I had the intention of writing a blog about MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art in Cancun, but writing has a way of taking us to paths that we must have the courage to explore. In this case, I’m willing to go back in time to share what happened to me before finding underwater sculptures in a magical place of the Mexican Caribbean.
Every day we have to make decisions. Some easy, others more complicated. “Please, Karla, you’re not discovering the great secret of life”, you must think. And you’re totally right. But, after sharing on my Facebook page a personal matter that, to this day, has been the most successful post of all (including my posts about elephants, lions and beach clean ups), is that today I have the courage to talk more about this specific experience as it has to do with making bad and right decisions. Plus, I received so many private messages from both men and women and so many comments, that to this day I’m still touched by all of them.
And so, I ask: have you felt unhappy in any relationship? Is someone mistreating you, abusing you? Have you stopped being you? Have you forgotten all about your dreams, goals and interests? Have you changed just to make someone happy and got lost in the process? I hope this blog can help you find some answers and a way to return to a better place. I stepped away from a miserable life and I can tell you that it’s the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
So, with no further ado, here’s my story.
Four years ago, while speaking to university students in Tampico, Mexico, I felt the need to tell my darkest story. It never happened before, but something about these kids gave me the courage to open my heart for the first time while standing on a stage. As I revealed my painful past with a man, the students stared at each other with awe while some poked their friends sitting next to them with discretion, but I could see them from the stage. I realized that what I was talking about resonated in them.
“What I’m sharing today is so personal. I’ve never done this before, but I think it’s important that I share this with you so you don’t make the same mistake I made”, I confessed.
And so, I begun telling my story from the beginning, from the day when I decided to share my life with a man who lied to me since day one and how I knew he was bad news. Why did I ignore the voice that was warning me? Why did I ignore the signals? Was it because I was scared of being single? Maybe I wanted to be loved by someone? Was it because I was still struggling with my return to Mexico after 3 years in South Africa? I could justify myself, but I’m a grown woman and I won’t. I decided to act as if “someone” blindfolded me. That “someone”, of course, was me. And what a mistake. This decision brought more bad decisions. Like an earthquake and the aftershocks. From that first “shock” in which pieces of me fell to the ground, many more bad decisions followed.
I continued my speech as the kids remained silent. I told them about the time I was told by a third party that for the past 9 months he was stealing money from me. How did I handle the situation? I forgave him. Months later, this thief proposed to me. “What are you waiting for? Say no!”, the voice that knows best screamed in my head. I said yes while this same voice kept screaming with anger. Fortunately, weeks later, I returned the ring and announced that I wasn’t going to marry him. “Finally!, well done, Karla!”, you must think. Well not really. I stayed with him.
As time passed, he started being violent, calling me names and making fun of my body. He was (or is) a bully. His psychological and verbal abuse are something that I don’t like to talk about, but like I said that day to all these students, I must. I have to give this a purpose and that purpose is: help those who are in the same situation that I was, share the most embarrassing time of my life to show that we can all rise again. Even if you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
When I finally finished my confession, I said: “and I won’t even mention his name… how should I call him?”. After a very brief silence, a young man screamed: “Lord Voldemort!”.
Lord Voldemort and I were together for three years. And it’s all on me. No one made me be with him. I fell into his trap while allowing him to lie, steal, mistreat and bully me. But I did this to myself, period.
We all make mistakes. All of us. Sooner or later we’ll make a mistake that won’t be a big deal or one that could change the rest of our lives. Fortunately, I didn’t want to let this bad decision change the future of my remaining days on Earth. The evening before leaving the apartment where we lived, I went for a long walk. With every step I was imagining my future with him. The images were terrifying. I was petrified. I found a park bench, called an uncle and asked him to lend me his truck. The next morning I sat with Lord Voldemort surrounded by boxes to say goodbye and have my closure.
“Before I leave I want to thank you for showing me that all this time, it wasn’t you who had to appreciate me. All this time I expected this from you, when it was me who had to do it. Thank you for opening my eyes, you’ve given me the biggest lesson of my life. Would you like to say something?”, I said. He complaint about leaving him without the cutlery, walked to the door and left.
A couple of hours later, while giving a talk to high school students to move on with my life as quickly as possible, I realized that I made the best decision of my life on April the 22nd, 2015, a day in which we commemorate Earth Day. What a beautiful coincidence.
How did I find the way?
Making the best decision wasn’t easy, trust me. The last year that we were together I “left” him two times, one of them I actually packed a bag and moved with my best friend. I returned two days later. That’s how unstable I was. Every day I would ask myself: “Should I stay or should I go?”, just like the song. “Will he change?”, “what if he does change?” “what if right after I break up with him, he changes for good?”. But, nothing changed for good, it changed for the worse.
If only we could disappear the villains in our lives with a magic wand! But the reality is that power lies within, not on a magic wand.
What a revelation when I finally understood that the one that needed to change was me, not him. I am the one in charge. I am the one who has to be brave, have self esteem and confidence.
More than seven years later…
It’s been seven and a half years since I packed my bags and moved out. And I give myself a standing ovation for it. I’m back to who I was before. I’m free. When I think about my future I’m no longer petrified, I’m relieved. With or without a man in my life. And, most importantly: I will never ever let someone treat me like that. Ever.
I would like to demonstrate how my life changed with a list of wonderful things that happened after I left him:
- I started making money and this time, no one stole it from me!
- Four months later, I moved to Cancun to work full time in MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art.
- I went back to scuba diving, my most favorite activity!
- After living in Cancun for 2 years, I moved to Playa del Carmen to work at Keeping Kids in School, a USA charity focused on education for unprivileged kids and teenagers.
- I adopted Malala, a lovely dog rescued from a Maya community and whom I love with all my heart.
- I coordinated beach cleanups and met the most wonderful people.
- I traveled like never before to give my talks nationwide.
- I gave a TEDx talk.
And I’m not done yet, I’m missing the most exciting thing that happened to me, but that’s a story that I will share next week. I promise that you will know all about MUSA, the Underwater Museum of Art.
Ask for help
Sometimes we keep these things to ourselves in an attempt to be brave or to avoid worrying our loved ones. Months after I went through this, I had the courage to tell my family what happened. I wish I talked to them before the situation escalated, even if listening to their opinions could hurt.
Keeping something like this to yourself won’t help. Talk with someone, ask for help, and do it as soon as possible. Don’t let time consume you. Picture your future, just like I did, and if you don’t like what you see, get out of there.
Go for it
I would like to finish this blog hoping that you’ll do what it takes to get back on track. I know that fear can be our worst enemy, I know. I lived in fear for 3 years. If I knew what I know now, if I knew that leaving him would be the best decision of my life, I would’ve left him the second he broke my heart. No, wait, from the second that I allowed him to break my heart. So, go for it. Be happy! You’ll see that from the moment you decide to give yourself the life that you deserve, it will all make sense and all good things will come to you. Go for it.