Breaking out can be tough. For a year after I left my marriage I did not know who to trust, who my friends were. Family members took sides; half encouraged me to grow, half wanted me back the way I was. I did not know if breaking out of a cycle was going to be good for me and my children or not. Then something magical happened. I started to read again.

The author's father
The author's father

We can reach for our dreams and teach our children to do the same

I read facts and figures about abusive families and how the cycle evolves from one generation to the next. I looked for similarities in patterns and after a time spoke freely with my mother about what she remembered. Something in particular stood out for her. She remembered the first time she realized how drawn and empty she was. One of us girls was riding around and around in circles on a bike. The child stopped and said “Mama look at how blue the sky is!” She followed her daughter's eyes and looked up. The sky was truly blue, bluer and brighter than she remembered it. And for that one moment there was color and joy in her life.

After many years of carving my niche, I now live with a man who is kind and supportive. With his encouragement I have explored my great passion for learning again. I research and read whatever I can on my pet passion history - Canadian women's history in particular. History , because I see from reading it how patterns can be changed, prejudices can be overcome and women can stand tall. My heroines exist in the pages of history texts and archives, women who changed the world or themselves for the better.

Things are sometimes still hard for me. I'm still learning to trust. I still fear being abandoned. Occasionally I feel the same worthlessness I felt as a child, but it happens less and less. I've had to forgive my mother, to understand she was simply a victim as well. She too has begun to write of her life, as a record for her children and as a warning to other women stuck in that same rut.

I don't know if that day will ever come when I will face the main abuser in my life. I know he has not changed. His desire to control the women in his life is still there and I am not willing to be pulled back into that cycle again.

I know now that if the movie is no good, even halfway through, you are allowed to leave. That thought keeps me strong, keeps me alive. For myself and my family I feel the future is promising, if we care for it, nurture it. We can reach for our dreams and teach our children to do the same.


No more carving circles in gravel driveways. This family has learned to steer clear of patterns.

Nancy Bennett is a writer and science fiction poet whose work has been published in local, national and international publications. Her latest project is a textbook on women of color pioneers, forthcoming from Green Dragon Press

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