Please Share and Support

Standard

This is a wonderful project. It is domestic abuse awareness month, please share to raise awareness. The data is overwhelming:

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.1
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.1

Amazing work to highlight survivors and their stories.

https://m.facebook.com/ElishaDasenbrock/photos/a.10152510306783775.1073741827.156121543774/10153239116038775/?type=3&source=48

The Culmination of My Fear

Standard

Today was challenging in a way some may not understand. As a parent we want the best for our children, an easier row to hoe. When they choose something challenging we struggle between letting them toil at a task and the ease our wisdom could impart. As parents we also never want to see our children hurt, that is one of the most painful feeling when one we love is hurting and we cannot fix it, when we can only offer some solace and a bit of comfort at best it is quite heartbreaking. I have been struggling today and the realization I arrived at was almost crippling. I have hours ahead of me in the darkness of night to think for tonight I shall find no sleep.

I have feared my children would grow up to find themselves in my shoes. Some nightmare like my daughter at 22 ended up in a loveless marriage where she was on her best day, left to her own devices, on an average day manipulate, and on a difficult day I really do not want to consider.  What happens if my children grow into adults and never find unconditional love and acceptance in a relationship? What if their prior home life has set a standard that they accept less than what they deserve?  No matter how much I fought to protect them I have the lurking feeling they know more than they should.  What if my children think it is alright to settle for a life similar to what I did for year, irrelevant of the rationality I used at the time. What if the cycle begins to repeat?

So today when my middle child came home with the magnificent life plan that could quite possibly put them on the same trajectory as their father I was crippled with fear. As I write that now, I am brought to my knees with panic and dismay. I did not shield them from what I had hoped. Did I protect his eyes and ears from some of the terrors that he has no knowledge of why his choice is a bad idea?  Does he not see this is a choice to see the approval of a person who delves out “love” and “praise” as a way to control him? How can one crush his dreams of the future to protect him from the pain that it may cause. How can I step aside and let it occur or step up to break the cycle? I had always feared they may find themselves in my shoes but I had never considered they would begin down the path of the person that put me here….. I suppose I shall see no rest tonight.

 

“As for courage and will – we cannot measure how much of each lies within us, we can only trust there will be sufficient to carry through trials which may lie ahead.” – Andre Norton

 

Project to Disprove Isolation

Standard

This wonderful project from iknowiknow.me shows what we all go through. It is a reminder that we all are battling something that most of us never even know about. That smile can sometimes be a facade or the external trait of your internal fight to go on.

“A person who truly loves you is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else believes in the smile on your face.” – Unknown

Note to Former Self

Standard

I am a believer of getting it out of my head either by talking it through or writing it down.  If I put it on paper it adds perspective and allows me to process through my thoughts instead of them continually bouncing around inside my head.  The other day I shared with my dear friend the process I have used to let go when you have no way of actually dealing with the person or event; writing a letter and hold nothing back, there is no need for civility only honesty about your feelings, pain, etc. then I find a quiet place and set it ablaze leaving only a trail of smoke. I have been known to scrawl my thoughts of anger and pain on napkins or compose detailed letters of forgiveness on my fine stationary; it has ran the gamut.  I have written many to myself throughout the years, focusing on forgiveness or to clarify things. Over the past week or two the same topic has surfaced in conversations with different people; what would you tell to your young naïve self.  I don’t spend too much time on regrets, this just made me think what words of wisdom would I impart. Here goes….

 

 

Dear Chicka,

At twenty-two you are so young, have so much of your life to live but you feel like you have been swept off your feet with love. Although you have been loved by your parents and siblings, you have no idea this is not real love. Before you know it you will be facing motherhood and within a few months of that you will know fear. Not that silly scary movie type or the heart racing because you are frightened in a dark parking lot type but true fear for yourself and your unborn child. I am sorry I put you in that position.

