#METOO

#METOO…. There are people shaking their heads because women are doing this.  I’m proud of you.  Those of us who have been victimized in every way are here to tell you… you didn’t do anything wrong.  This is not your fault.  You didn’t ask for it: I don’t care how hot you looked, how much you drank or that you dared be walking down a street at night.  Your body belongs to you and nobody has the right to force you into being touched in a way you do not like.  That was what the doctor said to me, “At what age were you when someone touched you in a way you did not like?”  I couldn’t answer then, but I’d venture to guess it was three or four.  I was a “hot to trot” toddler.  See how stupid that sounds?

In my experience, once you’ve been victimized, you are more likely to experience abusive behaviors again.  Statistics agree with me… and maybe you have gotten it into your head that you are doing something that compels others to harm you.  Like maybe you caused it, you’re asking for it.  Nu-uh.  What’s happening is that you have a certain hurt about you and abusers look for that.  They deliberately seek it out because you become an easier target… I swear, I think they smell it, like the rabid beasts they are.  We compartmentalize this because that, my friends, is how you survive.  Do whatever you must, beloveds… survive.  Thrive.  That night does not define you.

 

One night, Dozer and I were having too many drinks and singing songs and I said something or other that compelled him to ask me if I have been raped.  My response was… well, yeah.  Not one woman that I know intimately hasn’t been, this is a reality to me.  I knew he was one of the good ones because it hurt and shocked him.  I’m proud of him, personally, because he knows it doesn’t make me less.  Miss Shannon has very little shame but along the way, there have been fellows who tried to make me find some.  Dozer has never done that and I am profoundly grateful.  Sooner or later, you will find someone who can just accept you as you are.  Your rough edges are the thing that make you sparkle.  Shine on, baby.

I feel a compulsion to say that good girls go to heaven and bad girls go everywhere… I want you to be a bad bitch… the kind that takes no prisoners when it comes to standing up for herself.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  I found my power through my fairly shitty experiences… Nothing and no one can take away who and what I am.  Forgive yourself and find your shine.  On your journey, you take all of Miss Shannon’s love.

Roadblocks

I made coleslaw tonight, which brings me to Sweet Annie… She was my Grandma.  I probably take after her more than just about anyone else in my family.  She’s who gave me my love of cooking, which is an art, people.  I made my coleslaw in a food processor which I think she’d probably disapprove of.  I was teaching Tuggy to do it… he’s about the age I was when she taught me.  I remember her telling me that there are no short cuts, and you have to be the best at whatever you present.  Sweet Annie is why- to this day – I travel bike runs with play it up powder, argon oil and a brush.  And eyeliner, you just need it, girls!  A healthy desire to present your best self to the world is a good thing.

Until it’s not, of course.  When your image is more important than your self-worth, when you have to pretend… when you would rather walk on glass than continue to do whatever it is you’re doing…. Maybe it’s gone too far.  I really believe that shame is the tie that binds and chokes us.  Back in the day, I never wanted anyone to know that I was experiencing abuse because I was sure they’d think less of me.  You know, because I’d said…Ooh, ooh, pick me!!  Most people experience abusive relationships between the ages of 18 and 24… I’m here to tell you, you are still just young and dumb then.  Sometimes, you’re just trapped.  You can’t see anyway out so you just keep on keeping on.  If God doesn’t open a door, there is a window somewhere with your name on it.  You never, ever have to stay.

This is not exclusively a woman’s problem.  Yes, more women are victimized than men… 1 in 3, vs 1 in 4… but men tend to have extra shame about being abused by their partner, so that may be underreported.   Your common sense is telling you why that is, so I’m not going to insult your intelligence.  Are you aware that there are 3800 animal shelters in the US?  There’s 1500 dv shelters…next to none accept men or teenaged boys.  I’ve got nothing against the animal kingdom (unless it’s in the rodent family) but stop asking why people stay.  Even if your family is willing to help, that might not be a safe place to go…. You know what’s safe for you, in your situation.   Just…. always be looking for an escape route.

