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Meanwhile…

…back at the ranch.

This seems like as good a time as any to update y’all on what’s been going on.  Before you get too excited, my address hasn’t changed.  Rest assured, when that day arrives the accompanying blog post title will be straight to the point with something like…I’ve Moved or My New Address Is or more appropriately…It’s Finally Over! Nevertheless, there are a few things that have been happening in between all of the poetry sessions and lack of [this is my life] blogging.

So. In the proper order, last month, my blog turned 2 years old. What?  How have I been blogging for two years?  How have I been talking about this Godforsaken subject for two years?  And how the hell have I still been here for two years?  I know.  Except what I see is… oh man, those two years FLEW by and I can smell the finish line!  I know it’s hard to really fathom how and why I’m still here but I’ve discussed that already.  And in all honesty, the violence is no longer there and there are minimal to no verbal outbursts at this point in time. So it’s really like sitting in a waiting room watching the clock with the stereotypical grumpy elderly folk we see on television who complain about everything.  In fact, funnily enough, while I’m doing the necessary legwork for my exit, he seems to be in a nesting phase for the future of “growing old together”.  It’s really pathetically entertaining because I already know how the show ends.

Something else new and exciting (NOT) that has happened is that I turned 45 this month.  I know, how joyous.  It’s all good because I still feel super young.  Probably younger than I should which must be a good thing, right?  For longevity and all that.  And even though I consider myself pretty keen already, I’m really starting to get into the endless possibilities that the future holds.  It’s not just about living my life, this life, free from drama.  Now it’s more like…what else is there?  What have I been holding myself back from that I may have not even realized.  Even the smallest nuance of change will be a big thing.  And with each little thing will be an ever evolving me.  A friend of mine always says he’s a work in progress. Now I get it.

Okay, now hold on to your seats because this one is a biggie.  If you’ve been following me since the beginning or have read my story in full or are just happening upon this blog for the first time…you’ll get it.  Look at the title of my blog.  I just turned 45.  This has been my life for the last 28 years. I knew the time was approaching.  I could feel it coming.  I wasn’t sure how the hell I was going to do it or what I was going to say but… I told my mother.

I know.  You’re like…she totally already knew.  Yes and no.  She knew of an incident that happened in the past.  She knew I left to go to the shelter a million years ago.  And she knew he was an a-hole.  But she had no idea to what extreme. And she sure didn’t know it’s been going on this long.  I was concerned about telling her because I didn’t know how she’d react to some of the things I discussed about my past.  People have a funny way of interpreting the written word.  I didn’t want anything I wrote to sound as if I was blaming anyone else, especially her, for my predicament.

The day after my birthday, I spoke to my mother on the phone.  I told her that I had a secret.  I reassured her that I was not ill and I figured I’d lighten the mood and told her not to worry that I wasn’t going to “become Bruce”.  With that, I explained how no one ever knew that I liked to write and that I’ve been writing since I was a teenager.  I told her that I started blogging a couple of years ago and that I felt like now was the appropriate time to share it with her.  I didn’t mention the topic.  I had shared the blog with my sister a few months ago and she was with my mother so she was there as a sort of buffer.  Then I waited three long days until she read it in it’s entirety.

My sister seemed optimistic when I told her I was ready to share it. She was glad I was ready.  I was nervous but hopeful.  After writing about it for the past two years, I feel somewhat detached from it now.  Like, this is more of a story to me than the reality of it being my life.  So when my mother called, I was almost more concerned about the writing critique than about the overall horror of this breaking news.  I knew it was going to impact her.  I kept checking with my sister to see if my mother was okay while she was reading it.  Being a mother myself, it’s almost more painful knowing after the fact that your child went through something so unimaginable and even though you were right there you had no idea of their despair.  So I knew her emotions would take her all over the place.

You can all breathe a sigh of relief.  I’m not really sure what negativity I anticipated but her response was anything but.  We live in different states so it’s hard to really discuss this openly  now without being interrupted by people on both ends walking in and out of the rooms we’re in.  I’m thinking a more in depth face to face conversation is in the near future.  All and all it was a positive response. Another huge bolder has been lifted off of my chest. Another person knows and I’m still breathing. Another person who knows ME knows.  The wall is getting lower.  That’s almost as scary as the actual departure!

