Tag Archive | guilt

Off The Cuff

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As much as I knew I would be here…today, the thoughts of what I want to say and need to say are jumping around like the bubbles in last night’s champagne.  So, in keeping it simple, I’ll just say…Happy New Year!  It’s the long awaited and eagerly anticipated 2017.

I haven’t been here in so long, not for any horrifying or unsettling reasons.  More so for a necessary mental respite from spewing the facts of my life.  As much as it was good for my soul and my growth, it also felt like it became an overwhelming (self inflicted) responsibility.  One I was semi prepared for yet not close to ready to take on.

Aside from the basics of my story, those specific details which have been dormant for a long time, there were a slew of other things – detached from the topic – that were going on simultaneously.  I needed to concentrate on those things without feeling guilty for not being present, with you.

Now that everything else I was dealing with is under control, I feel like I can come back and start teething again on this blog.  For those here that I got to know well, rest assured I’m safe.  It’s only day one of 2017, but I’m looking at it’s entirety in the palm of my hand and I’m bursting with excitement.

Health & Happiness to all of you this year and always.

XOXO

The F-Word

It’s about time that I make an appearance and talk about things. There seems to be a build up of thoughts and emotions that have clogged the flow of words from getting to this screen.  For several weeks now, I’ve had an emotional surge and have wanted to come here immediately to release.  Of course, work and life get in the way and all I end up with is my weekly Haiku, which I love, but my life is not all about counting syllables and rhyming.

So.  Here I am.  Mid thought.  Hoping to dump out a bit of what has brought me here without it being all moshed up, and after reading you think…what is she even talking about?  Maybe I should start jotting down thoughts as I have the urge to write just so that I don’t forget what it is I wanted to say.  Anyway, here’s hoping I don’t start rambling and that this makes some sense.

As part of my “self-healing” process, I’ve been taking part in an online chat group with some other Domestic Violence survivors that I’ve met over the last two years.  It takes place on Twitter every Monday night at 9pm EST under #domesticviolencechat – brainchild of Lindsay Fischer (aka @LinsFischer) usually accompanied by her trusty group assistant, Amy Thomson (aka @AMarie9619).  There has been a decent round robin of participants.  Some people stop by every week while some take a pass depending on the topic at hand, as it could be triggering.  Others, I’m sure, just read along without saying anything, if only just to know they’re not alone.

Last week, the topic was forgiveness.  “Forgiveness of our abusers, of ourselves and of others who were not there for us either by choice or ignorance.”  I had made the suggestion.  I’m sure we had covered this topic a while back but forgiveness seems to be one of those ever evolving enigmas.  As survivors begin to heal, I think, their thoughts on forgiveness change.

(Way back) In the beginning, when I started to share my story, I discussed the elusive Missing Ingredient.  Forgiveness.  I pondered “How can I forgive my husband for years of abuse?”  What I came up with were reasons to forgive myself.  At that point, only two months into pouring out my story, I wasn’t sure I could ever forgive my abuser and I certainly wasn’t sure I was ready to forgive myself.  I understood all of the reasons why it is beneficial but it was still too early.

Yet again, two months after initially discussing this topic, I posted Forgiveness 101 and still  I was unsure of where I stood.  I had read an article by Deepak Chopra, which read in part:

Some people are so ashamed that they can’t bring themselves to tell anyone their secret. The result is the worst kind of guilt, that festers inside with no chance for relief. If you feel that you have this kind of deep guilt, you must still find a way to believe that you are forgiven. You may have to take baby steps to get there.

In reading back my post and the article, I could see how close I was.  Just on the outskirts of understanding the necessity of this “F-word”.  I knew somehow it was key but I wasn’t sure how to obtain it and I wasn’t even sure I deserved it – let alone give it away to my abuser.

Since then…it’s been something along these lines:

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.” ~ C.S. Lewis

And by that I mean, I can’t pinpoint when it happened or even how I’ve changed but I can feel something different.  It’s this bizarre internal feeling.  Almost evolutionary.  Maybe enlightenment.  I’m not sure.  All I know is, I feel good.  Mentally.  For the first time in a long time, my mind is clear and focused.  It’s weird.  Kind of like an out of body experience.  As if to say, I’m aware of my awareness. If that makes any sense.

So back to last week’s #domesticviolencechat group session.  I didn’t think about it when I was in the moment.  It wasn’t until someone retweeted my comment:

“I forgive myself for falling prey to my abuser. I was 17 and didn’t know how to ask for help.”

