The Jar Candle

I’ve written a lot about my abusers. A1 and A2 have been the subject of my entries many times. What I haven’t really talked about is the abuse I endured from a seemingly normal relationship. In between A1 and A2 there was a guy that I was completely in love with. We’ll call him J. For the first 3 years of our relationship things went just fine. Normal arguments that were resolved in a healthy manner, respect for each other, and even loads of laughs. Then year 4 happened and I realized that not all abuse comes from an abusive relationship.

We had been rocky for a while and at one point I had started to become suspicious that J may have been hooking up with other women. There was a girl that he worked with that very obviously had a thing for him. If it wasn’t so blatantly obvious I would have just considered her his work wife and called it a day.

This particular story takes place on a Sunday. J was a manager at a retail chain and had to go into worked after hours for a store meeting. He said it was mandatory for all employees to attend, which was why they chose to hold the meeting on a Sunday after close. The store he worked at closed at 6 on Sundays, so this made it easy for all employees to be there. Ok, no big deal. Seems pretty cut and dry. Around 7ish J texts me saying a few of the guys were going for drinks. Ok, again, no worries.

Now, this bit of the story is a bit fuzzy. I don’t remember exactly how I found out, I think maybe social media, but I somehow found out that this girl from work was also going out for drinks. I ask him about it and he shrugs it off as, yeah yeah she’s one of the guys. Ok, fine, no big deal.

Well, no big deal until midnight rolls around and I have zero idea where he is. He told me he’d be home around 10 and the place they went closed at 11 on Sundays. I was worried, I knew he’d been drinking. I honestly thought he was either dead in a ditch or had gotten pulled over and popped for a DUI. I drove out to where he said they were, which was only about 10 minutes away, and there was no sign of him. At this point I had called him and text him a few times with no answer. I was in a panic.

When I got back home I call and text again, but nothing. I called the highway patrol info line to see if they could look up accidents or arrests. They looked everything up for me and there was nothing. My worry turned to anger. If he wasn’t hurt or in trouble in any way, why couldn’t he just shoot me a text and say hey I’m fine, I’m just here now. I call again, this time it rings twice and goes to voicemail. Yep, he purposely ignored my call.

About 2 hours later he finally calls me. On his way home. Tells me he had no idea I was trying to get a hold of him and they just went somewhere else so why am I even mad. Because I thought you were dead asshole. But at this point I know, he’s full of shit. I ask about the girl.

At this point all hell breaks loose. I ask him why he’s so defensive and he just yells some more. Everything is my fault all because I said he should have just let me know they went somewhere else so I didn’t worry. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but apparently it was the end of the world. In a fit of rage while we were arguing over the fact that he said he didn’t know I called, but very obviously ignored my call, I grabbed his phone. You would have thought I murdered someone. I asked him why he was so defensive over his phone, what was in there he didn’t want me to see. I never looked through it, just asked. I never did get an answer.

There was a moment that night where he had punched a hole in the door, saying I was lucky it wasn’t my face (I was standing next to said door), but I honestly don’t even remember where that happened in the timeline. But it happened somewhere between me grabbing his phone and what I’m about to explain next.

I don’t remember exactly what instigated it, but he charged at me. He came at me like a bull in a china shop and I had to physically run away to avoid getting plowed over. He cornered me in the guest bedroom. The anger on his face was something I had seen before, but never from him. I was so scared that he was going to hit me that I threw his phone across the room hoping that would get him away from me. It worked, he went across the room to pick it up.

At that point I was I thought that was it. I figured we’d walk away and discuss things in the morning. We’d never fought like that before and I blamed his belligerence on the alcohol. But he wasn’t done. I stood in the doorway of the bedroom looking out at him in the kitchen. He still had that angry look on his face like someone had kicked his own mother right in front of him. Even from across the house, he scared me. Then it happened, one of the scariest moments of my entire life.