Now that I am older and wiser (not THAT much older – or wiser), I can see a lot of the err of my ways.  The biggest is… I chose to stay silent.  If you don’t act as if you need help, how can anyone know it should be offered?  I was a pro at covering up mental and physical warfare.  So for anyone that may have known of even one incident or suspected any future incidents, I tried my hardest to keep it hidden so that I would never be confronted by anyone. Either for fear of having to admit it and be embarrassed that it was happening or for fear that they’d try to help me leave and then all hell would break loose.  The same hell that I had been trying to keep from happening since day one.  So I slowly removed the possibility of anyone finding out by just removing mostly everyone from my life.  I kept it down to the bare minimal and the further the better.

Friends and family at arms length worked best for me.  Over the phone relationships were even better.  That way, I was able to breathe.  No sudden pop ins.  No expected dinner and drinks at my house.  In living that way for so long it became normal.  So much so that people would joke with me that they were going to pull a drop in.  I would laugh.  It was all funny ha ha but I would be physically panicking.  What if they were serous?  For years my abuser wouldn’t care about arguing in front of other people.  of course nothing insane.  Just him having an a-hole opinion about one thing or another to show how he was a big mouth.  So to avoid the possibility of that, I would just shut it all down.  Lights out.  Television off.  Everyone in one room.  No one goes near the door.  Don’t even open the refrigerator so the light doesn’t go on.

Nowadays, I think about how it will be living on my own.  Mostly, I look forward to the silence and in all honesty, being alone.  I’ll probably be like that for a while.  However, once the dust settles, I think it will be easy to merge back into “society” so to speak.  Life on the other side of 45, seems to be bright and shiny.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do…God help society.  🙂

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31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 31

Today is the last day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Thank you for seeing me through each day, with words of support, and by sharing some of these posts.  I’ve definitely learned a lot more than I expected by posting 31 Facts in 31 Days.  I hope you did too.

Empower:
• To give power or ability to.
• To enable or permit.

Power:
• Ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.
• Great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force.

Ability:
• Power or capacity to do or act physically, mentally, legally, morally, financially, etc.
• Competence in an activity or occupation because of one’s skill, training, or other qualification.

Since the beginning, I always knew that one day I’d be leaving. I always believed I had the ability to pull it off. I always strived to survive another day to make sure I saw that – last day. Over this past year, my experience in blogging has been something of a rebirth. With releasing my secrets, I have rendered them powerless. My story of abuse doesn’t hurt me anymore. It’s no longer a burden weighing heavily on my heart, or on my soul. And because of that, there has been somewhat of a regeneration of all that I have already known, except now the reality of – leaving – is close at hand. It’s in my peripheral. And, it’s gorgeous.

Music has had a very large impact on my life, since I was very young. The sound of the melodies, the words and the voice of who is singing the song always has an affect on me. It brings out every emotion. I do appreciate all types of genres – it’s only fair. The people writing and performing music (as with blogging), do so from a part of their souls that needs to tell their story. Every song I listen to, takes me to a certain place in my mind. Whether it be memories of the past or dreams of the future – music stirs me.

One song in particular, since the very first time I heard it (2002), has had a profound effect. No matter my mood, it always gives me focus, clarity and drive. The words and the energy of the song are beyond what I can explain.

Best I can say – this – is my song of empowerment.

