Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Abuse by Proxy



  When I have to share the facts of this sordid mess I find myself in I am invariable asked..."Why did you stay?" or the more prevalent one "If you are so afraid, why don't you just leave the state?" Run away...

   I try to think that these questions are well-meaning, however sometimes the tone in which they are delivered makes that difficult. Opening myself up by asking for help also means putting my head on the block to be judged and sentenced. Am I worthy of help? Did I deserve what happened? Should I have known? My all time favorite...did I really love him, or just the lifestyle we shared? I have pretty much heard it all by now. At those times I practice that rare gift honed in childhood. I show no emotion. Not on the outside, because what these inquisitive souls have conveyed is that it's not safe for me to share with them. I protect my mental state as best I can and I move forward. It does not mean I don't feel the condemnation, I feel the verdict of guilt by failure to flee, of my own poor choices and failings. I know them intimately. I live with them. However, for the curious...

    I will try to answer these queries.

  Yes I loved him. No I did not marry him for money. (That one is rather insulting to both of us.), No I do not do drugs, I do not drink, no I did not have an affair with my lawyer (yes, it really is in the court papers), I love my daughter beyond words and I will say nothing more about that here...what else is there? Oh, yes...these

  I don't leave my home (although at times I have), my family, my few friends, all that I have, because I refuse to give him anymore. He has taken so much already and I will not allow him to burgle me further. I am not speaking of the tangible things that he has taken, the money or objects we had collected together. I mean the important ones, things like my self worth, sense of wellbeing, my own friends and those he picked for me, who I came to care for. Funny how I never noticed we only socialized with his social group. I never noticed that...until it was too late. How isolated I have become.
 
   I have come too far. I have fought too hard, for this man, for anyone, to make me bow my head again. No more. Am I frightened? Yes, every day. I hate writing that here. I hate admitting to myself and most certainly to anyone else that truth. It is bare...naked and horrible, but it is honest. Please, let me be clear, I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me. I am a happy person. I am grateful and blessed. I do not want sympathy, nor pity. I simply want to be safe. I ask for help because this overwhelms me. All I ask is that the laws to be enforced,  and to be left in peace. We all deserve that.
I worry sometimes...about who comes after me. He is invincible thus far. He knows there are no consequences. We really don't matter. Money and image is power.

   There are things I do not understand. Those friends, who knew about his past, who enabled his illegal behavior....who helped him ....how do they live with that? Some vanished immediately, at first that hurt my heart. Now I see it was a kindness. Because the vultures who came around to pick my bones, those few feasted on the little trust I had left. They would say all the right things...in the beginning. so I let my guard down. I believe in them. There were very specific questions...gathering up my words and passing on my pain as if it were a treasure. I suppose in a way it was. To lose a marriage is devastating, friends... heartbreaking. To be betrayed by those you love...well it is a mournful thing and I will never understand it.

    I hope they believe that they are helping their friend. There is money involved. And my abuser plays victim far better than I. And after all everyone deserves friends and support. I don't want to strip away anyone's relationships. Those who actively tormenting me? Who deliver me his messages, reporting back to him, why? They make themselves abusers by proxy. If this is you, please stop. It's a divorce. Unfortunately they happen all the time. Please, just remain dignified and respectful, follow the law. I mean no one harm. I am hurt, not angry. I only want safe passage. All I have ever wanted is that.

  It is okay not to believe me, I don't expect anyone to blindly accept my words.

  Believe his. He has admitted his behaviors, the bruises of his handprint, his bragging of how low he will bring me. There is little doubt. It is a terrible thing to be bullied, spied on right out in the open. I never thought it possible. You see, growing up my life was filled secrets. Other people's secrets. That I can comprehend. This new sport of harming, hunting someone, with glee is even more frightening and I will never understand.

