me and humbly looked at what was going on inside of me. I softened a bit as I examined my wounds — guilt, shame, resentment, anger, anxiety, sadness — and tended to them with compassion. It’s interesting that I had been begging for forgiveness when I pleaded with a higher power to help me during the custody battle. I didn’t do anything wrong; what was I begging for forgiveness for?
Turns out I had to forgive myself for all the times I betrayed myself.
Thankfully, young me was forgiving but in a way that forgiveness wasn’t even needed, as if nothing ever happened, as if no time has passed. I reconnected with my lost self and promised to never abandon her again.
As I healed from within, my external circumstances began to improve. My ex didn’t seem to have power over me anymore. In fact, he never did. Little by little, I cleared my mind and calmed my fears. I accessed a strength in me that required no action, no defense; I accessed the power of love. Call it divine intervention, call it a miracle, all I know is the custody battle began to shift in my favor. There’s another scene in my book where I am walking out of Family Court untouchable, having just experienced a win I knew came from the power within me:
A Chill ran up my spine as I sensed demons blazing behind me, but I didn’t dare look back. I had to let them melt away while I kept walking. With each step, I felt a layer of anguish shed from me. As the layers shed, I discovered glimmers of myself. Francesca was still there.
That’s right, I rose from the ashes. I was stronger than my ex had given me credit for. I was stronger than I had given myself credit for. Never again. I Got It from Here.
You may also enjoy reading Interview: Marianne Williamson | A Return to Love and Consciousness, by Kristen Noel.