Imagine being blindsided by the love of your life, the man you trusted, the father of your children, when he gets arrested for human trafficking. That was my reality in 2016. I couldn't see the red flags right in front of me, but why couldn't I? Perhaps it was my childhood experiences, the unhealthy relationships modeled by my parents, or my own stubborn certainty that had blinded me.
Fast forward to the present, and I've gained some hard-earned wisdom about manipulative relationships. I had been fooled, lied to, and manipulated into doing things against my better judgment. My feelings were often invalidated, and I was slowly losing my identity. But I clawed my way out. I questioned my circumstances, listened to my intuition, and took the necessary steps to ensure the safety of my children.
The experience taught me the power of intuition. It's something we all possess, but often suppress to our detriment. I'll share how I learned to trust my instincts, even when everything seemed fine on the surface. If there's one thing I hope you take away from my story, it's this: It's never too late to reclaim your power, to start listening to your intuition, and to reach out for support. You, too, can survive, discover yourself, and take control of your life. Don't wait for a dramatic wake-up call like mine. Start today.
To learn more about Amanda and ways to work with her visit amandaquickhealing.com
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Hello everyone and welcome back to the Amanda Quick Show. I am your host, amanda Quick. Today's episode is brought to you by a friend and client of mine who asked specifically for me to talk about this topic, and I think it's very relevant to the conversations that we've been having, and so I want to dive in. The topic today that we're going to talk about is about identifying red flags in a relationship and how that ties to when we have not listened to our intuition and later, perhaps, where you did start to listen to your intuition, and what that looks like. And so, if you're new to the show and you haven't heard of me or listened to me before, the very first episode shares my story when my ex-husband was arrested for human trafficking in 2016. And so I've been in a situation where my world was literally exploded, blindsided, shocked. How could this have even been possible with what I knew to be true? And the truth is, there was, there was evidence that I just didn't see. There were red flags in the relationship, and I think that's true in most of these situations where, yes, the person is very good at hiding and they are very good at manipulating and letting you, leading you to believe certain things and at the same time, there are clues that you haven't put the pieces together with, or you haven't quite understood the gravity of that thing, or what they said or what they did, or you allowed it to be explained away because you didn't want anything but what you know to be true to be true. And, as a person, we, we really try to believe the best in people At least I do. I'm notorious, I'm optimistic, I believe everybody is default to good and everybody has their best intentions in the front, and I've always operated my life that way, and so it just doesn't even make sense to me that somebody would not be operating in that way and being intentionally manipulative. That doesn't, it just doesn't occur to me, and so I don't see what's in front of me. Sometimes because of it, because I choose to see the best in people, I choose to see the potential. And the other reality is, when I met my now ex-husband, I was 18, 19 years old, and while I thought I knew everything there was to know about the world, there was a lot I didn't know and a lot of experiences I didn't have and a lot of perspective by comparison that I just didn't have yet, and so I excused away a lot of behaviors that today I would not. And there's, I think, a lot of us out there who do that. And we do this for a lot of different reasons. We do this because of the experiences we had as children, the modeling that we had from our parents of what relationships look like. Perhaps our experiences in teenage and young adult life has led us to believe that certain things are normal and acceptable and that everybody does that or everybody behaves that way. So it's not weird, it's not deviant, it's okay, and I certainly have a lot of that installation. I had a lot of those beliefs at that time especially, and I also really believed, at least for myself, that I knew everything. I really believed that I was smart, I was capable, I saw people. Nobody could tell me differently. I was so stubborn and so sure of myself that, even if you had told me who he was and there actually was somebody who tried I explained it away and said that's not possible. And so, hindsight, 2020, of course, I want to unpack some of this. I want to look at it and really talk about why, why we do this to ourselves, why don't we see what's in front of us? Because I think it's important to understand why we created that situation so we first of all, don't do it again, but also can help recognize and have empathy for others who are still not seeing clearly, because one of the hardest things especially as somebody who's come public with my story and sharing with the world my biggest trauma is a lot of people have a lot to say about it. They have a lot to say about how could you not have seen it and how could you and how? All of this judgment and attempt to make me feel more shame