Life Lessons with Monica: Sacrifice, Choice, and Growth
There is a concept that is swirling around my head, round, and round like a never-ending story. The world’s concept of “sacrifice.” In most cases, if you sit down with a Christian they will tell you the Crucifixion story of Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice for the lives and souls of all. A sacrifice of pure innocence to open the gates of heaven for the souls who have earned their way into the good graces of a Fearful God. This is not necessarily the belief that I hold within my heart, not to the extent of that of the faith that I have been raised in, however, I believe the concept that we are missing the mark on is what sacrifice truly looks like. Sacrifice comes in many shapes and forms, some more challenging than others, some things that we sacrifice in our lives are things that were never meant to be in our lives, other things are ones that we love so deeply that the call to sacrifice leads to a shattering of self.
So too are there some who will walk through this life and use the word sacrifice as a dagger to another person’s back. This is something that I have experienced, and something I now feel called to bring to light for others to recognize the misuse and abuse that mindsets can cause when it comes to speaking the word “Sacrifice.” I have dealt with a person in my life who has used the word sacrifice to take ownership of something that there is no way of owning, as a way of controlling, and as a self-serving notion that results in others having to truly sacrifice things they love, hopes, and dreams. Where once the hopes, dreams, and love were my own being given up to be a parent, to tend to a home, to be whatever was needed of me from the man that I had decided at the young age of 19 to tie my life to, now there has been a shift from me to the children that we share. I do not come here today to condemn, nor to be malicious or maligning, but to share an insight that I did not have before, and one that I feel needs to be seen and acknowledged in order to move on from.
Co-parenting is arguable one of the most difficult feats in the familial world. There is a sense of competition between the new and the old, a sense of hierarchy, and when there are negative emotions and beliefs tied to the present situation from the past relationships, there is toxicity, control, and one side or both sides seeking dominion over the other. I have seen many different manners of engaging in coparenting from the time of my youth to being a parent myself with a second marriage and a blended family of yours and mine. When I entered into my relationship with my husband, I came in with every intention and false belief that I had cast away from me that which had occurred in my first marriage. That the mindsets I had been living in, the belief in my worth and capabilities had become what they were meant to be versus the diminishment of them from the power I gave to my first husband to tell me what I was worth and capable of, had been well and truly overcome and I was a new, shiny version of my true self. There could be nothing further from the truth than that fallacy I had created. It did not take long for the insecurities and lack of self-worth issues to begin to manifest in a new form with a new man.
Again, this is not me attempting to crucify another, for I know truly that everyone is doing the absolute best that they are able to in any given point in time. Not everyone seeks deeper insight into themselves and others the way that I have spent the last few years of my life doing, and certainly not as laser focused as I have been over the course of the last eight months of my life, transforming obsessive thought patterns into deeper understanding of the human psyche and the soul journey here on Earth into a passion that sets my whole being alight. This is a different perspective on an all-too-common situation that many people face and simply do not understand the steps that they are able to take on their own to better themselves and their situation.
My divorce was finalized on November 12, 2015. It will be six years this winter since the judge signed the divorce decree and custody arrangement. 6 years, and it has only been in the last year that I have stood up and used my voice, no longer keeping silent about the abuses that I had suffered from that man. The only reason I have been backed into a corner of choosing to remain the victim or to stand up for myself, and speak out about these things, is because many of the same abuses began to be directed at the children that we share. After three months of therapy, my children began to open up more and more, explaining their deep-seated fears, their traumas, their insecurities, and even their belief from these experiences that the world was a better place without their beautiful souls in it. My children changed dramatically over the years since the divorce. I noticed but felt powerless to do anything. Then the pandemic hit, I was undergoing an inner transformation, and I had reached my first of many breaking points in which it was time for me to firmly put my foot down and do whatever I was able to protect my children. Including facing my abuser head on and telling him that I knew of the abuses he made me suffer, that I was no longer going to be silenced, and that it was never okay to be inflicting abuse upon innocent children.
As any victim of domestic violence will tell you (if they are open to discussing it at all), the number one thing about them is that this is an area we do not speak of. Particularly for those suffering physical and mental abuse. Mental domestic violence is one of the hardest to prove and the hardest to heal from. There are no visible scars, only a laundry list of negative thought processes that in order to overcome, you have to first acknowledge to another living being. This is an area in which it becomes difficult to do so because, and I speak from experience on this, those suffering mental abuse find it impossible to believe their own memories of experiences. They believe themselves to be stupid, worthless, good-for-nothing, lazy, fat, slobs, and unworthy of love and respect from another. Made to believe that the relationship with the abuser is the best that it will get for them because, “Who in their right mind would love someone like you,” is a question heard far too regularly. Then comes the “sacrifice,” argument that elicits whatever the abuser is asking for.
“Look at everything that I have to sacrifice so you can stay home with the kids.”
“Why should I sacrifice what I want just because of you? Haven’t I sacrificed enough for you? Don’t I deserve to have this and that?”
