April 7, 2012

Black Cadillac.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:26 pm by openendedcomment

I am a fighter.  Not physically, in fact, I’ve never hit another person in my life.  Ever.  I wouldn’t know what to do if the situation arose.  I am a fighter in that I will not allow myself or anyone I love to be hurt.  I won’t.  I literally can’t.  I’m writing this blog…this post of this blog…to attempt to explain why I feel the need to say something.  To speak up when I know someone is being hurt…to right wrongs.

I wasn’t always this way. Twelve years ago that all changed.   It took me this/that long to finally put the pieces together.  The reason I am the way I am.  I suppose to most this will seem obvious once the story is told but sometimes it is that which is closest to you which is the hardest to see.

Twelve years ago I was in an abusive marriage.

Most people don’t know about this.  I kept it quiet.  Not as much out of shame (at least not once it was over) but more so protect my daughter from knowing the truth of her biological father.  No child needs to  know such things.  Thanks to my mother-in-law telling my husband’s ex girlfriend all about it (follow that?)and her disregard for privacy and my children’s well-being, she now knows.  I had to tell her the truth a few months ago.  I was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  In doing so, though, I learned.

I married him when I was twenty-two.  He was thirty.  There were tulips everywhere and my family was happy.  There were no signs before-hand.  None.  No controlling behavior, no loud and angry outbursts.  Nothing.  I knew nothing.

It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that he changed.  My parents don’t even know the whole story.  No one but my husband does…the man I am married to now.  The man who I love.  It began with a few louder-than-normal arguments…some periods of wanting to know who I was with/when/why/for how long.  A grab of my wrist here; a pushing against a wall there.  Then one morning; he snapped.   He threw a glass at my head.  Iced caramel coffee.  I remember the scent and the taste of it as it splashed over me.  The feel of the glass as it hit my temple.  He lunged at me…he was so fast.  He was/is a big man and his quickness caught me off guard.  I was under him; pinned on a chair; his hands around my neck…his eyes were dark; like a shark.  Still.  I looked up into them as he squeezed…that was the last thing I saw.  I felt total fear.  I tried to call out my daughter’s name.  No noise came out…his hands were too strong.

I woke up.  The phones were all removed from the house.  I found one, packed in a box and I called my Mother to take my darling girl…so I could go to work.  Which I did.  Turtleneck on and marks hidden.  I denied the severity.  I couldn’t deal with it.  Not then.  Mom didn’t know the whole story.  Not at first.

He didn’t come back for a week.  Florida, with friends.  I said it was a business trip.

He called and he wrote letters.  I forgave him.  I let him come back.  I didn’t want to divorce; I didn’t want to believe that was really him…I didn’t want to raise my daughter alone…I was afraid of so very much.

For a month, he was good.  We were good.  We even talked about it.  I thought we could move past it…that it wasn’t who he really was.  I even told him about the shark thing, how I had felt when I looked at him.  He apologized so well.  So very, very well.  He cried.  He held me.  He vowed to never hurt me again.  I was so damned naiive.  It started again.  A few more times; not as bad.  That is what I will never forgive myself for.  The times that followed.  For being too weak.  I will never be OK with that.  I wasn’t strong enough to fight.

The last time…the last time there were scissors.   My Mother knew.  She called the police.  I cooperated.  I wanted to.  I wanted someone to stand up for me.  I didn’t know how to do it for myself.  Me, the woman who could and did stand up for causes and friends and life…I couldn’t do it for myself.  He went to jail.  I tried to get him out afer a few weeks…not to be back with me…but to be out of there.  I still don’t know why.  I still wasn’t ready to fight. I still wasn’t capable.  I divorced him.  After much reflection and many long conversations with my priest, I served him papers.  Yes, I know.  How was that even a discussion?  How after the first time was this not obvious?  Intellectually I know and knew all of this…but I just wasn’t capable.  I don’t know how else to explain it.

He didn’t show up to the hearing.  He sent me emails.  From an account named MinnesotaShark@  He broke into my car.  He left a tulip.   I said nothing.  I wanted it to end.  I needed it to end.  He moved on.  He remarried.  He hasn’t seen my daughter in a decade. I got stronger. I am free.  Almost.

Today, I am more than capable.  Since that time my sensitivity to the people I love being victimized in any way is hyper-aware.  I am always ready and willing and compelled to ensure that those I love are never, ever hurt.  Vigilant.  I am vigilant about this.

I am also less forgiving of other “victims”,  of people who either a) have been hurt and will not/can not get over it or b) the worst: people who lie about being hurt.  On the first group, I realize this isn’t “right”.  I do understand that not everyone can move on.  I also understand, better than most, that moving on is necessary.  That to remain a victim is to remain weak.  I will not be weak.  I do not understand nor do I tolerate that kind of weakness.  Not a decade later.  Get. Over. It.  Get over what happened, deal with the reality of it, find a way to cope and move through it.  You have to.  Just like you have to wake up every day.  Life is hard.  Living strong is hard…wallowing in your own self-pity is easy.  I don’t like people who take the easy way out.  It’ll always be there…that goes without saying…it’s ok to be sad or to feel scared sometimes…but it doesn’t have to be who you are.  On the second group, the ones that lie about abuse: horrible.  Terrible.  Pathetic.  ‘Nuff said.

And with all of that being said… I get it now.  I get why I can’t stand idly by and not help.  Not speak up.  I can’t forgive myself for not doing it before…and I will spend my life ensuring that I never, ever feel that way again…like I should have said something.  I should have been strong.  I should have been braver.  Louder.  Like I needed to fight.  For myself.  For her . I will never let us down again.  This can make my life difficult at times.  At times I pipe up when perhaps the smart thing to do is remain quiet.  But I’ve learned a lesson that not everyone else has…that to stay quiet in the face of danger, be it physical or emotional, is the most dangerous thing of all.

I almost died. It took me close to ten years to be able to admit that.  How close it was.  How close he came.  I spent many years acting like it was no big deal.  I had to face the reality when I re-read the police report.  How do you block something like that out?  The human mind is amazing.   I was six inches of blade from leaving my daughter without a Mother.  I see that moment still.  We don’t have scissors like that in our home.  We never will.  I have a physical reaction to them.  To caramel lattes.  To black Cadillacs and to hands anywhere near my neck.  It pisses me off that I do…I hide it and try to ignore it…but it’s there.  I’m afraid it always will be.   I don’t want that for them.  I will do anything and everything in my power to keep them…all five of them…from ever knowing anything even close to it.  It is my job.  It is who I am.  Who I have become.

I am strong.  I am protective.  I will never let it touch them.  And now I know why.

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