Wow.  That’s an eye opener.  First thing, apparently I forgive myself.  Kudos to me.  And the other thing, which is huge, is that I don’t think I ever allowed myself to acknowledge the fact that I was indeed a kid.  Probably because back then, when I was a kid, I was so intent on being a grown-up.  Plus, I had a lot of responsibility at a young age, so I always felt grown-up.  In comparing me at the age of 17 and my own daughters when they were that age, I was a grown-up!  There’s no comparison to the way the kids are today and the way we were in the 70’s and 80’s. Granted, it was a different time, no matter where you were raised.

Nevertheless, this statement I made, almost unaware, really opened my eyes.

I was a kid pretending to be a grown-up who got caught up in a world of unexpected trouble with no real skills on how to get out of it. For those of you that can’t comprehend the intensity of the situation that child was in, for those of you that judge her choices and for those of you who think she deserved everything that came her way…I forgive you.

Most of all, I forgive her.

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My story starts HERE.

Read more about Lindsay Fisher.

Read more about Amy Thomson.

Disconnected Reconnection

Domestic violence is a disgusting epidemic and I’m in awe of how many people are telling their stories.  It’s almost as if the stigma has been lifted.  Even though I know there are still multitudes that are living in silence, I pray their day to speak will come.  It is by far the most important part of our journey.  If you are one of the silent ones reading this…please, find someone you can trust…and tell them.  Even if it’s the only thing you can do at this moment – tell someone.

I had that chance.  And I stumbled.

I recently reconnected with my cousin who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in (too many) years.  I found her on Facebook and “friended” her to test the waters.  She had many issues over the years and I was a little unsure of just how reconnected I actually wanted to get.  We kept it strictly FB friendly over the next year or so and then she gave me her phone number and asked me to call.  I hesitated.  Actually, I ignored it.  I just wasn’t ready to talk to her, yet.

This was the cousin that had been molested alongside of me in our childhood by our grandfather (Aftermath of Abuse).  I didn’t know if she remembered and I wasn’t sure I was ready to speak about it with her.  She had a rough life riddled with everything from drug abuse to rape.  If she didn’t remember the molestation, I didn’t want to be the one to send her into a tailspin.  And honestly, I was not mentally ready myself.  If I allowed myself to go there with her, I didn’t know what else would follow.  Eventually though, I made the call.

I always believe everything happens for a reason.  You don’t have to be religious to believe that.  However, if you believe in God, at some point in your life you accept the fact that you are put in a certain place and time for a purpose that you are unaware of and have no control over.  There is a higher entity that brings you to this place in life.  At least, that’s how I look at it.

For me, it came after a strange trigger episode.  I had been listening to music from my childhood (music that directly related to my grandfather) and not for any specific reason.  It was just music that had not been heard in a long time and it was – a sound for sore ears.  After a few days of listening, I was in my dining room and caught a distinct whiff of my grandfather’s cologne.  It was at a time when no food was cooking, no candles were on, no one different was in the house.  No one was even in the dining room nor had they been for hours.  And the odor was in one spot.  If I turned my head to the left it was not there and if I turned the right, nothing.  It was very odd.

This not only came after days of listening to this music but also of me spending time with an aunt and cousins from that side of the family I don’t see often. Actually, almost never, and it was also after promising to call my cousin who I had been talking to on FB but still hadn’t done so.  It became overwhelming for me.  Too much all at once.  Everything just came together in such a way that I realized … now is the time.

So the next day, I called her.  We spoke.  We caught up.  Finally there was a lull in the conversation and I outright discussed what I remembered and asked her if she had any memory of it.  She said she didn’t but she was also unable to talk because her husband was nearby and she sounded a little frazzled, either at the conversation or whatever thoughts were going through her mind.  She hesitated for a moment and then said she’d been “messed up” (on drugs) for so long she probably wouldn’t be able to remember.

So I left it at that.  We spoke several times since that initial conversation and caught up on the insanity of her life and how she was in a good place now.  Clean and sober for five years.  I believed her.  I knew that the likelihood of a real 5 years straight – for her – was probably not a full 1826 days of sobriety but I didn’t judge.  I was never a drug user so I can’t begin to understand the difficulties of kicking the habit for good.

I was not nearly as forthcoming with stories of what I had been through in my life.  I wanted to be the listening ear for her.  I felt at the moment that was my place and what I needed to do.  It’s what she needed as well.  Our calls were good.  It felt good to reconnect.  She was so grateful that I was non-judgmental.  I was there for her because she was my cousin and she needed someone -family- to hear her.

