Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Treasures and My Friend

As of late I've been toying and rolling around with the idea of a life lived privately. It is attractive to me and yet still ambiguous. How do I hold deep inside me that which is now beautiful and free and good- for just me? I question if I've forgotten how to hold moments and truths inside. I know  bad was stamped, marked and remains like scars. But does the good? The small place where Abigail resides within me, in that place have I forgotten how to have for myself? In the same ways that the evil I have seen would haunt me from those hidden places wouldn't good arise if I hid it as well? I'm turning this idea over still as I write. In now living with the option to have no lies, no secrets I question my quickness to have no secrets. Might I find a place for my own safe and beautiful treasures? A private life and yet a life lived for a purpose-  I wasn't at first sure that both of these could exist.  I write this blog that spills more than my guts sometimes and yet I know I've begun already to craft a place for myself. My conclusion is that the loving care of oneself will look different for each person. That the private people don't have a better viewpoint than I- but I will borrow some of that truth to foster this private, gentle and beautiful place with cherished pieces of myself, with truth, with moments. As if to decorate my insides, to hang art and colors and tapestries on the walls. Maybe it is here that my granola side will shine, that my love of diamonds and pastel pink puffy dresses will adorn my heart. I MIGHT just hang a turkish lamp at the entrance to my heart- someday it might greet someone that I'll let see it or maybe it will just remind me that I belong to no one. But that is my Brave secret....

Dark Corner
You don't need anyone but me- he said. We again were having a "conversation" regarding my want of a friend. My secret prayer remained for a friend. Two years before I left him this prayer was answered much to his chagrin. Allowed only if it was for running purposes- I loved, loved feeling less alone. He made sure I knew she wasn't really my friend, that she would never be my friend, that I was just convenient to run with.... I ignored most of these comments although the words still found their twisty dirty ways inside me. Running was enforced so I ran. I grew to love it- I felt free if I forgot what would happen when I got home, I felt free if I wasn't hurting because of bruising on my legs. I felt free if I ignored the feigned proud demeanor I put on so as to not give hint to what was my life. Too much at stake for that, too much at stake for truth- since his truth wasn't truth. I wore pants to hide the bruises, I wore long sleeves in the summer when I was really hot. I envied and despised and loved her company. I started to believe his lies since I found it so hard to have company and yet not be real. It hurt. His words hurt. His lies changed my behaviors and I knew that- I could see that. Was I crazy? What was happening to me? Why couldn't I find my own voice, my own thoughts, my own self? I wondered these things constantly, from inside, from my subservient self that hung my head. 

Abuse is damaging. All abuse is damaging be it physical, emotional or verbal. Be Brave. You have worth, you have a life that can be lived. 

If you are being hurt or abused in any way get help! It is not enough to simply wish, to think that others will see the clues you try to leave or to think you can just get by. You will need support and it is there- please just ask! There are counselors, attorneys, survivors and friends that wait for you. You can do this, be Brave. 
- Abby

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sincerely, Surviving with Tears

My TV has decided not to play sound from my DVD player. I have checked every setting, I have reset the TV and reprogramed the DVD player. I took the DVD player back and was given a new one... I have been working on this for over a week and I hate, wait did you catch that word?, HATE, really truly hate messing with electronics. I've felt like a small child stomping my feet, balling up my fists and scrunching up my face into contortions that I'm sure will leave unsightly wrinkles... WHY WON'T IT JUST WORK? (This is a plea for help as well, if you can fix my tv please contact me asap!!!!) This however feels like the saga, yes I am far from having a story, of my life. Why? Won't? Anything? Work? And while I probably did overdue it on the question marks- my question is beyond frustrating. No area of my life seems untouched by chaos- I mean, well quite possibly that is just my little kids. But there are days where all fails. Where I cannot complete one load of laundry, where I don't get dinner made and we eat my "fail" meal of hotdogs, where I am simply in a state of frustration about everything. Even writing this I can feel the build up of stress in my shoulders, the familiar grimace returning to my face (boo- all you wrinkles!!!) and the way it shortens my breaths. Sweet Jesus, why? The spiral quickly becomes why me, why this, why why why why? And my soul feels the pull of the negativity and despair. My logical side kicks in and I evaluate: have I eaten, have I had at least 3 hours of sleep, have I had chocolate today, have I smiled recently, AM I BREATHING? See- we were created to survive. I will survive my tv troubles. I will survive my messy, noisy, chaos inducing children. I know this because I've survived far far far worse. I will breathe and then, as now, step back, handle the yelling children or washing machine that is making the grinding noise. My blessed TV is quiet.... We all were created to be Brave, to survive - not just traumatic circumstances but our lives. 

