love

I wish you had known me then

My husband. This guy. This amazing man. He changed my life.

If you have read any of my previous posts you know that my life prior to my husband was no less than a series of traumatic disasters, but I didn’t think of it that way. I … I thought that somehow I deserved the abuse I was receiving. I made the excuses for behaviors of my significant others that I should never have accepted. It destroys me, every day, that my sister is doing this now, I feel guilt, that somehow.. that because I made excuses for abuse that happened to me, that she thought she should too, that it is acceptable. She, this beautiful girl, is why I can’t (will not) let abuse get a free pass. All of my shame, guilt, trepidation, hurt…. whatever word you can put there to describe despair at the hands of someone who should love you, I just can’t let it go until she’s free. Until everyone who is abused is free, I think I will end before this journey does.

Back to my original thought though, my husband. I was at a muscular skeletal/sports medicine doctor and because of brilliant doctor logic with barely touching me at all this guy stated a simple fact. “So, someone has strangled you.”  I was startled and I corrected him that I had been choked. ha. The difference? Verbiage. Anyway. I left the appointment devastated that a stranger could know something so personal, when I was driving home I focused on my left hand, my wedding rings, these beautiful things that signify a beautiful relationship, a strong and healthy relationship. The thought occurred to me, what if the doctor thought my husband was my abuser, and the thought of it horrified me.

I look at my wedding rings when I’m having panic attacks. They remind me of strength and safety. For one, on the night that my husband proposed (magnificently), I had been sitting across from the table from him and feeling sure that I was finally strong enough to make it through whatever life threw at me next on my own. Not because I was with him, but because I was separated from the people that had been abusing me. Secondly, on the day of my wedding, I am proud to admit that I walked down the aisle KNOWING that if I were emotionally, verbally, or physically abused again that I would leave. I would go right out the fucking door. He knows this and he agrees with me.

When we were first married, let’s say those first formative four years… plus 12 months, I was destructive. He loved me though. He supported me emotionally, financially, and fed into me that I needed to connect with God for the pain that was in my past. As we’re both Christian that is no surprise, yet his gentle manner, his absolute selflessness is astounding to me as I sit here today. When I was losing my shit over toast being burned he hugged me and calmed me down. It was last week when my therapist asked me what my husband makes me feel in contrast to what my abuser’s did and there were no similarities. When I thought about how my ex used to accuse me, screaming at me, spit flying in my face, of being irresponsible over not cleaning something correctly..like a cd case that would hardly ever be opened but had to be cleaned weekly. Yet…. when I massively fuck up our budget (which has happened more than once…… ) my husband has only ever called to tell me that it isn’t my fault, that it will be fine, that there’s nothing to worry about. Let’s be real… he texts me now instead of calling.. but it’s the same. He doesn’t reprimand me, he doesn’t feel that he is better than me, we are equal in this marriage.

Shared respect. He respects me and I respect him. I was never respected by anyone I was with before him. Not to mention loved, truly loved. The way he looks at me from across the produce section in the grocery store makes my knees weak, not because of lust, heat, passion, (not denying that it might be a huge part of it… he is magnificently sexy)  but because he knows me, intimately, and loves  me. He doesn’t criticize me for the little things…. or the big things. When I’m wrong… I don’t feel BAD about it.. but I used to, always.

I was standing on our balcony tonight thinking…… that… I wish he had known me before any of my trauma had happened. or at least before the panic attacks and migraines. If he had known me then… he would have met and known a girl full of life, love, joy, excitement, enthusiasm and an unending will to succeed. I wish that this man had known me then.

It’s time to change though. For my future.

I … am going to make an absolute effort here in the next few days. Wake up, with no expectations of pain or migraines. Embrace my days with excitement … and enthusaisam.. because I DO have an unending will to succeed.. and I won’t behave anymore. I am me… and I deserve an amazing life.

 

Well-behaved-women-rarely-make-history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The incredible shrinking woman

Ever wish you could hit a refresh button and start anew? I do. All the time.

Sometimes in therapy, we do a little exercise where I think back to a trauma and imagine myself now, standing there, watching it – what do I know now as an adult that i didn’t know then. Truth be told, most of the time with this exercise, I mostly want to bitch slap my abusers, kick them in the junk, and take the child that I was away to safety. There are no words. Just bitch slap, kick in the junk, and walk away.

I watched the movie The General’s Daughter the other night and when she recreates the scene of what happened to her and screams, Look at me! This happened to me! This did happen!  I completely understood why she would do it.

“You need to get over it.”

When people that I consider friends and my extended family say “You need to get over it.” I struggle to breathe.