  I know it sounds....paranoid..I know. I hear it too. But it is the truth so it will have to do. His embassaries took turns coming to my door, wanting admittance. One brought my estranged husband's girlfriend with her. To my house, expecting me to let her in... as if that were normal or in any way a healthy, normal behavior. Who does that?  That neighbor, faux friend told me in the first days of this nightmare, when I was still shellshocked and aching that she didn't like the way my husband treated ME, However she and her husband found him to be a great friend.

   How does that happen? How do we go from compassionate, caring individuals to turning a blind eye to a monster? I find myself asking "Who does that?" to no one in particular. Knowing that if anyone ever tried to explain it to me, I would not understand it. And so I am here...forever puzzling "Who does this?" You may have your questions, that is mine.

   I have had what seemed like perfectly kind people, some joint friends, some acquaintances call to foreign support, within a few words it becomes clear, this is just another recon mission. Some offered a kind word, a strong shoulder...yes, I fell for that a few times. I have cried and grieved with those who were there only as reporters. Correspondents in this brutal war. Is it a desire to be part of something? Is it boredom or loyalty? I don't know. No matter how many times I try to, I will never understand it. I feel as if it has become a sport for some.

  He visits their house right next to this one, he parks in their driveway when he sneaks onto this property. I do not understand the enablers. Those wearing the mask of friendship or the uniform of a law officer. Who decides who is deserving of protection? Who is worthy help? I am sorry for this situation. I am repeatedly apologizing to people who really should not have to be troubled with this embarrassment. Still, I will not be silent. I can't. I am all I have.

  I asked someone I trusted, respect for help and she let me know I was opening myself up as a target and then she went radio silent. I don't blame her. I understand. Words are easy, actions much more difficult. People weighting the percentages and tallying up one's values. I know. By now I know this.

     The irony that this is Domestic Violence Awareness month is not lost on me.

  I also accept you are judging me. I can't control what anyone thinks of me. My abuser has already painted me a Gollum. I tried to stay above the fray. Things are messy enough without adding mud... I was been told to expect that too. Still....isn't it enough? Really? If I have done everything he has said and more, would I still be deserving of his violence? When does an abuser's actions become acceptable? That one is rhetorical. In this no fault state, why would a person set out to smear another in divorce court? Power, control and money.

    It is hard to reconcile the man I thought I was married to and the truth of who he really was. It is difficult for me and I was there, it happened to me. I understand liking him, loving him, believing him...I did and for that mistake I am dearly sorry. On the upside, I am learning compassion on a Jedi level and for this I am grateful. I am learning not to hide, to speak up and to ask for help. I have made new friends and reconnected with my family. There really is a silver lining. Be safe and be well.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rabbit Rabbit




  If you had asked me in early 2013, I would have said that my marriage had become difficult, my relationship to the person I had married was strained on good days. I knew this was the way of any long term pairing. I could reason my way around most anything. Even an abusive marriage. It's what I did best, making excuses for other people's actions at my own expense.

It's the echo of that little girl so long gone now, but ever present. The five year old who was a pedophile's favorite play thing.

  Sometimes, to survive, we bargain ourselves away. It is a hard habit to break.
In July of that year I was finally finished negotiating with my abuser. Harsh words lead to threats, threats to a physical attack. I was done. We were done, but I had to bide my time.

   Just as on every other occasion apologies were made. Attempts to keep me silent. I obeyed. I stayed still. Every trapped animal knows not to move when their predator has them cornered. I watched the clock, knowing he would be catching a flight in a few hours.......It's funny how survival instincts come back to you, just like being pushed off a bike, you learn how to fall so it hurts less. It took me one more day before I was brave enough to report it. I was trying to minimize things again. Trying to find a way to stay in the balance between reality and the fairy tale I had lulled my judgement, my dignity, to sleep with.

