Saturday, November 30, 2013

The existence of words.

Hi. Thank you for coming to read my words. My hope is that there might be someone who understands in a greater way the prevalence of domestic violence or that someone might take on some shared courage and do what is difficult but right. Welcome to Brave. 

My intent with this blog is to share some of my story with each post in what I've titled my Dark Corner. I separate it from the rest so that those who don't want the details can still come and find courage too. The details of domestic violence are often disturbing- they certainly are for me. Today though I will not be showing you my Dark Corner. My Dark Corner today is invading the space of my life that I generally reserve for living. 
A counsellor once told me that I had an amazing ability to compartmentalize and cope with this in a very structured manner. I took that as a compliment. There is a time for tears and there is a time for living. My children certainly dictate a lot of when, where and how my dealing with things happen. My environment dictates that a lot as well. And after a year and nine months since the very last time I was hurt I feel that I've moved beyond most of the deep hurts. Beyond that I want to live- I want it very very much- for myself and my children I want LIFE! But here is when it gets tricky. "Abby, its time to die. Abby come home. Abby it is time for you to say goodbye. I will kill you today. The garden is ready." Those words invade from time to time. The evil creepy existence of those words come out of their compartment occasionally and they don't leave without a bit of a fight. I am convinced that our actions, our words and our lives don't die. Words don't disappear after we've said them. Time doesn't take the existence of our actions away. In the same way that I will forever remember that my mom loved seeing me come in the door after school I will forever remember being called to die. It makes me conscious of my actions. It makes me tremble at what I've known. It makes me careful with my children. What I do matters. What you do matters. The choices you make will not disappear. 
We are humans. We fail all the time. All the time. But what we do exists. I do believe that there is freedom. I do believe that people can move beyond the past. I do believe that the God that loves us also forgives us and covers our sins, trials and troubles. But that does not change our memory. I remember. My compartments work most of the time but there are days when they don't. I am not falling apart. I am not unable to continue or function. I am just simply sad. My Dark Corner is off limits to you today. 

In the US, everyday more than 3 women are murdered by their husbands or significant other. 
That is the only statistic I am going to share today. It means that today, in just the US-  more than three women died scared, alone and frightened. They died at the hands of someone they at one time loved and might have died loving. They were most likely thinking they were surviving- that if they could keep it under control they would be ok. That he would change. Oh the lies and secrets and insanity that is wrapped up in domestic violence is a list long enough to take 50 years to discuss. I didn't die. I am a statistic but thankfully not that one. 

If you are in a fearful situation- please listen for a moment more. Its better to not be in that situation. Life afterwards is not easy. In someways its harder. But its life and not death. Be Brave. Life is worth it. Living in truth is worth it. What has happened won't magically go away. But that is ok. You are ok. Be Brave. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Asking for help

Welcome. I'm very honored by your presence. My words may be small, my experience is just one in the millions. But I hope that you will be encouraged- as the magical thing about courage is that we share it! Welcome to Brave. 

My children ask for help. Ok, I might have to rephrase that- (small chuckle from me) my children beg, cry, yell, weep, whine, whisper, sing and speak their need for my help. With five of them 90% of my time is spent addressing these reminders that we live as a unit and we are unable to function on our own. Grownups can of course make it on their own- but I do believe probably 90% of the time they too are begging, crying, yelling, weeping and wailing for help of some kind. People were meant to live with each other. Meant to have help, meant to share this horrible and wonderful experience we call life. Today look at the people around you that you depend on- that you cry to, that you listen to, that you share brownies with, kisses with and those spectacular things we call hugs. Look at the people that you let into your own personal bubble, the people that know you when you are being really crabby, the people that know you can't cook well yet eat your version of ummm.... hot dogs for dinner again. See them and be filled with thanks. Be filled through what you see, what you hear and what you feel.

My Dark Corner is below. This is my personal experience with domestic violence and a life of threatening fear. I no longer live in that life. Read it to be aware. Read it to gain understanding. Read it to empathize with the millions that live it everyday. Read it to remind yourself that someone else's life may look ok but in their home it may not be. Read it to let me share my brave with you.

Dark Corner:
This was my deepest shame. 
I looked up. My eyes would not focus. The wind tunnel of anger was taking over the house. I was on the floor- my head or rather my hair in his hands. I could no longer keep my eyes open but I did know that was important. I had to stay awake. He is screaming about my death. I lay there thinking about whether feeling where my head was- was important. He.. is.. screaming... about... my... death... I opened my eyes really wide, very wide. My children were standing a few feet away all watching silently. He was screaming but no one else was making any noise. It was so quiet. I made my eyes focus for a minute and catch the eye of my oldest son. I whispered, "Please help." My head hit the floor one more time hard. And the wind tunnel moved away. My children still stood in their little line. One of my daughters came and handed me a handful of my hair. I brought myself to my knees, everything was reeling. My daughter and I picked up my hair. I had just asked my children for help. The thought of what might have happened if they had is overwhelmingly dark. I carried the deepest shame that I can imagine at the thought of... I cannot even now finish that sentence. I would handle the darkness- I never again would ask for help. I was alone. It was just too risky for the dream of help. 