You will know a love like no other the moment you hold your first child in your arms and from that moment forward you will make all your decisions as a means to protect, nurture, and provide for them all. You work so hard, you try more than anyone I have ever known, always telling yourself if you just love a little more, try a little harder, find a bit more patience for that is what role you are supposed to play. So many nuances you will learn for yourself just know I am so proud of you for your strength, your courage, and all you have given to your children.

Please try to remember to love yourself, be kind to yourself but I know there will be times that is lost, know there will be moments where you set yourself ablaze to keep someone else warm, and where you sacrifice you dreams a beliefs for some false greater-good. You will return to yourself in time.  Try to hold fast to what you believe in your heart and soul. In your late twenties,  you will lose sight of who you are, you will lose hope, and your faith will be challenged but know it will be found again, to be stronger than you knew. When you face those moments, remember to never lose sight of your kindness, compassion, and love; just know not everyone is deserving of those gifts. Know you deserve so much better, your children do too and one day you will have it.

In your early thirties  you find the courage to finally leave, to have a plan in place and all the elements align for it to occur remember you are strong enough to make it; you are a survivor! You will regain your financial independence, some security for you and your children, and strike a career path that will carry you through another rough patch or two.  When you return later, know too that everything happens for a reason, try to retain your belief that life is unfolding as it should.  You trusted in the words, you wanted to believe more than anything. Who would think the person who professes to love you would even…?  When you begin to doubt yourself, when you lose confidence in your choice hold fast to your conviction that this is all part of a plan.  Stay strong, be courageous, and love your children with all your heart for it will work out. In your mid-thirties you will understand why you returned, why in all the prayers and moments of silence seeking the path and strength to leave that little voice would say not yet.  You are blessed with a do-over and there are not many of those in life so enjoy it!

It will eventually all fall apart one fateful morning. All the financial security you created will see you through a nasty divorce and you will be able to maintain a decent lifestyle for you and your children. You will begin to live life as you had only dreamed. There will come one morning on the beach where you will forgive, a sunrise all alone where you learned to lay down the burdens forced upon you by another for you know they are not yours to carry.  You will also learn to forgive yourself which will be the most difficult; at times I still remind myself of this.You will regain your confidence and although there are times you struggle you know all you were told was not true for you know your own truth, worth, and beauty. You will know a peace in your heart you never knew existed. You will live a life of contentment where so many of the things you endured have given you a skillset that proves useful.  One evening at the dinner table, you will laugh with your children and know the journey while difficult was worth those smiles and in that moment life will be as it should.

Know that even now there are difficult times, moments that revisit your psyche but at this mid-point in your life you are wiser than you could have even hoped. There is still so much to learn, so many experiences, so far to travel but you will be doing so with a full spirit and a peaceful heart surrounded by loving friends.

 

Be kind and love yourself on this journey,

~Your middle-aged self

 

Open Letter on the Absurdity of Nosiness and Grief

Standard

To all the people who have commented in an interesting way on the journey I have taken please take no offense to my replies for I am a private person and it really is none of your business. I tend to be pretty level headed, always choosing to respond instead of reacting. While this is a byproduct of years living in a volatile situation, it is something I am typically a character trait for which I am grateful. To those of you who may not have received the answer you were looking for, I am sorry if you are disappointed.

 

To my supervisor who continues to try and share albeit years after the fact, how disastrous her marriage was as a means to compare it to mine.  I am sorry if I did not divulge all the dirty details.  It feels like you think we are in some divorced wives club, but I did not seem to receive my membership card so please leave me out of this discussion. To be honest I am not sure one failed marriage is more painful then another so if you are looking to compare notes, please do so elsewhere.

 

To my current coworker that told me it was wrong to do this to my children. I think you are well aware of my thoughts on your opinions but just to reiterate. I am unsure how one person can stand in such judgement of another without even knowing the story. I  cannot believe a mother would think it is more important to keep their children in a home with an abusive philander but we all have our opinions, you know what they say about those.

