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I remember when I was married the first time how much I wanted to be like my friends and other women I saw with their husbands. They made decisions together. They worked on their yard together. They raised their children together. They planned their yearly vacations. They lived on his income and put hers in savings for their 'extras.' They appeared to feel valued and happy. They seemed to have a purpose in how they lived their lives.

My conscious desires conflicted with unknown dark beliefs lurking below the awareness of my mind. My relationship with my husband became an ongoing fight for survival with intermittent loving times. We both were easily deregulated. Our early attachment systems had been compromised by emotionally absent or angry stressed out parents. We didn't realize we had trauma reactive monsters waiting to react into our young idealistic forever after lives. I now believe our meeting was not an accident; the magnetic pull of two lost children emotionally desperate for love drew us together through the crowded high school hall. I had to wait for the school bus to take me to another school across town. School zoning didn't deter our meeting. He lived on the side of the school zone where he went to the school in the housing addition. I lived on the other side of the line where kids had to go to the school on the other side of town. I was bussed to his school every day for a layover until the elementary children in the area were taken to their schools. Then we got to go to ours on the bumpy yellow school bus.

I remember the electricity between us when our eyes met. I thought I must have met my soul mate. He did too. We were on again off again in high school but decided to get married when I was a senior and he came home from Viet Nam wounded and bitter. Again it was no accident. I would take care of him and make everything all right, just as I had been programmed to do in my militarily rigid abusive family system. There I learned that since I was the oldest it was responsibility to make sure everyone was taken care of, especially my mother. When she had a nervous breakdown my stepdad blamed it on my 16 year old self. Add to that toxic mix the belief that you never give up no matter how hard it gets. You just 'gutted it out' until things work or you die.

Mind you there is a level of value in some of that thinking but you really need healthy boundaries or you stay stuck too long in places, with people that aren't good for you, like I did. It took me 10 unsuccessful years of living on the fearful edge before I felt if I stayed any longer I would die or he would kill me. After I removed myself from the situation I began to realize the cost of my battle: I had lost connection with my self. That realization has taken me on a long journey to reconnect with my soul and spirit.

It is amazing looking back at what I allowed myself to put up with in the fog of self-uncertainty and my denial born of fear and terror. I've come to realize that I didn't loose as much as I once believed. In order to loose something you have to have it. I realize those dreams were never realized. I used to say they were lost. They weren't. I'm not sure which is worse having a dream and losing it or never having it but believing if you just do the right thing you will make it happen. I've done both. I'm a work in progress and I continue on my journey shirking my trauma monster and practicing thriving.

Deborah Chelette-Wilson is a relationship coach, authoress and speaker whose powerful message for women is "It's time to stop waiting for permission to be all that we can be(without being a bitch about it)." Her inspiring message helps women harness their personal power, find peace within and become part of the shift in creating healthier and more loving relationships, beginning with the one with their self. In order to honor someone else's heart you must first honor your own.

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