So Many FEELS!

feelsYesterday I wrote this post. By noon MST I had 72 emails in my inbox, had 3 Facebook messenger chats and 7 iMessage chats regarding my post on Violence Against Women.

So MANY FEELS!

I have heard from victims, witnesses, supporters, friends, strangers, acquaintances and my children. There have been so many questions and comments I just cannot get to everyone and I am sorry.

The next best thing I can offer is a reply to you here, since many questions are similar I thought we could have a Q & A session right here, right now. I prefer to answer individually, but I just can’t – and I am sorry. I do want to thank you everyone for their support and kindness. It really means a lot to me.

The Edmonton Tourist Answers Your Questions:

1) I hate surprises. Why did I read about this and not have you tell me? 

Honestly? I thought you knew. If you didn’t know then it was because I thought I was over it. Sorry. I hate surprises too.

2) This must have been difficult to write. How were you able to do it?

Good question. I didn’t find it difficult to write. Writing is my meditation, my creative outlet, my forum for sorting out my thoughts. I often don’t know what I am thinking until it comes out in written word. Then I read it and wow….that is how I am feeling or thinking. It is almost as if my emotions and brain have a life of their own and get to explore themselves while I am not looking.

Another reason it wasn’t difficult to write is because it happened 27 years ago. A lifetime ago. I am not even remotely the same person and I have the ability to look at the abuse objectively. I have knowledge and wisdom in my corner. The other part, convincing people it happened, that is painful. My daughter explains it best: That is just they was society is right now. It always seems to be the victim’s fault, like they should be able to control monsters. We all aren’t a SuperHero. My wise 18-year-old said: Unless you walk in their shoes, you have no idea how difficult the situation really is.

3) Do your children know?

Ummm….ya, about that. I am not the mom who hides things from her children. I face things head on. I am honest where other people blush. My 9-year-old asked me once about masturbation – they got a straight up answer and not the answer where you go blind and your hand falls off. The answer where they understood the mechanics. As they got older the questions changed from concrete questions to more philosophical. I taught my kids to be critical thinkers. They can hold their own in any conversation…watch out for that girl of mine, she will knock you down a peg or two if she thinks you are not walking within your set of values. Notice I said YOUR values. She doesn’t force her values on anyone, she expect you to live by our own code.So talking about me being abused was fine because they can see I am not a puddle on the floor and they can ask me anything and get an honest answer. I told them may not enjoy reading this blog, but I told them the basics. It’s up to them to explore for themselves. They know I am okay. They also know I can hold my own in any bar fight….so they are secure beds at night.

4) I never understood WHY my mom never left.

That is something you can understand. Listen to her. Be empathetic. You will figure it out. I have a feeling it had more to do about not letting you be homeless than it was about her not having courage.

5) It was stupid for you to confront that man.

I didn’t confront him. I supported her. If you can’t see that, then you still don’t get it and that’s okay, I can explain it a different way. I do not speak angry. Angry is a language that comes from somewhere deep inside and spews out hate. I have been on the receiving end many times but I shut down. I listen, absorb and hurt when it happens. I always stay quiet instead of fighting back. BECAUSE quiet is more powerful than words. Lowering your voice has greater impact than yelling louder. I wasn’t there for him, I was standing in solidarity with her. It wasn’t about him. It was about supporting her. I could care less about him. I cared about her. I could have been hurt. He would have had spent time in prison. Besides…..I know a guy 😉

6) WHY

Why is complicated. All I know is doing the right thing is hard. Doing nothing is easy. People say “Mind your own business”. Helping is different. Its part of who I am. All I wish for is for people to respect each other. Easy.

Respect means loyalty, kindness, equality, empathy and other things as well.

7) Did you do this to gain popularity?

HAHAHAHAHA no. I did this because I know how it feels to have no one stand up for you. It happened years ago. It happened last year and more recently it happened this spring. I was shocked when the one person I expected to support me didn’t. I get why now, he isn’t as strong as I thought he was. That’s okay too. Not everyone is who you need them to be. Just love them for who they are.

If I wanted to be popular, you would all get to see me naked. Being smart is way better than being naked.

8) How did you get out?

Hmmm. That is a bit more complicated. Without going into details that just don’t matter, I will say I did things that I would not have done today to be free. However, I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not done those things. It was hard and a lot of people were very angry with me. It was a lonely time and I don’t wish it on anyone. The one thing I might do differently is tell people EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Victim shaming needs to stop.

9) You were brave.

If being scared is brave than I suppose I was. I just want to get people thinking. You may do something different because your life experience is different. BUT THINK. Think about actions and consequences. If you can live with the consequences, then you are golden.

10) I wish there was someone to tell him to be a better man.

All I can say to that is be the man you want your son to be. Change is possible. You do not have to follow in footsteps that are abusive, hurtful or sexually harmful. Fix your corner of the world. If everyone did that, this place would be awesome. I know WAY MORE GREAT MEN then I know terrible ones. I no longer give my time to terrible ones. It’s your time, your life. Live it so your offspring would be proud to call you Mom or Dad. If you don’t have kids, live your life so you would be proud to tell your Grandma, Mom or other important person in your life. They should know everything. No secrets. If you have a secret, then something is wrong. Fix it.

