A view of "Inca de Oro" (Inca gold) town (C) in the middle of the Atacama desert, near Copiapo city, north of Santiago, Chile

Luxury is unattainable.

I am a child, luxury is a hug from my mother.

I am a young girl, luxury is a Barbie Dreamhouse.

I am a teenager, luxury is acceptance.

I am a college student, luxury is self-respect.

I am a young mother, luxury is a loving partner.

I am a survivor of domestic violence, luxury is freedom from fear.

I am a person with mental illness, luxury is sanity.

I am a woman, luxury is self-love.

via Daily Prompt: Luxury


hiding kittyThe following are not my words, but they struck deep into my soul. After escaping the prison of abuse, anxiety and fear may govern the survivor’s life for a while. This plea for understanding exemplifies these overwhelming feelings. The simple fact that we feel we need to explain ourselves is evidence of the trauma we have experienced. We should know that the people who love and care about us do so unconditionally; but unfortunately that is a concept we’ve never been able to grasp.

I feel like I need to explain something to my friends. So listen: I love you all and I want to hang out with all of you. But on top of my kid schedule, my work schedule, my finances, and I’m trying to get back into school right now, I have my dumb mental health to deal with. Understand that most of my life, out of circumstance or not being allowed out, I have not ever had very close friends that I see in person very often. It’s a thing I have never ever experienced. So I love people, I love having friends, but sometimes they really really scare me and I run away. I’m like a skittish cat. I want to be pet, I want to connect with you, but it can take a while to coax me out from under the bed. And sometimes I can come out and then I need to run back under the bed again. You can lay there and stick your hand under the bed and talk to me, but who knows when I’ll come out again. I’m unreliable. And I hate that about myself. And eventually you just have to walk away from the coaxing, and I’m so sorry and I understand. And sometimes trying to coax me out makes me go deeper under the bed, away from you. And sometimes I come out. It’s impossible, I know. Talking to me through text helps me though, and eventually, sometimes I can make it out. It’s just going to take me a long time. Sometimes I’ll only see you twice a year when I really want to see you more often. And I’m so sorry. But I do love you, I’m still here under the bed, trying to figure out how to get out of here and be the kind of cat that loves all the guests and greets them and sits on all the laps and purrs. But I’m just not that kind of cat yet, and I’m so sorry that it’s so disappointing. That’s all. Hang in there for me, or don’t. Just know it isn’t you.

Evil returns…but then it’s always been there…waiting

The words swirled around in my head, doing a dance of destruction, making my two worlds blend into one. The one set of two simple words a fluke, a one time situation, said without thought, said without knowing. The other set having been heard over and over for fifteen years, but having lay dormant for seventeen.

And then I’m not here any more. Every day the worlds swirl together faster and faster, reality becomes quite blurred, then I see the other face. I hear the other voice. I can feel the punches in my stomach, I am actually doubled over in pain with something that isn’t real.

Finally the shell shatters. It took close to seventeen years to build a new, almost fully-functioning brain.  A strong woman built from nothing, a survivor. It took two words and the release of the conditioning that was carefully tucked away and sealed up with what I thought was a protective covering.

Soon all the old words take over…stupid, crazy, worthless, unlovable. All the old pictures of his face, his actions. Hearing his words, all of it apparently embedded in my brain. It all flashes over and over until I can actually see the shattering happen. I see the pieces blow apart, flashes of pain stuck in the memories of each part of my damaged body.

In my mind, the blade glitters with power. I can see it slicing through the flesh on my arm, my leg. The two-fold release of the blood. Punishment for being such a worthless human being and thinking that I could hide it all away for so long. Pain transferred from my brain, my heart, to something I can see. Something tangible. Something I can fix. I can’t fix what I can’t see.

But I really don’t think I can fix any of it all. I was just fooling myself and everyone around me.

I retreat to my safe place. It feels like too much effort to get the blade. I think of the mess I’ll have to clean up. I see the look of fear, pain, guilt, and yes…love, on my husband’s face.

My brain is tired, my body is tired. I cry myself to sleep. I dream of fighters getting knocked down, then standing up to fight some more. I dream of people, some I haven’t even met but know what it feels like, picking me up, wrapping their arms around me. I dream of my husband’s arms holding me tight, telling me how much he loves me.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Denial or accceptance?

