DEAR ABBY: After a childhood scarred by physical and verbal abuse, I married an abusive man from whom I endured 12 years of physical and emotional mistreatment. I am often asked why I remained and put up with such treatment -- why I didn't just get out.
I compare myself in those days to a beaten dog -- timid, withdrawn and distrustful, yet loyal and even forgiving to its owner after being beaten. Why would humans be any different?
I am now free of this abusive man, and in retrospect, I realize that I was programmed to believe the way I did. However, I have been deprogramming myself since those terrible years, and I have succeeded in developing a measure of confidence and self-worth. In fact, I'm a wonderful human being!
I read the poem you published some time ago by Veronica Shoffstall called "After a While" over and over, and I even have a copy of it framed on my wall. I, too, will continue to learn -- with every goodbye, I learn. -- HEALING IN MINNESOTA
DEAR HEALING: Congratulations on your renewed self-esteem and your positive steps to recovery. "After a While" is a favorite of mine, too, and I'm pleased to share it again with my readers.
AFTER A WHILE by Veronica Shoffstall
After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and sharing a life
and you learn that love doesn't mean possession
and company doesn't mean security
and loneliness is universal.
And you learn that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman
not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build your hope on today
as the future has a way of falling apart in mid-flight
because tomorrow's ground can be too uncertain for plans
yet each step taken in a new direction creates a path
toward the promise of a brighter dawn.
And you learn that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and nourish your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that love, true love,
always has joys and sorrows
seems ever present, yet is never quite the same
becoming more than love and less than love
so difficult to define.
And you learn that through it all
you really can endure
that you really are strong
that you do have value
and you learn and grow
with every goodbye