In one of her recent songs, Melissa Etheridge has the lines --
"I made every choice along the way,
Each day I stayed in hell, I chose to stay."
At first that made me sad-angry-confused when I applied it to my recent sojourn in hell. How could I say I had chosen to stay in an abusive, loveless marriage? What? No way! But only when I actually owned up to myself that, yes, I had made that choice, every day, was I able to move beyond the paralysis and into my new life.
I chose to stay because: it was easier than arguing; it was safer than trying to support myself and my children without him; the material things he provided made my life very comfortable. When I eventually chose to step away from all that, it was because: my self had become a stranger to me; a diamond tennis bracelet or a trip abroad was not enough to erase the bruised arm or the bruised ego; because I was giving my children the wrong role model.
I made every choice along the way, including the last one. If I want to take credit for and be proud of the choice to make a new life for myself, I have to also take credit for and acknowledge the choices before that.