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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April 6, 2012

Love and Marriage.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 11:08 pm by openendedcomment

For some reason whenever I think of a wedding, despite the many, many I have attended in all of their varied loveliness, the first thing that comes to mind is the scene in “The Princess Bride” when the priest is speaking of “Wove…trew wove”

I can’t help it.  Maybe that speaks to some deep-rooted issue with my psyche preventing me from taking the whole ceremony seriously.  I don’t know.  If there are any psychologists reading this; feel free to chime in.  Or not.  I’m actually kind of afraid of the answer.

Now marriage; marriage I take seriously.  Weddings not so much.  Weddings aren’t a marriage and weddings don’t really mean (to me) all that people expect/hype/pay for them to mean.  Marriage, on the other hand,  means everything.  Marriage means faith.  Not in God (though that’s good, too) but in each other.  The kind of faith that only comes through intense, intimate trust born from that love…true love…that as insanely school-girlish as this may sound, to me, is magic. Real magic regardless of the science heavy beliefs I hold…I know it is magic.  How else do you explain couples being together, in love, for sixty years?  How do you explain the ability to feel each other’s thoughts and to, after a time, feel the joy and the pain that your spouse is feeling?  Not to simply empathize or to sympathize…but feel it?  There is no scientific explanation for this…it is spiritual.  It is freeing.  It is the most powerful thing in the world.

And some assholes think it can be stopped…and here’s where I get up on my big ‘ol soap-box

These same assholes think that their love is somehow different or more deserving than the love that others share.  Now, how can that be?  I ask you…in all seriousness…how can that be?  How is it that love between a man of one color and a woman of another is lesser than the love of a couple that share the same heritage?  How is that right or even sane?  Why should a couple that looks perhaps a bit different from your wedding picture or my wedding picture be told that because they don’t look the same…they shouldn’t be allowed to experience the deepest and truest commitment known to human-kind?

At this point I’m sure you think I have lost my marbles and have forgotten that it is 2012, not 1912.  I haven’t.  Mostly.  In some countries this is still illegal.  In some countries women aren’t allowed to choose who they may or not marry.  Sound ridiculous?  Disgusting?  Immoral?  Of course it is.  Outraged?  Of course you are. That doesn’t happen in America.  Anymore.

BUT…here, in the good ol’ USA, where we are evolved enough in our social consciousness to decry this racial and sexist degradation as something we won’t tolerate…here…where those of you reading this are disgusted at the thought of it being illegal for an inter-racial couple to marry…here…we are doing the same damn thing.

It’s OK for a same-sex couple to have a joining ceremony.  They can have the wedding…but oh, no, they may not have a marriage.  It’s allowed to have a legal partnership with contracts and powers of attorney and even joint property…but marriage?  No, that is reserved for a special group.  A group that decides for the rest of the population who they may and may not marry. Re-read that last sentence.  We are deciding who other people may and may not spend their lives with.  How in the Hell is that OK?  How in the Hell is that even legal?  Newsflash:  it isn’t.

Church and state, in the US, are separate.  If a religion does not want to recognize or approve of same-sex marriage that is their prerogative and the government can’t make them do it.  FINE.  That is fine and that is legal.  I am divorced.  The Catholic church said that I couldn’t marry my husband (the man I adore and will love till the day I die) in the Catholic church because of this.  Now, if I had been willing to annul my marriage to my ex-husband (henceforth to be refered to as douchebag…another story…trust me, that moniker is me being nice…but I digress)  IF I had been willing to do that, then I could have married my husband in a Catholic church.  But I didn’t and I wasn’t.  Never mind that my Priest is the one who told me to get out of the offending marriage…but whatever.  We can discuss the hypocrisy of my religion another day.  Point is that my perfectly gorgeous wedding on a river performed by a judge in front of our family and friends was and is legal in every state in the US and in every country in the world.  Except maybe the Vatican.  Not sure what the rules are with that.

So…follow me here.  MY marriage, which my own religion chooses not to acknowledge as it offends their doctrine, is legal.  I am legally married because my husband and I are two consenting adults who decided to enter into a legal contract.  I am not married in the eyes of the Catholic church because they don’t agree with my decisions.  The state of Minnesota and the Country of the United States of America don’t care or even know that a religious group doesn’t approve…because church and state are separate.

So…with laws being laws and religion being religion…what in the fu*k is all the fuss about with same-sex marriage?

Why on earth is this an issue for any other loving couple in this or any other state?  Why is it that when many, many states had laws on the books preventing inter-racial marriage the rest of the country stood up and said that we would not tolerate bigotry but the federal government is doing nothing about this egregious offense to not only the moral conscience of many but to the damned constitution?

Another Newsflash (I’m big on those):  You can’t stop love.  You can illegalize it, decry it and even demoralize…but you can’t stop love.  Let me repeat that.  You. Can’t. Stop. Love. You can’t “decide” not to love someone.  You can’t tell me or anyone else on this planet that they can’t love someone.  You may ask them not to…but you can’t actually stop it.

Love is magical.  Like rainbows.  And sunsets.  And Faith.  And God.  At least the God I know.  You can’t see Him…but you know he’s there.  You can’t feel it…but it doesn’t make it any less real…love and faith…you just feel it.  You just know.  It just is.  And no different from every failed attempt in human history to legislate faith…each and every attempt to legislate love will also fail.  Preferably sooner rather than later.

On a purely practical note, while I’m not a huge fan of wedding ceremonies but rather of the marriages that follow (most of them anyway)…I AM a huge fan of bettering the economy. Practically speaking, what better for the economy than a few hundred thousand same-sex couples getting hitched?  I mean, have you ever been to a party thrown by a gay couple?  Much less a gay wedding?  Let me just tell you, they know how to throw a party…we’re talking serious economic stimulus in the wedding business.  Liza (and every good Liza impersonator) would be booked for life.  Epic run on orchids and fine bourban…and mad-men-esque tuxedos.  Swoon.

But back on track and seriously, people…

At no time in the history of our country have we been better for holding back progress…or faith…or especially love.  At no time has history shown those that have held this back as the victors…they have been the despots…the evil-doers…the ones we look back on in shame.  There is no shame in love…there is no shame in allowing love…there is no shame in your beliefs, the beliefs of a Mormon, a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew or in mine…the shame lies only in imposing them on others.

PS…CW , ML & TB…this one’s for you…love.