Dark Corner
The year my youngest son turned two was by far the worst winter I can remember. Far too many nights I was cold. Far too many times the kids were in danger of the cold and anger. Well, .............. Ah. I was going to share a story with you about how he threw a magnetic shapes ball at me from just two feet away, how it broke open into all the pieces as it hit my cheek bone, how it hurt but more that it wounded me so deeply as I was holding a kid in my arms. I didn't move for fear it would hit them. And when he yelled at me I cowered, how he kicked and.... I was going to tell all of that and a bit more- in a very readable way. But the actual memory has flooded my heart and I'm stuck. Stuck in place with my memory, with my hurt out in the open air.  To be hurt in front of your children is the very worst. I cannot find a way to explain that shame and fear. Every "bad mother" feeling in the world rushes in as you cower on the floor and you can't grasp how they can watch, how he could not care about the feelings and power that violence carries with it. Being hurt physically by someone else is shattering, being hurt and shattered in front of your children is devastating. The harm is far worse than what the body sustains. Sometimes the open air to a hurtful memory stings, sometimes it lets it heal and sometimes it just brings me tears. I'm not sure what this is today but I'll let it sit. Maybe I will finish this story another time.

Whether you have tears for today, a celebration or a challenge- there is always room to be Brave. Say words of truth, cuddle and kiss those you love, chose what is best to your best ability and survive! 
If you are being hurt- oh please get help! Hear my story or saga and know you too can live. You too can get help! One of the hardest things is admitting you need help- but if you are being hurt you do need help. Let someone in, let someone help you to plan, to prepare and be safe! 
Sincerely, though today with tears, abby

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sunsets, sleep and being normal!

I have been searching for the words to explain what I have seen this week. I write and then rewrite and then rewrite because I can't find them. Over and over they have slipped away or felt so much less than what I've seen. This happens when I take a picture of a spectacular sunset, one that has taken my breath away with the vast expanse and explosion of color, and then I see the picture and the let down of expectations is a weight. I almost never take pictures of sunsets as I cannot capture what I see, I cannot make the copy as good as what is before me. My words this week have felt like that. And so I'm going to borrow some words! Words we all know, so you can sing them if you'd like. 
"I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom, for me and you, And I think to myself, What a wonderful world. I see skies of blue, and clouds of white. The bright blessed day. The dark sacred night. And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.  The colors of the rainbow, So pretty in the sky. Are also on the faces, Of people going by. I see friends shaking hands, Saying, "How do you do?" They are really saying ,"I love you." I hear babies cry, I watch them grow. They'll learn much more, than I'll ever know. And I think to myself, What a wonderful world." Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. Today, be Brave! Our world is so wonderful, so rich and full. No matter what we have or don't have we all share the amazing potential for love, the sunsets and the skies. In this world made for us, be Brave! 

Dark Corner
My head hurt, mostly from the lack of sleep I'd had the night before- the quiet pain I generally carried of a husband who gained a lot of control through keeping me from sleeping. But the new dent in the wall at the bottom of the stairs had also occurred that evening- a dent that later I would grow to despise as I had to see it every time I came downstairs- a constant reminder of what he seemed to enjoy. It was really cold. There was cushions from a porch swing and a tarp and an old blanket in the shed- I made a bed. At three am I woke up, I remember this really clearly as I was cold and wondering if the doors were still locked. I would have to get up for work in a few hours.... I turned over on my makeshift bed- my knees touching the wood of the shed floor. I sighed, letting out all my air. No, I wouldn't move. My head ached, I didn't want to go inside. I wanted... well I wanted nothing. I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to not be angry and to not be so sure of my sin. I wanted him to not think everyone in the world was evil except himself. I wanted him to quit lying. But more than anything I wanted to quit hurting. I was so tired of hurting.