 

To the mother of an acquaintance of my daughters who I have not seen in four years, no it is not awful being alone. I was alone through my entire marriage, never having someone to share my joys or fears with, to have a conversation, to plan, to dream; I now have friends that surround me and a world to explore.

 

To the parents of a boy that went to school with my middle child , the one who I usually saw once a year at some function and have never had a personal conversations with I am not sharing the dirty details of my home life now. Why would I tell you the horrid details of the late night explosions or the fact he moved out to live the free life with his girlfriend of then seven years when you just gossiped about three other parents I vaguely know? Why would I tell you every painful memory I have worked so hard to overcome when you would continue to keep those horrors alive by sharing them in my community? Why would I tell you I pray every day that my children do not act like or end up with someone like their father?

 

To the old coworker, the one who doesn’t even remember my first name and tries to fake her way through a conversation at the grocery, why would you even ask how one grieves that, how one could ever recover? How can I face life alone? I started grieving within the first two years of my marriage, the first time I realized I had to replace joy with fear. I continued to grieve for the next several years, the time my head was split open and I grieved for the loss of my safety in my own home as I sat in the floor beside my newborns crib in hopes I could keep him from crying and waking his father from the drunken sleep; the time I came home from work to discover all my funds for my new life had been discovered I grieved my freedom;  had grieved the loss of small piece of myself every time I was berated or belittled for never being pretty enough, or thin enough, or any of the other statements that left scars as deep as the physical. So there were painful truths I faced, grief was not one of my burdens.

 

To the question of recovery and facing life alone; I had never had emotional, financial, or physical support it is difficult to describe what it is like to be set free from being imprisoned with despair behind walls of hatred and contempt, although they were probably for himself it was directed at me.  I fought to complete my last degree because he refused to assist with the parenting ultimately depending on a friend to help with my children. I have to leave two other programs because of things done to sabotage me which is why I am so driven today. I grieved the loss of three of my grandparents on different occasions without support. Last fall a dear friend while looking for another picture came across a shot of their cat and began to tear up. This was a cat that had seen them through a failed marriage and a disastrous end to a relationship and I understood that pain for I had a cat and a dog that had offered me more comfort than the person I married, that knew things that I had told no one else, except the person missing their cat. I had been shamed over the grief I felt when I lost my pets, yet they offered me more solace and peace than the person who belittled me.  So no, I had been alone for the majority of my marriage, usually working against opposition. So I am fine. I can make it, I have been strong, self-sufficient, going in on my own for so long I have no worries about surviving for I have endured worse.

 

The above was not directed at my close circle for you ask out of concern. For the few of you who know some of the depth of truth and never asked “why did you stay”, I am forever grateful!!! This is for those who on  emotional highway of life feel it is appropriate to rubberneck, to pause and gawk at others pain, to point out fault in others disaster, to armchair quarterback someone else’s life. Why is it so crucial to pry and carry tales.   I understand that it is some peoples worst fear and seeing you persevere offers them comfort. There are other that find the severity of disaster makes their life more bearable, yet we should never count our blessings based on others sufferings. There are those that want to know they are not alone in their struggle, which is one I can tolerate, I can share my journey.  For all other, if you find offense in my response, please consider your motives for inquiry.

 

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams

 

Run, Run as Fast as You Can

Standard

It is interesting how pervasive abusive relationships are; since I have survived my own the number people sharing their own horror stories of perseverance is a bit overwhelming. I have friends who have survived abusive husbands to only still face the manipulation of their children, a dear friend who got the courage to tell her to leave only to have her attempt suicide in his home to win the argument, friends who have survived it as children only to find respite in their adult relationships, my sister who ended up marrying someone much like I did and still faces the and my poor brother who is lost in the fog of trying to make his decisions. How widespread this is, leaving an imprint on not only the partner who is the target of the manipulation and abuse but the children, friends and extended family, it trickles into future relationships with friends and significant others like this insidious darkness tainting anything it comes in contact with.

