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E28: Reclaiming Your Life After an Abusive Relationship

by Frame of Mind March 7, 2017

Luzelenia Casanova

Luzelenia Casanova, author of the book “The Masquerade is Over: A Victorious Journey From a Silent War,” discusses how she overcame an abusive upbringing and marriage and became a successful training consultant. Luzelenia describes the cycle of domestic violence and how she was eventually able to break that cycle and build a better life for herself and her children. 

To learn more about Luzelenia, visit: www.themasqueradeisover.com

If you like what you hear in this episode of Resilience Radio, please rate, review & subscribe on iTunes!

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Show notes:

Kim:
[00:00:23] Welcome! This is Kim Ades from Frame of Mind Coaching, and I am
the host of Resilience Radio, where my guests are experts at crushing the
tough stuff. Today I have a guest with me. Her name is Luzelenia Casanova.
Luzelenia, are you here with me right now?

Luzelenia:
[00:00:37] Yes I am, thank you for inviting me!

Kim:
[00:00:40] Welcome, welcome! I am really looking forward to chatting today
because you have a lot of very interesting experience and before we get
into some of the more personal stuff, I see that you are in the field of
building simulations and training and computer-based technology, that
field. Is that accurate?

Luzelenia:
[00:01:00] Yes it is. It’s a very exciting field for me and I’ve found my
passion.

Kim:
[00:01:05] Well it’s interesting because I don’t know if you knew this but
I used to build simulation-based technology. I used to build
simulation-based assessments in the day.

Luzelenia:
[00:01:16] Oh awesome. Did you enjoy it?

Kim:
[00:01:18] I loved it. We actually built simulations that helped us figure
out who we would hire for any given position. We sold it to corporations
and organizations who were using those assessments to help them make hiring
decisions.

Luzelenia:
[00:01:37] I actually did one that was very memorable which was for the
U.S. Army. Ours was made to randomize the questions because apparently the
soldiers were taking the same exam over and over every year and apparently
they were sharing the answers so they hired us to randomize those
questions.

Kim:
[00:02:02] OK so you’d mix them up a bit. Excellent. So let’s get into some
of the details. You are a mother of two, you’re grandmother of four, you
live in Massachusetts, you’re an author, you’re a speaker, you’re an
entrepreneur and of course you do technical training. But you also wrote a
book, and the book is called The Masquerade Is Over.

Luzelenia:
[00:02:25] Yes. It’s based on my journey as a child living through domestic
violence, observing it, living it and actually marrying an abuser like my
father. I went into adulthood living the same life that my mother
experienced. So I wanted to depict in the book how the cycle continues.

Luzelenia:
[00:02:53] My mom was abused as a child by her mom, then she found someone
like my father who continued the cycle. So the book is based on how the
cycle works. When you hear “domestic violence,” people think it’s something
private because it’s domestic. I want to shed light [on the fact that] that
it’s not only inside a home; it also affects the community, our family, our
friends, our coworkers… It just affects a lot of people than just the
victim and the victimizer.

Kim:
[00:03:40] Luzelenia, can we get more into a little bit of detail? I’ve
heard a lot about domestic violence. I didn’t grow up in a domestically
violent home,so for me it’s a little bit abstract. My exposure to it is
through movies and through the news. So can you give us detail? What does
it mean to be in a domestically violent home? Let’s go back to when you
were a kid. What happened exactly?

Luzelenia:
[00:04:07] Well it was kind of hard as a child to identify that that’s what
you’re living through because if you see it in and out, every day, it feels
normal because you experience seeing this constantly with your parents
battling. My father was extremely jealous. It’s a coincidence because his
last name was Castonova and he was a player, but he was very jealous of my
mom and there always was jealousy control.

[00:04:37] I learned that from their behavior because I saw my mother’s
submissive behavior when he was aggressive. As a child, we all have dreams.
And I had always dreamed to be a dancer. Unfortunately, my father looked at
dancers as women of the street because he would probably go see women
dancing. So he always told my mom, “I never want to see her dancing. It’s
not for a woman.”

