Anna's story is, unfortunately, one that is not only all too common, but one that as a society we don't talk about. The perpetrators of emotional abuse are usually charming and very intelligent. Often they are upstanding members of the community and loved by many. What happens behind closed doors to victims of the abuse is a mind altering, tail spinning sort of insanity that often leaves them feeling like the ones in the wrong. Emotional abuse is insidious and scary and very hard to get away from. Abuse of any kind is not brought up in polite dinner conversation nor, in my opinion, is it addressed by our culture nearly enough.
Part of my goal for The Gardenia Project is to not only help women feel empowered by sharing their stories, but to shine a light on the realities of our lives that we are often too afraid or embarrassed to talk about publicly. I want to change the dialog. I think that by sharing our stories (however dark they may seem to us) they will lose their power over us. Things that are hidden remain big and scary. Things that are shared remind us of the ways we can connect to each other, that we are not alone. We are too, reminded of our empathy when we understand that the woman next door is going through something that we just don't know about.
I applaud the bravery of each of you out there going through something that is changing or has changed your life course. And I share a huge thank you to Anna, from all of us that have had a story like hers, for sharing her story with the world. She is a wonderful person who took a stand for herself and her kids and has a life that she loves now. She found herself again. Then she found me. I am grateful for her.
Here is what she had to say about her work with the project:
"The gardenia project has changed me in so many ways. I use the flower to support myself and give an extra boost of confidence if needed during races and if i have to go and see someone that I don't really want to associate with. :) The project has also given me so much more confidence because I know that I am not alone in having experienced a rough time and also that I am very lucky to have all the support and love from the people in my life. This June I plan to continue that self love and support by having a marriage ceremony to myself because I am worth celebrating. I also plan on having a gardenia flower tattooed on my back so that I will always have the extra strength with me no matter where I go. (and after the amazing Elizabeth Warren was told to stop talking in congress) I plan on having the words "never the less she persisted" under it. The project was an amazing chance to talk about how strong I have become and how I continue to gain strength everyday and that no one can take that away from me.
Here is the link to the podcast of her story: