Archive | June 2014

Coasting

As of late, things have been pretty quiet.  Some people would assume quiet means good or happy…or content.  Maybe even that the silence means we are now getting along and having a grand old time enjoying each other’s company.  Guess what…that’s not what quiet means.  The silence is just a slow simmer until the next episode boils over.

Basically, I’m coasting.  While things are on hush mode I just go about my days with the half hearted confidence that there won’t be any dramatic outbursts, for the most part.  Coasting buys me time.  When it’s quiet like this time flies and one day rolls into the next and before you know it, days, weeks and months pass in the blink of an eye.

Just because it is quiet doesn’t mean this is now a happy “family”.  There is no real sense of that word at play.  There are no family dinners, family game night, family fun time, family outings, family…well, anything.  There are not even any “marital” events happening.  It’s been two years without any physical contact and I thank God every day for that small miracle.  The added benefit is that we don’t sleep in the same room and haven’t for some time.  This adds to the ability to continue to coast through.

Don’t get me wrong, if there is let’s say – a graduation – yes, he will attend.  However, this is more of an obligatory gesture which would have likely been no different if we had been divorced or separated years ago.  I’m sure if that were the case he still would have attended something important for his kids.  Although, he has opted out in the past due to insane bouts of Social Anxiety Disorder and, of course, all of us doing something wrong to piss him off the morning of and so we wait for the “go without me!”  And happily…we do.

The only reason he can semi function in public during – a graduation – is because his new “thing” is being high on Xanax.  He hasn’t smoked marijuana in at least a year but now he’s popping pills.  Let me clarify…these have not been prescribed to him.  He gets them and takes them – no idea of dosage and no idea of the quantity – and he drinks with them (which is not recommended).  He doesn’t drink regularly but when he takes these pills he says he craves beer/alcohol.  Who cares…drink up buddy!  I always imagine finding him the next day with a subsequent call to the morgue.  No such luck.  When his snoring pauses I watch to see if he is breathing and upon noticing he is still sucking in oxygen (similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s ‘Newman!!’) – there is a resounding, Damn!!

Xanax has been mostly to thank for the ability to coast through the last several months.  It keeps him quiet and he tends to detach and keep to himself, spending those hours playing with his fish tanks or watching tv in the basement.  And we could not be more grateful.

My point is that just because there is silence doesn’t mean all is well.  Just because there isn’t arguing or abuse doesn’t mean…hey, let’s give this a shot.  All it means is that I have peace and quiet to get through my days.  Do I dream about taking advantage of a Xanax coma and just leave while he sleeps it off….absolutely.  But the reality of it is that I need to be smart.  I need to do it right.  If I poke the bear…I will get bit.  And if that’s the case, I could have left years ago.

As should be clear by past choices, when I don’t think things through and make a snap decision…it’s not always a great outcome.  Case in point…25 years down the drain.  If I think this through, plan, prepare and go about it the right way, I am confident that after the first few months of whatever stages me leaving is going to bring him through…I think he will accept it.  I think.  He’s older now.  I don’t see him pulling off the same threats he promised years ago.  My kids are older and will be out of the house…by me not taking them from him…there is no real excuse to come after me.  He’s almost 50…there has to be somewhere inside that he sees and knows and believes I’m not happy.  I talk about not being here forever.  So I don’t think it will be that shocking to him, honestly.  But if I walk out that door today without a plan, without a dime then I fear I’d be without a prayer.

This is what people don’t understand.  This is how abuse fucks with your head.  I am fully aware that I am rationalizing staying until a specific date and time.  It’s beyond ridiculous.  When people say…Why didn’t you leave?  If I was getting hit, I’d just leave.  You should have left a long time ago.  You should have never been there in the first place.  Why don’t you just leave now?  Why are you waiting?  And it goes on and on.  I don’t blame people for asking…I blame them for not knowing what it’s like.  But that’s not their fault.  It’s not their fault they weren’t abused and don’t know how it can strip your resolve.  All they know is right and wrong.  If someone hits you, which is wrong, you get away from them, which is right.  It makes perfect sense.  Until you are in an abusive relationship and then…your fight…your guts…your courage…is shattered.