[00:05:08] Yet there was a woman named Iris Chacon – she was a famous
dancer back in the 70’s – and she used to dance on TV in a thong.

[00:05:18] And my mother was happy that he was home, because he was home
just to watch this woman on TV. She had moves better than Beyonce and
Madonna, let me tell ya. I kind of mastered those moves. I was really
shakin’ it! One day, there happened to be a Spanish festival in my
neighborhood, and a neighbor wanted to take me. My mom’s said “OK, I trust
you with her, no problem.” We go to this festival and there are people
dancing all over the place to Latin music which is my favorite. So there
was I was, 8 or 10 years old. I was young enough to know “it’s music, I’m
dancing, no matter what!” So I’m dancing in place and there was a contest
going on, but I wasn’t aware of that. All of a sudden a gentleman walks
over from nowhere to this woman I’m with and asks her, “Can I put her on
the stage?” She says, “No, her mother doesn’t like her dancing.” And the
gentleman said, “Oh she’s great. I would love to put her up there” and I’m
like “please please!” And she’s like, “OK, just don’t tell your mom. No
problem.” So I go up there, I do my thing, and there was a crowd of
hundreds of people. At that age, that didn’t even bother me because I was
in my own in my dancing. I was in my element.

[00:06:51] All of a sudden, they tell us that they’re going to announce the
winner. I go back to the lady I was with. And then they call my name. So
the lady says “I think you won!” Some lady comes out of nowhere, grabs my
hand and races me up to the stage and they give me a huge trophy. I won
first place! I;m so excited with my trophy and I didn’t know what to do; it
was probably bigger than me. And when I back walk over to the lady she
says, “Oh we can’t take that home.” And I’m like “Why?” She says “because
then your mom’s going to know you were dancing.” The trophy was an angel
with the wings erected over her head. It was a gorgeous gold angel statue.

[00:07:37] Apparently somebody had already gone to my mom and told her that
I was dancing. So when I got home, my mom was behind the door with a bell
and she beat me mercilessly. My trophy fell out of my hands. The wings
broke from the angel. I was devastated. And from that moment on, I felt
that I cannot dream anymore. It wasn’t worth dreaming because someone can
come and just take it away. So from there forward I stop dreaming on what I
wanted to be and so on.

[00:08:16] And then watching my mom constantly being either… Abuse comes
in many forms which a lot of people don’t see it that way either. They
think if you’re not beaten physically you’re not being abused. But
unfortunately, it’s also emotionally, psychologically, financially, it
could be sexually, and my father tapped in all of those. I thought it was
normal for him to not allow her to spend money, not to work, not to drive a
car, not to look out the window. And besides that he would also physically
beat her.

Kim:
[00:08:55] Did he beat her in front of you?

Luzelenia:
[00:08:57] Yes. Actually they had a fight, a physical fight, where she was
trying to fight back, and she had a knife in her hand, and she was only 5
feet tall, and meanwhile my father was 6 feet tall. So we’re talking about
a huge difference in height. But that little woman was reckless, and she
was trying to jab him in the chest with the knife. And I’m witnessing this
and I’m like “Oh my god I’m going to see my mother kill my father,” and I’m
screaming at her to stop.

[00:09:28] A neighbor heard the ruckus and ran into the house and separated
them. But that was like the most violent one that I’ve ever seen. I was
probably 13. Yeah.

Kim:
[00:09:41] And they stayed together after that incident?

Luzelenia:
[00:09:44] Yes, absolutely. She said “no matter what you go through, you
stay with the man that you’re married with.”

Kim:
[00:09:51] So they stayed together for the duration.

[00:09:55] Yeah, 45 years until he passed away. She will always say “your
father behaves that way because he’s jealous. And sometimes I provoke him
because I don’t do what he tells me so he gets angry.”

[00:10:10] That’s another story line that I convinced myself that that’s
normal in a relationship. When I met my ex-husband, who was the abuser, she
also felt the same way, that I needed to stay with him no matter what. Even
if he was beating me and was abusive.