I don’t disagree in this idea of getting over it, I would love to get over it, but when the perpetrators did not, will not, and won’t ever admit what they did or that it did happen – I am the one left standing degraded and traduced.

One fateful summer was the first time I ever experienced cruelty, deception, and some slight physical abuse, and it was almost 20 years ago at the hand of my grandmother, cousin (female), and aunt. With the little exercise I mentioned earlier, I’ve come to a new understanding:

  • I know now that I don’t need to get out a soapbox and proclaim my innocence.

My parents believed me, my sisters believed me, my brothers believed me. My true character should withstand annihilation and defamation to those that know me. This pain I’ve carried, the need to somehow prove myself to be true to my accusers/abusers has no merit because they don’t want to know me for who I am, they don’t want to know me at all.

  • I don’t need them to love me, I don’t need their approval.

Why, why, would I want their love? Why would I want their approval? I was a happy, enthusiastic, eager-to-please child when my grandmother accused me of being a liar, a thief, and told me that I was ugly and worthless. I have no need for the love and approval of someone who would treat a child as she treated my mother and myself.

  • When I see what happened through the eyes of an adult, I can honestly say that I wholly disapprove of the actions of my grandmother, aunts, and uncles.

There was no love, no apology, only silence when it was found that the accusations against me were false. Denial of the entirety occurring has been the mantra for my grandmother, aunt, and cousin. There were other aunts and uncles around, they saw what was happening and they did nothing to stop it. In fact, they took my sister 75 miles away from me and left me alone with the grandmother and the cousin.

That summer, what happened in it, has haunted me and made me conscious of my every move in life and in my career. It changed the course my life was set on because I felt I always had to have witnesses, proof that can hold up to support me.

What I know is true today is that I had support, I just didn’t know to reach for it. When I told my parents the truth, they believed me. My brothers and sisters stood beside me, believing me, supporting me.

I used to want to write a letter to my grandmother and aunt, asking for an answer as to how they could have treated a child like they did, but I know it is worthless.

I used to close my eyes really tightly, practically clicking my heels together like Dorothy and wish that I could wipe my slate clean, clear my name, rebuild my character… but that is where I went wrong. I held onto wanting to change my past so badly that my present and future suffered for it for the last 20 years.

I can no longer stay quiet in this world, I have a voice and I feel it reverberate off my internal walls, making its slow climb upward until its melody can be heard all around.

Elin Stebbins Waldal

When I revisit the trauma, as I mentioned earlier, I can see the whole scene playing out, but as an adult, I see my father, I see my mother, I see my husband, I see my brothers, I see my sisters, and I see the overwhelming wealth of love and support that I had, still have, and will always have from them. That love and support, far outweighs the cruelty that my grandmother, aunt, and cousin inflicted. It’s well past time to refocus the lens I’ve been looking through.

I will not be the incredible shrinking woman anymore.

Stronger

Oh, and Grandma, get bent.

Sigh.

Short and quick. Today is rough.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you, what you are about and what you value. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

A changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value. I feel a little shell shocked thinking about this.

I really lost who I was/am through a series of bad relationships.

What am I about? I know I used to be about being happy, doing something, moving along in life, going somewhere, having goals for my career… but I’ve lost that too.

I threw my values away because I couldn’t stay in an abusive relationship if I kept them. If I had valued myself even, I could not have stayed, but for whatever reason I traded my values of caring.. compassion… dedication… devotion… honesty… hope… integrity… optimism… respect… unity… and love for a man who valued only himself. The default of giving up your core values for a person who won’t share them, is that the only thing left to value is that person and if their core values are me, myself, and I, there isn’t any room for you.

So, who the hell am I?

We need to think of ourselves as gifts to be given and to think of others as gifts offered to us. – John Powell

My twinsie and I both have a problem of considering ourselves a burden. It happened because of emotionally destructive people in our lives, as in, the man I dated, and the man she married. If we take these two destructive people out of the picture and focus instead on say, the family we know, we would see ourselves as loved, precious, and in no way a burden, but a blessing.

I try to focus on that in therapy and I’m getting a lot closer, but once someone has made you feel and enforced in your mind that you are a burden, it is a 25′ grave that you are struggling to get out of, if you struggle at all.

Today is hard. It is worse to watch someone you love be disrespected and disappear in front of you from the constant haranguing of the emotionally destructive spouse than to be the one it happens to.

It is like screaming to an empty room.

Why can’t they see it?

Why couldn’t I see it when I was in it?

