Once a beater, always a beater

Tonight, I’m putting on my  Wants to Be a Therapist But Can’t Remain Neutral hat in order to lay a little groundwork for talking about domestic violence.  It’s a largely misunderstood thing… People get a mental image of a hugely pregnant girl in a dirty wife beater with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.  And sometimes that’s true.  But by and large, the victim is your sister, your mother, the nice lady next door.  It’s not about poverty… you just hear it more in trailer parks and apartment buildings because the walls are closer together than they are in the ‘burbs.   The very brave survivors who are sharing their stories are doing it to help other victims.  Talking about it helps chip away at the shame and the stigma, both of which keep victims from getting help.

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Yes, I believe that victims are responsible for their life choices.  NOTE:  they are not in any way responsible for the actions of their batterers.  It’s a double edged sword, kids.  Sometimes, that’s life.  We stay in these relationships for a variety of reasons.  Personally, I stayed with my first batterer because I was young, dumb and afraid… and I didn’t have any place else to go.  It wasn’t until I was afraid for my firstborn that I packed it up and left.  Sometimes you stay because it’s the safest thing to do… More victims die trying to exit the relationship than at any other time.  If she says it isn’t safe to leave, for fuck’s sake, respect that.  Nobody knows him better.

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So… tales from the psyche of a battered woman.  Heaven forbid anyone should know how wretched you are… you’re fat, you’re stupid, you’re ugly.  You just won’t listen.  If you were a better (insert title here) he wouldn’t have to do this.  It’s all your fault.  You make him do this.  It’s all your fault.  Got that?  It’s all your fault.  Except it isn’t.  A normal, rational person doesn’t hit you forty-three times because you broke the egg yolks.  A normal person doesn’t need to make you cry to feel big.  The failing is within the batterer.  You were only naïve enough to be taken in by his charade.  Being naïve makes you human, it doesn’t make you a stupid bitch who deserves what she gets.  Nobody takes a person out and clocks them on the first date.  It’s a process… It typically starts with little disappointments, little cutting remarks.  They have to build up to the first ass-kicking.  By the time the typical batterer puts their hands on you, they have destroyed your self-esteem and many, if not all, of your relationships.

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It’s called grooming.  Makes you kinda squick up inside, doesn’t it?  Pedophiles groom their victims, too.  Yummy.  You sick fucks are in good company.  It takes a very little man to beat his woman.  It also takes a very big man to acknowledge being victimized.… male victims of domestic violence I hold in special esteem, because it’s harder to talk about and to get help.   No one deserves to be beaten by their romantic partner.  Love is not supposed to hurt.

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There are warning signs.  See them here: DV Warning Signs If you see signs and ignore them, Miss Shannon understands.  Sometimes, it’s been so long since you felt cared for that you’ll tolerate just about anything.  That’s how Miss Shannon located the last fellow that was abusive to her.  He never laid a finger on me… but he called me names, he threw things and I had more panic attacks in the year and a half we were together than in the last twenty years.  I knew very quickly that I was in a bad situation.  I was ashamed to have allowed myself to be in the mix with someone who is verbally abusive.  So… I pretended that everything was fine.  Nothing was fine.  Nothing.  Then I had to say it out loud and publicly admit that once again, I had been taken in.  That’s misplaced pride, my friends.   It’s hubris, really.  I finally had to ask myself if I cared what people thought or about my quality of life.  I’m telling you this so you hear that even a not entirely stupid, adult woman can get sucked into a really hellish situation.  Oh, the humanity of admitting when you’ve made a very large miscalculation!

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In case you don’t already have this information, there’s more than one type of domestic violence.  Which anyone, male or female, can fall victim to.  You have your beaters… pretty self-explanatory.  This includes pushing, hair pulling, pinching, biting, generally any sort of physical intimidation or infliction of pain.  Emotional abusers are sneakier… it’s name calling, a general effort to break the victim’s spirit.  Breaking your stuff.  Isolating the victim from loved ones… that’s your support system, cupcake.  You need those people, they’re the folks that are going to save your ass when it’s time.  Financial abuse is denying access to resources.  It keeps you under their thumb.  Ooh… don’t forget about the carrots they dangle… little nuggets of awesome designed to make you work harder.  In order to really effectively abuse someone, you have to treat them really well some of the time so they know how good things could be.  That’s where flowers and candy and evenings out come in.  Otherwise, the victim would grow inured to the whole process.  Where’s the fun in that?  And the batterers are having a good time.  They like it like this… they love your pain more than they love you, have no doubt.