I don’t know about every one, I only know about me.  My loss of power is only in this area of my life.  With nothing else, be it friends, my children, my family, work or business relationships, do I lack confidence, authoritativeness, command of what I want or need.  I’ve organized huge events to raise money for my children’s school and needed to be on top of dozens of people making sure their assignments were done correctly and never have I had any issues telling people what needs to be done.  However, this one area of my life I just can’t shake.  I am mentally shackled.  The only bright spot is that it has gotten better over the years…in the form of severity.  With age comes arthritis and exhaustion, one makes for lack of hitting and the other for lack of trying.  It amps up the psychological warfare but I’m okay with that.  Battle of wits has never been my weakness.

All of this brings me back to the coast.  This self appointed time frame of – until the last of my kids turns 18 – gives me 3 more years.  God knows, I can’t wait.  I know, I don’t want to wait.  While it’s quiet though, I can finalize my plans, feed my savings, get through the days best I can … coasting.

And wondering…how many Xanax does it take to get to a happy ending? 😉

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.

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Life and Death

Yesterday, one of my daughter’s friends committed suicide.  She was 20 years old, a beautiful young lady with many friends and a whole lifetime ahead of her.  The thing is, even with all those friends and the smile that was always on her face, no one has a clue as to why she would do something like this.  As far as they’re all piecing together, there was no depression, no break-up, nothing that would seem like such a heavy burden that she’d have nowhere else to turn.  Her friends and family are in shock.  All questions may inevitably go unanswered.  The only thing that can be established is that something was troubling her.  On her last night with friends she commented — I think I need to make an appointment with a doctor because I feel like killing myself.  In the morning, she was gone.

This is the first close friend my daughter has lost — and in such a tragic and meaningless way.  At her age, I had already lost three friends.  Two in car accidents and one was murdered.  All so young, and also meaningless deaths in events that may possibly have been able to be avoided but who really knows.  Maybe it is every bit true that when your time is up…it’s up.

This event has me in a strange place.  Maybe because of how young this girl was or maybe because she lived on the same block I did when I first got married.  I lived there at the same age that this girl was when she took her last breath.  All I can seem to think about is when I was her age…I too wanted to die.  The early years in my marriage were more than I could handle at times and I thought about it.  Even though those thoughts crossed my mind -often- I could never really go through with it.  After all, I was already a mother.  What would happen to my child if I was not there?

Since in my heart I knew I could never pull it off, I would pray.  Pray that my husband would hit me so hard in the wrong spot or that he’d make good on his threats of stabbing or shooting me to death.  I was hopeless.  I was helpless.  I was desperate.  If I did not have the courage enough to get up and get out and had no help from my parents or anyone else, then why not just pray for death?  What would have been so bad?  It would have been just another – too young, too soon – tragic story.  I would have been mourned and life would have continued on without me…without me being abused.

No one knows this but…I tried.  From memory, I think it was only twice.  Stupid things that would not have done anything – which did not do anything – but to a 20 year old the possibility was there.  I remember taking several Tylenol or Ibuprofen or Motrin or Naproxen, I can’t even remember which.  Nothing strong enough to do any real damage but I didn’t know that at the time.  Another time, I took his belt and wrapped it around my neck and pulled. Hard.  I guess I thought I could choke myself that way?  Who the hell knows what I was thinking.

I longed for death but didn’t want it to be painful.  Go figure.  I could take the punches of a man who hit me like he was fighting another man in the street but I couldn’t slit my own wrists.  Plus, really…slitting my wrists? That is so “suicidal” and I was above that.  I had a real reason for wanting to give up.  Not just teenage drama that I was too scared to tell my parents about.  For God’s sake, I was being fucking beaten, whipped, spit on, tormented and tortured. With no possible end in sight …who wouldn’t pray for death?  Plus, I thought about my ex.  It was bad enough I left him broken but if I killed myself or allowed myself to get killed it would send him over the edge.  I could never forgive myself for hurting him in that way.

Once I realized I could never really go through with it, I turned on myself.  I blamed myself for making the horrific decision of leaving the love of my life and going with someone who abused me.  So when he was done doing his best to bruise my body, I’d go into the bathroom and run the water…because he wanted ordered me to soak my rapidly color changing welts under the cold water.  I’d turn the tub and sink faucets on full blast so he couldn’t hear and…attack myself.  If I could take his hits, surely I could take my own.  So, I hit myself…on the head, face, arms, stomach and legs…pretty hard, for self infliction.  I’m not exactly sure what my logic was.  What was I accomplishing?  It was just a way of me punishing myself – for leaving my ex and for not leaving the abuse.  Then I’d just curl up on the floor and cry.  Sobbing…I’m sorry, I’m sorry.  Less sorry to myself and more sorry to my ex.  This was about the time I decided to suck it up, take my medicine and survive until I was able to make it out.