See lyrics below:

Fighter (2002, Album: Stripped)

After all you put me through
You’d think I’d despise you
But in the end I wanna thank you
‘Cause you made that much stronger

Well I thought I knew you
Thinking that you were true
Guess I, I couldn’t trust called your bluff
Time is up, ’cause I’ve had enough

You were there by my side
Always down for the ride
But your joy ride just came down in flames
‘Cause your greed sold me out in shame, mmm hmm

After all of the stealing and cheating
You probably think that
I hold resentment for you
But uh uh, oh no, you’re wrong

‘Cause if it wasn’t for all
That you tried to do
I wouldn’t know just how capable I am to pull through
So I wanna say thank you

‘Cause it
Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Never saw it coming
All of your backstabbing
Just so, you could cash in on a good thing
Before I’d realized your game

I heard you’re going ’round
Playin’ the victim now
But don’t even begin feelin’ I’m the one to blame
‘Cause you dug your own grave

After all of the fights and the lies
Guess you’re wanting to harm me
But that won’t work anymore
No more, uh uh, it’s over

‘Cause if it wasn’t for all of your torture
I wouldn’t know how to be this way now
And never back down
So I wanna say thank you

‘Cause it
Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

How could this man I thought I knew
Turn out to be unjust so cruel
Could only see the good in you
Pretended not to see the truth

You tried to hide your lies
Disguise yourself through
Living in denial
But in the end you’ll see
You won’t stop me

I am a fighter
(I’m a fighter)
and I
I ain’t gonna stop
(I ain’t gonna stop)
There is no turning back
I’ve had enough

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Thought I would forget
But I, I remember
Yes I remember
I remember

Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

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Fact Source:  Dictionary.com

Fact Source:  Metro Lyrics

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 30

Domestic Violence Information by State

Domestic violence victims need all the support they can get while going through such a rough time. That’s why each state has so many resources available for helping victims of domestic violence get back on their feet. There are many nongovernmental organizations, government agencies, and family organizations that victims can turn to. Below, you’ll find a list of these programs organized by state. You’ll also find links regarding each state’s domestic violence laws and victim resources.

National

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

If you’re a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, visit Findlaw’s Get Help with Domestic Violence page. If you want to file a protective order in your state, visit our page on State Forms.

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Fact Source:  FindLaw

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 29

Before this month is over, I wanted to pinpoint on what to expect when entering a Women’s Shelter, for myself and for other woman who may one day find themselves on that doorstep.

The shelter I had gone to way back when (Third Time is the Charm), was in a big house that had bunk beds in each room for women and children to share. They had given me a quick rundown of what their protocol was, what would be expected of me and how they’d be helping me to get back on my feet. There was a classroom/playroom set up for the children. Upon entering, I had no idea what to expect. I was scared about leaving, scared that I took my daughter, scared he would find me and scared of starting over. It was so overwhelming. Here I was, 21-22 years old, with my 2 year old in tow – in a shelter for battered women. I was so embarrassed. Horrified. So much so, I was not even there for 24 hours.

The information listed below only pertains to this particular shelter.  I assume they’re all similar in nature but I can’t say for sure.  If anyone reading this has spent time at a women’s shelter, please share your experiences below.  Good and bad.  If you’ve already written about it on your blog, feel free to provide a link.  Any information that can be added to this would be great.

What to expect when entering [our] shelter:

Entering into a shelter can be a scary and confusing time in a survivor’s life; it may even be dangerous. Knowing why the shelter is there and what to expect may help reduce the anxiety a victim feels.

While a shelter serves functionally as a temporary, safe place to stay for a victim to work on regaining independence, it also is a place to connect with other survivors of abuse and advocates who can assist in the journey to independence.

There is always an intake meeting for the victim to fill out necessary paperwork and become familiar with the new surroundings. Afterward, the new shelter resident is shown the room which is assigned to her for the duration of the program. There are responsibilities, since shelter is communal living (such as tidying up after oneself and one’s children, observing a nightly curfew, etc.) which will be explained to the victim at this time.

A shelter resident can expect to share these responsibilities with all residents, since everyone lives and works so closely together. The important thing to remember when preparing to enter into shelter is that the shelter is designed for safety and to provide resources and support to enable the victims to become self-sufficient and empowered.

What to take with you when you leave

  • Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards
  • Insurance Cards
  • Clinic Cards
  • Money/Credit Cards
  • Bank Card
  • Bank Book
  • Savings Book
  • Checkbook
  • Your Protective Order (carry this with you at all times)
  • Lease Agreement or Deed to House
  • Car Registration
  • Insurance Papers
  • Health/Life Insurance Papers
  • Medical Records
  • School Records
  • Work Permits/Green Card/Visa
  • Passport
  • Divorce Papers
  • House/Car Keys
  • Medications
  • Address Book

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Fact Source: Metropolitan Center for Women & Children

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 28

He Never Hit Me

Warning: This post contains descriptions of intimate partner abuse and may be triggering to some.