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Finally, darlings… Nobody knows the monster in your bed like you do .  I feel ya, sister.  FYI:  Your babies will not be taken from you because you have fled a dangerous situation to a DV shelter.  That was the lie that kept me with my batterer long after I was ready to run.  Babies and pets makes us afraid to leave.   What I hope you will take from this is the following:  You are a valuable human being.  You do not deserve to be hurt by your partner.  You do not deserve to be called names… you matter.  For those of you who are being battered… there are services available to you.  There are people and agencies that can help you.  Decide.  Choose you, sweetheart.   The ties that bind don’t always choke…  and there’s life after love.

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Ready… Steady…Go!

I’m thinking about choices today… the really big ones.  The life choices you start making when you’re in around seventh grade, before you know what a life choice is.  The kinds where you zigged when you should have zagged… The soul destroying moments that make people say if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger, and those blessed moments that make you glad to be alive.  I’m also thinking of the damn, dumb things we do even when we know better.  Sometimes, you just plain don’t know better.  Those tend to occur between the ages of twelve and twenty-five.  That’s why we call them young and dumb.  After about twenty-five, usually it’s a case of choosing the lesser evil, lack of options or sheer stupidity.  Remember, Miss Shannon can really only tell you what not to do. 

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Meanwhile… I really didn’t start getting to know myself until I reached my thirties.  Before that, it was all about survival.  These days, I can look past that and see what matters to me.  Like…. I enjoy my job very much, what I do is valuable and meaningful and I’d like to do it on a larger scale.  Sooo…  I have to do the work to make that happen.  In this case, I have to finally buckle down and get my degree, which I am twenty-four credits shy of.  It’s not a matter of being unhappy, it’s a matter of knowing that I want more.   I’m not just surviving anymore.  Make no mistake, I’m a single mom, just like most of the women I know.  There’s always too much month at the end of the money, I rob Peter to pay Paul and my kids need a scholarship or student loans to go to college.  It’s not just about money.  It’s also about setting standards and determining the quality of life you’re going to have. 

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Turns out, you really do need a plan.  For yourself, muffin.  It can’t revolve around a romantic relationship.  You have to be your best self.  In no way am I saying people ought to bail on their partners.  I’m saying you have to be an ‘I’ before you can be a ‘we’.  If you’re already a ‘we’, you still have to be an ‘I’… do try to pay attention, here.  You have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror.  You have to be happy inside yourself, friends and lovers are just gravy.  Let yourself go… get your nails done, take that class, make that weird craft item you have been wanting, even if it doesn’t come out quite the way you intended.  That’s how you find your best self…  by trying out the things you want to try.  It’s absolutely, one hundred per cent OK to fail… If you’ve never failed at anything, you’ve never really tried the things you wanted to try.

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So, back to making life choices… For the love of all that is good in this world, put yourself on your list of priorities.  If you aren’t happy with where you’re at, change something.  Even if it’s as stupid as rearranging the living room, it’s going to help.  Everything sucks?  I feel ya, brothers and sisters.  Sometimes you’re just treading water.   You can’t change the past, you can only go on to make new, more brilliant mistakes.  Miss Shannon believes in you.  Now, go, move the couch, and do something, anything to improve your lot in life.   Don’t just sit around crying about how it all went wrong. 

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ADDED BONUS MATERIAL:  I think music is a mood altering substance, much like glitter.  For example… some songs take me to a very dark place…  Delta Dawn comes to mind.  Breathe.  Fast Car.  It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you. It’s the stuff you play when you need to feel the things you don’t want to feel.  So, my advice of the day is to go ahead and play that drivel if you need to cry it out.  Then change the station in your mind.  For me, sometimes that looks like Robin Thicke, other times it looks like Johnny Cash and Chris LeDoux, still others it’s Skid Row and Queen.   Whatever song makes your heart sing… use it as the background music to whatever comes next.  There is always a next… Ready or not, here it comes.  Stop riding the crazy rain and drive that mother fucker.  I promise, you’ll enjoy the ride a whole lot more. 

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Just do it… at once!

It’s been a busy week at Casa Gypsy… We’re fixin’ stuff.  First, I was lucky enough to get new counter tops installed, which was fantastic.  I’ve needed new counters for a long, long time.   Besides the fact that they were Harvest Gold (Why the hell was that a good idea in the seventies??)  Then there was Hurricane Irene, which ripped off my roof, causing me to need a new stove and caused the counters to warp, only after the insurance adjusters went through.  Then, there was that little incident where I set the kitchen on fire by using the built in grill.  Good times.  So, there was a hole in my counter top for months.  But now I have beautiful, shiny new counter tops.  And a pretty backsplash.  And Geronimo.