In November, my cousin was murdered by her husband.  Compression asphyxiation.  She was strangled.  He crushed her windpipe.

When I had gotten the news, this was not yet known.  All I knew is that she never woke up in the morning.  I even called her husband and spoke to him.  He seemed just as one would expect, holding it together for their youngest son.  This was our first encounter and when talking to me he expressed his gratitude that there was someone in the family who gave a damn.  Due to her years of drug use, her mother, my aunt, for the most part disowned her.  None of the family spoke to her mostly because we didn’t know where she was.  Let’s just say, the family is fractured and dysfunction has had its way throughout the years.

Within days, I learned the truth about what really happened.  I was slightly stunned but not really shocked.  There was some part of me that thought something was amiss.  The news resulted in me and another cousin doing a lot of legwork, making phone calls and trying to piece stuff together.  Part of me went to that place in my head that thought if I had mentioned my story to her maybe she would have mentioned hers to me.  Maybe I could’ve helped her in some way and this would not have happened.

Now that a couple of months have passed, I’m able to understand that all of this was somehow meant for me.  Another reminder.  An eye opener.  A catalyst that told me to stay on course.  One that struck too close to home.  This was another reason I was unable to write for the past few months.  Even though people have reached out saying I was brave to tell my story and inspirational, in the days and weeks after my cousin’s death, I felt like a hypocrite hiding behind a screen telling my story to strangers and I couldn’t even help my own flesh and blood.

Truth be told – it bothers me.

The reason it affects me, I think, is because my family was more willing to believe her death was drug related than a “simple” domestic violence murder.  My family was more willing to believe she drowned herself in drugs over the years because she was a pathetic loser than a possible coping mechanism resulting from molestation at the hands of their father.  And still, I have not spoken up.  Not to them.  And I’m not sure why.

In the heat of the moment, I did spew out the details of what happened at the hands of my grandfather.  Something that put me at ease, physically.  I had come to terms with that situation years ago.  It was something that never really weighed on me, at least not consciously.  I had a fine relationship with my grandfather as I got older but those may have been times when what happened at the age of 5 was blocked out.  On his death bed, I forgave him and let go of all of it.  The memories resurfaced when I started this blog.

Lately, I’ve had an overpowering sensation of needing to tell my family.  Not so much those I am closest to, that I speak to on a somewhat daily basis.  But those I don’t speak to as often.  I’m not sure why.  I owe them nothing.  They haven’t been in my life for, well for almost the entire marriage.  Part of it was me pushing everyone out of my life so no one would know but now I feel more of a question as to – why didn’t they try?  Maybe if someone made the effort to be in my life this wouldn’t have gone on for as long?

I don’t really know what I’m feeling.  I can only go with my instincts and when I start getting these pangs of sharing it’s only a matter of time.  It’s been a year since I first shared my story with a few people I know in the real world and I haven’t regretted it.  Maybe I just picked the right people to tell.

When I was talking to my cousin, she had so much anguish bottled up I had told her to start writing.  I told her how healing it was.  That it would be something beneficial and therapeutic for her.  She asked me if I had done that.  Writing.  I told her I did.  I told her it truly soothes the soul.  And I implored her to do the same.  She asked me what I wrote about.  As soon as her words came out I felt sheer panic.  Questioning myself whether or not I should tell her right then and there.  It felt like a 5 minute pause and was probably only 5 seconds.  All I said was – this and that, things that have happened in my life.  She asked if it helped me.  I said … absolutely.  I immediately felt guilty for not telling her.  I thought to myself if she presses me for specifics I’m going to tell her.  But she didn’t.  The conversation continued on and there was no real opportunity to squeeze it in.

We all have a bad habit of thinking there is always tomorrow.  No matter the subject.  No matter the person we want to tell.  No matter the relationships we want to mend.  The truth is … and we all know the truth … tomorrow is not promised.  I will never have the chance to confide in my cousin.  To have her know she could feel safe in confiding in me.  Our reconnection was disconnected before either of us were ready.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Whenever possible …

Tell. Your. Story.

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To read from the beginning… #MyStory starts here.

