Lori Hilton Brizius

Copyright 2020 by

Photo of moon over water by Lori.

When I think of all the chapters of my life, all the exciting places I've lived or visited I realize that I was never really alone, yet somehow, my 

voice was but a whisper to those closest to me.

From the time I left my home in Canada to move to the United States at the tender age of 21, I was forever moving from place to place, and 

giving up things I loved and people I grew fond of.

Now, we all have to make sacrifices for our significant other, our marriages, our families but, what happens when the sacrifices become such a 

way of life that you forget your own needs, your own passion in the process? Little by little, you start to neglect your own happiness, and focus 

only on the happiness of those around you. When this happens, we can truly lose ourselves, our identity, and sometimes, our self- worth.

How does this process begin? What triggers us to give up ourselves for the sake of others? I don't think there's really one true answer to these 

questions because for some of us the transformation is so slow that we almost don't notice the changes until it's too late. As we get older, we 

just kind of "go with the flow," and hope that one day when we say " hey, I think we should move back to Texas," we have the love and support 

of the person sitting next to us.

Unfortunately, that is not my story. Perhaps some of you can relate.

As far back as I can remember I have dedicated my life to sheltering and caring for homeless and abused animals. My dream was to one day 

open my own rescue facility, and focus on bully breeds and elderly animals. No matter who I allowed in my life and in my heart, I was always 

open about my dream, and the fact that I needed to be with someone who truly cared for animals, as well.

Many agreed with me... many lied.

It's very subtle.

Remember the first, wonderful days when you fall in love, and spend hours on the phone talking about everything? Oh, what a blissful time 

that is! Your likes, your dislikes? Your hobbies and interests? You can't believe your luck when you hear the other person agree with so many of 

the things you love... wow!

When my husband and I first met we had those talks. I specifically asked him about his need for affection, what kind of communicator he was, 

his love for animals, and being supportive. He, of course, said those things were of utmost importance to him, and he was wonderful at 

showing me how true this was... for a while.

Two years into the relationship we decided to get married, but it was soon after that that I noticed how different he was. No communication, 

and most of the support came from me in the form of leaving a job I LOVED in Virginia so he could go back to his job in Michigan. For the most 

part, I became a "stay at home" mom because anytime I wanted to go back to the workforce it conflicted with his hours. The worst part... I 

found out that when I wasn't home, he was not very kind to my dogs!

So, I pulled him aside one day, and asked point blank, " I don't understand. You used to care, you used to talk to me and listen, and you used to 

make me feel like my feelings were important. What happened?" He shrugged his shoulders, and very calmly replied, " well, back then I was 

trying to get you. Now that I've got you, I don't have to do those things anymore."

Did he JUST say that?

Now, you would think that after leaving my country, a great job, my family and friends for one man that perhaps my sacrifices would be limited 

for another. Nope. Once again, I left a job I loved, friends, and a wonderful home to support this man, and here I stood wondering how 

someone who could be as intelligent as me be so dumb.

The years went on, and I realized that my marriage was going nowhere, and I needed to move on from this man. I had to do whatever it took to 

take care of my 4 boys as a single mom so, I worked 3 different jobs to make sure that their way of life did not change. My thoughts were never 

far from my dreams, and my passion to work with animals so, I reminded myself that this was only temporary.

As luck would have it, I met a wonderful man who, once again, made me believe in love and trust and honesty. He loved animals, my kids, and 

after a 2-year long distance relationship we decided to move in together. Of course, I was the one who moved, left my friends, my job so that I 

could support my loves' desire to stay "close to his work contacts," not give up his house, and pursue his many dreams.

One of his dreams lead us to a border town in South Texas which I was hesitant to embrace. I was reluctant to move my 2 younger boys again 

after only a short time, but the guilt I felt over not allowing my partner to fulfill his dream overwhelmed me. We packed up the family, the dog, 

the cat, and the kids, and headed to Texas.

While there, he decided where we would live, and even chose the house we would buy.

Six months after living in this lovely town I landed my dream job of becoming the Director of the animal shelter. It was a huge responsibility, but 
one I dove into full speed ahead and with a full heart! My kids were flourishing in this environment, and my partner was truly loving his job, as 

well. I thought this would be our home for a very long time.

My partner and I did not spend a great deal of time together after we both took on very important, very time-consuming positions. When we 

did have the opportunity to see each other or have a day off I could see a distance forming. He became very unkind, and seemingly jealous of 

my youngest son. It was apparent that he had issues with rage, but the boys and I continued to appease him, and meet his demands. It was "go 

with the flow" or feel his wrath.

I could no longer allow my boys to grow in this environment so, once again, we found ourselves in a predicament that would change our lives. I 

left my job, we gave up a beautiful home, left our friends, and moved back to Michigan to start over.