Kim:
[00:10:31] So how old were you when you got married?

Luzelenia:
[00:10:33] I was 19 years old. I was at a point where I wanted to leave my
house because my mother was very abusive. She was verbally abusive towards
me. She would tell me I was stupid, I’m going to amount to nothing, I’m
never smart enough, I was fat. I wanted to be a ballerina and she tells me
“you can’t be a ballerina.” I said “why?” She says “you’re too fat. You’ll
break your toes.

Luzelenia:
[00:11:00] I was just at a point where I wanted to satisfy her with
finishing high school because she’d always say “you’re never going to
finish high school.” She was so negative in that respect. I don’t know how
she wanted me to see myself, but not in a positive light. I don’t know why
she would do that. But I think that’s all she knew.

Kim:
[00:11:27] So she thought that by exposing you to a potentially negative
outcome that you would straighten up or improve. Did you have any siblings.

Luzelenia:
[00:11:40] I have two older brothers.

Kim:
[00:11:42] OK. And what did they do when they saw your mother being abused?

Luzelenia:
[00:11:48] Well unfortunately neither one would be home. My oldest brother
actually left the house at 13 because he an accelerated student in school
and there was a program for kids that were very smart. The government were
actually relocate them to another area where the schools will accommodate
their level of knowledge. So he was in New Hampshire. And then the other
one was always out hanging out with his friends so he would never really
see much. And then he left to the Navy so it was just me and my mom and my
dad.

Kim:
[00:12:24] So you got married at 19. You met this guy, graduated from
university and I guess in a way this was your way out.

Luzelenia:
[00:12:31] Yes. Yes.

Kim:
[00:12:33] So you get married and then I’m guessing the abuse started after
you were married.

Luzelenia:
[00:12:40] Well you know this is what is interesting because the subtle
behaviors were already there when I met him as my boyfriend. And these are
behaviors that I teach girls to pay attention because an abuser is a
learned behavior. No one is born being abusive. There are certain traits
that they display.

Kim:
[00:13:04] Give me an example.

Luzelenia:
[00:13:06] Overly possessive or jealous. Someone that constantly calls you,
doesn’t believe you, always wants to track you down. That’s already an
obsessive behavior. It doesn’t necessarily mean it it turns into an abusive
physically, but mentally, they are already abusing you. At this point, you
doubt yourself and you make excuses for everything you do. So you’re not
being your true self.

Kim:
[00:13:36] Your boyfriend was jealous.

Luzelenia:
[00:13:39] He was extremely jealous when we were dating.

Kim:
[00:13:42] But you saw that before so you thought it was normal.

Luzelenia:
[00:13:45] I thought of it as a sign that he was so in love with me, and my
mom would say that too. “Oh he loves you so much he wants to always be
around you.” So I was convinced that’s what love is – someone that wants to
keep tabs on you, wants to be around you 24/7 and wants to know your
whereabouts.

Kim:
[00:14:05] Right. So you got married. I guess your parents were happy with
that.

Luzelenia:
[00:14:11] No. They weren’t. But I was already of age, and they felt like
you take it from there. You do your life however you please. My mother
really loved them so she was OK with it.

Kim:
[00:14:23] OK so you got married and then you had kids. Did you work? What
did that look like?

Luzelenia:
[00:14:29] No. When I had my first child, I stayed home for 3 years and I
just was a mom taking care of my son. I enjoyed every moment. But we were
not financially stable and that was pretty difficult. My father was my
landlord so he was OK with skipping rent here and there. But after a while
I felt like this is not a stable life. I didn’t want my kids to grow up
seeing us struggling so much when I can go to work, but he didn’t want me
to work.

Kim:
[00:15:03] So that was another way of controlling the situation. At what
point did things escalate and then you decided this is not good for me?