He picked up one of those large 3-wick glass jar candles. From across the room he threw the candle right at my head. Luckily, I had enough time to duck. It hit the door that behind me and shattered. He was so angry that he missed that he charged at me and pushed me into the pile of broken glass.

I was in absolute shock. I grabbed my hoodie, my phone, and my car keys and bolted out the door. I drove to my friend’s house, who unfortunately was sleeping, and then back home. I was in so much shock that it wasn’t until I was back home in my drive way that I realized I was bleeding through my hoodie. I also apparently still had glass in my arm. I still have the scar.

Apparently he was “really sorry,” about what happened. However, that was the beginning of the end. To be honest, I should have left then and never looked back, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to throw away the prior 3 years. I figured if he really was as sorry we could work on things and figure our shit out like we always managed to do.

The next year was hell and in the end I broke things off because the trust had just been lost. There’s another story there, but it’s way to long to intertwine with this one. I did find out that he was cheating, however not with the girl from work. At least, not that I’m aware. I didn’t find out until things were over, but it was nice to have some closure and realize I wasn’t crazy.

 

 

***NOTE — I just want to make a note that on the night of the incident my daughter was at her dad’s house. She did not have to endure any of this. ***

 

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Learning to Cope

May 31, 2017, around 9:30pm. I was on my way to see a patient that I used to help out at night. The car two cars a head of me was turning into a Checkers. The car in front of me stopped, and therefore I also stopped. The car behind me did not stop. The driver claimed she didn’t see that I was stopped. Not sure how she missed my red brake lights, but accidents happen and I have no malice against her. She made a mistake and I’m sure her life got turned around as well.
This is the part of the post that contains a PSA. After an accident you will probably feel fine. All I felt was an adrenaline rush. I WAS NOT FINE. I had a concussion for 6 weeks afterward. almost 2 months later I was standing in my kitchen trying to get dinner ready and I felt the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. It can take that long for symptoms to show up. Here’s the PSA: ALWAYS GET CHECKED BY A DOCTOR. I’m lucky, I’m a Medical Assistant and I work for an internist. He checked me out the next day. In most states there is a time limit to getting checked by a doctor. In my state it’s 14 days. I can tell you that if I didn’t work where I work, I wouldn’t have known that. I also wouldn’t have bothered going to the doctor. Aside from the occasional back ache and the constant headache from the concussion, I felt fine the first 2-3 weeks. I just felt sore. I AM NOT FINE. I have a total of 5 herniated discs. FIVE. 2 in the thoracic spine, 1 in my cervical Spine, and 2 in my lumbar spine. The lowest one in my lumbar spine, which is the lower back, looks like it’s being swallowed my my spinal cord. When the neurologist showed me the film (well disc) he pointed at it and said that was exactly why I was in so much pain. This is the pain that didn’t show up for 2 months. If I hadn’t gotten checked up withing the first 14 days after the accident, I would have been shit out of luck and none of my medical bills would have been paid. ALWAYS GET CHECKED OUT PLEASE!!! Even if you just start the case and never need to worry about it again, at least it’s started should anything arise.
After the accident my life turned upside down. My car was totaled. I had been in a rental for over a week. I got a phone call that I owed Enterprise $450 for taxes and insurance. That was AFTER the at fault party’s insurance paid their part. $450 for a car that I had for a week. My monthly car payment wasn’t even close to that. This is also where I mention that I’m a single mom, low income, and I have shitty credit. I went and paid the $450, which meant there were bills that were being put on the back burner. Luckily I somehow had the money in my account, but it was most of the money I had. I went to the Honda dealership to see what I could do. I’d had a loan with Honda Finance before when my credit was aces and I never missed a payment, so I hoped they would take pity on me. They did. In fact, they managed to get me into a brand new 2017 Honda Fit wit the payments not being much more than what I was paying for the car that got totaled. They even let me leave the rental and called Enterprise to come pick it up, so I didn’t incur anymore rental charges. They did good.
My finances did end up recovering, but most of that was due to the amazing team at my lawyer’s office. They worked magic and got a good chunk of my share of the medical bills reduced. Between that and my boss writing off my bill (he will never charge his employees) I was able to get enough of a settlement to get things back on track.
The problem is, money doesn’t help your health. My discs are always going to be herniated. In fact, just because humans walk upright, my herniations will just get worse. I will not be surprised if I end up with a compression fracture by the time I’m 60. The worst part is the things I either can’t do at all or have to retrain myself to do differently.
Here are some things I miss doing since I was in the car accident.
 
