Purple October

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  Undoubtedly, we’ll see some slightly increased media attention, but other than that, not much will change.  I know that this issue competes for space with Breast Cancer Awareness and Hispanic Heritage, both of which are very important, but I feel like we need to step it up a bit.

Actually, the only thing on TV that I’ve seen regarding DV has been an ad for a Lifetime Movie on the subject. (Note – I don’t watch all that much TV.)  I’ll admit that I love a good day parked in front of LMN, but this is hardly enough to increase awareness, or better yet, make real strides forward in treating DV with the attention that it so desperately needs.

For me, this is not the only time that I will think about DV.  It permeates my life.  It is now a part of who I am.  But I accept that.  And I take every opportunity that I can to talk to people about DV and it’s effects.  To me, this is not just a war that should be waged in October.  It’s something that I fight every day.

What can YOU do?  Educate.  Believe.  Advocate.  And be the change you wish to see in the world.

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Progress?

I realized something this morning.  This past Monday was the 2 year anniversary of leaving my husband.  The day came and went, and I never even thought about it.  It was only when I was trying to recall the date today that it came to mind.

I used to place so much importance on the dates.  Getting past another milestone.  And just a few weeks ago, I was worried about our impending wedding anniversary, and whether or not he would acknowledge it when we were exchanging the baby.

This time there was no worry.  There was no grieving.  It was simply another day in my life, where I went to work, took care of my daughter, and lived.  But I think that’s the important thing.  I was able to simply LIVE – without fear, without hurt, without control, without abuse.

I think the fact that this “anniversary” went by unnoticed shows progress for me.  It shows that I’m healing, and that my life is moving forward.  It shows that I’m simply focused on pursuing a better life for myself, and my daughter.  I’m healing from my past, slowly but surely. 

Maybe, just maybe, there really is life after abuse.

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It’s OK to grieve

Yesterday would have been my 6th wedding anniversary.  I suppose it actually was, since we’re still married.  But obviously there was no celebration.  There were no cards or flowers.  No I love you’s or sweet moments spent reminiscing the day we pledged our lives to each other.  Instead, we met for his visitation with the baby, I handed her off and later on I picked her up.  We talked just briefly about her. 

During the week I was dreading the day.  I was dreading seeing him, and fearful that my unexplainable sadness would make me vulnerable to anything kind he might do, or any mention of our anniversary.  Thankfully it was not mentioned, but the fear earlier in the week drove me to tears several times.

Now, as I reflect on all the emotion I was feeling, I realize what it was.  Quite simply, it was grief.  In the last 2 years I have not taken time to grieve the loss of my marriage.  I was too busy preparing for a baby, fighting my rage and anger at him filing for custody, going to court, etc.  I never stopped to let in the sadness of my loss.

Of course I’m not sad that I lost him.  My life is infinitely better now.  I can finally smile and not be constantly on high-alert.  What I’m sad about is the loss off the hopes and dreams that I had when I said my vows.  I’m sad because I feel like I’ve missed out on the ideal of a happy marriage and family.  It’s like the white picket fence somehow slipped out of my grasp.

I think it’s natural to feel these things.  Even without the aspect of abuse, any one who loses their marriage has periods of grief.  It’s healthy.  And when considering the abuse, it doesn’t have to make you vulnerable to the games of your abuser, especially if you are aware of what you are feeling and why. 

Don’t be afraid to grieve your losses in life, no matter how big or small they may be.  In order to move on, be a stronger person, and ultimately find the happiness that we are all searching for, we need to accept the emotions that we feel, and work through them.  It’s only human nature.  And I’m glad that I didn’t resist it.

I don’t know what will happen at this time next year, but I’m sure that it will be a little bit easier.

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Time keeps passing

This week marked 1 year since I went to get an Order of Protection after my ex threatened to kill me.  I realized last night that I didn’t even think about it on that day.  I thought about it in the days leading up the the “anniversary” but it never crossed my mind when the actual day was here.  Last night I thought about how strange that was.

Now, I think it just shows how little he enters my thoughts now.  I’m not thinking about what will happen next on a daily basis.  I just LIVE.  I’m so happy with that. 

I’ll never be truly rid of him.  We have our daughter to take care of, so I’ll be seeing him and dealing with him for the next 20 years at least.  I realize now though that it doesn’t have to be something that affects everything that I do.  It’s a wonderful feeling.

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Joy In The Little Things

I came across a contest on one of my favorite blogs, and I decided, what the heck, I might as well give it a whirl.  I’ve been agonizing over it for days now.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted an upbeat, happy piece on my “regular” blog or if I wanted to do something more focused on my DV experiences, and the joys of being out.  I’ve decided to just write and let this take me wherever it takes me.

The question at hand is “What brings you joy?”

