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During the process of my divorce, I began working for a domestic violence and sexual assault program. My oldest daughter could not understand how I could do this work day in and day out when the majority of women wouldn’t follow through with leaving. I explained to her it was a process and not easy or even safe in most cases. She still didn’t understand until one day she came home and said, “I get it now mommy. I understand why you do what you do.” She had read The Starfish Story at school and had an ‘aha’ moment.
The Starfish Story
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, ”Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)
That is exactly what it is about. Every victory, no matter how small, is still a victory.
Every seed of affirmation that is planted will take root and grow with continued support and nurturing.
Although I never actually left my abusive relationship but once, I must have left 100+ times in my mind. When the day finally came, I was able to walk away with no doubt, no self-blame and no attachment. It was the epitome of freedom.
Write yourself a happy ending,
1) You have been physically harmed, including being hit, pushed, pinched or slapped.
2) You are subjected to threats of harming you, your friends, family or guilt-induced that you may cause him/her to harm himself/herself.
3) You live in fear of his/her disapproval and the resultant consequences.
4) You are called demeaning names or criticized, teased and ridiculed in a mean spirited way (“fat”, “ugly”, “bitch”, “stupid”, etc.).
5) You are made to feel that any problems, yours or his, are all your fault.
6) You observe him/her mistreat/rage against others including family, friends, service people or pets.
7) You are forced to be isolated from your friends or family in order to maintain harmony.