*walking around Orange Lake
 
*taking walks around the block with my kids
 
*not having to sit down at work halfway through filing because my leg says no.
 
*not feeling like a junkie every time I put a pill in my mouth. Shit, I’m not even on narcotics and I still feel like people are secretly judging.
 
*cooking dinner on the stove
 
*properly cleaning my house. Who would have thought I’d miss that.
 
*exercising to lose weight rather than to stretch and hopefully feel better
 
*nature photography sessions. I’m slowly trying to get this back on track.
 
*not waking up with extreme leg pain at 3am.
*cleaning my pool
 
*not holding on to the wall when I have to walk to the bathroom
 
*being able to walk anywhere without stopping because the pain is so bad.
 
*being able to stand in place for longer than 2 minutes without the lower right part of my body locking up in pain.
 
*simple fibromyalgia pain. I know that sounds shitty, and yes I was in pain then, but adding the herniations and radiculopathy on top of that just fucked up my whole world. I would love to just go back to fibromyalgia pain.
 
*being able to tell friends that I will for sure be somewhere. I can’t really make concrete plans anymore. I can guess that I may be feeling ok on the weekend, but even then it’s hit or miss.
 
These are really just a few things. I know a lot of you don’t really even know what happened, but today I felt like sharing. I just want you guys to all remember that sometimes you don’t know whats’s going on in someone’s life.
 
Having to relearn how to do things and find a new normal is really hard. Before the accident I was just dealing with fibromyalgia. I had days that were bad, but bad days were around a 7-8 pain level. Now my bad days tops the charts. IN the words of Spinal Tap, this one goes to 11. The pain scale is supposed to stop at 10, but when I’m standing in my kitchen crying, afraid to move because it may hurt more than it hurts at that moment, I’m calling that 11. It’s the worst pain I’ve even felt in my whole life, and that’s saying something. My 10 used to be when I had an ovarian cyst rupture. I was in the fetal position sobbing. The radiculopathy in my leg tops that on bad days. 
My saving grace is my reminder to myself that my world changed once before. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia I had a hard time. Simple tasks like cleaning off the kitchen table were hard. Some days I felt fine and I would run around doing everything only to feel like I had been hit by a truck the next day. I had to relearn how to do so much. Just like I’m doing now. If I did it then, I can do it now.
I CAN DO IT NOW.
 

Kate Spade

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know who Kate Spade is. You probably also know that the iconic fashion designer hanged herself on Tuesday June 5, 2018. She was only 55 years old.

One thing I keep hearing that really bothers me is why would someone who has what she has, hang themselves? According to the note she left her daughter, there was a divorce looming. But is that enough to cause a person to want to end their life? While it may not be the sole reason, coming to the end of a 24 year marriage can definitely be a trigger.

Spade’s sister, Reta Saffo, made mention of Spade’s struggle with what she believed was bipolar disorder. Saffo claims her sister was not getting the proper care and that she tried many times to help her. SOURCE

I hope that, if anything, her death helps raise awareness to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. We may never know why Kate Spade decided not to receive proper treatment. What we do know is that in 2011 60% of adult Americans that were diagnosed with a mental illness are left untreated. We also know that 1 in 5 adults has a mental illness. That’s around 43.8 billion, and that’s just the adults. SOURCE

America, we need to get our shit together. This is not ok! People shouldn’t feel bad for getting help or treatment. They shouldn’t feel belittled or like less of a person. The brain is an organ just like any other in our bodies. If your pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, you see a doctor and get treatment for your diabetes. Why is it frowned about in America to get treatment for your brain when it doesn’t produce what it should or function the way it was intended?