  The Deputy who came out was named Larson. I showed him the bruises on my arms and wrists. The ones that were a perfect map of what was done to me, in blues and reds and purples, some of my favorite colors. There was a bloom of vivid hues on my chest where I had been held down, a knee with weight behind it, on a stone floor. Deputy Larson agreed to take pictures, only after my son insisted. When I bared my shame, my humiliation his response was almost flippant  "Those don't look too bad" he remarked without emotion. I should have known then. I should have realized abuse here was tolerated. His questioning was odd. Did I think my husband was cheating, was he seeing someone? I did not care, that was the last thought in my mind.

   You see the artist, who left me a canvas study in realism, had promised to kill me, to kill my family and I believed him. I still do.

  I forced myself out of the house and filed for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order. I cried the entire time. I hated crying. However I could not stop the flow of tears and with them self blame. I had to enter and reenter information at a Domestic Violence kiosk near my home. I misspelled my name, my address...forgot my birth date. All I could think of was what he was going to do... When he found out I told, what was he going to do to me?

     It's not what you don't know that hurts you, it's the truth that leaves scares that burn.

  Somehow I thought that little paper Pierce County issued me was a shield. A safety net. I was such a child. By January he had broken the order multiple times. Deputies would be called out, but nothing was done. I was told if he was still there when they showed up they would arrest him. That would prove a lie. In September, that flimsy court order was no match for an angry estranged spouse and a sympathetic Deputy. I had been gone out of town for a few days. When I came home I discovered the garage door had been kicked in. I called 911. It took an hour or so, me sitting on the concrete block block steps, grown cold as the sun faded out. That time the Deputy was Kreis. He stepped out of his police vehicle already speaking. "I was just here the day before yesterday. Do you know why I was here?" I confessed I did not. He said my husband had called him out to the house. That he had wanted to file a report against me. That I had taken his things.

  I had my own question. I was shaking as I asked it. "Why didn't you arrest him? He broke the restraining order and you were right here." Deputy Kreis was unmoved. He stated that my estranged husband had said it was not in effect. He later said he didn't check to see if there still was one. He didn't want to discuss it with me. What Deputy Kreis did want to talk about was my divorce. He asked me "what it going to take to end this?" four times he asked. He stated that my estranged husband had told him "all about me." I stood in my driveway stunned. Silent.  Deputy Kreis was not done. Taking a step towards me,  he made air quotes with his fingers and said "Let me give you some "friendly Deputy advice", sign whatever you have to sign, get out of here and get on with your life."

  What is the proper response to such a statement? I stayed still. That night I made an online report of the incident, not for the first time.  Sargent Batista called in response.

  He promised to talk to Deputy Kreis. He assured me there was no reason to make a written reprimand in Deputy Kreis's file. He would not need to talk with my Step Father who had witnessed the conversation. Actually, that was about the gist of his phone call. It was not about the continuing escalation of my abuser's actions, or any plans to keep me safe. No, it was all about helping his own officer.  In the weeks since, there have been more incidents, my mother has been threatened and things stolen from her property. There is no need to point a finger in these things. My estranged husband readily admitted he did it. Yet he is free and I am still trapped.

   I would discover the man I married had a history of assaulting others. A history of arrests. A history of being in possession of guns despite being banned from them. He had been a member of two local gun ranges. He spoke before Kitsap County Counsel to support Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club. I cannot wrap my mind around that one. When questioned by Pierce County Deputies, in the Summer of 2013, he stated the weapons belonged to me. They did not. In fact they were held in the name of his friend, a gun dealer who sold them to him. Ironically the very man who introduced us, on the gun range in Gig Harbor.  Now, in his latest filings with Pierce County Superior court, my abuser states the weapons are his personal property, that they always were and he seeks them back in the divorce.

  It doesn't matter what he does. He has become emboldened and I am hunted, haunted, tormented with no end in sight. That this is happening here....HERE ...is unfathomable.  For all the fine talk, nothing has changed. I was at the Crystal Judson Justice Center today and I had to ask...."What happens to the others like me?"  What happens when no one will help. When Pierce County Sheriff's Department not only refuses to uphold retraining orders, but actively inserts themselves in domestic violence cases on the behalf of the abuser?