Understanding Domestic Violence
In the kindest, softest way another person this week spoke the oh-so-familiar words, "Wow, but you are so normal." Domestic violence does not just cater to drug users, alcoholics or the poor. My ex husband preferred to do all his damage sober, clear headed and purposefully. To become an abused it is really simple. You have to believe a lie from someone that seeks control. The lie is that one person causes the other person to hurt them. Abusers first and foremost convince their significant others that what they do is "because" of the other person. The truth is that you do not chose another person's actions for them. You might read that again, The truth is that you do not chose another person's actions for them. You therefore are not responsible for or at fault for harm another person causes.
If you are being hurt be strong. Be BRAVE. And get help! This world is wonderful. Be Brave and you will see there really are bright blessed days and dark sacred nights. 
- Abby

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lions and Bears Oh My!

This seems to be the outpour of myself looking at a bigger picture. My past is disturbing but it appears that our world is at a climax.... Its as if we are close to an epiphany after which the world will end. I am so very irritated with the people that seems to sit in complacency- and yes that is myself and yes, we all know the world is ending. Yes, we all know that people are suffering from the effects of wars, famine and violence- oh and of course over-eating and not taking care of our bodies.... Yes, we all know that the lions are going to die out- just like polar bears and all the sea life.... But Jesus is coming, the world wasn't created to last forever, of course its bound to happen. But were we supposed to ruin it? Are we going to get to live with the consequences of this planet that is hurting before He comes back? A friend of mine has been posting some very thought provoking articles lately, my favorite being this. After I read this I simply wanted to shake someone. WHAT DO I DO THEN? But that is the eternal question. What do we do? I know how to end domestic violence- awareness and training for people on how to be brave, moral and to have boundaries. This would end it. Women (and men and children) would or could stand up and say NO. And they wouldn't be silent and it would end. But if our planet's distress increases its possible that none of that will matter. If the lions all die and there are no plants left and I am surrounded by a desert with no food then.... Well Bravery will matter but my survival skills might matter even more. 
My children and I held a discussion last night. What do we do if our world becomes a desert and there is no food or water. My eight year old son said, "Mom, we will save enough water now- do you want us to get in the car?" Insinuating that we go to the store to buy water to keep in our garage.... My six year old daughter said, "No, lets move to the Norway mountains and keep Lena's sheep." Hmmmm.... but Norway and the Arctic cannot support all the people that will attempt to get there... My five year old son said, "I'm a ninja." to which my eight year old added, "Oh, teach us to shoot guns!!!" (I'm leaving out my youngest daughters because their comments were scattered regarding dessert not deserts and princess castles!) But is that the answer? Am I too going to become a doomsday prep-er? How do I protect what is mine- because I'm sorry in the big scheme of things my children would have very short lives if it was up to just myself- I actually, (oh the Alaskan in me is dying of shame) don't know how to start a fire without a lighter and while I'm pretty good with my .38 I do not want to kill game in Houston with it .... (that is a joke- no big game in Houston...) And so I'm left with this. Be Brave, I'm sure what that means today, not sure what that will mean tomorrow. But I know for certain my children and I will face the future with eyes open and for God's sake if there is a way to further our future we sure will. Living a long Brave life is actually something I want for my kids.

Dark Corner
Violence happens. Stories of violence are full and long with elicit details of death and harm to people. I remember one night being strangled. It was particularly scary and humiliating and ...well it was terrifying as I thought that time might be the last time. His accusation was that I was complaining in my heart  while... well we were in bed. My children were conceived not in love but in misery, hurt and pain. This is the first time I have put these words outside of where they have hidden, and I won't probably ever have need to say them again. I put them out for a reason today though: there are too many that know of pain like this- but our pain, though great is but a drop in the bucket. Humanity cries with the atrocities that we commit against ourselves. As horrible as I know were the actions against myself it is certainly not the worst humanity has inflicted upon another person.