To live without hope is death. I saw myself die a long time ago. I had ceased to function as a person, as a mother, as a partner- as anything. I was as detached as I could be. BUT there is hope. There is a new day. Someone shared courage with me, I will share that miraculous story soon, and life began again. There is new life! 
The US believes that nearly 55-95% of women that suffer physical abuse from a partner will never contact a non-government aid organization, shelter or the police. Domestic violence continues because of the silence. Nearly 10 million children worldwide see domestic violence annually. Domestic violence continues because of the silence. 

The bravest thing one can do is to hope. There is hope. Whether you are surviving, in the middle of some form of terror or whether your greatest trial is stretching your meager budget- there is hope. And on this amazing Thanksgiving day- be thankful for those whom you can ask for help from. Be Brave.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My eyes above the waves

Welcome. I give you a great loud, BRAVE, whispering and very real welcome to my blog. I am sincerely glad that you've stopped by today. 

Imagine with me being in the ocean, treading water, maybe there is land in sight and maybe there isn't. Cold, tired but without too many choices or maybe there is just an infinite number of directions to turn but all without clear hope of land.  But our eyes are above the waters. We are not drowning yet, not giving up and we are able to keep on for just another moment. 

Last Sunday in church we sang a song by Hillsong that had the lyrics "Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander And my faith will be made stronger." and then "Keep my eyes above the waters". I shed a couple of tears as I knew what these lyrics meant. And it is time to tell the world my story of barely making it, of drowning, of waking up day after day to an ocean that threatened my life and left me without a direction to go to for help. This world is full of tragedy, despair and darkness. BUT there is hope. It really doesn't last forever. There is a new day. Everyday I will share a little hope, a little courage and light here. Below, if you'd like to read more you will find the darkness that shows off this light. The stories you might find below will be uncensored and real. They are not pretty but they make my light all the more bright. It is due to the knowledge of death and being alone in fear that I have found my voice. My faith was born when I was a child, I didn't lose it but the darkness left me with deep wounds. Those wounds move me now to give voice to what Bravery entails. So welcome again to Brave. 

Dark Corner:
Bravery in the darkness has many faces. I am convinced now that most faces walking in bravery wear survival. I did. I couldn't see anything past getting through each night and hoping the next one wouldn't been like the one that was happening. And happening it was. His punch found the bottom of my rib cage and my expected and accurate response was to hit the floor like a dead weight. I had no air and got up to a kneel while gasping like a fish. Horrible dry air filled my mouth but nothing went in, nothing was happening. My brain felt scattered and frantic and then air. Peaceful air came, my mind settled just as his bike shoe landed on my back and then my upper thigh. OW, ow, ow and I scrambled out of the way. He was yelling at me for moving, for complaining, for not having dinner ready when he got home- but this all happened in the windy tunnel that would suck up his voice when it got scary. I don't think I could process the fear or maybe his anger that seemed so senseless. The windy tunnel allowed me to see the kids are watching, moving slowly and silently out of the way... good. I just needed to move quicker, not too quick to show too much fear, but quicker than the - ow- bike shoes so they wouldn't get my face. He took me head and put it to the wall- I thought about how that should have hurt. My glasses were no longer on. I was crying, he was yelling. But everything was far away, farther away. Then I found myself on the floor. He went downstairs. It was time to clean up and be good so maybe it wouldn't get worse later. My head hurt. My children had such blank eyes- that must be what my eyes are like. Dinner, I had to get dinner finished. Breathe and smile. Survived. That is ok, that was ok, it is ok- I told myself. Be ok or later will be worse. 

If you reached the end know this: Bravery is birthed when evil or harm presents itself. Bravery first may wear survival before moving on to courage. I wore survival for a long long time. The story you just read is nothing compared to how it was- as that was a very mild story and because nothing can share the fear of the death I knew would come one day.  Domestic violence is not new- it is as old as humanity. In the US it is thought that one in four women will suffer some form of domestic violence. But the one known fact regarding domestic violence is that most cases are never reported. My story of bravery comes out of this. Yours may be breast cancer, the death of a loved one, a truly horrible boss with unrealistic expectations or raising your children. No matter what you walk through we can all be brave. 
Be brave today- whether that is surviving or engaging. Be Brave.