Friday, January 3, 2014

Wishbones, Sparkles and the Practical

Hello! I am so honored you are here reading my words. This Brave, is a blog about being brave. The Dark Corner below is part of my struggle and story of living in domestic violence. I hope that you find courage, light and hope today.

"Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be." Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray Love.
It has occurred to me that my life has been full, at times overflowing, with wishful thinking. I lived in books as a child, wishing to live and see places I knew nothing of. I wished when I was older Prince Charming would arrive and be on a white horse so I could tell who he was! I've wished for health, I've wished for peace, I've wished for love. When I was married I wished to be seen and then saved.
As I've been reading so much on the New Year, everyone's opinions on resolutions or diets or what everyone else should do as they start the new year... I've been looking at how many years, probably, I've wasted wishing. As I've mentioned in my last post- this year feels huge for me. I have some big choices to make, a lot of bravery to actually be. There doesn't seem to be a place for wishing here. This year is a "take life by the horns" instead of a "go with the flow" sort of season. (Can I put anymore cliches into one sentence? lol) My favorite song has always been Somewhere Over the Rainbow- it captures my wishing and puts images of Judy Garland, rainbows, red lipstick and sparkles all over my wishfulness. But wishing hasn't been overly helpful to me. While I can't see my backbone I can feel it when I sit up tall, when I take deep breaths and when I remember it is there. Be Brave!

Dark Corner
I sat on the front porch. My hat on my head in a futile and almost idiotic attempt to distract from my black eye. I've long hated the term black eye- my eye wasn't black. It was swollen and purple with greenish puffiness. I had worn my hat all day, at work and at the store. A couple ladies at work had looked questioningly at me, asked about it- it certainly wasn't the first time. And still I came home after work. An hour after arriving home, I sat still on the front porch, in trouble for the usual unbeknownst to me problems. My wishing for help wasn't useful. And so I prayed and asked God to make me better, to make my heart cleaner or purer so he wouldn't be mad, so I wouldn't dislike things I saw him do. I could feel the fading of myself. Disappearing into my covering, sliding into the idea of what he thought I was, letting my eyes glass over as clarity seemed to provoke only anger, resentment and hatred. And so I sat, on the front porch aware that he would hurt me again, aware that I couldn't bring myself to move off the porch...

Of all the questions that I get asked about my past situation my favorite is the "Why didn't you leave sooner?" It is my favorite question as I think it is the most layered and emotional question one can ask. The quick answer is that I couldn't.  The long is that at times I didn't leave because of fear for my life, my children's lives and his life. There were days I didn't leave because I was ashamed, alone and as my mother likes to say "brain washed". That situation definitely had religious expectations that were unrealistic and not biblical. Sometimes I think it is because I refused to be a divorced woman. And on sad days I think maybe I was just too isolated. I do know that no one ever spoke about what domestic violence was- ever. I knew from movies that men hurt women; from books, my travels and life that horrible things happen to people. Those things are a bit removed. But what if they are happening to you? What do you do then?

What I had to do to leave was horrible and hard. Knowing what I know now I would do almost everything differently. If this is you, call the national hotline and let them help you with a plan. Involve the police. Records are important. Take pictures. These are practical things that might help you. I am so sorry. It sounds so ugly to me too. If you need help I'm sure you will be hanging your head and wanting to ignore or find a way that this doesn't apply to you. But if you are being hurt it does apply. Don't be wishful. Please find a way to be Brave. You have my deepest sympathy and hope. 
-Abby