Luzelenia:
[00:15:16] It escalated once I had my second child, which was four years
later. And at that point I felt I needed to get a job and get my life
together. I got my paralegal certificate and I started working for a very
good looking attorney. That’s when the problem started. [My husband] would
come in after he would finish work and sit in the lobby in this attorney’s
office. And this was an everyday practice. And the attorney was already
done with that behavior. It’s like “you only live three blocks from here,
why does this man need to come pick you up and sit in my lobby when I have
my clients waiting to be seated.

Luzelenia:
[00:16:05] [My husband’s] aggressiveness got a little out of control. And
then I noticed that when I would go driving, he would check my mileage to
see how you see how far I went. He started acting weird towards my friends
so they wouldn’t come over, so at that point, he was isolating me. My
friends refused to come over or call me because he would be rude or he
would walk in his towel around the house [when he got] out of the shower.
Very uncomfortable situations for my friends.

[00:16:40] So at that point I knew I’m not feeling that I can do what I
feel is right for me. I want a better job. I want to provide for my kids.
And he was just isolating me. I couldn’t talk on the phone, I couldn’t go
out with my friends. He would time how long it would take me to get from
work to home and vice versa. And once I started making my money, everything
fell on me. Now I needed to pay the bills, I needed to pay everything. And
that’s when I said I can’t take it anymore. I decided I was going to leave
him. And one day he left the house and we started talking about making up
again and he came over and. We got into an argument and he tried to
strangle me.

[00:17:34] That’s when I knew he can be dangerous. So I filed a restraining
order against him and he broke the restraining order by breaking the door
and coming into the house. I was on the phone with 911 and he grabbed the
phone and wrapped it around my neck.

[00:17:56] I lost consciousness and when I woke there were police in my
apartment and he was arrested.

[00:18:04] So it started escalating from the verbal abuse, calling me
names, just making me feel so unworthy, to getting physical.

[00:18:16] It started out very minor like hitting me on the head with a
hairbrush or yanking my hair, to biting my face. So it started escalating
as time will go by and and then I said I need to leave the state. I need to
go far away because it seems like wherever I’m at, he’s there. So I had to
go to court and get an order so I can relocate out of state. Well he found
out and so did my mom and this is the part of my life where I learned a lot
of lessons. My mom called me and said to me “I’m going to go to court with
him and fight for custody for the kids.”

Kim:
[00:19:04] So she did not back you up at all.

Luzelenia:
[00:19:08] No. She felt like you need to stay with him no matter what. And
I think she was putting herself in her position because that’s how she felt
throughout her life. And I refused. But when she called me and and said
those words, I just felt like my world was over. I couldn’t see myself
living without my kids and he was going to take custody and I felt like
that can’t happen. Well the bad thoughts, as some folks know, can control
you. It took me to a point where I attempted suicide.

Kim:
[00:19:47] How did you do that?

Luzelenia:
[00:19:49] I took a bottle of sleeping pills.

Kim:
[00:19:52] OK. And how did you survive.

Luzelenia:
[00:19:56] I survived because I had a person that, it’s in my book, but I
had an experience that was very unique. I had someone come into my room
when I was in ICU. I was in and out of consciousness and this person was
telling me that it’s not my time. That I have I have more to do, and I
haven’t even started. So just keep my eyes open as the doors will open for
me, and trust your heart and go through it because you will be protected.

Luzelenia:
[00:20:34] I don’t know who this lady is she. She has her back towards me.
And she says have faith everything will work out, just believe. So I said
to myself “well that lady’s talking a lot of garbage.” I didn’t want to
hear it. After, I felt so guilty and I [ask to] speak to the nurse that was
here last night, and they’re like “is there a problem?” I said “well, I
just want to talk to her.” And basically what I want to say to her is thank
you and I wasn’t paying attention, but can you tell me again. Unfortunately
that nurse was never found. No one knew who I was talking about.

Kim:
[00:21:17] Wow. Do believe it was a real person or was it maybe in your
mind, did you visualize this? What do you think actually happened?