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That same week, one of my furbabies took a run through my attic and fell through the ceiling.  Awesome.  Remington is fine.  My ceiling was not.  Cue huge, stupid mess followed by drywall dust for days and days and days.  THEN… because I wasn’t stressed out enough, I had a burning urge to rip up all the carpets in my entryway and refinish the stairs.  Because, you know, I have free time.  Go, Miss Shannon, go.  This is following a big, pain in the rear end bathroom hatchet fix up job.  I really like the penguin shower curtain that replaced those god-awful, hard to clean shower doors.

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So, here’s what we’ve learned.  Miss Shannon does not have very good judgement when it comes to how many projects she should undertake at a given time.  That’s where the need for supervision comes in.  Sadly, at Casa Gypsy, I am the supervisor.  Nobody really talks me down, unless I call JC, who is only as powerful as the information I give him.  Had I consulted him, he would have totally liked any of these projects… provided I completed one before starting another.  That’s the voice of reason bit.

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So… here I sit… I have a birthday party here for my little boy on Sunday.  I’m pretty wiped out, I need to put another coat of paint on the stupid entryway and there is no way in hell that I’m getting this done before Sunday.  Oh well, these people are used to me.  Driving home from buying more paint, I realized that there was a great big full moon floating above.  Gotcha.  I definitely don’t follow the sky like I should (largely because I’m bogged down in the minutia of ripping out carpets just ‘cause) but if I did, I would have known that we’re all a little more impulsive around a full moon.  Once again, if the moon can pull the ocean, it can pull little ol’ you.

Be very afraid… seriously!

I persist in hanging out with people who discuss politics that I don’t agree with, so I totally deserve the irritation I feel right now.  I’m not saying I know everything… but my opinions are as valid and worthwhile as the next guy’s, even if you don’t agree with me.  So… I’m going to put on my I feel like sharing hat and talk a little about some of my evil, controversial thoughts and why I think them.

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I come from a family of holy rollin’, Jesus saves, stiff upper lip kind of rednecks.  I’m talking no running water poor.  Eating squirrels poor.  I overspend on my children’s clothing to compensate for it.  There’s a bit of arm chair psychology for the day.  Meanwhile… Miss Shannon leans towards paganism, I’m sure there are fairies somewhere and I believe wholeheartedly in magic, with or without a K.  My world view is not the same as most people’s and I am totally ok with that.  The thingamabob that does the job is bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!!

One of the primary reasons Republicans keep losing the Oval Office is that they build their platforms on things that scare the hell out of those of us on the left or in the middle of the road.  The surest way to get me not to vote for you is to threaten women’s rights, LGBT people’s rights or those of people who are a shade of brown you don’t like.  Get over yourself.  I don’t give a rat’s patooty if you identify as a Christian, Muslim or Buddhist.  At the end of the day, I don’t think the powers that be will either, just mentioning.  We’re all headed for the Summerland or somewhere darker based on our words and deeds.  And God, whatever you call her, doesn’t like ugly.  It doesn’t get any uglier than pure, unadulterated hate.

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Surprisingly… I am not a Hillary supporter.  There are too many shady things surrounding her to make me think she should be president.  I’m probably not going to vote this time around because no matter what I think… it makes no difference anyway.  I listen to a woman that I dislike being lambasted because she said she finds prejudice deplorable.  While an orange guy I also dislike is A-OK when he makes racist statements.  Dozer said… people forgot about that by now.  And he’s right.  And it hurts me.  Miss Shannon cares about whether or not women and children are safe in their beds.  Miss Shannon believes that no American should go hungry… Miss Shannon thinks that just maybe the USA should not be the world’s policeman…. Maybe we should worry about ourselves.   As a nation, we are not A-OK.  Particularly when saying racism, homophobia and sexism is deplorable is treated in the same way as if the woman said she wanted to club baby seal pups.   My daddy used to say that a psychopath is a fanatic with a cause.  I feel like Republicans have lost sight of everything beyond regaining political power, which is every bit as scary as the fact that Democrats are so entrenched in having power that they will do literally anything to keep it.

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When we are in a situation where your own Miss Shannon is a voice of reason… holy Jesus, jumped up Christ, Almighty, we are in a very, very bad situation.  Seriously, people… I need supervision.  You aren’t hurting my feelings with that observation… So if I am telling you that our entire nation is out of bounds…  Please give the universe a nod and just try to see beyond your political party.  Please?  For the land of the free?

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Hey, Geronimo!!

What is crazy?  Let’s talk about that for a minute.  Now, Miss Shannon has thought about it extensively, as more than one time she’s been accused of being crazy.  You can’t fight city hall, right?  So, crazy it is… and I think I’ll enjoy myself.