Starting over was beginning to become a lifestyle for me, and I couldn't believe I had allowed another man to change my life, again!

I happily found another job working with animals, but the money wasn't great and I knew I had to do better for my sons. I was living with a dear 
friend who had helped us move, and gave us a place to stay. We were only there a year before I was offered a position on the west side of the 

state that would bring better pay, and a chance to really make a difference for the animals in that community. I took it!

Working with animals again, and sharing my knowledge with coworkers, as well as the community, was a dream come true. I flourished in my 

new position while making new friends and valuable contacts. This time, I was determined to concentrate on my career, my passion, and my 


Then he came along.

Out of nowhere, I was blessed with a wonderful partner who swept me off my feet, embraced the family unit, and loved animals! As time went 

on, we even talked about starting a rescue together! Life was good, love was good, and I had planted my feet firmly in a place I could finally call 

home. It's amazing how everything can just come together in one moment, and put you on the path you had paved for yourself long ago.

Then, something happened.

Although we didn't work together, our jobs did "tie" together, and one day at the shelter there was an incident with a volunteer that put me in 

an awkward position. Because this person was directly related to my partners' place of business, the incident made it become a conflict of 

interest for us to continue seeing each other. I thought long and hard, and made the painful decision to leave my job because of the love I had 

for this man, and so he didn't have any issues with his job.

I didn't regret the decision at the time, after all... sacrifice is part of loving someone without conditions... right? We loved, we laughed, we 

made mad plans for the future, and 3 years later... we moved in together... at his place. So, once again, I packed up everything to start anew in a 
different town because it was more convenient for him to stay close to his job, his kids, and his friends. I ended up taking a job that paid way 

less than what I was used to, and was very reluctant to do so until my partner assured me that "everything would be okay!" We would be 

combining our incomes, have one rent payment, less utilities, and would be able to save money towards a house and our future!

I must be crazy.

Four short months later my world turned upside down. Our relationship came to an end very quickly, and with no warning. I had to leave "his" 

house, and start my life over, again. I had no place to go, very little money, and immediately went into a deep depression. I stayed with my 

oldest son for a bit, and we decided to find a place together where we could split the bills.

It was 4 months before we found a suitable place within our budget, and during that time I had to max out credit cards to pay for things, and 

hire a moving van. I spent that 4 months applying to different apartments and houses which dropped my credit score each time. I barely made 

the first/last month and security deposit when we moved in, and my next check was another 2 weeks away.

This became a dark time for me.

There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and I hope that everyone learns a lesson from this in some small way.

Over the next year and a half, I took stock of my life, and the decisions that I'd made along the way. Do I blame the men in my life for what's 

happened to me and my family? Perhaps, to a certain extent, but I, and everyone else, must take responsibility too.

How many moves did I make in all those years for someone else's happiness? How many jobs did I give up for the convenience of others? How 

many times did I "give in" to make sure that someone else, or someone else's kids or someone else's friends didn't get upset?

Too many to count.

Sometimes, we begin to love others so much that we forget to love ourselves. Sometimes, we forget that we matter too, and our voice should 

be heard. I could have said, "no!" I could have walked away before I lost myself. I could have taken a stand, and not given in to every demand or 

request. I let this happen. The question is, "will I let this happen, again?"


Ask yourself this... "if I asked you to name all the things you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?"

There comes a time in everyone's life/relationships where you have to become selfish. Not in a bad way, of course, but you have to embrace the 
fact that YOU are important too... YOU deserve to be loved correctly... YOUR happiness matters... YOU are worthy!

It took me many years to discover that my worth, my happiness was essential to my well-being, and the well-being of those around me. We can 
either look back at our life and smile or we can say to ourselves "what was I thinking?" and move forward.

Never again will I give up the things I love for someone else. Never again will I put my passion aside to appease someone else. Never again will I 

sacrifice friends, family, and home for someone who wouldn't do the same for me!

Today, and for the rest of my days... it's all about me!!

Learn to love yourself so much that when others are around you, they will know exactly how it should be done!

Through all that's happened, all the places I've been, all the people I've met along the way... there is only one regret. That I never chose my own 
destination... that I never had a chance to plan my own "next step" or future.

The time is now.

I don't know if I'll ever fall in love again, I don't know if I'll stay in one place very long. I don't know if I'll have another "dream" job or make a 

difference in someone's life. I don't know how many friends I'll make or if I'll make any at all. What I am sure of is that now I am in control. I 

choose, I move, I change, I want, I need... and it feels good.

My destination is unknown... but I'll make it just fine.

So will you.

I was born and raised in London, Ontario Canada, but spent 30 years living in the United States, and raising 4 beautiful boys.
I am an animal advocate, tree hugger, nature lover and Grandma.  I now spend my time traveling and learning about different cultures.

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