Luzelenia:
[00:21:28] I think it was a visit from an angel. Because I do believe in
them. I really do. And it was such it was such a different feeling when she
was in the room. It was very calm, very peaceful. And it didn’t dawn on me
for years later when I looked back at my journey and said “this is exactly
what she was talking about.” Because after I moved out of state, I moved to
a state with no family, no friends, no job and two little kids. And I
started my life over and it was just the strength that I felt I had all
along. I just needed to believe in it and it was the courage, the
determination and I just needed to rely on that as long as I had my kids
with me. I felt I’m doing it for them as well.

Kim:
[00:22:22] So you go from attempted suicide to taking your kids. Did you
actually end up going to court? Did you have to defend that?

Luzelenia:
[00:22:30] No. Because as soon as I went to court, the judge already saw
the restraining order and the fact that he broke the order and that there
was domestic abuse when I filed for divorce. That [too precedent] to him
wanting custody, and the judge reviewed everything there and made the
decision that he had no right to have custody of the kids and he was giving
me the right to leave the state.

Kim:
[00:23:02] I see. OK. So you took your kids and left. Now did your kids
have any continued contact with their dad?

Luzelenia:
[00:23:08] Yes. The court ordered that I had to allow the father to have
visitations and because he lived in New Jersey and I lived in
Massachusetts, there was a three four hour difference in driving, I had to
meet him halfway in Connecticut. So every other weekend, I would drop them
off. At times I would be fearful because I felt he won’t bring them back
because he threatened me a couple of times of not bringing them back. But
it worked out.

Kim:
[00:23:39] OK. So now your kids are older. They grew up.

Luzelenia:
[00:23:42] Yes.

Kim:
[00:23:43] What kind of work did you get? How did you make your life work
with no job, no people, no money I’m guessing, and no support from your
family?

Luzelenia:
[00:23:56] I had a lot of faith in myself. But besides having faith, I had
the right people in my life at the time when I was going through all this
mess. I had a boss that never gave up on me.

Kim:
[00:24:11] Was this the good looking lawyer?

Luzelenia:
[00:24:14] No this was another job. I had left that one and actually
started working in Wall Street. And that’s that’s when the problems
escalated because he looked at me like I’m moving higher than him, and now
he was at a point where “uh oh, I’m going to lose her now she’s in New York
I can’t keep my eye on her.”

[00:24:32] But anyway, in this organization here, I had bosses that
believed in me. That always felt like we can give you anything, you can
conquer it. He was my motivation. I felt I was living a double life because
at work, I felt like this super woman, this place where everybody
acknowledged my work, praised my work. I feel like I can do more and I feel
determined. And then I go home, and I feel like someone has control over
me, I can’t even say what I feel. I was living in a very tormented life. I
have to make a decision, which. Which woman do I want to live? So I chose
the super woman, and that’s what I call her because that’s how I felt. And
my boss there learned about my attempted suicide incident and he was
shocked. He said I would have never imagined that you were living such a
life behind closed doors. He says, “what do you need to do that I can help
you?” And I said “I want to move out of the state.” He said “we’re going to
make that happen.

[00:25:48] So he spoke to the vice president of the company, they sat me
down, gave me a bonus, and gave me a packaged deal with enough money for me
to survive for a while, and put me on unemployment which allowed me to
survive a little longer in Massachusetts with no work while I still had my
unemployment. But while I was there, I just started going out and meeting
people and again the right people came into my life and that’s how I found
my first job which was ideal.

[00:26:24] I worked at a school in a nurse’s office and that allowed me to
have time off at the same time that my kids were off from school.

Kim:
[00:26:34] So you build your life back up. Now did you ever meet anyone
new? Did you get remarried?

Luzelenia:
[00:26:44] Yes, I remarried 9 years after I moved to Massachusetts. It’s
interesting because the man that I married was a gentleman who worked for
my father for 6 years. He showed up at my dad’s funeral and he said “where
have you been?” I said “I moved to Massachusetts.” He said “did you leave
that crazy guy?” And I said “yes I did.” I said “are you still married?” He
said “no” and we connected, and within a couple of months he moved to
Massachusetts and we were married for six years.