Two more thoughts. One: WHAT DO I DO THEN? I cannot save the world. I can only be Brave and share courage. If you are being hurt make it stop by saying no. Do that by getting out any way you can. There is no wrong way to leave an abuser, the best is to put them behind bars, but any way you can preserve your life and leave them is good. 
Two: WHAT DO I DO THEN? I cannot save the world. I cannot replant forests or provide new ice for the polar bears. What difference can I make in this world that is already dying and from the looks of things going to get pretty ugly before my kids are all out of high school? Well, I answered the first question- what are your thoughts on the second?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tumbled Fears

The hidden fears that tumble out are like perfectly polished stones. They are the fears that we tumble inside ourselves until they are almost pretty, we've spent so much time swirling them around within us that we cannot see them any other way. And then we get real and plop, plop, dump and thump.... crumble. I am so alone. What am I going to do? Where should I go? They are going to hurt me. No one is going to accept me. I will not make it. I cannot do this job. My children are eating me alive and soon there will be nothing left. I am not happy. What if they know? This string of fears are ones that tumble from time to time out of my mouth. I am always shocked at their presence. I am brave after all. Heehee. We hide our fears from ourselves in the same way we apply makeup to our most gorgeous faces everyday. Its just to make us prettier, right? But our fears come tumbling out. Well, mine do anyways. I am so perfectly bad at keeping secrets anymore, everything seems to tumble out. And I just have to laugh at myself sometimes. My dedication to not having secrets is one I encourage but I do so wish I wouldn't sound so crazy when my fears or worries or over-anylyzing comes out. Thankfully there are people around me that don't seem to mind it. Now, they may laugh at me when I'm not in the room but overall, I think most people appreciate honesty. We all identify with weakness- because we all know it. We share the greatest feelings of connections when we are weak, in need, open and very real. Kind of odd, since we go through so much effort to hide our pain, fears, sadness, anger and the emotions that are all so unwelcome. Maybe its time to just feel my feelings and then get on with this big Brave life! (after all, a quick cry doesn't take much time and there is so much to do!) 

Dark Corner
I was fearful of the man I had chosen to love, that I assumed would love me. I had found out early on that resistance only brought an enormous amount of pain along with days of being poked and reminded of my lack of submission and so I adopted, as you would a child, the action of cowering. Except I was the child that I curled myself around. I closed myself off around myself, closed my eyes when objects or arms, legs, feet and hands came flying at me, I thought this was protecting myself. The fetal position is not one I had to learn in a yoga class but one that I instinctually found myself in so often. A look from him and I would shut down. My brain literally ceasing to think thoughts- it was simply all about how to keep breathing. Fear caused a cease of movement in me. Unable to fathom what was happening, why it was happening and who was causing it. My beloved hated me enough to harm me. That alone was my opening knowledge that led to my shut down, my refusal to comprehend or acknowledge what was happening. Frozen in a place that to my ears was the most shameful, sad and despised location. Like a mime in a box actually- I couldn't get out. Though literally I most likely could have most days- running away was always an option but not one I was able to see. I couldn't comprehend how to hide, how I would have to be alone and hope for someone to help me. Fear and the deepest of hurt created a standstill of enormous magnitude, eight years in length. 

When I tumble fears I damage my insides. I have greater scars from the fear and hurts I held inside myself than I do from what physically happened to me. We are not built to tumble stones. A friend of mine put this quote up on Facebook today. It made me remember what fear looks like. It made me remember that I looked in his face one day in court and had no fear, instead I didn't look away. For why should I? "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, '...I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt
You can do this. Whatever it is that causes you to be fearful, you can be Brave. If you are being hurt, be Brave and smart. Make a plan. Get help. You were never meant to live in fear. Today be Brave.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Little Foxy

Welcome! Brave is a wild true reflection of myself and my thoughts. I share my experiences with domestic violence to encourage and make aware.  Be Brave- this is a brave and marvelous life. And so in honor of feeling amazing in this new year- and because one of my favorite animals is a fox.... 