My therapy appointment from last month was to write “I’m angry…” and then finish the sentence about everything I’m angry about. I started to write on notebook paper, then ended up with four typed pages. I then kept adding more during the month by hand.

The first page was just what I went through with Satan (my ex). The rest of it contained many of the things I’ve been through in my lifetime, in addition to general shit that just pisses me off. She said the same thing I’ve heard so many times:

“Wow, it’s amazing what you’ve survived.”

And every time I hear this I think, “Really? I just did what I had to do.” I cannot see myself as “amazing, incredible, strong, extraordinary,” or any other related word you can think of. I am an ordinary person, and I have done what most people would have done when faced with my difficulties. Yes, I have been through hell and back for most of my life but that was the way it was. It’s past, it’s gone, it’s over. And I am no better than anyone else for having experienced some pretty horrific things. There are people who have survived cancer, homelessness, poverty, etc. Those people are amazing. I just did what I had to do to get where I am. And there were many times I just wanted to give up, but at different times in my life that was just not an option (like being a single-mom). So I did it, I’m here (some days barely). That was then, this is now.

Defining abuse, violence, or assault

A friend of mine, another abuse survivor, asked me an interesting question. I was going to respond directly to her, but I thought perhaps other people might have the same question.

“Someone recently asked me if I had ever experienced emotional or verbal “violence” by any of my partners. Her use of the word “violence” stopped me. I asked, “Do you mean violence or abuse?” Her response was something like, “Whichever word fits for you.” I can’t stop thinking about that. To me (and the dictionary I consulted), violence requires a physical action. But upon further pondering, I can see how violence could be construed as synonymous with abuse, regardless of the type. I’m curious as to your thoughts on this; you’re the only person I know who has the insight and personal experience to draw on to help come to a conclusion.”

The first thing I did was to hit the dictionaries:

From abuse

verb (used with object)
1.  to use wrongly or improperly; misuse.
2.  to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way.
3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about.
4.  to commit sexual assault upon.

5.  wrong or improper use; misuse.
6.  harshly or coarsely insulting language.
7.  bad or improper treatment; maltreatment.
8.  a corrupt or improper practice or custom.
9.  rape or sexual assault.

Merriam-Webster was basically the same, so I’m going to assume for space and time sake that they’ll be the same on all the words.

Now for the word violence – noun

1. swift and intense
2. injurious physical force, or treatment.
3. an unjust exertion of force or power, as against rights or laws.
4. a violent act or proceeding.
5. rough or immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language.

And since it was used to define abuse, I decided to look up assault as well.

1. a sudden, violent attack; onslaught
2. Law. An unlawful physical attack upon another; an attempt or offer to do violence to another, with/without battery.
3. Military. The stage of close combat in an attack.
4. rape.

5. to make an assault upon; attack; assail.

OK, so we got all the technical stuff out of the way. What I see from this, is that all three words could be interchangeable when you take into consideration the 5th definition for violence (immoderate vehemence, as of feeling or language), which pretty much matches the 3rd and 6th definitions of abuse (3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about. 6. harshly or insulting language.) Assault also relates to these words when you take into consideration definitions 1 and 5.

It’s vital, when discussing domestic violence, to think carefully about our language. There are so many ways to describe DV – physical, emotional, spiritual, sexual, verbal. It can be of only one type, but usually it’s a combination of many (or even all) types.

I’ve probably said this before, but sometimes we don’t even realize we’re being abused (I had never heard of marital rape before the therapy I had after I left). My abuser was heinous and clever, never leaving obvious physical marks (when that was the abuse du jour). My neighbor was married to an alcoholic, and he was a mean drunk. She would have broken bones and bruises on her face. I used to think “Why doesn’t she leave that asshole?” never even considering that I was abused as well. We can be made to believe we either deserved or caused the particular type of behavior. All leave scars (which in general usage is caused by some sort of violence or assault), and in my opinion not one is worse than the other; although some will tell you differently.

So in fact, it is true – “whatever word fits you.” They seem pretty interchangeable to me. They can all define horrific behavior towards a partner, and they are all damaging, each in their own way.