Kim:
[00:27:21] Wow. Oh you were married for six years, so you’re not married
anymore.

Luzelenia:
[00:27:25] No.

Kim:
[00:27:26] OK. So what about your relationship with your mother. Is your
mother still alive.

Luzelenia:
[00:27:30] No, she unfortunately passed away 12 years ago. And when she saw
that I was really doing well on my own in Massachusetts, she kind of came
around and she was better to me. She was actually more supportive then than
when I was married.

Luzelenia:
[00:27:54] She had colon cancer so I would spend time with her at the
hospital. And she actually said to forgive her for all the pain that she
caused me. We went through that forgiveness stage because I know that you
can’t go through life with anger and bitterness. And I asked her many years
before that for her to forgive me, and she said “whatever.

Kim:
[00:28:21] Why were you asking for forgiveness?

Luzelenia:
[00:28:25] Because I wanted to take it off my chest.

Kim:
[00:28:30] Forgiveness for what though?

Luzelenia:
[00:28:32] For not being the person that she wanted me to be.

Kim:
[00:28:37] That’s very interesting. I want to stop you right there. So you
know I coach people. And a lot of people want us to be something, and we’re
not always that person. We don’t always manage to get the approval or meet
the needs of others, and that causes us great guilt or great feelings of
deficiency or failure. And one of the greatest tasks that I have as a coach
is to really try to silence out those other voices and hone in on clients
in their own voice.

Kim:
[00:29:13] So who is it that you want to be? What kind of life do you want
to live? What kind of achievements are important for you, not for your
parents, not for society, not for your neighbors, not for your friends.
Really, really figure out what it is that will make you happy as opposed to
what will make others happy.

Kim:
[00:29:33] So it’s interesting that you were looking for forgiveness for
not living up to her expectations.

Luzelenia:
[00:29:39] Well that’s when a person who is still in the mentality of a
people pleaser. See that’s what I learned as a child, because that was my
mom’s behavior towards my dad. And then I mirrored that behavior with my
abusive husband. I went through many years thinking that that’s normal.
Pleasing other people and neglecting my needs and my personal wants.

That was part of my journey and part of my learning process that now I’m on
my own, I’m proud of who I am I have boundaries which I never learned as a
child, and even in adulthood, I didn’t know what boundaries were. I learned
to love myself, which is another thing that you don’t learn when you’re a
child.

I remember doing a talk to teenage girls at a high school and I asked them,
“how do you know that you love yourself?” And their answer was they’ll buy
fancy clothes, they have good friends, they go places… everything was
external. Nothing was internal.

Kim:
Let me ask you 2 questions. Question number 1 is, how do you know
you love yourself?

Luzelenia:
Because I honor and respect my feelings and thoughts, I celebrate my
accomplishments and I believe that once I set my boundaries, that’s giving
myself self-respect.

Kim:
OK. Second question, give me an example of boundaries. Because I have a
philosophy around boundaries that’s a little bit contradictory to the
typical coach. It causes controversy. But describe for me an example of a
boundary.

Luzelenia:
Well I won’t allow someone to actually dictate to me what I should do as my
career. That is my decision. See, my career is very complicated. I’m a
traveler. Right now, I’m in Texas. So being in a relationship is difficult
because trust needs to be the core, and it’s kind of hard finding people
that trust 100% and are happy with a woman travelling. That’s one of the
questions I always ask. “Are you comfortable with me traveling on a regular
basis?” For me, I set that as a boundary, and if you say no, then that’s a
deal breaker.

Kim:
Are you dating anyone right now?

Luzelenia:
No.

Kim:
OK. So I just want to stop for a couple minutes and share with you my
perspective on boundaries. Because I think this is very important and again
it’s a little controversial.

