The darkness of winter had settled in. Slowly I began to miss the Sun’s presence and the comfort of heat. Like any person going through a divorce, money was not abundant and therefore my needs were not always met in order to provide food and utilities for my children. My level of tolerance for chaos lowered as seemingly unnecessary bills would arrive, such as tv and radio bill, or the lawyer whom did nothing bill, or the parking ticket bill. I braced myself whenever I opened the door thinking that something horrible would happen. Would I be yelled at while I walked my dog? Potentially. Would I be harassed as I drove in the left fast lane on the autobahn? Most definitely. Would I freeze my Colombian buns off as I went to the bank to check how little money I had? But of course.

I found myself spiraling into deep despair because I felt my abusive ex husband was winning this invisible battle, and I, the one who had been destroyed was left in the fire to burn. I was losing hope. I felt trapped. I was trapped in a European country that many wanted to live in. How dare I complain. But to me, this wonderful land felt like a prison, with difficult long words and odd verb placement. I had no pleasures, no comforts (except for the man in the hat), and felt deeply alone and helpless.

With every day I felt that my abusive ex husband was getting away with his horrid behavior. No one had witnessed it and therefore it never happened. My thoughts all seemed to go into the same direction, anger. I was angry about injustices, racism, and lack of comprehension. But it was only when I happened upon a documentary on Netflix that I realized I was creating my own reality.

I had a few extra minutes as I ate my breakfast, and wanted to distract myself from the yucky gloom. A man with a large mouth, sad eyes, oozed sympathy and comprehension appeared at the top of the screen. The title was “Tony Robbins: I am not your Guru”. I wasn’t quite sure what to make out of the title, and did not know who Tony Robbins was. So I clicked play. A young man appeared in a large conference room, surrounded by people. He held a microphone in his right hand as Robbin’s asked him a question. “Why are you suicidal?”

My attention was grabbed immediately. I wasn’t suicidal, but his answers touched me. He wanted to find a way out. He wanted a better life. And so I watched, and listened, and cried, and wrote down notes. I too wanted change. I wanted to feel strong and secure and change my life. I wanted to feel happy again. I wanted to find hope again. But as I watched the documentary on Tony Robbins’ conference I realized he wasn't going to have my solution. I had to change my state of mind. I had to be my own answer.

The realization came like a hit in the face. How was I supposed to support myself, cheer myself on if I had nothing left? And so I began to listen to podcasts every morning that would hopefully inspire me, and give me tips on how to do the impossible. And as I walked around the frozen Ohmbachsee I heard it. “Focus of what you can change. Focus on what you have. Change your story.”

I had to stop seeing myself as the victim of an abusive relationship and see myself as a survivor. I would be able to change. I would now be able to identify happiness because I knew what sorrow and misery was. I would be able to appreciate the good, because I had lived with the bad. I could improve myself because I saw the faults and wanted to. So despite the pain, the fear, the uncertainty that my ex husband caused I had to thank him, because without those scars I would not be reminded of what I wanted. Without those scars I would not have my strength. Just like the phoenix, I too rose from the ashes and had within me the fire that once tried to destroy me.

So with persistence and hard work I began to motivate myself, because I am the only person that can help me through tough times.