What is my point in telling this part of my story?  Like everything else I have written about, I need to let it go.  Get it off of my chest… off of my back…out of my mind.  Throw it away into the universe.  I don’t want it anymore.  I’m not that person anymore.  I won’t lie and say in all these years the same thoughts haven’t crept up on me, they have. But I am very, very far from that desperate 20 year old that prayed for death.  My life was so filled with my own drama that no one knew about at the time (at least not that I’m aware of), I couldn’t imagine any other way to free myself from it.

Again, my thoughts turn to my daughter’s friend.  What in the world could she have been going through that she would contemplate and inevitably – whether on purpose or accidentally – follow through with her ideations of suicide?  I can’t imagine it was something like I was going through.  If not abuse, what?  Did she flunk out of school?  Did she get fired from her job?  Did she get pregnant?  Was she in the closet about her sexuality?  Was she raped?  Did she truly believe that there was something so devastating going on in her life that there was absolutely no one she could turn to?  How desperately tragic.  If she only knew…everyone that knew her sat vigil in front of her house last night.  Everyone is posting pictures of them with her on her Facebook page.  Everyone is calling her a beautiful angel.  She will never know how many people really, truly loved her.

For some reason this poor little girl is gone.  For some reason I am still here.  Funnily enough, I no longer pray for death.  Instead, I pray for life.  I pray for me to calmly and rationally finish this chapter of my life so I can move on to better days.  I am still alive.

My 20 year old self would have never believed it but today, in the matter of life and death…amazingly, I choose life.

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.

Shame On You

Since coming out as a victim of domestic violence nine months ago, one of the most important things I have learned is that the shame of it all is not mine.  Instead, the shame is my abuser’s cross to bear.  The first time it was said to me, it was like a veil was lifted.  I had never thought about my situation in this light before.  Even still, it took me a few days to really consume the words.  They made sense but I didn’t recognize how I could not hold some blame.  After all, I stayed.  Surely, there is some shame to be held against me for that.  At least I thought so.

These are the words a friend, one of the first few to read my story, said to me:

The more people you let in the more you free yourself.  The shame is on -your husband- not you!

When thinking back on all the screaming and fighting that has gone over the years, one thing my husband always threw in to the arguments was that he would get louder on purpose so that everyone could hear him.  He said this way the next time I went outside I would be embarrassed in front of all the neighbors.  It’s funny though, I don’t think I was ever embarrassed.  I would walk out of my house as if nothing ever happened.  Most likely I was in denial.  I may have even imagined that no one really heard us arguing or him screaming at the top of his lungs or my shrieks of pain each time a part of my body connected with his fist.

However, if I am being honest, in some ways I felt like I helped to perpetuate this lifestyle – by acting as if it wasn’t happening.  I’d make excuses for having to cancel plans, or for him not showing up to parties or holiday dinners with my family.  There was always something to cover up and I became a pro at it.  I could come up with a story for anything almost instantly.

Now that I’m a little older and a little wiser, it’s clear that shame was a heavy burden that I carried with me over the years.  I just never realized it until I was told I had no reason for it.  Silence was the stigma.  Staying quiet for all these years is what fed the shame.

Once I decided to open the closet and let the skeletons fall where they may, with each post I felt a huge sense of relief.  Eventually, I felt safe enough to start letting people in.  The same friend also said to me:

Glad you are letting more people in…it means you are moving closer to liberation!

To date, it’s only six people.  Some days I think…I can’t believe I told “so many” people and on other days I feel like I should be telling everyone.  Those days are few and far between.  I’m careful not to get ahead of myself.  I still haven’t shared the blog with my sister or mother.  I’m a little nervous about that.  And I haven’t really talked about all of this out loud.  I’m not sure I am ready for that just yet.

Regardless, just knowing I have one less thing to stress about makes me happy.  The shame is on YOU loser…not me!

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To read from the beginning… my story starts here.