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Happiness is…

that moment you discover you are a priority in her life and not an option.hersnmine

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Country Music

Life is good
I met me a girl
She got a beautiful heart
Her eyes are blue
by Billy Currington, “It Don’t Hurt like It Used To
I could pretend I am not acutely aware that its Domestic Violence Awareness month, but I stopped pretending and I stopped living in fear a long time ago.  I heard this song on the radio and thought about what a long way I have come in the past two years. I’ve done a lot of mending and you know what? I’m so happy these days. What I love about country music is that it tells a story. Right now these four sentences are my story…
Life is good
I met me a girl
She got a beautiful heart
Her eyes are blue

The Lotus

lotusAirial wrote that, “The lotus flowers live in ponds. At night the flowers close and sink into the muddy waters, only to emerge perfect and pure when the sun rises.”

She challenged me to write about a moment in life when things got dark and to reflect on when the light returned. There have been a few times in my life when life was dark, but like the lotus flower, so far I have always emerged from the darkness and resurfaced into the beauty of light.

Some of my darkest times are related to loss of loved ones. I am not good at forming shallow connections. I gravitate toward deep bonds. I do not love half heartedly, I offer the best parts of myself to my loved ones, and wear my heart on my sleeve. My open heartedness and vulnerability are at the core of my inner beauty. Being and loving this way comes with risks. Its who I am and I don’t want to be any other way. I am risk taker.

Some love dies a natural death while other loves die or whither of neglect, lies, and betrayals. One time the harm was so great I nearly drowned from the pain. Nearly, did not resurface like the lotus. How I get through dark times has been with love, care, and nurturing from the kindest of friends. I’ve learned over and over that I cannot be an island. As an introvert it is all too easy to allow oneself to become and island. Me & my books & movies! This last time though, the lesson stuck. When I look back on it now I think of Dickens and remembering that suffering is never a waste if we learn from it. I learned a lot that I wish I hadn’t needed to learn, but learn I did and although I was bent and broken – I hope – into a better shape.

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape. ” Charles Dickens

This was a writing assignment to earn a Lotus Pin for NYC Littles Scouts, Troop 212

 

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Purple RibbonI knew 16 days ago we began National Domestic Violence Awareness month. I have experienced physical and emotional abuse in my past. I read some things today that compelled me to speak out on the topic. There were some folks using the term gaslighting incorrectly and others were throwing shadow on claims of gaslighting as possibly being a matter of, “…I got confused, and emotional, and now I feel bad.”

I came across this journal entry in FetLife about 1 ½ years ago. I had never heard of the term “gaslighting” before I read that journal entry. The term is best known from a 1944 classic movie starring Ingrid Bergman, titled Gaslight. This past September it was being shown at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Cinema and I went to go see it.

What is gaslighting? A psychological definition of gaslighting is “an increasing frequency of systematically withholding factual information from, and/or providing false information to, the victim – having the gradual effect of making them anxious, confused, and less able to trust their own memory and perception.”

So yes, we are dealing with perceptions.

I was in a very destructive relationship in my past were I was physically and emotionally abused. The physical was easy for me to forgive, the emotional has been far from easy. Fairly early on, after I left my abuser, I realized I could not get past this problem. I had to work through it and that I needed professional help to do that. Some of the emotional abuse definitely fell under the term gaslighting. It can still be traumatic for me to relive those experiences. I was subjected to behavior that resulted in psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s an invisible scar I wear.

I want people to pause before they speak and automatically disregard someone, who speaks up about emotional abuse, because that is what gaslighting is, emotional abuse. I want to ask you to pause and listen to people who have the courage to ask for help. Please don’t turn your back and write them off as people who want to avoid being responsible for their own actions. Please I beg you to resist the urge to tell yourself, it’s discontent/sour grapes, because their relationship ended. I implore you to consider that it might have taken that person the last bit of strength they had to hold that hand out and ask for help. I beg you to realize that if you don’t error on the side of caution when that person reaches their hand out and grab that hand, you may lose that person forever. Emotional abuse can be that destructive. Grab that hand, pull them up, keep them safe, and find them help. Question later.

It took me a long time to find the courage to speak to one person I thought I could trust to talk to. Even then I made her swear to not say anything to anyone and amazingly she didn’t; she held all my dark secrets. She is a much better friend that I am. Even after I talked to that one person it took me another 6 months before I finally left. I’m a rare statistic, once I left I never went back to my abuser. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to try to ask to come back. It did. I want to say I was lucky, but it’s not that at all. It’s that I did the work and continue to do the work to heal with a professional(s).

Do some people misuse this term? Yes. Do you really want to take the risk of turning your back on the many that don’t? No one deserves to be abused. I didn’t deserve what happened to me and I did not want it. Do I have accountability? Yes. I stayed. No one forced me to stay. I have to live with that. The abuse I suffered nearly killed me. I don’t say that lightly. There is a lot of shame in admitting that out loud, but choose to let go of pride and instead say my truth out loud, because… If you are suffering abuse I want you to know I have known the shame & fear you live under. There are women and men all over who understand the shoes you walk in.

And look at me today…

I am not broken.

I am not a victim.

I am not a survivor.

I am a beautiful strong leather woman.

I am here in the today, the now, and embracing life.

Reflections: A Year, A Month, & A Day

kaizen I’m at Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida and winding down from my first vacation in over three years. Over the weekend I have had time to relax and to reflect on the path I found myself traveling this past year. I’m goal oriented and over the years I have often looked at my life and made immediate, short term, and long term goals. You can write these things down or just think on them, but sometimes you can find yourself in places you never imagined and that goes for good and bad. The one thing you can count on as a constant is change. A year and a day ago I was someone fragile and struggling to find my way through darkness. I moved onto my own apartment in Brooklyn. It was a very hard time for me, but looking back and seeing my growth I am very proud of myself. Continue reading

On Packing Up and Letting Go

I am still at the “not yet” phase, but each day I feel more healed from the harm that was done. I feel more of the incredible woman I was before someone I loved gave me this box full of darkness. Each day I am closer to feeling that this too was a gift…

In Others' Words...

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.  It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

Mary Oliver

house

In July of 2012 I was packing up my house to put it on the market. I’d filed for divorce. My soon to be ex-husband had quit his job, and I’d been a stay at home mom for nearly 13 years. There was simply no way for us to stay in what I had once considered to be our dream home- the house I’d truly believed we would live in forever. Where we would have family reunions, where the kids would get married in the backyard, where we would grow old together. The day we moved in I saw all of those things stretched out in front of us.

backyard2

Cut to less than two years later. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about leaving that house…

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Nice Guys Finish First

In my past I have been drawn in to relationships mostly by persons who fall into the bad boy, rebel, adventurer personalities, and nice guys did not fare so well in gaining my attention as a romantic interest. I am sure many people can relate to hearing or saying the words. “I like you. You’re really nice…” and knowing that is the code for letting a person know they are friendship material. It’s kind of the kiss of death for romantic interests when a person hears that. The other week I said these words to someone, yet it was the first time I caught myself saying it and knowing that it did not mean that at all. For once I am looking for nice. Nice is under rated. I could really use someone nice in my life. I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I am doing something new. This time around nice guys finish first. Continue reading