I’m still learning the complexities of self-respect. I used to think I had it, but as I got older I realized that really, I didn't. I was 15 when I got together with my now ex-husband who’s much older. I was in that toxic relationship for 15 years until my divorce three and half years ago. It was a vicious cycle of infidelity, violence and distrust. There were also good times in those years but they were mostly short lived. I was exhausted to live in hardship and I’d often cry and wonder if there was more to life than misery. I was regularly depressed and felt guilty for making my two children live in an unhappy home.
After I had used up all the excuses in the book for why I shouldn’t quit drinking, I ultimately made the decision to end my alcoholism for good. I wanted to see if there really was more to life than suffering. Five and half years have passed since the day I became sober and I’ve changed physically and emotionally, a lot.
Sobriety and many therapy sessions have helped me to look closely at my inner self in order to see why I continued to live in sorrow for so long. Now, I see that it was all because I lacked self-respect. The alcoholism was to distract myself from my emotional pain stemming from childhood trauma and more recent painful experiences. That had a direct impact on my self-esteem, and resulted in me allowing someone to abuse me emotionally and physically.
As time went by, I realized that I had been living in fear as a person and as a parent. Only after my daughter told me how tired she was of my unnecessary worry did I see that I had a problem. With the help of a therapist, I learned to dismantle my fears by expressing my painful experiences. Therapists have a way of guiding you to do that in a healthy way. I finally understood why I allowed myself to be in a very abusive relationship and it was because I didn’t love myself. I didn’t love myself because I had been sexually abused as a child and I also had rejection issues. With the guidance of my therapist, I finally understood that the painful events in my life were the source of my fear and lack of self-respect. As my healing continued, I discovered that my past wasn't controlling my life anymore.
The more I continue forward on this self-actualization journey, the more I see that as individuals, we unknowingly allow people to treat us how we see ourselves. If we lack self-esteem, we can’t really stand up for ourselves and walk away from unhealthy situations. The more I healed, the more intolerant I became to any form of abuse. My abusers didn’t change. I changed. In my personal opinion, we are a reflection of the person we are in a relationship with. If we are unhealthy emotionally, then we attract and gravitate towards people who are unhealthy too. If we are healthy emotionally, then we attract and gravitate towards healthy people.
Recovery isn’t an easy path for those of us who’ve been abused in different ways. But I've found this healing journey necessary in order to experience real happiness and successful relationships. It's been a choice on my part.
My life today:
Since I've quit drinking, my focus in life has been rebuilding my relationship with my two kids and getting healthier physically and emotionally. I have lost 45 pounds and I maintain my fitness by training at the gym two to four times a week. I eat a balanced diet, too. I have never felt better overall. I want to be a positive influence on my kids and show them to work hard for what they want in life. Any relationship requires effort and commitment, so I try my best to communicate my feelings. I now also trust my judgement. I know my talents and I’m not afraid to push myself to develop them even more. I know my worth and I simply don’t question it anymore.
Beatrice Deer is a singer, a seamstress, and an advocate for good health. Listening to her voice is like crunching through the thin ice that you find in the early mornings of spring: it is crisp, beautiful and oh-so-enjoyable. Beatrice performs along with her band of talented musicians, singing both in Inuktitut and English. She travels North to perform and to reconnect with her family on a regular basis. Her advocacy towards healthy living has made her a role model for many Inuit, young and old.