How many times did I find myself on his bathroom floor cowering beneath him, feeling the hot spit land on me as he screamed? Stop crying like a baby. You’re crazy. No one else would put up with you. How many times did I shudder on that floor counting my breaths, bringing myself back from the brink of suffocation during a panic attack that was triggered by one of these maniacal and regular assaults? But he never hit me.

How many hours did I remain on that bathroom floor after he had gone to bed, my eyes red with burst blood vessels? How many times did I hear the sound of his snores and realize he had fallen asleep, no more than a meter away, to the sound of me hyperventilating while still in the throes of that panic attack? How many times did I whisper aloud, “How did I get here? How did I become this woman?” How many times did I tell myself to get up, call a cab and walk out the front door? How many times did I get up and look in that mirror and fail to recognize myself? How much hate could I have for the broken woman staring back at me? But he never hit me.

How many times did I crawl into that bed, rather than into a cab, and wake up with his arms around me, telling me that I brought it out in him? He wasn’t like this. I made him like this. I needed to change the way I approached him about these things. Be less accusatory. If I just softened my approach, it would allow him to react differently. How many times did I adjust my approach before I realized the only way to avoid the abuse was not to bring it up at all? But he never hit me.

How many emails and text messages did I find? How many parties did we attend knowing that one of the women was there? I learned quickly not to address it so that “I” wouldn’t ruin a perfectly nice evening. When his family member asked me if a lipstick she had found under the couch was mine, I threw it away and said nothing more of it. Neither did she. Another humiliation taken in silence. But he never hit me.

How many times did he tell me he was going to sleep, out for dinner with a client, couldn’t hear his phone, but actually taking out another woman? How many times did he ignore my calls and call the next morning telling me nothing had happened? It was sadistic. I could see how much he enjoyed being that powerful. How many defamatory lies did he concoct and propagate to my old colleagues and friends when I walked away from him? How many times did he smear my reputation? How many times did I go back, believing every promise that he was a new man, believing every half-hearted apology? But he never hit me.

How many times did a friend pick me up because he had kicked me out of bed in the middle of the night for questioning him about one of the women? How many times did I go back before those friends had had enough. How many times did I defend him and justify his behavior when I told a friend about what he had done? When did I stop telling anyone altogether to avoid the shame of the insanity of the circumstances I was somehow in — the shame of being a strong independent woman who couldn’t take care of herself enough to leave a situation that was so toxic? When did I stop expecting more? But he never hit me.

How could I explain to someone that I believed it was partly my fault, even though I was embarrassed to hear those beaten woman’s words spoken from my lips. No one really understood. No one knew him like I did. It was my job to protect him from the truth of what he did to me. I couldn’t let them think he was a monster. I wouldn’t tell anyone. I was entirely alone. But he never hit me.

My solitude meant that I could no longer see the reflection in other people’s eyes indicating what was normal. I could only see the reflection in his eyes and began to believe what he told me about myself. I began to believe his irrational explanations despite my own heart and eyes. I let him define reality. I became isolated. It became easier to cut off my support networks completely than to have to lie about everything. Than to face the humiliation of my reality. A part of me knew that once they knew the extent of what was happening, they would force me to get out for good. I wouldn’t be able to go back. I knew I would always need to even in the worst of times. But he never hit me.

I set a benchmark. The red line I wouldn’t cross. The minute he hit me, I would leave. But the truth is, I know I wouldn’t have left then either. I would have rationalized that in hitting me, he would realize how out of hand things were. Everything would change now. I wouldn’t have left. By hurting me, he showed me he loved me. He cared enough to go that crazy. He cared so much that he was overwhelmed by anger or jealousy or sadness and simply couldn’t control himself.