  I am afraid to leave my home. Afraid to be outside. I am fearful when I see a patrol car. Fearful of people. I trust no one. How can I.

I cannot be the only one.

  Where do we turn? Well, for me, I turn to you. Please, pass my words on...remember those that came before and those that will come after and let there be a clear message "This is not okay."

 I send you love, strength and hope, never forget hope. I've no idea what to do, but I am not going to cower. I have overcome too much. This will not be the thing that ends me. I pray, I am not prey. I will not be silent, I will not be still and I will not give up. I will slip the snare.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Whys

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Battle


  One of the hardest things, the battle I lose most often is the one I wage with myself. I try daily to live in a place of peace, to be kind and to wish harm on no one. Most days I am fine- then there are the days the battle is lost and I find myself, always in tears on the emotional battlefield angry with myself for falling into that pit of anger and hurt that leads me to push those I love away and to strike out at those that do me harm. It is not that I wish to wound them, I simply wish to be left alone, to be left in some semblance of peace. I wish nothing more than to hide.

  I would much rather spend the rest of my days in solitude than in battle. I grieve the pain that I have caused, intentionally or not. I shame myself over my own cross words. The thing I despise most about being different, being broken, is that my first response to any threat is always to take up my armor. I am ever in the warrior position, even as I desire only to be the peacemaker.  I try. I fail.

I do not have the skill set. I so envy those that do.

  I have been told that I am fearless. That I am brave. I am not. When I am frightened I take my cue from the puffer fish and balloon to my full height of 5'1" and my attitude, I am sure adds a few more inches as well. I make noise, push out. It is all that I know. I must change. I must learn to be softer, to stand back. How will I learn this?
 
  I sit here writing these words and I am filled with a great fear. I know I must grow past this and yet I am unsure that I can. The small voice within me, the one the warrior protects protests. "This is how I have survived. If I let go of this shield the world will swallow me whole. I can't"

  The thing I want least to do in this life, the one thing I will not pardon myself for is hurting others.  To be willfully unkind is a wicked thing.  I inadvertently brush up against other's feelings often. I am brisk and forward, I have no tact. I hear these things from others and I try to soak their words in. To make alterations in myself, but my tongue is quick and healing from sharp words is slow. I am at a loss. I must grow past my own limitations so that I am not here again, in tears, failing and cursing my own survival system.

  There must be some way to breach this dark place that I find myself continually rounding back to. But how? That small voice beseeches me "I stayed quiet so long. I kept it all in and now, I simply cannot" how can you ask that of me? There is a balance I must discover. I must master my own fear and my reaction to it. This is going to be hard, all good things are. I will fail. I will fall down. This is life, bad things are going to happen. I will learn to live in peace anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trading Time for Time



 I haven't been here for a while...Life, it happens to us all.

  We are all time traders of one kind or another. I realized this fact while writing all the words that have come before this post. It was a wonderfully flawed, strong soul who started me on this journey and it is he who has continued teaching me still- even as he is years now gone from us.

  I sat in a room for weeks that seemed like months- at other times as -minutes with that soul in his last times on this Earth within the confines of a body that ultimately failed him, as all of ours will. I was there only as a supporting role. I was an in-law, an out-law, one of many that were in attendance.

  I had no pent up hurts or slights held as if treasures tightly to my breast, no unresolved issues with this man who could no longer make amends. I had known him when, in those waning years, he had too much time and so he traded it for sorrows. That painful place where memories are open wounds that never truly heal. We had held hands as he cried over his own falsehoods, his short temper and long grudges. Ashes all.

  I listened as he poured out his failures, the ones that haunted him. This was a strong man, a force in all things. I sat while he bowed his head to hide his tears. I myself am strong in my own way, I too have held firm, but there is nothing in this life that prepared me for it- when a mighty one became humbled, sorrowful of his own nature and completely...filled with regret for his own sureties which he later realized were in error. He could name off dozens, they took up his hours and gave him nothing worthy in return.