Sweet Heart Series: Day 4

When I was a little girl, growing up in the 1970’s, I was allowed to play with everyone. My parents never discussed the color or ethnicity of anyone we knew so the color of skin was never a subject I thought about. When I started Kindergarten both of my parents worked so my grandparents watched me. I used to play with all of the kids that lived in their building on a daily basis. That summer, my grandmother passed away. I don’t really remember what provisions were made after that regarding who watched me. It’s possible my parents worked different shifts so that one was home with me, I can’t really remember. All I know is that I continued school near my house. Midway through elementary, we moved to the neighborhood where my grandparents lived and I started school with all of my familiar friends and I met other kids that would eventually become lifelong friends.

When I started in my new school, one of my friends from my grandparents building was in my class. We’ll call her Lucy. Since there was a decent hugh difference within my class and neighborhood I never saw her as different. However, I soon found out that she was a girl that got picked on, and often. It happened to be that her father was black and her mother was white. Today we call it biracial. Back then the names were cruel and ignorant from little 3rd graders…oreo and zebra were pretty prominent. And even though I was her friend, and new her probably since before I could remember…I joined in. The black kids, the white kids, the spanish kids….we all tortured her. Of course, because we were kids, things would subside and we’d all be friends again…until the next time she became the target.

As the years went on, less and less of that occurred. I’m not sure if we all just outgrew it or if the friendships over powered the need to pick on her. Don’t get me wrong…I was not exempt from being teased. It was a free for all…we ALL got picked on at one time or another. Whether it be because your pants were too short or you had a booger hanging out of your nose…everyone was fair game. And it wasn’t considered bullying…it was kids being kids.

I never told anyone until recently but my participation in teasing Lucy was an extremely heavy burdon on my heart. This was a true regret I carried with me into adulthood. Even though I went through almost all of school with her, I never apologized. We’d see each other here and there…we were for the most part friends…more like aquaintances as the years went on because we never really “hung out” anymore plus she dropped out of school so I never saw her after that.

I don’t know how many people in the neighborhood knew this…I did because my grandparents lived directly upstairs from her family…but the entire family…from the mother to all 5 children (3 more to eventually come) were ALL abused. Serious, insane, jaw droppingly abused. I never even knew how bad until I got in touch with Lucy’s mother. She contacted me through Facebook. She was finally free of her husband and told me of all of the horrible things that man did. This woman was locked inside of her house. He had a deadbolt put on and nails in the windows so they could not escape. He beat them terribly…your worst thoughts…he did it. He even had his wife commited. It was only about a week or so but still. Then he moved them out of state and continued the madness. Her eldest child was lost to drugs and eventually died. Lucy would also succumb to drugs and some sort of mental illness most likely due to being raped by her father.

After speaking with her mother several times, she told me of the eventual arrest of her husband and how her and the rest of her kids are finally at peace. It was so nice to hear a happy ending for her. At one point she asked me if I had ever been “in the life”. That’s how she phrased it. In The Life. Of course, I said no. A small part of me wondered if we reconnected for a reason. Maybe eventually I would need her expertise. I shrugged it off as this was a couple of years ago and I was no where near ready to talk about my life.

However, there may be another reason she was brought back into my life. Whatever reason, I took full advantage of the situation. I sat down one Saturday and wrote her an extremely heartfelt sincere apology about the way I took part in the treatment of her child. I was hysterically crying writing it. I never realized how much it truly affected me. When I hit send…I felt a small sense of relief but I was so nervous anticipating her response. She called me to respond. She said, “Honey, I can’t believe you carried that on your shoulders for so long. You can let that go. I cannot hold against you what you did as a child. Those were actions of children who didn’t know any better. There is nothing to forgive as far as I’m concerned but if you need it, I forgive you. And I thank you for such a beautiful note.”  At once, I felt a huge sense of relief.  The heaviness of that burden was instantly lifted…even without apologizing directly to Lucy.

With that being said…since blogging…I’ve come across great people. Some of whom, as I write, I know will respond…and I look forward to it. One of these people wrote something that reminded me of Lucy. And I know exactly how heavily it weighs on his heart. He wrote a beautiful poem about it…I wish he’d find a way to forgive himself. Even if he is unable to find that little girl from the bus…I extend the forgiveness from Lucy’s mother unto you…

This one was written by: Fragments of Life

of all that is taught and reckoned as sin,

from top-to-bottom, left-to-right, inside-to-out,

one way or another, i’ve committed them all.

yet, i shrug it all off after a moment’s regret,

and move on, not feeling too bad at all

for most of what i’ve done.

only one sin haunts me and will not turn me loose.

Continue reading here… Unpardonable