By Cris Chocolat, Guest Blogger, Entrepreneur, Artist, and Advocate

We all go through moments in our lives when we feel like giving up. It is in those moments when a recurring memory comes to me, a vision of my mother sewing my kindergarten graduation dress at 2am with so much love and care. Despite feeling pain in her hands, she sewed tiny beads piece by piece so I could be happy on that day.

I can talk about the endless things my beautiful mother did so we could have happy memories. She tried so hard to numb the pain that we were going through, witnessing what was happening but not fully understanding it.  For a child that grows up with domestic violence in their home, it’s hard to comprehend what exactly is going on. And more than having a recollection of events, it’s the feelings we end up with at the end of each day:  sadness, fear, and hopelessness.

Every day I would go to sleep with nightmares from hearing their screams, and every day I would go to school felling sick to my stomach. Every day.  I didn’t eat much and didn’t talk much either. I was a skinny and shy kid, quiet but very observant.  Despite feeling the way I did, I tried my best at school, earning the best grades and being bullied by my classmates for being a nerd.  My classmates’ rejections did hurt me, but I was fortunate to have very beloved best friends that reminded me that I was loved – my older brothers and my dog.

domestic-violence-healing-peace-loveIt was in high school when the consequences of that violence were more devastating, physically, financially, and emotionally.  I went through a period of depression and ended up developing asthma.  Despite all of it, I still did well at school, graduating college 2nd best in my class.  But I soon realized that earning good grades didn’t determine my success in life. I needed to develop other skills, and most importantly, I needed to heal from my childhood.

When I went out into the world, I had trouble finding a job, keeping friends and living a happy life.  I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity to work. My first job was at the same kindergarten where I went to as a child.  Going back to that place brought back all my childhood memories and started an unexpected path towards healing.  The moment when I held one of my student’s hands, I realized I had to protect her and be the best role model I could be for her. I realized that I had grown up and that I had to take care of myself first to be able to take care of others.  Being in that place where the children were treated with love and were so joyful woke the joy in me. I felt curious and happy like a child.

I started to feel the need to create and bring happiness to others, so I made art. I struggled a lot at first to make that creativity come out, but I felt I had to do it, so I took a leap of faith.

I started going to the local art events, and made some friends, but still I felt insecure about my abilities since I was just starting and all of these people had years doing it.  I was about to quit but one of my friends told me “you make art like a child, it is very simple, but sometimes the most simple things are the most beautiful.” His words stuck with me and so I started making art. I soon found out the feelings of peace, love and joy that making art bring into someone’s life.

My life changed the moment I held that child’s hand. I went from being stuck in a place of pain, to regaining the power to create the life I deserved, becoming an entrepreneur, expressing myself through art, and being a voice to others through Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV) advocacy.

Everyone’s healing path is different, but once you are determined to heal, life will show you the way. Trust your journey and love yourself every step of the way.  May you live the beautiful life you deserve.

Interested in sharing your own experience of CDV? Email us and we may share your story on our blog.