  I cannot speak for the others who shared that soul's last days. I would never presume to. As for myself, he gave me a gift it would take me years to fully discover and though it cannot be insured or measured, it is the most treasured thing I own, and I do own it.

 Recently, I was honored to be included in a small private gathering, in the company of souls who were heading down that same path as had been traveled with that other man. Again, it was another Patriarch, one who had been massive in his presence and now his body had been abandoned by his knowing mind. Leaving his own family to become time traders.

  We all do it, we look back over things, some good -others not, to do so we must give up the present. We are linear on this plane. We are free to thumb through our past, we can linger over hurts or joys all that we choose to, for a price. Time is still going forward, whether we wish it to or not. Choose well.

  The day will come when our hourglass simply will no longer turn for us. Where ever we have chosen to allow our thoughts to meander, whatever time we have traded, will be etched in stone with a name and a date. We will be carried forward through others who will be trading their own hours in our memory. Be worthy.

 The cavern between that first great man and some who loved him was never transversed. It was not to be. I saw the pain it caused, but I could do nothing. He could not lay down his shield and they saw no choice but to leave with one more strike from a dying man who never laid the blow. Let it go.

  There is a great honor, a spiritual renewing, in helping another being in the twilight hours, when they are neither child nor adult, but a new being too heavy to carry and to helpless to leave. We must learn to see them for what they are and also to understand that this is a natural progression, one that we all must go through, not in regret for the ravages of disease or the rages of discourse but as a step toward something more. Have hope.

 It is a new kind of time trading. There is something healing in these precious moments of caring for one who can no longer do for themselves. Be open.

 Grace is found in these times, if we choose to acknowledge it. Hands that once wielded great power at last tremble without control. Eyes once judgmental, all knowing, are lost to things unseen. It may be too late for the apologies we all feel we are entitled to, the endearments we did not receive, kind words withheld, but we can free those very things from our own moorings. In holding those once capable hands, let go of any slights. Give your time and you will gain doubly.

  It is a very easy thing to say, but they do not know me, they do not recognize me and to walk away,  with no more resolutions gained. It misses the point. It is no longer about "them", it is about us, me, you. It is about watching over the watcher and comforting the once mighty. It heals us.

  In nurturing our those in our present we can release the bitter past. It does not mean that the suffering was less than or that you are giving in. It takes the greatest strength, when finally finding oneself with the whip in hand and deciding to let it drop. Righteous indignation is never right. It is a thinly veiled attempt to excuse one-selve's own behavior by laying the blame with another.

  I believe that God is within us all. We see this most clearly in the very young and again in the oldest among us. They are not our burden, they are our salvation. There is no greater trade of time than one that blesses both the giver and the receiver and by lovingly caring for one who has done you harm, as we all will do, you free yourself. Be Free.

  I send you love and as always, hope. Live in grace given and it will be received. This is your life. Bad things are going to happen. Live anyway. Love hard and hold fast. We all trade time. Trade wisely.

   I am asked many times how can I forgive, because I wish to be free. Because it is a gift I ask for everyday and I will never get what I refuse to give. Because I want to be more than a set of stories, blog posts and news clippings. Because I am trading time for time and it is good.

With great love to SP, DSP, JD, CM


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Salt and the Sweet

I am sitting here, either too early in the morning or too late at night, my cheeks aching from smiling too much...if there is such a thing. There have been many changes in my life in the last year, some painful and others wondrous. This latest one is by far, both the most surprising and rewarding. I really do not remember when I first noticed it. That thrill you get when something special happens, be it a unexpected, yet appreciated compliment or maybe an much treasured gift. Only, now it is not about things that happen to me, or for me, rather it is the sheer joy I feel in watching someone else fulfill their dreams. I have had the honor of witnessing several wonderful souls reach their goals of late and it is a glorious thing.