because of the experiences that I had and the decisions I made with the information I had at the time. And I think it's really important that we start to really have some understanding that everybody is operating the best that they can and if you don't see something, nobody else can force you to see it. And I think it's really important that we have some grace for not just ourselves but for others who perhaps just aren't ready to see those things or don't want to yet, and for a period of time. That that was me, you know, when I was 19, my very first husband, who I married at 17 and was divorced by 19, left town and I was now in a new state, in a new town, on my own, and I thought it was the best thing ever. I was a hyper independent person. I loved my freedom, I had a job, I had an apartment, life was great. But I was again on my own and thought everything was perfect. And when I met my now second ex-husband, he was married to another person and she was his second wife and he told me that they were separating, that they weren't getting along, and led me to believe that their marriage was ending. And since I had just gone through my own marriage ending and we were in the process of filing paperwork and I had lived on my own, I believed that he was on the same path, because my experience was once you make that step, you follow through. Didn't really occur to me that somebody might drag this out for a very long time, especially when they start to get another person involved. Again, little bit of the not aware young child thing going on here, but I still didn't see it Now. At the time, I would have said I knew exactly what I was doing, and so I started seeing him in secret because we worked together and he was still in the process of unraveling his marriage right. It wouldn't be fair to go out in public and rub anybody's face in it or share anything. And yet what I didn't realize until months later was that I was a big secret. And this is here red flag number one. Number one red flag is I was the big secret at the time and he did not want anybody anywhere to know that he was talking to me. He would sneak over in the middle of the night to see me, and what I know now about him and his escape from his reality was I was essentially acting as the prostitutes that he later hired. I didn't get paid. I was a young 19 year old who thought that this older man was very interested in me and that it was true love and eventually it would turn into something. And I allowed it to continue because I again wanted to see the best in somebody and I had started to develop feelings and I really, really wanted to believe that he was going to leave his wife. Now, obviously, that's pretty naive. And yet he did eventually leave. It took a year. It took a year of being in secret and eventually she did find out about me and she did move out, and shortly thereafter we went public with our relationship and I thought I succeeded. See, it is true, love. See, this is how it works Love wins in the end. Well, obviously I was not looking at how that all happened and the amount of lying and manipulation that he did to not just me, but to his now ex-wife, to everybody else around him. He was very, very capable of living two lives. He was very, very capable of having multiple different personalities portrayed, being very charming in certain situations so that everybody believed all was good. Another red flag but I didn't see it, because I thought I knew everything and I thought that we were good now because here we were out in the world and we moved in together and we spent time together and I thought it was fantastic. Now he also was very introverted and struggled in social situations, but that was fine with me and most of the time we would still go out and we wouldn't go to dinner with friends. We actually took a couple of trips together and I thought things were fantastic. This was the life. I had found my person, we were getting along and we were intimate regularly. All of those things were great. And then later, not shortly after we moved in together, he started asking to do new things in the bedroom. He wanted to invite other people and I didn't want to do that and he knew I didn't want to do that. But I had also portrayed my teenage years as I'd romanticized them. I'd romanticized my teenage promiscuity. I'd romanticized really being taken advantage of, truthfully, because I didn't ever want to be seen as a victim. And so I portrayed myself as this party girl that just went out and did whatever I wanted with whomever I wanted. And so when he then said you know well, you did it with those other guys, why won't you do it with me? He was using guilt and manipulation to try to convince me to have sexual acts with other people that I didn't want to do Another red flag. And I felt very torn about this. Actually, I contemplated it. I spoke to my friends about it. I should I do this? Should I give him what he wants? Is he going to go do it anyway? I had all of those thoughts in my head and I seriously contemplated going against my better judgment to please him in a sense. Another red flag. Thankfully, my dear friend talked me out of it and said that best case scenario he likes it and then he wants to keep doing it, which you don't want. Worst case scenario he hates it and blames you, and that's also not what you want. So you can't win either way. Don't do it. Oh, okay, good, got it and he mostly dropped it, although he did continue to bring it up here and there. And again, another