Thursday, October 18, 2007

I am a victor,not a victim

The last few posts concerned how I ended up in a domestic violence situation,what some of the signs are and what it's like to live through it.

This time I want to give the end of the story or as it is today.

Upon leaving the shelter I still had challenges. My abuser was told by someone who meant well and didn't understand the situation where I was and my new phone number.

To say it struck fear in my heart would be an understatement. Everytime there was a knock at the door I froze.Everytime I heard a strange noise in the middle of the night I panicked.

Everytime I left the apartment I felt I had to watch everywhere afraid he's be lurking somewhere.

I had no car and depended on the kindness of a couple gals I met while in shelter and my daughter Mandy.She would give up one of her off days to ride me around to go to doctor appointments,shop and generally just hang out.

I can't even explain how good that was for my soul.

After being estranged from her for that long while it was really special.

It came about that I knew Bob,my present partner.It's a long story that I don't want to get into in this space but I implemented all I had learned in this new relationship.

I wasn't any easy mark this time.

I was skeptical,untrusting,suspicious, looked for red flags.They had told me in shelter during therapy that there were good men out there and when I changed how I was I'd attract them to me.I hardly believed it.

I knew there were good men,don't get me wrong, but that "I" would find one I was less than hopeful and to tell you the truth,I wasn't looking either.

I had made up my mind that I could live happily relationship free the rest of my life.

I had been married twice,had other relationships,been around the block a couple times,had children and grandchildren so what did I need to get tangled up in another relationship?

So, God in His infinite wisdom and with a bountiful sense of humor had other plans.

Just as life was progressing Bob pops into my life.

At first,we were just phone buddies, just developing a friendship and that was more than fine with me.

He was in California and I was in TX so it was safe.

Truthfully,I had suspicions he could be making up most of what he said about himself knowing we'd never meet in person,so I played along.

In time I figured out he was for real and he found out I was for real.

We talked endlessly on the phone,I had unlimited long distance and we both had cell phones that had unlimited night minutes.The time change between us worked in out favor.

We exchanged mail too.

After a few months he felt it was time for us to meet.He could fly to Houston or I could go to CA. I just instinctively knew I'd be OK if I went out there.Of course,everyone who knew me thought I was making foolish judgements again and hadn't learned a thing.I could empathise with them and would have felt the same way if I was them.

My theory was this,if he even got close to hurting me I would be so angry with him and myself I wouldn't have wanted to be him. I wasn't going to just be a victim anymore.

And,I had never been to CA before and the likelihood of me ever making it were slim to none.

I wanted to see San Fransisco. It was an all expenses paid trip so what the heck.

Everyone back in TX had my itinerary and I checked in daily.

From the moment we met after me coming off the plane it was as if we were old friends who had been separated a few weeks.

We spent 10 days together and they went fast.Too fast. I didn't want to leave which surprised me. And he didn't want me to leave which surprised him.

He said he needed me to go back home to see if he would really miss me. I thought that was refreshing and healthy.

So home I went and resumed my life. And we continued to talk daily as we had.

We covered every possible subject that could be covered.

I logged over 27000 minutes on my landline alone in all the talking we did.

We figured that's more than some married couples talk in 20 years.

After a month he confronted me with the possibility of me moving to CA;he was still working so it wasn't even a possibility that he would move to TX.

He was a native Californian so he wasn't going to leave the state.Besides that,I'm the risk taker and adventurer between us and I really had nothing holding me to TX anymore. He had a job,home and a life here. I had no real estate,a no where part time job and kids who were grown leading their own lives as they should.

I thought about it for another month to make sure I wasn't making a rash decision.

We honestly loved each other in a mature way.We respected,admired,trusted each other.

As complicated as it should have been, it wasn't.

I wanted to share my life with him more than I wanted to remain in TX for the status quo.

I received counseling during the time to make sure this was a healthy decision. I prayed long and hard about it. I did a lot of soul searching during that time.

And mid-December I was living in CA.

I've not regretted it.It has been a terrific life for me here.
A year after arriving here Bob retired and we moved to Oroville.
I love this little town and all it's rich history.
I've made a few very good friends and a best friend,besides Bob, in the process. She and I are like sisters. Not taking anything away from my birth sisters;Sandi is my Oroville sister.
We have almost everything in common,it's kind of spooky in a way.

Bob and I together couldn't be happier. I can't even remember the last disagreement we've had.We never argue.
We are tuned into each other so well that we really don't get on each other's nerves. he does his thing,I do mine and we do a lot together. It's a good balance.

He treats me like a queen.He is generous to a fault sometimes.He spoils me rotten to the point I tell my friends to check my expiration date!
And, I'm equally as good to him. We both have quirks and idiosyncrasies but we make them work between us.
Neither of us are perfect and the important thing is we know it and accept it about each other.

And, we laugh everyday,many times a day.I mean belly laughs and almost wet your pants laughs.
We appreciate each other and the life we've created together.

My hope to anyone who sees themselves as a victim of domestic violence and abuse to consider all your options.
Maybe you were like me at one point and trying desperately to hang onto a dream of the kind of relationship you wanted and were attempting to have.
You struggled, tolerated and finally settled for less than thinking it was your lot in live.

You don't have to. Jesus said,"I came to give you life and give it more abundantly".
He doesn't lie.
Had it not been for my tremendous faith and belief system I can't imagine surviving those years.
Somehow,I knew I was never alone.Somehow,I knew "I could do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me".
Like the saying says," Jesus doesn't bring you to it without leading you through it".

The best example of the difference in my life is twice in the past few months it was pointed out to me "that I seemed to be really happy now".Once by my ex in TX at the birth of my second grandson and once by brother needing the heart transplant.

I have no bitterness,resentment,hatred or animosity to those who hurt and harmed me.That's not for me to judge.
It happened,it's over, I've moved on and I love myself so much now it would not happen to me again.
I do not allow toxic people in my space or my life.I don't have to. I set boundaries now.

It's in some ways a lifetime ago that life I used to have.In fact,I refer to it now as "my other life".
I am optimistic, hopeful and full of true joy everyday.
I wake up praising God I got to live to see another day,to see another sunrise and hope to see the sunset that day.I give thanks for my abundance of blessings.
I pray to God to send the angels to surround myself and those I love each and every day.

You may think it's odd, unusual or that I'm deceiving myself that I don't hate those who harmed me.
Were I to hang onto that it closes space in my heart for the true blessings to bestowed on me.If I hold onto hatred there is no room for love.
Frankly, none of them are worth that price to me to pay.
I paid my dues already.
I am the winner,the victor.

I have about as perfect a life one could hope for now.
If I can do it you can too. Your story will be different from my story.Your outcome can be the same.

Reach into yourself and find that shred of something that still lives in you and hang onto it.
All of us have that shred because we are nurturers.That's part of why we end up in the situations we do.
We try our best to take care of everyone else thinking and believing we aren't as important.
It's lie. Just as the abuser lies to us, we lie to ourselves.
The reality is we can't really take care of others well unless we are taking care of ourselves first.
It isn't selfish; it's self-preservation.

What are we teaching our children about love if we can't even love ourselves?
Somewhere inside us is that injured soul that belongs to the little girl we once were.She is still there waiting for us to come love her enough.

I want you to have what I have and that is what is in the Scripture: to have the peace that surpasses all understanding.
It's possible.It's always possible.

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