 I know that two years ago, or so, I would have been "happy as I could be for them", but I would be secretly comparing my life, my goals to theirs. I would be looking for ways to discount the value of their efforts in order to appease my own feeble ego. I no longer do that. I read a quote a bit ago and it really touched me. It convicted me and I could not deny my own image when I saw it reflected within the adage: "Your light will never shine brighter by blowing out another's." Oh, well...there I was...right there...Well I mean, I have vacationed in denial before, but somethings you just have to own.

  So, instead of seeing the place where the needle may have slipped, where the craftsmanship could have been slightly improved, I celebrated the confirmation of the possible. The beauty in the creation. If someone else could do it, then it could be done. If it could be done, then I could do it. And in the mean time, how cool was it that someone I had watched pour themselves out, struggle and stretch to grow into what they would need to be to achieve their goals, reached them.
I had the freedom of no excuses. Of owning my place and the power to change it. How amazing is that?

 My soul is made happiest now by doing things for other people. Whether it is a big thing or a small one, and it matters not, if they ever know I did it. It is the simple act of giving, of serving from one soul to another. I am in love.

  That is exactly what this is. I am hopelessly and unabashedly in love with the lightness and joy my soul feels when I let go of myself and concentrate on someone else. It is the most marvelous thing. It is a delirious, drunken, headiness that I can only compare to seeing my children's beautiful faces for the very first time. It is something spiritual. Something my soul is doing of it's own accord. I hope that you are well. Life is hard, bad things are going to happen. Hang in there, because there will always be good, if you cannot find it, be it. It is life's salt and sweet. And I try to always, always, remind myself, when given the choice, be kind. I have never regretted being kind. 

The Salt & The Sweet

I am sitting here, either too early in the morning or too late at night, my cheeks aching from smiling too much...if there is such a thing. There have been many changes in my life in the last year, some painful and others wondrous. This latest one is by far, both the most surprising and rewarding. I really do not remember when I first noticed it. That thrill you get when something special happens, be it a unexpected, yet appreciated compliment or maybe an much treasured gift. Only, now it is not about things that happen to me, or for me, rather it is the sheer joy I feel in watching someone else fulfill their dreams. I have had the honor of witnessing several wonderful souls reach their goals of late and it is a glorious thing.

 I know that two years ago, or so, I would have been "happy as I could be for them", but I would be secretly comparing my life, my goals to theirs. I would be looking for ways to discount the value of their efforts in order to appease my own feeble ego. I no longer do that. I read a quote a bit ago and it really touched me. It convicted me and I could not deny my own image when I saw it reflected within the adage: "Your light will never shine brighter by blowing out another's." Oh, well...there I was...right there...Well I mean, I have vacationed in denial before, but somethings you just have to own.

  So, instead of seeing the place where the needle may have slipped, where the craftsmanship could have been slightly improved, I celebrated the confirmation of the possible. The beauty in the creation. If someone else could do it, then it could be done. If it could be done, then I could do it. And in the mean time, how cool was it that someone I had watched pour themselves out, struggle and stretch to grow into what they would need to be to achieve their goals, reached them.
I had the freedom of no excuses. Of owning my place and the power to change it. How amazing is that?

 My soul is made happiest now by doing things for other people. Whether it is a big thing or a small one, and it matters not, if they ever know I did it. It is the simple act of giving, of serving from one soul to another. I am in love.

  That is exactly what this is. I am hopelessly and unabashedly in love with the lightness and joy my soul feels when I let go of myself and concentrate on someone else. It is the most marvelous thing. It is a delirious, drunken, headiness that I can only compare to seeing my children's beautiful faces for the very first time. It is something spiritual. Something my soul is doing of it's own accord. I hope that you are well. Life is hard, bad things are going to happen. Hang in there, because there will always be good, if you cannot find it, be it. It is life's salt and sweet. And I try to always, always, remind myself, when given the choice, be kind. I have never regretted being kind.