red flag Little subtle manipulations, little subtle. You're not pleasing me, you're not giving me what I want, you're not living up to what my standards are, what I need or what I expect of you Subtle, but there. And then I got pregnant, not on purpose, but things happen. And he not only didn't really have an opinion about it, he actually completely shut down. He didn't like eat or sleep for two weeks. He wouldn't talk to me. I was freaking out and I didn't know what to think. And he went inside himself and internalized this freak out about having a child. While I'm over there going, it's happening to me and do you want this? And what's going to happen, and all of these things will also be terrified that I'm about to have a child and I'm not going to be responsible for another human. But I didn't feel like I could do this on my own. I was 19. That's crazy. Yeah, I had a job Like that's terrifying. So again, I stayed, I let him do his thing and our relationship truly was never the same after I found out. I was pregnant and got a little bit better as he got more used to the idea and I started to get excited and plan and all of the things that nesting mothers do and, you know, making a nursery and all that. But he continued to not share his thoughts. He continued to shut me out, he continued to not tell me what was going on with him, but I didn't feel like I had a place to ask, I didn't feel like I could talk to him. Another red flag being completely emotionally pushed away from your relationship Well, yes, people need their space. To process isn't a healthy relationship. But when you're so scared to be on your own for whatever reason whether it's financial reasons, children reasons, just being terrified to be alone is a reason of itself. We stay in these situations because, well, we can, we can work it out, we can talk to them, we can fix it. I'm really good at holding space, I'm really good at helping. That's the kind of things I would say to myself. It's not that bad, things are okay, we're having a kid Right, things are going to change. We'll adjust. I would talk to myself and I would talk out. Talk to myself out of feeling like something was wrong, and this is a big one. When we feel like something is wrong and not quite right, and yet we talk ourselves out of it, we say, well, that's, everybody goes through challenges, right, everybody has these things. And yet there's a part of you, that intuitive part of you, that knows that something more is wrong. You might not be able to put your finger on what, but you know something isn't right. And I knew something wasn't right when he was trying to ask me to have sex with other people. I knew something wasn't right when he was lying to me and lying to his ex-wife. I knew something wasn't right in all of those times. And I knew something wasn't right. When wasn't right? When he shut me out after I got pregnant? But none of those times that I say, oh, he must be soliciting men, women and children and out having sex with trafficked people. No, no, that's certainly not right. You can't, you don't make that jump. That doesn't even make sense. And yet, obviously, there were tons and tons of red flags Before I even got pregnant and while we were still dating, he wanted to see pictures of me as my teenage years and romanticized them and you know a lot of those pictures I was 16 and 17 in, and he was very aroused by those pictures Again at 19,. You don't think that's a big deal. Obviously you can put the pieces together after the fact, but living that life in that understanding of who I was, I couldn't see any of it and even when it didn't feel good, I still couldn't see it and I couldn't admit to myself that something was wrong and nothing was wrong enough for me to do anything about it. And I think this is a lot of what people experience. Well, it's not that bad and you're about to have a child together or you already live together or you love each other or whatever the excuses are. You stay, and I certainly did, and I stayed and I had my first child and he retreated even further. He went back to work and didn't talk to me and started to come home late and I just assumed that I wasn't privy to that part of his life anymore because I no longer was working in the same place and he would be home well past the baby's bedtime all the time regularly, and I felt like I just had to adjust to this new normal. I wasn't privy to talk to him. The only thing we were allowed to talk about was my day and what was going on with the baby. And again, it's not that bad right. He didn't hit me, he didn't abuse me, he didn't call me names and yet I didn't feel like I mattered. And the subtle manipulations only continued. The manipulations about what am I doing with my day and why the house isn't clean or why this isn't done or whatever. It is just to poke at my self-esteem, at the fact that I now am no longer financially supporting the household. And then I'm a new mom whose body has changed and I don't feel as comfortable in myself anymore. All of these subtle manipulations were degrading my self-esteem, what I felt about myself and my place in the world and my place in the relationship, and this continued. I had baby number two and baby number three and it only got worse. I only had less self-esteem and less self-confidence in my physical appearance. After multiple children, I started gaining more weight and I had more children to take care of and the house was messier and he was still gone 12 plus hours a day and