Today I am blogging live from Galaxy’s Edge at Hollywood Studios, Orlando Florida. Why? Because I am here to tell that dreams really do come true. Living with an abusive significant other has taught me one thing, never give up on your dreams, make it happen. The last couple weeks I have been caught up in a funk and so I needed to be in happy place, submerged in the world of Star Wars, forgetting everything, even for a few hours in time. I need to write about something positive for a change, my last few blogs have been on the dark side.
I lived with my abuser for about 17 years. We had ups and downs and a hell of a lot more downs than the ups. I rarely had money, or anything. When I did get money I made sure to spend it just as quick as I had it as to not let me abuser have my money. His money was his and my money was ours. There were a few years I had received $8,000+ in back child support, income tax returns that were collected from my oldest son’s father. I used the money to catch up on bills and bought annual passes to Universal Studios, Orlando for all 5 of us. I could never afford Disney because it was always more expensive expensive. So I decided, although later in life, at the age of 32, I was going to go back to college so I could make my dreams, and my children’s dreams come true, the best way I could.
When I went back to college it was already 2005, I was 32 years old. It was the best decision I have ever made. It was a struggle. When I decided to go back to school, I was living in an apartment complex that did in-house section 8 housing. I had a four bedroom apartment, rent free, and I got a check every month for $92 that helped pay for my electric bill. A stipend of some sort. I was so fucking broke all the time. If I had a job it was a hassle. I was accused of wanting to have sex with my manager, or I was working too many hours, or he wanted some of my money for drugs or booze. I hated it but I continued to stay with him and decided to give up on working and just go focus on school. I would later lose my four bedroom apartment because the owners decided me going back to school and bettering myself no longer qualified me for section 8. Which was fine by me. I hated living there. Women were nosy, always in my business. They ended my lease and forced us to move. So I took out extra student loans to cover the bills. I had a hard time seeking work given I had no work experience for the 11 years being with my abuser. So we moved out of the nice four bedroom apartment into a much smaller two bedroom. We made it work. I was now paying rent, paying all of my own bills, my abusers mother no longer helping me pay for anything.
I started out by attending Florida Metropolitan University (FMU) for graphic design, who knows what the hell it’s called now. It was a crackpot school. After wasting two semesters there I decided I needed a change. I had a basic psychology 101 class there that I absolutely loved. I enjoyed learning about the human mind and just how fucked up it really can be. I also started learning something about myself as well. I started learning I was stronger than what I thought. I was going to transfer to Lake Sumter Community College, now called Lake Sumter State College. But before I could transfer, I spoke with an academic advisor to see what classes would transfer. I have a really hard time with math and the classes at FMU were like stupid easy! The advisor said all of my basic classes involving English, Science, Math, Psychology, and History would definitely transfer over. So after a year at FMU I made the transfer to Lake Sumter. I decided I wanted to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology.
I worked my ass off at Lake Sumter. I had something to prove to myself and to my father, that I was smart and I would never give up on anything ever again. Class after class I made A’s. I loved college. It was absolutely the best decision I made. I had fun, I made friends, and I learned that I matter in the world. After two years at Lake Sumter, I graduated Cum Laude with a 3.4 GPA. My dad was absolutely amazed at what I had accomplished. I immediately got accepted to the University of Central Florida (UCF) to continue my Bachelor’s degree. Mind you, I was STILL going to college after three years, three years of bullshit from my abuser. It was absolutely so glorious to finally have the courage to tell him to shut the fuck up! He hated when I had to work with males in group projects or partnered projects. He hated that I was friends with a male who helped me with my statistics classes. He became a good friend in school and was always there when I was lost with my math. I was persistent, I still was not going to give up.
While at UCF I found my voice of power! Not only was I getting my bachelor’s degree, but I was earning certificates in criminal profiling and crime scene investigation. It was amazing. I was learning about myself and how domestic violence is not normal and it was not okay. I started speaking up for myself when he got angry. I got mouthy and talked back. I was no longer going to settle for emotional abuse. I learned about family violence and victimology. I learned I no longer wanted to be a victim, I learned being a victim is no longer an option. It is time to be a survivor. I killed it at UCF. I graduated in 2011, not with honors, but with a cumulative GPA of a 3.5. I struggled with a few of my criminal justice classes, they were very tough, but I persisted. I earning that BS in Psychology and my certificates in criminal profiling and crime scene investigation. I did it. I accomplished my mission. My dad was the proudest man on earth that day. I went to school full time, spring, summer, and fall semester, every year for four years to complete both of my degrees and certificates. And what happened in the process?
Miss Valora Alyx woke up one morning, went downstairs, and told her abuser, “pack your shit and get the fuck out.” He had a look of confusion, and was befuddled. He asked her, “what did you say?” She repeated the same phrase, “pack your shit and get the fuck out.” She was done, she had enough. Always walking on egg shells, always worrying about when he was going drinking again, always worrying about the next time he would beat her up or black her eyes, or break her nose, or another bone. The time to end it was NOW. Of course Valora was me. I told him to get out when I was in my senior year at UCF, my last year. I wanted my last year to be relaxing, to focus on graduation and not have any more worry or anxiety. It was time to start that next chapter.
Earning my degrees and certifications brought me to a Florida Assertive Community Treatment Team (FACT) where I was working with individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. It took me 6 years to get a job in my degree field but I finally did it. I stayed with the FACT team just over three years, from 2017 to 2020. I started working as a Family Care Manger this May. I am now currently a provisionally certified Child Welfare Case Manager in the State of Florida. After 6 months in the field I will have full certification. I am able to work with survivors of domestic violence and put their families back together. I feel like my current career is an absolute blessing. It is an amazing feeling to help children and take with them.
Going back to school as allowed me to afford my passes to Disney and Universal Studios. I have my own apartment, no roommates. I can hold my head up in public because I can pay all my own bills without the help of state checks or family or friends. I have a career and a life my children are proud of. I am setting the example for other women who are surviving domestic violence. I am a voice for others who don’t have theirs yet. I am here to tell you you can have a life free from abuse. You can do it just as I have done. Find your strength, find YOUR voice. Make it happen. Make today the day you find safety. Make today the day you go back to school, start a new career, leave your abuser, or just make the decision you want better.
Dreams really do come true but you have to chase them first.
“The Force will be with you, always”-Obi-Wan Kenobi