Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Moving Myself Up the "People Who Deserve Happiness" List

Have you found yourself at the bottom of, or left off of, the People Who Deserve Happiness list? Let me clarify what I mean by happiness. It’s the right to do that which feeds your spirit -- what you believe you were placed on this tiny amazing planet, in this tiny remarkable place, to do. I know happiness is the journey, not the destination. I’m talking about the right to pursue your dream, your mission. Whatever it be. (If you believe you were meant to be a serial killer, child -or any kind of - abuser, or if you’re an aspiring dictator - I’m not talking to you. Go away.)
Many of us were raised using shame and guilt. “If you were a good girl/boy, you would (or wouldn’t)....” We were told that no one would like us if we didn’t keep our room clean, our mouths shut, and put others first. There’s the rub. We were indoctrinated to put our needs and wants on hold, while helping other achieve theirs. The result for us -- a free-fall to the bottom of, or off of, the People Who Deserve Happiness list.
From there it was an easy step for me to marry a controlling man who expected his needs to be met on demand. When I’d ask, “Hey, what about me? When is it my turn?” He’d call me selfish and uppity. He made it clear that “my time” would never come.
Eventually, I quit asking. 
When I left my abuser, I didn’t know what I wanted or needed. It took time to rediscover my passion in life -- then to feel that pursuing my passion was equally as important as it was for others to pursue theirs. It was a process of learning to feel comfortable taking care of myself. How do I not become a bully? When are my needs top priority? When do I acquiesce to others and for how long?
Let’s let this blog be a place where we can talk about how we are relearning to value ourselves, feed our spirits, and grow into our intended selves. How we can claim our happiness, while still respecting, caring for and loving others. And, of course, let’s discuss any of your questions or thoughts related to my book, “But He’ll Change; End the Thinking that Keeps You in an Abusive Relationship.”
I hope you will join me on this journey.


  1. How do you figure out what your wants and needs are? Have you? How did you do it?

  2. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to you. October was a busy month and I hadn’t looked at my blog. I’m sorry I left you hanging.
    Your question is important.
    First, I had to disengage from my ex. That took group therapy and writing in my journal, spewing out the hurt and anger until I could get far enough past the bulk of the pain to be able to see myself again. Then it was a matter of asking myself questions like “Why am I eating this? Is it because I alway did or because I like the taste of it?” “Why am I doing this activity? What am I getting out of it? How does it make me feel to do this?” “Does this person (or activity) feed my spirit or drain it?” I spent time sitting with my feelings. Sometimes crying, other times exploring a feeling I couldn’t identify. The hard part was letting the feeling happen. I discovered that I would tighten up the muscles in my body and want to press the pain down and not feel it. I learned to let it come, and experience it. I discovered that when I allowed it to come, let it hurt, the pain would eventually evaporate. Sometimes that same issue would come up again. But, after a while of allowing the hurt, it left for good.
    As I began to see what fed my spirit, I could also see where my spirit needed more attention. Healthy eating, exercise, spending time in nature, reading inspiring books and listening to inspiring music. I found myself staying away from movies that were violent or depressing. I am still in process. But I am more in touch with who I am and less likely to betray her. Also, I’m working on not being too hard on myself when I fail. Just pick myself up and move on.

  3. Hello Joanna,
    I found your blog from the Beehive site where you talk about informing teens. I am so pleased to hear there is some education in some places on this subject. So many people grow up without a clear expectation of what is acceptable behaviour within relationships and are hurt as a result. Vital work! Keep it up. :-)

  4. Hi, Bex,
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, it's so important to teach teens what a healthy relationship is. The up-front work is vital to put an end to abuse. Glad you stopped by my blog.

  5. Hello Joanna,
    I met you from the bee hive site and was totally connecting to "But He'll change" and have unfortunately kept that thought for almost 30 years.I am so torn as I see my children suffering the affects I thought had only been directed to me. Now they are all adults including the son I had with a disability after physical abuse and more recently seizures. Please tell me there is a better way to see this. How can I get your book?

  6. Hi, Nnnurse, I'm sad to hear you have been struggling with this issue. I understand your concern about your children. I had the same concern. I wish I could say that abusers do change. They can, but they have to truly want to change and do the work. Very few do. If I learned anything from my experience it is that the only person I can change is me.
    My book is available online at (lowest price). It is also available at If you go to Hazelden's site, you can search for But He'll Change and click on one of the books. There is a link there that will allow you to read the introduction and first chapter free. There is also a link that will allow you to down load a pdf file that has my interviews with experts on the subject. There is no change for this file. Barnes & Noble also carries But He'll Change. Please keep in touch and let me know how things are going for you. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them. You can also email be directly at
    Take care of yourself

  7. i'm in an abusive relationship my problem is i'm not a resident of us i've a child for the guy right now he beat me up so and bite me all over i've a black eye i need to go bk to my country with my daughter plz help me

  8. His behavior is horrendous. You do not deserve this kind of treatment. I'm attaching 2 links to organizations that can help you. These links will help you find the closest group to you. You and your child deserve to be treated with love and respect. I'm glad you are ready to reach out for help. You don't need to be a US citizen to get help.

  9. I have been through an emotionally destructive relationship. It has been about 2 years and I am just starting to feel like the old me. Change in this case is good. It was not easy but glad I had the courage to move on. Time heals many wounds and forgiving my former partner has allowed me to move on to a better more peaceful environment.

  10. Hello Joanna ,
    I am writing a paper for school on domestic violence, a cause that I am very passionate about because I too am a survivor. I came across the beehive and your blog and I am glad I had a chance to comment on how grateful I am for you and others like you that empower women through speaking out against domestic violence. What really caught my eye was your definition of domestic abuse ; The systematic suffocation of another person's spirit......for some reason I haven't put in any other way that reached me like that did . I have been away from my last abusive relationship for nine months now and I am beginning to heal . Ah this time I am going to school and taking human services , working on getting a bachelor's degree so I can hopefully help other victim's turn their life around and say no more to the violence . Thank you for being here and for sharing so much with everyone , I will have to read your book . Take care ....

    1. Thank you for your comment. I wish you continued healing and a bright future.

  11. Hi...
    Glad I Found This Site
    I Always Indirectly Find Something
    That Speaks In Volumes
    Thank U For This
    I'm Listening :)

  12. I'm glad you found it, too. Welcome.

  13. hi i am in emotionally and physically relationship i have recently left one and i am back in one how could this happen what am i supposed to do

  14. Let me say first- You don't deserve to be abused. There is nothing you can do that is so awful that another person has the right to degrade, humiliate, or trample your self-esteem.

    It's not unusual for us to find ourselves in another abusive relationship after leaving one. That's why it's important to take time to heal before you get involved with someone new.

    The best thing you can do for yourself is to connect with a women's shelter in your area. You don't need to live there to receive help, participate in their support groups, have someone to talk to about how you feel, also, someone to help you through the legal process if you need to go that route.

    I highly recommend therapy with someone trained to work with victims of abuse. (It's very important that they are trained in this area.) The shelter can help you find a good therapist. Often they can recommend someone who charges on a sliding scale, if money is an issue. Group therapy is another cost-effective way to get help.

    You can read up on the issue of domestic abuse, so you understand what is happening to you, how abusers manipulate victims. Of course, I recommend my book :) but also Why Does He Do That, by Lundy Bancroft and Getting Free by Ginny NiCarthy. There are other helpful book available. Take a look at your local library.

    Thanks for contacting me. If it's safe for you, you can friend me on Facebook. Let me know how thing go for you.