I still wasn't allowed to talk about anything beyond what we were doing. And I made that okay. I made it okay to not have a relationship with my husband because I was too terrified what the alternative would be. The alternative would be me alone with three kids, which was not something I could even comprehend. I made it okay to live parallel lives and not actually know who my husband was, because I couldn't imagine being financially responsible for three other small humans. I made it okay because I hadn't worked in six years and how could I possibly go back and actually do this? I made it okay for so many reasons and I continued to excuse behaviors over and over and over again. I knew that he watched pornography. I didn't know any details, I never asked. He would try to get me to watch it with him sometimes and I again didn't want to. I've never enjoyed that. And it in today's world it's so common, it's so normal, everybody does. And so again, well, there's no big deal, right, it's, it's something everybody does, it's fine. I didn't ask any questions. I didn't actually want to know the answers to the questions. You know he downloaded movies and videos all the time and that was just a thing he did. He worked in it, he had servers in the house. I didn't actually go investigate anything. There's a lot that was right in front of my face that I just didn't go ask questions, and there's so much to unpack when we look back at these red flags that we ignored. There were times where the thought would come into my mind is he cheating on me? You know, he's been even less present. Is he cheating on me and what? What is? What might that look like? And I would immediately explain it away, because he told me that I was the fourth person that he'd ever been with and I was wife number three. So he built this persona that he didn't. He never dated anybody. He never dated anybody, so it would be impossible for him to just go pick up somebody at a bar and meet them right, and he clearly, you know, was home most nights unless he was traveling for work. So Didn't make any sense. I explained it away. That wouldn't he. He's incapable of. That was what I told myself, just Refusing to look, refusing to ask more questions. I there were times, even after we were intimate, where he would say wow, it's really nice that you participate and enjoy this. And I remember thinking that's odd. That's an odd thing for him to say and I would explain it away and go. Oh, he must have been talking about his ex wives and their relationship, not realizing that perhaps there was another situation he was referring to, because I cannot imagine trafficked women, children are how do I say this politically correct but as enthusiastic in the bedroom as somebody who's consenting. And yet I didn't ask those questions. I just made the assumption that he was talking about his ex wife and moved on. I allowed every single thing to be explained away by myself. I didn't even ask the questions out loud. I never once tried to go through his phone Not that I had his passwords, because again, he worked in IT security. Those things were locked down and we didn't share passwords because he always was attached to work stuff. He had access to my phone, but I wasn't really hiding anything, except for the occasional Amazon purchase that I didn't want to talk about. I engrossed myself in other hobbies and mom groups and baby wearing communities and natural parenting communities and I just built a whole nother life. It didn't include him either and I felt guilty for that. I felt guilty if I spent money. I felt guilty if I wasn't 100% present with my children 100% of the time. I felt guilty if I wasn't cleaning the house and so if he came home and pushed at anything that I didn't feel confident in or if I felt insecure about, I shut down and I didn't ask any questions about where he'd been or why he's late. And that happened and continued for years, the six years that we were married. We got married when I was six months pregnant with my oldest. What that was basically our life and I thought things were good. I had built this belief that this is what marriage looks like. Things are good because we don't fight. I made that a badge of honor. We don't fight, we don't talk, but we don't fight. We agreed on mostly everything. Again, we didn't talk so clearly, we agreed because we didn't fight. And I built this up in my head as these red flags they're not red flags, they're they have. There's an explanation for everything because they're not really good, they're they have. There's an explanation for everything because my Model of the world, my view of my reality, was that everything was fine and I was shutting down every intuitive nudge. Every time it didn't feel right or feel good or something was wrong, I shut it down, I didn't investigate, I didn't look, I didn't want to look, and even after he was arrested, even after somebody said this is what's been going on, I still refuse to see it. I still didn't put the pieces together of what had been happening over the last 10 years of my life. I couldn't see it. I couldn't see it until years later, because I still was looking for my world to make sense. I was still looking for somebody else to give me validation of this world that I had created and I had truly allowed somebody else to create for me, this world where we were married, we were in love, we had kids and they were perfect and they were. We were family and we spent time together and we enjoyed time together