Worst of all is what comes after an affair. Comments such as, “I have sacrificed my time and money for you and the children, so this is what I want to do, and I have earned it.” I cannot tell you that those are words that were spoken to me, however, I do know these are words spoken. They are meant to keep the other person a victim, while the abuser walks around as though they are a blessed martyr and able to do whatever they want in life due to their “sacrifices.” If we go back to the beginning concept of sacrifice, it was an innocent person, doing only good works, in the name of a higher power, to change and better the world, hung on a cross, tortured, and killed for a bag of money. That is what the world knows to be sacrifice. A man working for the livelihood of his family is not sacrifice. A man who chooses to walk one path versus another, giving up one course his life was on for a different one, that is not a sacrifice. These are choices made. Not sacrifices. Only perception determines what is defined as sacrifice. I could sit here and tell you that I sacrificed my college degree to be a stay-at-home mother. I sacrificed this job or that job, this dream or that dream, to be the wife and mother that I was expected to be upon penalty of abuse. No, I did not sacrifice those things, for they are all still a part of me. I still have my dreams, I still have my goals, I still am working every single day to achieve them. I made choices. Choices that led me along different paths, but every single choice led me here, and I continue to make my choices, follow the paths they open up to me, and work to find the one that is right for my heart, soul, and life.
Sacrifice is not a choice. Sacrifice is a lack of choices, and something is taken from you. I have grown up without a father in my life. This was not a choice, but a sacrifice that was required from the Universe in order for my soul’s growth in this life. That is what sacrifice looks like. Sacrifice is when there is a higher force that comes in and crumbles the foundations of all we have known, and we have the choice to wallow in the wreckage, or sift through it and rebuild, stronger than before, more resilient, and ready for whatever the next one to come in will be, all in the name of growth. This is the choice I have made with my life. Today I have been consumed with the concept of sacrifice for the sake of the man that I once loved, the man who I allowed to destroy me, the man who cannot face his own inner demons and therefore refuses to take ownership and responsibility for his own growth. A choice I made, that I once believed to be a sacrifice, was to try to help him. Pulled to attempting time and again to help him see and hoping he would hear the words that I was sharing, the cries of his children, the hurts he was inflicting. I have learned that it is necessary to release certain people in your life, and whether they remain in your life or not after that, you no longer allow yourself to be tied to them. Accountability is not a sacrifice. Responsibility is not a sacrifice. And above all else, love is never a sacrifice. Where there is love there is only beauty and joy. If someone tells you that they have sacrificed this or that because of love, that person is lying to you, and likely to themselves.
We live in a world in which truth has been colored by those who stand in power, whether gained through money, status, or brute strength. These are the people who too often speak about sacrifice, without any true understanding of the word. A woman who is raped, did not walk into that situation by choice, that was a sacrifice. The man who raped her, that was a choice. The piece of his goodness and his soul that he relinquished to darkness in that moment, that was a sacrifice. Children should not grow up being forced to sacrifice the things that they love for the sake of not wanting to lose the love of a parent. Women and men should not be in relationships in which they must sacrifice their safety out of fear from the one they love. Love is not a sacrifice, but the choices one makes in regard to the people who love them have the power to elicit a sacrifice.
I have known sacrifice. I have known choice and consequences of those choices. I am here to tell you that these two things are not tied together in any way, shape, nor form. They are entirely mutually exclusive in the higher realms. Sacrifice is an act of love, not of choice. Choices are made with either love or another motive, more often than not a negative, self-serving motive. We must cease the attempt to tie sacrifice to the choices that we make in this life. Only through the severing of these two factors can we see where we are able to grow and strengthen within ourselves. For the sake of the generations that are to come after us, we must not start to think differently, act differently, and begin a new wave of being that does not any longer subjugate others for the concept of “sacrifice,” but rather to work together, harmonize, and live a better way. Sacrifice is never something that we have control over, but choices that we make, words we speak, and actions we take are always and will always be 100% within our own hands. The time has come to take responsibility for what has been done to ourselves and to others, and to grow anew in a state of being that comes from the heart and not the darknesses of the mind, the wickedness of control, nor the perception of power over another. We are all meant to be different than this lower way of being, and we are now shifting into a new age, opening the doors for a fresh wind, a new way of thinking and acting, and we all have the choice to change and grow.
I am challenging you to take stock today. Take inventory of the life you have lived. Is it what you intended it to be? Are you choosing the right ways of thinking, being, and treating others? Are you living up to who you are in your heart? Take inventory, reflect, and start to heal the things hidden in your depths and begin again. I will not lie to you and tell you that transformation is easy, that you will not endure hardships and pain, but I will tell you that when you heal the things within that need healing, you will see everything differently. You will touch true joy and give and receive true unconditional love. It is our innate nature to love one another, and to love ourselves. Throughout history, throughout life’s ups and downs we have lost sight of that, but it is still there, that small candle that no one is able to snuff out of you, not even yourself. It is waiting for you to stoke it into a blaze from within and shine forth with that light in everything and every interaction in your life. This is how the mark you leave upon the Earth before your passing is one of beauty and light, a lesson exalted for others, a guide along the path for those still in the dark, versus a lesson to overcome. What do you want to be known for? Someone who set the tone for all the beauty and joy life has to offer, or someone who is made an example of to avoid doing the same things? You have a choice, it is not a sacrifice, it is a choice. I hope you make the one that your soul is calling to you to make.