Most often, we hear that people who have self-respect and who live happy
lives really are able to create clear boundaries. And for me, I have a bit
of a different philosophy and I’ll tell you why. What I want to do is I
want to tear down boundaries. And what does that mean? It means that when
I’m focused on creating a boundary, I’m really focused on what I don’t
want. Even as you described it – “I don’t want someone telling me what
career to be in” or really how to live my life – you’re focused on what you
don’t want.

What I teach my clients is, let’s really look at that and rather than
focusing on what you don’t want and identifying your deal breaker, let’s
identify what you do want. “I want someone who accepts my life, my
career and celebrates it.” That’s very different from creating a boundary.

When we start to define what we really want, we start to attract it. When
we think about our boundaries, we keep bumping up against people who aren’t
too happy with our choices. We keep attracting people who aren’t
cool with our career, and travelling, etc. It’s the idea of shifting you
attention of what you don’t want (and therefore creating boundaries) to
what you do want, and when you focus on what you do want, you don’t need to
create a boundary. You’re just going after your vision.

Luzelenia:
That’s a good point. I have never heard it that way, but it makes sense.

Kim:
A boundary is like a line, and if we create enough lines, we box ourselves
in. What I really want to do is help people move away from the line, go
into the big wide space that’s available and say “here’s what I want. I
want to live a full, invigorated, passionate life, and I want someone to
join me on that journey.” That’s very different from “here’s what I don’t
want. I don’t want someone telling me what to do.” You can feel the
difference just in terms of energy.

Luzelenia:
Yeah, I do agree with that. My concern is coming from an environment that
was toxic, that took away my self-esteem, my self-worth. I didn’t even know
who I was. I don’t want to go back to that, so I needed to recognize what
that person’s action was that cause me to react that way.

Kim:
I understand. And sometimes perhaps creating boundaries is a good middle
step. But it’s not a place where I want anyone to stop. I want you to say
OK, I did that, it got me to this place, it got me to safe ground, it got
me to recognize when someone wasn’t treating me right, but now I really
want to go and build a life and relationships that really fill me up and
fuel me. I want to move toward what I want instead of always keeping an eye
on potential abuse.

Luzelenia:
Yes, I steer clear of that. I do pay attention to how people treat others.
I always say, “you go on a date, always pay attention to how this person is
treating you and their surroundings.” But I don’t go with that in mind like
“this guy could be an abuser.” I do agree, you don’t stay there.

Kim:
What advice do you have for people who are listening who might be in an
abusive relationship themselves or who might be in a place where they want
to make a massive change like moving to another state or starting a new
life?

Luzelenia:
One thing I learned is to never love anyone else more than you love
yourself.

Kim:
Good advice.

Luzelenia:
Yes. Love yourself more, because if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love
others and that gives them the ability to take over. I learned that and I
believe in that. Part of loving yourself is believing and trusting your
inner voice. My inner voice sometimes speak loud, and I tend to ignore it
because that’s the way I am. But a lot of times, I do listen, and if I
focus on it too much, it builds fear.

Fear is not something you need to be afraid of, even though it sounds
scary. Fear is also bringing attention to a situation for you to focus and
either learn from it or experience it. I see fear as an emotion that I
create, so I can learn where it’s coming from and why I’m afraid to do
something.

When women are in an abusive relationship and they’re not sure of who they
are, they allow fear to take over and paralyze them. They’re afraid to make
any move or leave the relationship, and if they do, they do it so abruptly
and with no plan that it causes them to get back into their comfort zone –
back into that bad relationship. Because of their fear of change.

Don’t be afraid of change. Change is what helps you grow. And as soon as
you start growing, that means you’re tackling challenge, and as you tackle
them and become successful, it gives you courage.

You can [interpret] fear in two ways. People say “fear is false emotions
that appear real.” I say, “forget everything and run!”

Kim:
Just go for it.

Luzelenia:
Just go for it! That’s how I live my life. It’s not that I don’t think
things through because I do, but sometimes when my heart tells me to just
do it, that’s exactly what I do.