and we learned together and all of these things that I wanted, in part because of all things that I didn't have, all of these things that I wanted. I allowed him to build this picture, even after he was arrested, that this was still possible, that this was still true and, okay, that's not quite how we acted before, but this is our opportunity. This is our opportunity to actually be the family that we always wanted, and so forgive the things that I did before. Because now I'm here Again, big red flag, big red flag, the lack of taking accountability and responsibility for the harm caused and excusing it away because now it's better. Now I'm going to pour all of my energy into you and to the kids and say I'm here, I'm present, I'm ready and this is what you wanted. Right? This is everything you've ever wanted and of course it is. Of course it is. So I jumped in. I said yes, absolutely. Let's save our relationship, let's save our marriage, let's be the family I always wanted, not listening to myself, not listening to everybody else at this point either, because the only person that I was listening to was my husband. It was the only one that had established safety with me at that point, and everybody else, all I felt was judgment. They don't get it, they don't understand our connection, they don't understand our relationship, they don't understand our family and they don't understand that I don't actually care what they think and that what matters to me is my kids and my family. And I allowed that identity to be manipulated. He would even tell me you don't care what people think, you will stand by me, no matter what. He formed the identity for me because he knew that if anything ever happened and I walked away, that would be no good for him, and so he formed the identity for me of who I was and how strong I was and how capable I was at standing my truth and my power, using all of the same words against me to portray that I would stand by him. I would stand by him no matter what, and I would stand by him and I would protect our family, which meant keeping us together. Another big manipulation, another amount of gaslighting, of creating my reality, ignoring everything that he did, just to make sure that I stood by him. Now, all of this continued until after he moved back in and back home, after he continued to build this reality for me. It was in my ear at all times, we were talking constantly, and until I went back to work and I started to separate from him, because I had actually been isolated the entire time. We were married Because, after I had left my job, I was isolated from the outside world. I didn't have tons of friends. I made mommy friends, most of them online. I would go to play dates, but I never had a strong connection with anybody else. My bubble was my kids and my husband, and so from the time that I had my first child, I began the isolation process. The only person feeding the outside information was through random social media and my husband. The only person I hung out with, the only person I spent time with, was my husband and my kids and I think that's probably true for a lot of stay-at-home moms out there. But even more importantly, that this was a person who was slowly manipulating and tearing down my identity. And so, come six years later, I didn't have another identity to go back to. I didn't know who I was, I didn't have a place in the world, and until I started to venture outside of that identity, I couldn't see another possibility. I couldn't see another possibility for what could be true in the world, let alone my own life, and it took going back to work and making friends and starting to realize things are kind of messed up over there. That's not actually the way relationships are supposed to work. Cheating on somebody that many times isn't healthy, isn't something I want to be a part of. And yet I don't know how to unravel myself because I still really want my family together. Those things are still true, and he's still really pushing on the fact that I grew up without my dad in my life and how much harm that caused me. And so all of these subtle manipulations while I had not been allowing myself to listen to my intuition the whole time are still happening and I still don't know how to listen to me over them. I still don't know how to listen to the little noises inside of myself and the gut feelings and the discomforts, because I never have yet, not in this way, not with this person. I haven't stood up to the person who's been manipulating me this whole time and I don't know how. And this, I think, is an interesting place to be, because I remember very clearly when I started to fight back, I started to question, I started to say this doesn't, that doesn't feel right to me and I don't like this and I'm not doing okay. And I would get told that's not how you're supposed to feel, that's not what I meant. You're not allowed to feel that way because that's not what I meant, that wasn't my intention. Well, that's a pretty big red flag right there. If the person you're frustrated with is invalidating your feelings because that's not what they intended, they're missing the point, because your feelings are valid, no matter what anybody's intention is your experience is valid, no matter what anybody else intended for you to experience, it doesn't matter. And yet my experiences, my feelings and my beliefs were being invalidated over and over and over again, which forces us, in a lot of ways, to shut down that intuitive