I started this blog for my poetry…my first post was a poem I wrote sitting in a coffee shop. A blog for me. I want it to be that again for me. But also for those who need it.
A few years ago it became dedicated to my struggles during my attempts to keep my family together in the ideal nuclear heteropatriarchal (which means simply straight & male dominated) confines while my husbands abuse impacted our then 9 year old. I fought hard to do things my way even within those restraints of family meaning, mother, father, children, house, pets. I wanted those things so badly I gave up so much of myself to fight for them.
Last year January 7, 2017 I left, behind my house, my husband, my dream family. I left, taking my kids to safety provided from loving and supportive family and friends, to a place that wasn’t our house but was our home, filled with love and beginnings. After years of abuse, which most complicatingly was not always malicious or even intentional but was always, always harmful, leaving in that moment was the most right and natural thing to do.
For almost 13 years I stayed, there are of course memories that creep in now of times I almost left, so many as I remember are others I know I have forgotten. My memory is hidden under the warm comfort of a blanket hiding from me the things I had to put away just to survive, the violence, the soul crushing disregard, the confusion of being both free in ways I had never been and trapped, again.
Domestic violence, mental health, child abuse, physical discipline, love, relationships, boundaries, hopes, dreams, connection, spiraling and spinning. In a society that tells victims to leave and not those committing the violence. In a society that blames victims for their choices and not those choosing to harm. Being willing, like so many before me, to sacrifice myself, deny myself, over and over, as if ever it were my sacrifice that was needed, created a place where leaving always seemed not something I could do. Until that day, January 4, 2017 it was.
Recounting the violence, always too seems to be a thing that victims are required to do. Not to heal, to have people ease the bruises, both visible and unseen, but to be poked at and used as an example of what not to do, ways not to allow it, not to deserve it. My story became a silence, I stopped listening to music or NPR in the car, I stopped having noise to distract me, I started to listen to myself.
There are so many intertwining, interwoven areas that move into focus and I hope to share as I am able and as my healing continues.
I do know that once I was ready to leave I did it with firm boundaries, cutting off contact except that that enforced, for me, that I was making the right decision. My mind would often automatically prompt me that I missed my husband for the majority of 2017, it wasn’t until I faced that yearning and articulated that I missed not the person, my husband but the person I wanted him to be, the person I needed him to be, and that it was grief, soul deep grieving I had to do, I have to do.
Within this, I have so much shame and guilt for letting this happen, not just to me but to my kids, my 12 year old especially. I allowed abuse because I had no way to see of a life with anything but, the spankings as a child with belt and spoon, the way I was crushed as a person created that reality for me. It wasn’t until many, many years of realizing that I could live a life without violence that I was able to escape it, in large part because of the responsibility I felt to fix the harm even though I wasn’t responsible for it. I know that I wasn’t my responsibility and yet those feelings of shame and guilt linger. That I wasn’t enough, that I was too much. Like so so many femmes, the fear of being me was programmed so deeply I never realized that I am worthy and whole just as I am. And even as I type those words, I still have so many areas to uncover, to find all the parts and pieces of myself that were hidden to keep safe, to keep when all else would cut them away from me.
This transformation has come from my love, my fierceness to not act out of fear but out of love, and that I too am deserving of the love I shine out to those around me. That love that dear friends who are family in the deepest sense of the word, shone back to me when I was at my darkest. The love that reached to fill me up from books and articles and words of beautiful souls who shine out for us all. The love that I have learned my foremothers carried, sent forward as they survived horrific abuse as their normal, the love that I in turn send forward as I fight for myself, for my healing.
I am not ok. I am working at it. I am loved. I am joyful and grieving. I am here. I am alive. I am.