Kim:
Feel the fear but do it anyway. Last question: you have a coach on the
line. For those of you who are listening for the first time, I’ve been
coaching for 11 years, I’ve got a team of coaches, I teach people how to
coach, so this is a good opportunity. You have a coach on the line. Is
there a question that you have for this coach?

Luzelenia:
Yes. I feel that I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. I’m happy where I’m
at. But I find myself being a workaholic. Work has consumed my world, and
that’s why I’ve been single for a while. I want to expand that world. How
do I get out of this workaholic situation?

Kim:
Well for those of you who know me, you know that I use journaling when I
coach people. And for those of you who have never heard of me before, I use
journaling when I coach people! My advice to you is to sort through some of
your drivers.

One of the questions I would ask myself is, “why am I a workaholic? What
pleasure do I get there? What safety do I get from working so hard? Why is
it fueling me so much? What are the emotions, the sense of security that is
gives me that I’m not getting elsewhere?”

We often do things over and over again because somehow that serves us. [Ask
yourself ]”how is it serving me to be a workaholic? Does it help me think
of myself in a certain light? Does it help me feel like my financial is
protected? Is it the place where I get the most validation approval? What
is it doing for me?”

When you start to write that out and look at it, you start so say “is it
possible for me to get some of that elsewhere? And is it actually real? Am
I truly getting these things from this place? And can I maybe backup from
it a little bit?”

The second thing that I recommend that you do is start to say, rather than
“here are my boundaries, here’s what I don’t want,” start to define what
kind of relationship you do want. Who do you want in your life?
How do you want to interact with this person? What kind of characteristics
does this guy have? How does communication work? Start to step back and
determine what you want as opposed to what you want to protect yourself
from.

Those two things start to shift your energy. The third thing – it’s
interesting – I’ve was working with a client who recently got divorced and
he said “I haven’t really dated in a very long time, I got married really
young and I don’t know what to do. Should I go through a mourning period?”

I said, “No, what I want you to do is look up.”

He said, “What does that mean? Do you want me to jump into bed with the
next girl I meet?”

I said, “No, I want you to be open to conversation and start to really
notice what you like and what you don’t like. Be open, look up, pay
attention, engage.”

That’s the next part. You are travelling a lot, and as a traveller, you get
to interact with a lot of different types of people. Don’t put your head
down and just travel. Lift your head up and interact. Enjoy the process.
Notice people and start to “go shopping.”

So say, “I really like that characteristic about that person, and that
characteristic about this other person” are start to accumulate those
things that really excite you and turn you on. What that does is it allows
you to be open to the right opportunity when it presents itself. If you
don’t look up, the right opportunity might be right in front of you and you
will never notice.

Luzelenia:
That’s good advice!

Kim:
And it’s really important that you do the first one first. Because there is
some kind of need that being a workaholic gives you, and you need to figure
out what that is and understand that you can probably fill that need in
other places.

Luzelenia:
I know about “going shopping” because somebody said that to me and I fired
back by saying, “I understand going shopping. The important part is to go
shopping while I’m full and not hungry, because I’ll make poor choices.”

Kim:
[Laughs] Good point, I like that one! And understand that you can go
shopping and put things in your cart, but when you get to the cash
register, you don’t have to buy!

Luzelenia:
[Laughs] That’s so true.

Kim:
I just want to say, Luzelenia, thank you so much for being on this podcast
with me and sharing your story. You’ve been through a lot, you continue
your journey with a lot of courage, with a lot of determination and a lot
of spirit. And you know what, my hats off to you for the distance you’ve
travelled. You’re a great role model for many, many people. How do people
reach you and find your book?

Luzelenia:
My book is on amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles, and it’s called “The
Masquerade Is Over: A Victorious Journey From a Silent War.” I also have a
website, www.themasqueradeisover.com and I have my contact info there.

Kim:
Luzelenia, thank you so much for being on this show with me and for sharing
your time, your story and yourself with us.

Luzelenia:
Thanks, Kim. It’s a great pleasure and I really appreciate your giving me
your platform. And thank you for the advice! I definitely will be looking
at this tonight.

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