nudge, that message that this is not okay and this is wrong. And yet, the more we start to unisolate and come out of that isolated place, all of a sudden the nudges get a little bit louder and less do all of the manipulations and it starts to go wait, these don't make sense, this isn't equal anymore. Which one's right? And this is a big time of questioning ourselves because, wait, this doesn't feel right and that's getting louder, but that's not what I used to believe and that's not how I acted, and that's not right either. So who am I? And I think this is a time where people go back and forth, and this is when they go back and this is when they forgive and this is when they okay, let's try again, let's see if I can make this make sense again. And this is often the cycle that continues over and over, and this is the part I've talked about this before the addictive cycle of abuse, where you keep going back because it feels really good to live in this world where everything is shiny and roses and everybody's pouring all of this energy and attention into you, and then it starts to change again and you can't wait a minute. But I don't like how that feels the other times and when I step outside of that and I have a different perspective, it doesn't look very good, it doesn't feel very good. Something is wrong. But every time I go back there it does feel good. I remember I would be really pissed off because he would be late coming home from work before the arrest. And this was a regular occurrence, like almost daily. He would be late and he would say I'll be home soon, but that could mean hours. It was a really big trigger word for me. When he would say soon. He would show up after bedtime, even eight, nine o'clock, and I would be fuming because the kids would already be asleep. I would be waiting. I would have already made dinner, cleaned it up, all the things and I would be fuming when have you been? Why haven't you called? Why aren't you home sooner? And the moment he walked in the door and he sat his stuff down and he looked at me, all of my anger vanished and I used to think this was a good thing. I used to think that, okay, it just means I don't need to be angry at him and I move on and I'm just, I don't hold grudges, or something Like I used to think this was a positive thing to just shove all of my feelings down and move on because he was home. That's what mattered, right. And now I realized that actually I was shoving down so much frustration and angst and my own truth in the way that I was experiencing this. I was shoving it all down because the moment he showed back up, I would almost be like this reinstallation of this is the way the world works and everything is beautiful and wonderful. And I'm home now and we're together now and I just it vanished, I let it go, and I see now exactly how I stayed as long as I did and how I stayed stuck as long as I did, because I was so tied to this identity and this reality that had been created for me. And then I also co-created because I wanted it. I wanted this beautiful life that I thought we had created together. I wanted the family that I never had. I wanted the relationship with my children and the relationship with my husband, and so I allowed it to be created for me and I allowed it to invalidate my feelings. I allowed all of that, but I didn't know how to unravel it later, until the intuitive nudges and the things right in front of my face just got loud and louder, and louder, and I couldn't deny it anymore. And I couldn't deny what my children were telling me as we were separating, and I couldn't deny the fact that, from my lensing, even the children were being manipulated, because they were being manipulated to turn against me, this person that had fought to keep everybody together. And when, all of a sudden, it flipped and it wasn't about keeping me, it was about keeping the kids against me I started to see it for what it was Like I wasn't on the same side anymore, and so, all of a sudden, I was the enemy, and I was the enemy to everybody. And so I could see the manipulations in a different way and I could see them playing out how they played out, and I could look back in time and go holy crap, that's what he'd done to me too, and that's what he's been doing to me, and that's what he's been doing to all of these people because his self-identity is so reliant on other people believing his bullshit. He has to believe his bullshit so that other people believe it, and that that was so ingrained and deep into how he lived two lives many different times Throughout his life when he was married to his exes and cheating on them with whomever. When he was cheating on them with me and when he was also with me and soliciting men, women and children. All of those times he was living multiple lives as multiple different people. And the only way to do that is to believe your own bullshit and to believe it so strongly that every time people are around you, they believe it too, and everybody is helping co-create this reality that you're. You've got your shit together. You're doing great, your marriage is great, your kids are great, everything is good, and so I think it's really important that these red flags they're coming up against your intuitive nudges. They're telling you something isn't right. You don't know what it is and it makes no sense. And if you've been taught and and groaned really to not believe the intuitive nudges over something that is in front of you, that is tangible, that even