Shifting

It’s Friday!!! I am going to forecast that I get a lot done around my apartment tomorrow! In the past that hasn’t really ever once happened, but I am excited and hopeful that tomorrow – I will deep clean our home, donate items I’ve been keeping, put away all of our laundry and only then relax.

Many people experience a fundamental shift in thinking when they face a life=threatening crisis and suddenly see their priorities in a different light, or when they suddenly step into a new role, such as that of husband or wife, parent or grandparent, manager or leader.

That shift did happen for me, last year when we lost my Dad. Losing him was the hardest thing I, and my family, have ever been through. He was always the healthiest guy, he was active, no one could ever guess his real age, and he was always jovial. To go from that to stage 4 colon cancer in less than 6 months was devastating, our world got rocked and our family came together and held him until the moment he went to be with our Lord.

Before his diagnosis, I was highly medicated on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, mood stabilizers, I was walking around in a fog but I felt it was better than the pain I had been in before. After we lost Dad I wanted so badly to be like him, I had this burning desire to live life as he did. He never wasted any time thinking negatively, secluded, or angry, he just lived, and he did it so gracefully and joyfully. I wanted that so badly but I couldn’t make it happen in the weight that was my medication. Although numb had been preferable before, I felt I really needed to feel again in order to live this life. So I went to my med doctor, and I proclaimed that I wanted to wean off all of my medications. With my work in therapy and with a schedule charted for the weaning – I was ready.

It took almost 5 months to wean off of all of the medication I was on and it was pure hell. I was extremely sick, half of the time I felt like I needed to go to the hospital because the tremors, sweating, throwing up – suicidal thoughts were also a side effect, but I made it through with the help of my husband, my mom, my sister, and a large part, my therapist. She was a great coach and she really helped me to keep going on the path that I wanted. When I walked back into the med doctor, fully clean of medication 6 months after the initial wean, he was surprised at how much better I seemed and he asked me why it was that I had wanted to do this. So I explained about my Dad, what losing him made me realize about life, and what had been so horrible before in my life – didn’t seem nearly so bad as losing my father. The doctor then told me a saying he had always heard .. “I once was so incredibly sad because I had no shoes, until I met the man who had no feet.”

If someone listens or stretches out a hand or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand, extraordinary things begin to happen. – Loretta Girzartis

Therapy. My family and my husband begged me for years to go to therapy and I always fought it. I was so embarrassed, ashamed, and angry and I didn’t want to talk to someone about it. I just wanted it all to end. Then, after the umpteenth time that I snapped at my husband for no reason whatsoever, he looked at me, tired, exhausted and simply said that I was fighting a ghost. I was fighting a ghost, ghosts of my ex-boyfriends, my rapists, and my bullies. I would lose all control and be an emotional wreck with no instigation from my family or my husband. It was after he said that I was fighting with ghosts and not him, and not my family, that I realized I definitely needed help. I couldn’t do this on my own.

I started therapy a year or so ago. I had weekly appointments and I still do. It was the best thing I could ever have done. Finding the right therapist is key because there are a lot of quack jobs out there, but there are also amazing ones that can really help. It isn’t just the chance to be fully honest, to open yourself up that works – it’s the tools they give you to help you. Therapy and the tools I learned in it, helped to reduce and sometimes removed all of my panic. I would go sometimes days without a panic attack, then it became a week, then two weeks, then a month. There are still flare ups but they no longer send me into a tizzy. I feel my body beginning to panic but my mind is in control and I can focus myself back in. I never thought that would be possible seven years ago. The life I live today, even though it is still hard, was something I never thought I would get back. So I am thankful. I hadn’t realized until now how far I’ve actually come in this last year.

Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be. – Jose Orlega y Gasset – To Your Success

I’m starting to yearn. I’m pushing myself to dream. I have high hopes … to have high hopes again. I want to be successful in getting out of this depression, this slump, this panic-stricken life I’ve been trudging through for the last seven years. To do that, I need to focus on my future, not my past. My past drags me down and beats the ever-loving-snot out of me, but the future I want, fulfills, feeds on love, and is healthy. It reminds me of when someone is having a baby – happy and healthy, brand-spankin’-new. That is the future I want.

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell

It’s like this, the closed door..? All of my stuff is in there. I went in through that door with all my happy childhood bags packed and ready to be an adult. I didn’t know that there would be a torture chamber, a judgement stand, and a whipping post lined up waiting, none of us do, that’s how abuse works. It confuses you as to what is actually happening until it’s too late. The earnest need to get my childhood happiness out of that room, to take back what was me that is locked behind that door, that’s what I can’t seem to let go of. How do I just…. let go? Can I rebuild?

Re-Reading