Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy Birthday again

I can't believe I let a let a whole year go by without updating once. So much has happened in the past year. I'll update sometime soon.

Dan made a post this morning honoring my birthday and I want to share it here. If it helps one person to think and make a decision to change their circumstances it will be a terrific birthday present for me.
It's concerning domestic violence which is a cause near and dear to my heart because I lived it. This is my own experience. However, often my situation is repeated over and over hundreds of time daily.

The issue needs to come out of the closet and be exposed in the light of day. Abusers will not want you to read my story or anyone else's that tell you there is a way out.
I'm going to tell you the truth, it isn't easy but you can do it.
I'm ordinary; I am just a lady who was a housewife, raised her kids, belonged to PTA, worked at jobs, volunteered. In other words, I did my share of dirty dishes, dirty diapers, laundry and Hamburger Helper back in the days.

Maybe you are like me. I wasn't even aware that my life was filled with abuse until I was ion the thick of it trying to literally save my life.
Usually, you aren't "just in the middle of it one day".
One day may have started when you were a child. Maybe your self esteem and soul were never validated. You weren't allowed to say no because you were female and therefore somehow less important or valuable. You grew up never knowing how to say no because simply you were never taught. Or like in my case, if I dared to say know there were serious repercussions. Some how, somewhere deep inside me there was a tiny dot of independence, survival, and indignant at injustice. I rebelled regardless of the consequences.
I would stand up for my siblings even if I got beat down.
My integrity and character were always in question as if I was the lowest of the low because I dared to stand up to my father. It meant I was going to get the razor strap but it was like the issue was that important. He had other techniques that would lock someone up today for child abuse but was not how it was handled in those days.
He wasn't wrong, I was. I should be more compliant so he wouldn't abuse me.
That set me up for thinking " it's all my fault". All the standard lines abusers use started back in early childhood and if that's all you know it's normal to you. Not pleasant, but normal.
I loved my Dad til the day he died. I saw not just the ugly part of him but the great parts of him. As I got older I learned about the whole man and why he was who he was.
Today, I can't excuse his behavior or say one good thing about it. It was despicable to treat your child, your daughter as he did. He was my role model, my hero. He was the standard by which I would judge all men in my future. if the man who supposedly loved you first and most treated you a certain way surely it was OK if other men in your life treated you the same. No, no, no, no, no. It's wrong. Stinking thinking.
I didn't have have anyone to tell me it's wrong but I'm here now to tell you it's wrong.

I married an abusive, alcoholic man. Really, nothing surprising about it. I did what so many women in my situation do. Somehow, because he was going to college made him seem not so violent and my parents only criteria for him was that he was a " good Catholic boy who was getting an education".
Never, not once was I ever told to marry for love and nothing else. I was never told to to not compromise, to not " settle for".
The few times I ever let on that my husband was abusing me to my parents it became my fault. If I would just shut my mouth, if I would quit making waves, If I would just settle down" as if the abuse was caused by me. It never had anything to do with the abuser.

I'm here to tell you you will never satisfy the abuser. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever be enough. It isn't about you, it's about him (and sometimes her). It's his character flaw, his stinking thinking, his screwed up head, his sociopathic behavior. You need to know he doesn't have a conscience even though he may cry and be " sorry" for harming you after it's over. He really wants to believe it at the time. But, it's not true.
It WILL happen again. And again. And again. The statistics say so. Don't be a fool like me and think somehow you aren't a statistic. You are. No fairy came and hit you on the head with her magic wand and saved you from the statistics regardless how much you want to deny it. In fact, the denial is part of the statistics.
Only until you surround yourself with other victims and especially survivors will you know exactly how ordinary in the scope of abuse your situation is.
Domestic violence knows no social, economic, religious, spiritual,or racial background. Abusers can be male and female. They can be black, white, yellow and red. They can have slanted Asian eyes, brown eyes of Hispanic descent, blue eyes of Nordic descent. They can be fat, skinny, in between.
They can be tall or short or average.
They can be a man of the cloth, your letter carrier, your doctor, your next door neighbor, your child's teacher or soccer coach. It could be your mechanic or plumber, your gardener, your medical assistant at the doctors office, your nail technician, your beautician. it could be your police chief, your mayor, your congressman, your judge.
No one kind of person is exempt. No one income level is exempt. No prestigious position makes one exempt.

When I married my second husband I was thought he was the one who would never hurt me. Although he never physically harmed me he emotionally scarred me. He played the game of telling me what I wanted to hear before we were married. After the ring went on the finger it changed and changed drastically.
I honestly didn't know that his withholding affection, flirting with other women, never being there in a crisis unless I forced the issue, ignoring me as if I didn't exist,(that's one of the worst forms of abuse, btw) were forms of abuse. I just thought he was a cad which he was but I never saw him as abusive because he never physically harmed me.

Circumstances changed and we separated and later divorced. I had an on/off again relationship with the worst abuser of my life.
See, not only does the abusers sickness progress but yours does too. By that time I was beaten down mentally. I was sick and exhausted mentally and physically. Oscar saw me coming. It was like I had a neon light over my head. I was easy prey.
At first he was thoughtful, kind, caring, loving, fun and made me laugh which I hadn't done in a long time.
I thought his "protectiveness" of me was cute, charming and loveable. I didn't realize it was disguised as obsession, manipulation and control.
Later, the hands that had been so kind harmed and hurt me in ways I never thought would be possible from him. The voice that had been so reassuring and caring at first later spewed the most hateful, hurtful,soul scarring words that depleted any dignity I had.
Eventually, this person I thought I would spend my life with, had agreed to marry at one point almost killed me, more than once. I had to develop a strategy for escaping and it took months. I literally had to fear for my life every day, 24 hours a day because I never knew what the next word I would say, the next look I had on my face, even sleeping would set him off. I spent my days anticipating his next and every move only to be foiled over and over again.
And as statistics say it became more frequent and more violent.

Please don't stay if anything I've said rings a chord within yourself. If you see yourself or someone you know in my words call a Domestic Violence hot line or a Women's Center ans ask for help.
You are important, yes, you are worth it. You matter. Be your own best friend. What would you tell a best friend who was living your experience?

I am living proof that you aren't ever too old to help yourself. I was past 50 years old when I escaped to a domestic violence shelter with only the clothes on my back, literally.
It wasn't easy. I had to face a lot about myself I didn't like. I had to see my past for what it was.
When I was first at the shelter I was on a 45 day suicide watch. I was empty inside, void of any feelings, good or bad. I no longer cared. I just wanted life to be over because all I ever knew was this and I no longer wanted to live out " this".

Through the persistence and counseling of very well trained, caring individuals and some were st angers I'll never meet but were benevolent I was taught I could trust again. I could trust myself and others.
It took a long time to believe there were men out there who valued women and cherished the,
God blessed me with one. He came into my life unexpectedly when I wasn't looking and I lead the most extraordinary ordinary life today. I am genuinely happy, content, loved, appreciated, trusted, admired and I laugh everyday now. Genuine good natured laughing, sometimes belly laughs for no more reason than just because I can.
I have a new circle of friendships who don't use me. I now know what true friendships are. I no longer allow toxic people in my life. I can say no and mean it.
I have the authority and final say of how I conduct my life. You can do. I encourage you to embark on a new journey to save yourself.

There is a saying that I agree with; Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

I forgot to link this post to Dan's post.