When it was over, I wasn’t permitted to mourn him. No one could understand how love, hate, fear and comfort could coexist simultaneously. They could not understand that in addition to my abuser, I also lost my confidant, the person to make dinner with, the person to watch movies with on a rainy Sunday, the person to laugh with, the person who knew me. I lost my companion. How can you explain to someone that the abuse was only a part of who he was? How do you explain that to yourself?

There are still days when I remember tender moments and wonder if it really was that bad. I still struggle with reconciling how he could love me to the point of tears and yet hurt me as if I was an enemy. Like a child, I’m learning to redefine the borders of normal behavior and to realign my expectations. I remind myself that acts of violence can never be acts of love.

For the first time, I see my own reflection in other women who have emerged from the depths of such darkness. Indescribably courageous women whom I have never met, but who have shared their stories and in doing so, saved me. These women embraced me with their pain and unknowingly convinced me that I was not alone, that I am worthy of more. I hadn’t believed that singular truth in a very long time.

Knowing that others were there has allowed the shame to dissipate. I used to default to the trained belief that I was crazy, overly sensitive or had imagined it all because I could not reconcile the love and the abuse. I have permitted myself to accept that both existed. Their stories have allowed me to forgive myself. To recognize how arbitrary that red line was. Seeing myself in their eyes has allowed me to name my abuser. To name my experience as an abused woman. And then to let go.

I pray now that my words will travel to the broken woman staring back at them and embrace her. I hope they equip her with the strength and love she needs to raise herself from the depths.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated byRAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

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What is Emotional/Verbal Abuse?

Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.

There are many behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse:

  • Calling you names and putting you down.
  • Yelling and screaming at you.
  • Intentionally embarrassing you in public.
  • Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
  • Telling you what to do and wear.
  • Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate you.
  • Blaming your actions for their abusive or unhealthy behavior.
  • Stalking you.
  • Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
  • Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about.
  • Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity.
  • Threatening to expose your secrets such as your sexual orientation or immigration status.
  • Starting rumors about you.
  • Threatening to have your children taken away.

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Article Source: Huffington Post

Follow the author on Twitter @reutamit

Fact Source: Love Is Respect

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 27

Men and women NEED to watch this video.  It exposes the vocabulary that is used to help “nurture” boys into manhood.  Whether it comes from parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, teachers, mentors or coaches – it’s just wrong.

These types of phrases can and will alter their behavior pattern and eventually have a direct result on their interactions with each other, society and potentially…their girlfriend/wife – women in general.  Not only can the choice of words used have an effect on their social skills but it can also determine their own mental health and contribute to suicidal/homicidal contemplation.

Please take three minutes of your time and watch this video.  You do not have to have a son nor do you even need to have interaction with children to understand this problem.  Let’s change the way we speak to our boys.  We are molding them into the men they will eventually become.

This alone may be the very core to ending Domestic Violence.

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Fact Source:  The Representation Project
Or follow on Twitter: @TheRepProject

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

31 Facts in 31 Days – Day 26

The isolation may seem benign at first: An abuser may make snide remarks about her family, trying to distance her from them, but then say he was only joking. The isolation escalates when he suggests or insists that she work from home, or not at all. She loses contact with her co-workers. He may initiate arguments about her choice of religion; no faith pleases him, and he refuses to let her worship at church without him. She becomes completely dependent on him for a world view. His perspective infiltrates her perspective until her opinion of herself is diminished to reflect only his opinion; his reality becomes her reality. He lets her know she is useless, helpless, worthless, and nothing without him. She loses her self to him, her insight, intuition, and instinct vanishes. He owns her. Soon, the victim is asking, “Who am I? How did this happen?”

These are just a few of the signs of isolation to be wary of:

  • She rarely goes out without her partner
  • He unilaterally controls every aspect of a date
  • She is restricted from seeing family and friends
  • He controls who they see, when, where, and for how long

Show support for someone you suspect might be manipulated into isolation by an abuser. No amount of false romance is worth losing the authentic self. Maintain support systems in church, with friends, groups, and activities. They may save your life!

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Fact Source:  Beyond the Tears

Fact Source:  Beauty Cares

Follow them on Twitter and YouTube

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.