The movie Fantastic Mr. Fox, which is rather loosely based on the Roald Dahl book, is a pretty amazing movie. It features Mr. Fox who wants to better his life for his family and instead ends up endangering them and all the other animals. Mr. Fox has a trademark whistle and clicking noise he makes in the movie. His whistle is a very real and clear representation of himself. It gains attention, gives one the feeling that you need to smile and shake your head, and keeps Mr. Fox from fading in your memory. And that IS Mr. Fox. He IS fantastic. We as people spend a large part of our life finding out 'who' we are. We try to balance ourselves, love ourselves, get to know ourselves. But Mr. Fox has me wondering. Mr. Fox just is. Kind of like the I AM. (no- Mr. Fox is not the equivalent to God) But aren't we all just as we are. The hats I've worn or wear are just that- hats. We all know the feeling and imagery of wearing hats. But they don't make us different. Thus I still feel the same as when I was twelve, or six. I am. I am now just the same as when I was born and most likely just the same as when I will die. My thinking and attitudes may change, my heart can change, my clothing, loyalties, friends, spouse can all change but who I am is still the same. I think that is the essence that we are created like God. And this intrigues me. So my little, probably not completely correct, thought today is that I can breathe in being...just being me. I don't have to figure all of me out. I am the same person, changed, challenged and sleepy- but still Abigail here. My soul that is reflected in my actions. My soul that sings, speaks and whisltes (though not a trademark whistle, sadly- as that is pretty cool!). My friends, lets all just be. I can be Brave there. I can be anything there, cause that is me.

Dark Corner
His name calling grated on my insides with the equivalent pain that was in my head from it being hit repeatedly with his knuckles. My left temple throbbed and was shooting pain down my neck as we drove down the highway. A whore, a disgrace, a complaining lazy person, a disgusting human that didn't deserve to live.... and it went on and on with colorful and sadly not creative language. My head hurt, my eyes longed to just close. He turned the car around and pulled to the side. He told me to get out of the car. I became very scared- I had on a long black down coat- not reflective at all and it was very dark and icy and... He got out, came around to my side of the car, pulled me out and shoved me. It was then I realized it was a bit of a drop into the ditch... I fell backwards, down and down and into the dry cold arms of a dead spruce tree. Detangling myself from the tree I crawled out. He was gone already. The car taillights indistinguishable within the traffic. Shaking but not crying. It was too cold, too icy to not pay attention as traffic whizzed by me. I started walking, my attention I gave to my feet... Just keep moving, just keep moving. He came back for me after awhile. Furthering the humiliation before the kids. Marking what belonged to him with his hands. 

Domestic violence slipped into my life under the guise of ownership. I was owned. Who I was didn't matter, because he owned me. This is a lie. Ownership of another human being is simply cowardice- a lie to protect, deceive and hide who the abuser is. If you are in a similar situation and being "owned", don't believe that lie. If you are being hurt and the situation is completely different, still don't believe lies. Get help. Your life has value. Be Brave. Be Brave today.

There is lots of help available. Churches, aid organizations, the US National Hotline for Domestic Violence. Please, please see your value, see your life- it is yours! Be Brave!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Feathers and Prayers

"You could NOT knock me over with a feather." Susan Zanner
There is so much bravery in our world. We are an amazing people. So often we look at all the horrible things on TV. I actually tend to just shy away from most media updates as it is either gloomy or depressing. So much evil in our world. But considering that this world is the devil's domain I wonder why I'm surprised. Why am I surprised that evil found my life and made a big mess? Why are we shocked to hear about wars, poverty or starvation?  It isn't as if we live in Heaven. We could rid the world of poverty, starvation and probably all the hurts and sicknesses there are. I'm convinced there are cures for diseases as readily as there is enough oil underground and food for everyone to eat- however, money drives this ship. But- again this is a world that has a ruler. That hasn't changed. 

The evil that I'm reminded of every time the weather changes and my right side aches from old injuries, the evil that changed my son's perspective on being safe so that he has to remind me nightly that he can be a ninja if I need him to... just in case someone bad comes- that evil affects all of us. Evil keeps us distracted from doing good with lies about our bodies, lies about what will happen if we tell the truth always, lies about what other people think of us and lies about our importance. Those are just lies. Bravery means doing the right thing. Bravery means being true to yourself and true to God. Lies are shady, slippery and keep us from our goal. They keep us from standing up. They are the disgusting mess that brings harm to people and fosters fear. 

However, they are but a feather. I know God was there. I know God hated what was happening to me. I felt a few times his very face turn from me and I thought I had been left. I thought that that meant my ex husband was correct in his lies. The truth is that God was there, God turned his face and allowed what he did. He did not save me then. I asked. I believed and trusted for a long time. And then I despaired for a long time. And then I waited some more. In that last season of waiting I woke up and knew it was time for me to move. Why then, I don't know. My first thought is always my children. I protect them now with everything I have as I believe there is a reason for their being. But all children have a reason for being. God GIVES us each one. We all have a part to play. I have a part to play.