Watching my brother try to untangle his thoughts seeing the level of manipulation, outright deception has come to light and he left. Yesterday she reached out and has wrapped him in her grip again; she is crafty with the stories and he want to believe so badly. Who wants to admit my husband was an abusive alcoholic who was only focused on his personal wants to the point he had a girlfriend for the last seven years of our marriage, my narcissistic girlfriend has been cheating on me using me only for my money, or my addict of wife sees me as someone who will take care of her children while she continues to life her life as she wishes without regard for myself or her children. We all cling to that false identity they spun, that idealized version of the person we chose to love never considering they have no capacity to love us in return. We assume no one would ever behave in that manner for we wouldn’t, often times never even having a framework to understand the abusive behavior. We make excuses to hide it from the outside world but more often to hide it from ourselves. I cannot begin to recall all the times I tried to rationalize his behavior away. I was even shocked when I was given the domestic abuse hotline number after the police arrived and my ex had fled the house in a rage and keep in mind I had been in therapy for dealing with his addictions, co-dependence and and how to safely leave the marriage for over a year at the point in imploded . Oh how we love to float down that famous river, denial.

So what now? She has baited my brother back with promises and he is being reeled in. I want to scream shenanigans, its a shame, don’t fall for it!!! The average abuse victim attempts to leave seven times before they are successful. Why do we run back to the exact person we should run from? Why are we willing to set ourselves on fire to warm someone else?  I recall all my exit plans, some attempted, others aborted and even when I executed the big break and worked hard in therapy to stay away, I returned. In his confusion my brother asked yesterday if my ex had ever made this list of specific promises which I had to explain to him yes, that is classic; they know your weaknesses and are exploiting them to stay with you for it is easier to maintain the current disaster then to walk away alone. They need time to groom their next victim which often begins to occur under your own nose. He did run, run as fast as he can….but that may not be enough for he paused to look over his shoulder. As painful as the truth is, it is easier then living a lie. I pray he has the strength to stand tall, the courage to face his decisions and the insight to see the truth.  Continue to run little brother and don’t look back for you may not survive.

“The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.”  ― Ernest Hemingway,

love-picture-quotes_2842-1 (2)

What a Long Strange Trip

Standard

A friend from another lifetime sent me a link to the Grateful Dead show in Santa Clara. As I was watching the first set I realized that I knew exactly where I was 20 years ago at that moment which is often a rare event. I was in a parking lot in Pittsburgh selling Tie-dye t-shirts waiting for to watch what would turn out to be my last Grateful Dead show.  That realization made me spend most of the day being quite reminiscent.

At that point in life I was pregnant with my first child, named for one of my favorite songs. I was full of life, as I was still hanging on to the world by the tail I thought I could conquer it all.  I thought I was strong and knew how to resolve everything. I was so naïve. I had no idea what I would face over the next twenty years. I had faced some challenges in my relationship, was beginning to know the depths of emotional abuse but had no idea the extent to which it would reach. I bore three children, finished a master’s degree, took additional classes, learned to blow glass among other types of art, had my dream job twice, tried to leave a disastrous marriage more than once….survived many unspeakable things but I raised two of my three beautiful children, still working on the youngest, made amazing friendships, , saw the sun rise on at the first place on the United States and saw it set at the last point in the America and have had amazing adventures in between.

As I was thinking of my life, I realized that wide eyed naïve girl has learned so much. I know the core of my strength, understand that love is patient and kind, understand the power of forgiveness, have seen the importance of compassion on both sides, had my faith that grace exists reaffirmed, I know the damage fear can cause and how peace and contentment can heal, while there may have been moments I doubted it I have been blessed more times than I can count; I am so grateful for my journeys and am truly happy. I am ready for embrace the next adventure of my life!

Once in a while you get shown the light. In the strangest of places if you look at it right.” –Robert Hunter