While we are on this subject, Men get a bad wrap. Women are far more sneaky and evil than men. Or perhaps that is just from my perspective. The men I have in my life are people I admire – except for that one guy….we all have THAT ONE GUY in our life that just needs someone to nurture a bit…then he will come around. But don’t condone his actions. Make him accountable…as long as you make yourself accountable. Judging is different. Don’t judge – it’s not cool or politically correct or nice. BE NICE PEOPLE!

11) How can you ever get over something like that?

You just do or you die. Everyone handles things differently. I have had triggers lately that have been upsetting for me. But there have been a heck of a lot of OTHER things in my life that are MORE upsetting. I suppose it is perspective.

Live is just a series of experiences. You take something away for each one, apply it to the next and so on. The plan is for one day to have learned enough from your experiences to have nothing phase you. Water off a ducks back. When that happens you die. The End.

Most of my experiences have been crappy ones. HOWEVER, I have learned a TON OF STUFF! I could start my own University, or Country or Planet with the stuff I learned. I can also tell you that I also don’t really know anything. Its complicated.

Just be kind and things will work out okay. If things are not okay, you are not at the end yet. Be patient, you will get there.

Moving forward

Lots of people are going to read this and think I am blaming. I am not. I am healing. That is a big difference. 

healing-hurt

Here is something you don’t hear everyday:

I was in an abusive relationship.

The question is WHY don’t we hear it? Likely because the whole issue of victim shaming comes up. It is as if the person who was abused should have somehow stopped it from happening.

I have news for you: They don’t know how. When you are in that situation, you can not see your way out.

I know, because it happened to me. For 10 years I was trapped, ages 16-26

I met this man (and I use this term lightly) when I was 16 and he was 21.  He took over my life by separating me from my family and friends, tell me my mom didn’t love me and I needed to accept that. I was emotionally abused, mentally abused and sexually abused and raped (for the record: nonconsensual married sex is STILL RAPE) I broke up with him once but because I didn’t tell anyone why – I felt forced back into that relationship. I can’t tell you why I told none. I don’t really know. I do know I can speculate.

  1.  Victim blaming. I should have been stronger. I should have asked for help. I shouldacouldawoulda.
  2. I felt pressure to get married and live happily ever after.
  3. I didn’t realize that life began when you are older, not ending when you are a teen.
  4. I didn’t know myself very well. If I knew then what I know now….he would be a puddle on the floor weeping….wait – I already made him feel that way.

I have had a lot of triggers lately that have brought me back to that moment when my life was the darkest. I understand that people expect me to just ‘let it go’ but it is nearly impossible and there is science behind it.

Doctor Bruce Perry has done copious amounts of research on the effects of Brain Trauma in Children. The human brain does not fully develop until it is 25 years old. The younger you are, the more affected by trauma you are.

For example: An infant and a 12 year old witness the same incident. The infant will have longer lasting affects than the 12 year old because the brain isn’t as developed. However, both with suffer long term. This explains why incidents from childhood are harder to get over than incidents as adults. Adults can put things into perspective. Children have zero life experience to go on.

I was 16 -26 years old during this time. My brain was not fully developed. I did not have the tools to figure it out.

Looking back, it is not my abuser who upsets me, it was the lack of empathy I received. That was the part that was traumatic. I wasn’t believed when I told people, if I was, I was judged for not fixing it.

I was in Costco the other day and I witnessed a man (again I use that term loosely) yelling at his girlfriend in the middle of the store. He was shaming her about her decision to purchase something without his approval.

My first thought was “if he is doing this in front of strangers, what will he do to her in private?”. I became the person who I wanted to rescue me when I was in that situation.

He was dropping FBombs ever second word. His body language was threatening. He was furious and shaming her was making him feel strong and powerful.

I crept uncomfortable close to this couple. I inched my way until I was in his space, but beside her in solidarity. I just stared at him and he finally turned to me and said “WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?” I did not answer him because that would give him power that he did not deserve. I turned to her and softly said “you can do better that him”. She wouldn’t meet my gaze, but hang her head in shame. He gave me the stink eye and stormed off while she hung back.

I left the store and saw him out side. I know he saw me but he wouldn’t meet my gaze. I walked passed him and pointed him out to my family and told his story – so he could hear me. I shamed him back. I do realize I didn’t make her situation better if she chooses to remain with him.

And she will.

But I planted a seed. I validated that what he is doing is not okay and she is not imagining it. That is all victims need to get the ball rolling. They need someone who is empathetic, not sympathetic. There is a difference. Sympathy implies that you want to fix the situation and will sliver line it. Empathy implies that you don’t know how to fix it, but you understand. You are the ear or the shoulder for leaning. Not every situation needs to be fixed, or can be fixed. When we love someone, we just want to fix stuff. I have a friend who is the best at being empathetic. So much so, that just him saying “I can’t imagine how you feel, but I will be your shoulder” is enough for me to feel protected and safe.

I completely understand why he is angry and abuses his girlfriend. Understanding it doesn’t make the behaviour okay.  Blaming needs to stop somewhere.

When I was being abused, one person stood up for me. Ironically it was the sister – and not the sister I expected to help me. The one I expected to help paraded me in front of a series of abusers and made me feel little and alone. I will forever respect the sister who stood up for me, who showed me that there are better choices out there. Who got me started on THINKING about making a plan to get out.

I will pay if forward because of her, every single time I see an abuser. I will make them as uncomfortable as possible because I am empathetic, not sympathetic.