I remember that Wednesday evening vividly, as it was the last day of lecturing my physical, emotional, and mental health class at the university. Standing at the front of the classroom, I was teaching and inspiring my students not to give up on life and that their lives were worth living. I said all the right things to help them deal with life's challenges, but deep down, I was struggling with my own demons.

All those years of shame, doubt, and pain had built up inside me, leaving me feeling empty and a hypocrite. It was tough to be in a position of teaching and guiding others while feeling helpless in my own struggles. That night, I knew I was going to take my own life. It was a feeling of conflicting emotions, knowing that I had the power to change lives but feeling powerless in my own life.

After class was over, I walked out into the parking lot. It was a dark space with only a flicker of light—exactly how I felt inside. I initiated my plan to take my life in that parking lot.

Rewind back to the beginning.

Between the ages of 18 and 26, as well as during my 40s, I experienced a series of relationships characterized by physical, mental, spiritual, financial, and emotional abuse. My first abusive relationship was with my high school sweetheart, who had treated me kindly at first. However, due to my belief in my love for him, I held onto the hope that I could change him, and if not, then change myself.

Where did I go?

Over time, as my dreams and goals began to fade, I felt myself fading along with them. The hope and enthusiasm I had once possessed slowly grew darker until I felt nothing at all. No matter what I did, it never seemed to be good enough. I was constantly subjected to threats, beatings, and put-downs. My life became shaped by the desires of others, and I allowed them to treat me however they pleased rather than standing up for what I deserved. At the same time, I found myself questioning my own worth and identity, wondering who I truly was and where I belonged.

Reflecting on moments when I had nearly been loved to death (I was shot at, stabbed, burned, and choked), I saw the light and recognized the need to prioritize taking breaths for the good rather than allowing the bad to take away my breath. So, I decided to use my breath to live. And not just live any life, but live a life where I get to define myself, where I get to be a blessing instead of waiting for one, and where I get to love myself to life!

My name is Dr. Monica Debro, a domestic violence survivor, achiever of many great things, lover of life, and the owner of Love Yourself to Life. My message to anyone dealing with sadness, anxiety, or depression is that you do not need to stay there any longer and that you can return to a place of forgiveness, self-love, and happiness.

It's only looking back that I can connect the dots. Although I had examples of what a healthy, open relationship was, I settled for anything. I didn’t have my own sense of identity, so it was defined by whoever I was with. I didn’t have the courage to speak up for myself and get the support I needed to heal, so I suffered longer than I needed to.   

My life's purpose is to help women gain a greater sense of self that includes aspects of having well-balanced mental and emotional health. I help women who have been in intimate partner violence relationships to gain their power back. They will begin to discover their own unique identity and build self-worth. I strive to guide people in creating a safe and supportive community among their friends and family, to whom they can turn for help when needed.

What I have learned is that it’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how quickly you can learn the lesson to get yourself out of it and begin the healing journey. I stayed in my mess too long and don’t want others to do the same.

Through my journey, I learned the importance of surrounding myself with positive and uplifting people, doing things I enjoy, and practicing self-care. These are the essential things to cultivate a life that brings joy, love, and happiness into your life.

It’s time to Love Yourself To Life.