Of course, the normal things bring me joy every day. My daughter’s smile when I first walk in her room in the morning. Hearing my boyfriend and daughter having a very “in-depth” (read: babbling) conversation while I’m doing something in the other room. A beautiful sunset. Children’s laughter. Perfect weather. Hugs from friends. It all sounds so cliché.  Especially after all that has happened in the last, oh, 7 years or so.

It still amazes me how much joy I find post-abuse.  It has brought a whole new perspective on the concept of joy.  So, in no certain order:

I find joy in the moments when I can express my opinion freely, without the fear of being chastised or hurt.

Discovering that I, too, deserve a “normal” relationship has brought me joy.

I find joy in rediscovering myself – my own thoughts, my passions, my ideals, my independence.

I find joy in helping others who have been victims of domestic violence.  It makes me feel like everything that I’ve been through is not a waste.

Wearing pajamas brings me joy.

I find joy in the knowledge that I am doing everything I can to prevent my daughter from growing up in a household where there is abuse.

I find joy in going to bed and waking up as I please (or as dictated by the little one), but without being ordered to do either.

I find joy in getting through a work day in peace, without harassing phone calls or e-mails.

Going back to school in a month to finally finish my bachelor’s degree brings me infinite amounts of joy.

I find joy in knowing that I am much stronger than I ever thought. 

I feel joy simply because I am lucky enough to be here, writing, and sharing my joy with you. 

With all that I’ve been through, with all that I’ve endured, (which, I might add, is FAR from what others have gone through, but still traumatic in its own right), I feel like I’m able to find joy in so many things.  I am forever grateful that I find joy, and not bitterness and pain.

“This post is part of SoyJoy’s What Brings You Joy contest.  Learn more here.”

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A look at the past

I found an old blog today.  It was hard to read, but I’m glad that I did.  I’m actually glad that I still have some of the old blogs that I wrote, when I was so deeply entrenched in the abuse that I never thought I would get out.  It’s makes me sad though, to think that I was convinced that life would never change.  The following is a post that I wrote more than 2 years ago, before the very first time I left my abuser.  Of course, there was a lot of leaving and coming back to follow, a lot of confusion and doubt.  But now I can look back with amazement at how far I’ve come.  It’s a great feeling to know that I’m not that person anymore.
I don’t know why I do this to myself. I must be a horrible person. It would be better for everyone in the world if I didn’t exist anymore. I thought I was an OK person until I met him. He has done nothing but remind me how useless and awful I am for the last 5 years. He has beaten me, screamed at me, called me names, and threatened to kill me. He has never been the sweet, loving husband that I had hoped to have – at least not for longer than a few minutes at a time. He hasn’t held a conventional job for almost 5 years now, and expects me to support our family by myself. He has expected that I would do everything – from providing the income, to keeping the house clean and perfect, to raising his daughter – all so that he can live his life. It wouldn’t matter to him if I didn’t show up after work – he hopes that I die. Then his life will be happy. He hates me, and there is nothing that I can do about it. But he won’t let me leave, because then he will have to support himself and his daughter.

Once upon a time I thought that I was a brilliant woman, full of potential. Now, I am nothing. My fate has been sealed, all because I chose to marry the wrong man. Everyday I must face the reality of my mistake, and there is nothing that I can do about it. All I can pray for is to die young, so that I don’t have to live like this for the next 50 or 60 years. I’m completely trapped, and I did it to myself. My hopes and dreams will never be fulfilled – I’ll never be able to go to school, have babies, travel the world, have friends, be close to my family. I have to lie to everyone, including myself, just to make it through the day.

In his eyes I am nothing more than a piece of garbage. The sadder part, is that has become what I see when I look into the mirror. I’ll never be able to make him happy, and because of that I will be miserable for the rest of my life. But I won’t leave him. I can’t. I made a committment before God, and my family and friends, and I won’t break that. Does that make me crazy? Maybe it does. So maybe all of this really is my own fault, and I can remember that everytime there is a new bruise.

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Why is it so scary?

Well, this weekend has gone fine.  One e-mail from him yesterday, which I ignored (per my attorney).  But of course now I’m nervous that he’ll pull something next weekend when he does have her. 

I hate that I’m so scared of his crap still.  I know that it’s because he can be really unpredictable.  And I know that his bark is MUCH bigger than his bite at this point, but I still don’t trust him.  At all.  Especially with my daughter. 

I’m really hoping that we get a signed order soon.  Although all the intelligent people in this situation know that an incorrect, unsigned order that has been objected to and is still out for corrections has no bearing on the actual agreement entered in court, trying to explain that to him would be like talking to a brick wall. 

Maybe someday I’ll get lucky and he’ll just disappear.  But the one thing that he’s dead wrong about right now is that he THINKS he can control the situation, and he THINKS that I’ll still cower when he wants something.  It won’t happen, ever again.  I’ve got my power back in my life and I’m never giving it up again.  Except of course when that baby girl looks at me with her big brown eyes.  Then I have no power at all.  And that, I love.

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