So with my rambling of strength today, be Brave. Be Strong. It isn't so much that life is all about what you can find to enjoy. But rather you have a part to play. This is not our world. God masterfully created it with so much beauty and comfort and amazing things- so that we might find and look to Him! In this battle of good and evil I know what will win. But even so, may I gracefully and purposefully add in my strength. The Bravery that we are capable of is immense. That strength is the only fear outside of Heaven that evil has. And I get to be part of that (Can you hear my war cry? Can you feel the strength of passion here? Can you see this is not a place of just words?). Make this world a better place, be Brave, be strong and be amazing. Evil in our world is but a feather when we are sustained by the strength of God. 
(It just felt more like a prayer today and certainly spurred on by the bravery I saw today in a very strong lady fighting a very real battle)

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Race of the Rabbit and the Comfort of My Hat

Hello. Welcome to Brave. I write to help remember how important it is to have courage and to share courage. I write to put a voice to domestic violence. Domestic violence is ugly, there is no part of it that is attractive or that can withstand the scrutiny of truth. And so this is my attempt to help break the silence that holds so many. 

There is so much to do! I often feel like the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. Thankfully bedtime for my children comes everyday. Lullabies. The sweetness of cuddling, the softness of kisses for my children, singing them to sleep.... Fostering the sweetness and joy of getting snuggly and comfortable. Comfort. We crave this. Thus chocolate, puffy sweatshirts, down pillows, leg warmers, coffee (with lots of cream and sugar), soft blankets, warm food, holding hands, loving smiles all exist to comfort our soul. Where is your comfort? In a beatuful chapel, or just a folding chair before a good God? Sitting outside on a beach, feet half buried in the sand, hair wild and carefree, skin warm with sunshine? Thick sweaters, wool socks, hot cocoa and a plate of cookies, a fire in the fireplace and a shoulder to lean into? Mine rests with the little hands that pull my head closer so they can kiss my cheeks every night. And then breakfast burritos, my purple hat, flip flops and trees! Oh yes, I hold to finding comfort. There is so much that is harsh; our emotions are so wild, our circumstances and futures unsure, our relationships complicated. Breathe. Take comfort and then stand up to do and be Brave again!

Dark Corner
I saw my sillouete in the snow just feet away from where I was headed. The snow crushed into my face again. It was dry out, the snow was not new, it was neither light nor fluffy; but cutting and sharp. My face burned, my shoulders would shake but I could not move them being fully weighed down. My hands flailed.... the hole where my hands moved snow did me no good but I struggled anyway, unable to breathe as the snow crowded into my nose and mouth. I let my body stop fighting. I half wondered if that would make him stop. I had no air and I saw lights in the snow though I knew they weren't real. He moved off of me. I raised my head up an inch, drawing in a measured breath. It was not as measured and silent as I attempted. My gasp caused him to turn at the door. He growled at me not to move, went inside locking the door. I had little care for his threat- my body had to get up. The snow had started to cut into my skin. My arms and legs burned. I stood. Later he went to bed, unlocking the door as he went past. Entering I let my body adjust and slowly quit shaking. I stood there hoping he would be asleep when I reached the bedroom, knowing if I didn't go in he would likely come looking for me considering that to be disrespectful. I took a blanket from the hallway closet and curled up on the floor in the bedroom. He wasn't asleep. 

I see the sharp contrast in my thoughts on comfort and the fear and control in the Dark Corner. Two drastically different lives. One full of life and love, the other was death. Having lived both I am passionate about two things (well actually lots of things but....) One is that people are people and have the right to make choices. Our choices do not have to be right they just have to be our own. Secondly is that life is meant to be full of joy. My life is not easy now- but it is overflowing with joy, comfort and love. I look for these things, I seek them out- I find new parks and places to enjoy with my children, I snuggle before bed with my children, I find solace in my place of worship and wear my purple hat as often as temperatures allow. 

There are so many people that live without fundamental human rights. I don't think I will ever say it enough to myself and everyone that will listen: Be Brave! Your life is worth living. Find a way to get help if you are being hurt or controlled. No one has the right to take away who you are. Be Brave!


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.