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Yes, I talk to myself, out loud.  At all times I am aware that I am conversing with myself, even when I answer me.  It frightens the other Walmart shoppers, so I try to refrain in public places.  It doesn’t always work and remember, sometimes it’s the best conversation I have all day.  I don’t care if you don’t like it.  Yes, I see the world differently than most.  Most people see A+B=C… but sometimes it’s Q, dammit.  Live with it.  There isn’t only one right way to be.

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People call you crazy for every little eccentricity.  Those same people are soooo worried about propriety and appearances that I have to shake my head.  At what point do you start living your life and being yourself?  Underneath it all… you have to ask yourself if you really care what the random stranger at the grocery store thinks of you.  I have a friend who is absolutely bat shit crazy, and she knows it.  She calls it not being regular.  She is one of the happiest people I know.  I also have friends who reign in every impulse, who always choose the safe outfit and never change their hair.  I don’t think they are very happy.

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I spent the better part of three decades learning to like myself, largely because I also spent those years listening to people say, “Be like this.”  This was never anything like what I actually was, which is rather disheartening.  One day, I woke up and said… what if just for today, I do the things that make me happy?  What if I go ahead and sing along?  What if I wear the sparkly eye-shadow instead of the safe taupe?  You know what?  The world is still turning.

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You get one whirl around this Earth.  So… name the giraffe Geronimo.   Where the clothes that make you feel good.  It’s just hair… try the funky new style.  Take chances now and then… at the end of your life, I believe you’ll regret the things you didn’t do a whole lot more than the things you did.  I try to do something that scares the hell out of me every now and then… I’m usually happy I did.  How are you ever going to know what you could have been if you never even try?

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Introducing… dun,. dun, dun dah!!!!

So a couple things have happened just lately that make me want to talk about what it means to be a woman.  Most of the time I’ll tell you that’s whatever you want it to be, but there are really two types of women.  I think we should all take a minute or two to classify ourselves as I hope some folks will reevaluate their interactions with others.  First… strip away all your extraneous bullshit.  I’m talking about your religion, education, race, sexual orientation, all of it gone.  What’s left, ladies??

SOUL

Yep, there you are.  At your very core, you are either strong or weak.  Strong women have confidence; weak women have superiority.  The way you tell those two things apart is whether you need someone to be less than you… if so, you are weak.  The strong women are too busy living to give two shits what anybody else is doing.  There’s the difference.  If you still aren’t sure… if you spend most of your time finding the negatives about those around you, if you are very sure you are better, smarter, wittier than most people around you, you probably fall into the weak category.  Work on that.

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I just told the fellow who was recently known as Good Time Charlie that one of his lady friends is a douche bitch.  He didn’t like that, of course, because she’s the butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth type.  He has an outie, so he’s not the enemy and has never had to deal with her underhanded bullshit.  He thinks she’s sweet as pie.  Meanwhile… one of my own “friends” is zeroing in on me as the person to insult this week.  Ooh, ooh, pick me!! Even as I roll my eyes, I feel sorry for these girls… because they are surely not women.  Jump into your own relationship, career, hobby… whatever.  I don’t give two shits.  As much as it pains me… I’m too old for this shit.

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Meanwhile…. I am also exposed daily to women of substance, who have class and taste besides what’s in their mouths.  Dear gracious lord, I hope there are more of us than there are of them.  I try not to rip up other women here… we are destroyed all over the place, in a systematic, patriarchal fashion.  Which did not exist prior to Christianity, btw… Pagans consider men and women to be equals.  Where is Odin when I need him, hmm???  My two older boy children just walked up behind me and asked who Odin is, making me 100% sure I have failed as a parent.

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The thoughts I want to leave you with are this: for fuck’s sake, in a world run largely by men… we have each other.  There’s no use crying over spilled perfume.  Now find the sisterhood you were born for.  Next… I believe Jesus walked this Earth.  And so did Odin, Isis, Aphrodite, Thor and many, many more.  God probably stands for General Organization of Deities.  (My brother, the preacher is praying for my soul just now… LOL) He is deeply concerned about worshiping false idols in my world because I got a couple statues…  If I could only make him see what I do…

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Finally… I’d like to introduce you to Dozer… that would be Good Time Charlie.  Can you even believe it, my people were calling him Charlie and he’d like a more permanent moniker.  I love you, too, baby.  Now, we cannot put his actual name here because he then loses plausible deniability if I get sued for defamation of character, which could totally happen.  So, Dozer it is… my great, big biker man has Dozer on his vest, he likes it and that’s what Miss Shannon is going to call him that from now on.  At no time am I going to tattoo “Property of Dozer” on my person, even though he seems to think that’s a hot idea.  No, thank you, Mr. Dozer.  The Whore of Babylon continues to own herself… And you like it that way, son… otherwise your wolverine begins to file her claws… and where’s the fun in that?