if that's just what somebody else is saying. It's really hard to listen, especially if that somebody is somebody you trust and somebody you have a relationship with and somebody you care about their opinion. It's really, really hard to trust that because, well, they wouldn't lie to you, right? They wouldn't manipulate you. And those of us who've experienced different versions of childhood trauma and different versions of manipulation and alienation and grooming and all of the things that happen, even subtly, throughout our childhood years, it's even harder because we weren't taught that. Now, I didn't have a crazy traumatic childhood my parents' divorce was the worst of it, really but I also had experiences in teenage years where I put myself in situations and I created realities about what those situations meant in order to make sure that I felt safe. And so I had a lot of experience with allowing other people to create the narrative, in a sense, of what was actually going on, and create the narrative for me so that I wasn't feeling victimized. And so I played that out in my marriage also, I played it out so that I wasn't the victim I was. I wanted to be in this relationship, I wanted to be together, I wanted all of these things and I allowed that to deepen the narrative, to deepen the bond to deepen all of the pieces until I no longer could. And when the intuitive nudges and the information in front of my face got so loud, it was like a switch flipped for me. A switch flipped and all of a sudden I saw how I had actually contributed to everything going on and it was time for me to take accountability for the parts that I played in and the pieces that I held, the choices that I made and everything that came after. And I had to realize that the only way out wasn't to listen anymore to the reality that my ex has been created, my lawyers created, the evaluators created or my children created. The only way out was to listen to my version, my truth, my intuitive nudges, what I knew to be true, deep in my soul, in my gut, in my heart. That's what I had to listen to and that's essentially what I did and that's how I got out of the situation as quickly as I did, because I stopped listening to everybody else. I stopped listening to. This is the way the system works and this is just how it is. I stopped listening to. It's never gonna happen, because in Colorado it's a 50-50 state, no matter what I stopped listening to. We have to prove X, y and Z in order for all of the things. I stopped listening to everybody else and I started to say what's true for me? What has my intuition been screaming for the last 10 years? What has my intuition been saying? My body been saying needs to actually happen. And for me, it was the reality that we needed to find safety in ourselves, we needed to get out of this situation, and that he was not a safe person in any sense of it, that he was not just mentally and emotionally manipulative, but he was going down a path of also being sexually abusive towards the children, and that that was 100% unacceptable. And I needed to own that truth, to accept that truth and to see that the only way out was to believe that truth and operate towards creating safety without him. And so when I did that, it wasn't about okay, system, fix it, save us, heal us, get us out of here. No, it was about me saying I am driving this bus and I have to work within the system. Yes, but if I'm driving the bus, what needs to happen and who's gonna help me make it happen? And that's when things started to change. That's when things started to unfold faster than I even could have imagined. That's when things and people started to come into my world and to help me in ways that I didn't understand were possible, and that's what ultimately led to me getting full custody of my kids. But I had to make that flip. I had to make that switch to seeing the red flags for what they were and allowing my intuition to show them to me and actually accepting them as truth instead of shoving them away. And accepting them as truth allowed me to change directions, allowed me to change trajectories into oh okay, we're not doing that again, we're not going down that path. We're going down this other path, where we get to create our reality and we get to live in safety and we get to live however the hell we want to. And so, focusing on that understanding that the red flags that you didn't see or ignored or whatever reason, were coming up, they were your intuition showing them to you. This was an obvious thing, but you didn't see it, even if you maybe felt it a little bit. Those things that your body is reacting to, even if you don't know why, even if it doesn't make sense, even if it's being explained away, those things are the things we have to start listening to, and the more separation we have from the situation or the person, the easier it is to listen. But that includes all of the outside people, because a lot of times, I think what happens is people stop listening to the abuser and they go listen to the other person who is supposed to help them, never remembering that it's actually themself they need to listen to first and that there is help out there yes, we're not doing this on our own, but that you have to get very clear within yourself what you need to do next. I really hope this was helpful. If you have any other ideas or any other questions, please do feel free to email me, amanda, at AmandaQuickHealingcom. I will see you all next week. Lots of love for now.