If your loved one isn’t safe at home, stop being mad at them.   They need your support, not your condemnation.  Not very long ago, I watched someone very near and dear to me being horribly verbally and financially abused.  I had little doubt that it would eventually escalate to physical violence, it wouldn’t surprise me if I just didn’t know about it.  I wanted to shake her.  I wanted to say what my mother said to me…. “Don’t you know how much I love you??  How can you let this go on??”  Unlike my mom, who meant well… I knew that I couldn’t dig in my heels.  I had to be a soft place to fall, I couldn’t be the one to deny her one iota of her power.  Kid… never in my life have I been so goddamned powerless or so very grateful at an outcome.  Whatever you’re going through, survive by any means necessary.  I want you to live long enough to tell your mother you love her, too.

Survivor

Happy October… I love the fall.  The colors alone are fabulous… along with the return of sweatshirts, stews and my ability to bake increases with the cooling temperatures.  For me, it’s also a time of raising awareness for domestic violence.  Twenty people every minute are injured by an intimate partner.  Every minute.  Only 34% of them will seek medical attention for their injuries, which might make you think it’s not so bad.  Unfortunately, it’s more common that they are prevented from seeking care by their batterer or are too ashamed of having walked into a door again.  An average of 200,000 emergency calls are made daily in this country… and those are just the ones that make it to the phone.  Not one time did I ever call the police, not even on spinal fracture day.

I’m feeling survivor-ish today, so I want to talk about what comes after.  When you are no longer walking on eggshells, when you are no longer in any imminent danger.  You’re still broken.  At least, I’m still broken, following many years of therapy, groups, etc.  I have PTSD and sometimes the way I see the world is skewed.  Like… Not so very long ago, I found myself deeply, profoundly attracted to a fellow.  The kind of attracted where their soul calls to you.  He was a batterer.  Now, Miss Shannon can usually smell a batterer at forty paces.  I knew that this fellow I found myself just wanting to play with was bad for me, exactly the sort that would cause me grievous bodily harm and still I responded to him.   Feelings are neither right nor wrong, they just are.  This is where your higher order thinking comes in…. every decision you make is a choice.  I choose to not follow the yellow brick road again.  I choose safety and good sense.  I choose me.

Sometimes they call the PTSD that evolves from DV Battered Women’s Syndrome.  The reality is that if somebody hits you in the head while demanding you proclaim the sky purple enough times, eventually you get to seeing a purple sky.  To a good extent, it’s the path of least resistance that keeps you alive.  I will not apologize that I have scars… I earned them.  I will not be ashamed that I still falter now and then… I’ll be proud that I can see the danger and walk the other way.   I fight like a girl… I use whatever means necessary to survive.  Recognizing that I was caught in a cycle that just kept circling the drain was only a little piece of getting out of it… You have to look for the part where you’re cutting your own throat and put down the knife.  A whole lot of domestic violence is psychological.  You develop coping mechanisms that help you survive, but those same things are a hinderance later.

My therapist would have said this is a psychological response to a pattern of systemic abuse.  He would be correct… but, fact is, I have enough education to know not to follow the primrose path.  It will not end well, I know it, and it’s on me if I am stupid enough to do it anyway.  Once again… my momma raises gypsies, tramps and thieves… never fools.  What I am saying is that you, too, have to decide.  Are you going to continue to tolerate whatever Mr. Not So Right throws your way??  Or will you stand… for yourself, for your brothers and sisters who no longer have a voice, for the right to live violence free?  For your kids, who sure the hell didn’t choose to live in a war zone?  I can’t answer any of this for you.  I will say this… survive another day.   Give me a call… I got you… your ride, your court petitions… whatever you need, baby.  If anyone, ever, had had those things for me, I would have got out a whole lot sooner.  I actually have a rescue scheduled for next week.  Please pray I survive it and the victim and her kids do, too.