IT’S OK TO SEEK HELP! IT’S OK TO GET TREATMENT!

Kate Spade will be deeply missed. Her family and friends are in my heart and I wish them the best during this rough time.

Helping Your Child Live

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Not because I’m doing great and have nothing to write about. Because I’ve been distracted by something much more important in my life, my son.

The last 3-4 weeks of preschool my son went from the boy who was always well behaved and helping the teachers, to the boy who was flipping desks and throwing chairs. On more than one occasion he had to move to the 3 year old class because he would hit his pregnant teacher in the stomach. He wasn’t aiming that way, it just happened to be where his little hands could reach.

The behavior didn’t stop when he started Kindergarten. I qualified for a scholarship to a private school and he was accepted. Unfortunately, his assessment for the school had been done before his behavior issues started. The school handled things as best they could, but I was constantly getting calls to come pick him up because he had hit students or staff. This sudden violence in my child was disturbing. The first 6 weeks of Kindergarten he was suspended 3 times. I had a sit down with the assistant principal of the school and we decided that public school would be a better option for him because they had the resources to actually help him rather than just sending him home. They wanted him to stay, but sadly they just weren’t able to properly accommodate him.

In between pre-k and kindergarten we had an appointment with his pediatrician. The pediatrician referred us to a neurologist, but did say my son seemed like a text book case of ADHD and ODD. About 2 months ago he got an official diagnosis of ADHD. A week and a half ago he officially started his meds. Today on Facebook I saw the memory of his pre-school graduation. That means it was a full year since we started this journey. A full year chaos, heartbreak, suspensions, and tears.

The road wasn’t easy. There were always people in the background telling me what I should do with my kid. People telling me I needed to whoop his ass or somehow discipline him better. I’ve been taking him to a behavioral specialist and she helps with good discipline tactics that are actually good for my son. Things like sitting with him in time out for a minute until he’s calm enough to sit by himself. She’s also helping him with coping mechanisms. Right now his go to is deep breaths, singing Soft Kitty, and counting to 10 over and over until he feels better.

My child isn’t bad. He doesn’t mean to hit or be violent (which is what he was always suspended for). He just gets frustrated and can’t control himself. The school he is at is actually amazing with him. Even after he hits, they all remind him how much he is loved and that they know he didn’t mean it. Every time he hits, he feels remorse. With the medication, he doesn’t hit. It clears his head enough to give him impulse control. Now when he gets angry he can take the steps he’s learned in behavior therapy and actually apply them.

I’m doing the best that I can. With his dad, A2, being an absent parent, I have to do all the leg work. I struggled with whether or not I should tell A2 about the meds. In the end, I decided it was best to be the better person and I told him. Of course, just as I suspected, he tried to argue. He tried to tell me he hadn’t even been diagnosed, which I KNOW I told him. I have the text showing I did. But, hey, once a gaslighter always a gaslighter. It took all my strength not to take the bait and yell at him. ALL MY STRENGTH.

I wanted to tell him that I am the one who has to drive to the school to pick our son up when he was violent again. I am the one who has to hols his hands down so he doesn’t scratch while he’s in time out. I am the one who has to listen to my sweet little boy tell me that he hates me and that he doesn’t want a mom anymore. I am the one who has to hold his hand while he cries because he’s so so so sorry and he doesn’t understand why he is the way he is. I do those things, all of them. And they break my heart. So, no, you don’t get to tell me how to handle the situation while you sit on your bed in your room in your mother’s house where you moved to because God forbid you learn how to be a proper adult and live on your own. I make those decisions, because I’m the one who is raising my child.

I am the one who gets to listen to that sweet voice tell me about the wonderful day he had at school. And I am the one who gets tears in my eyes, both happy and sad, because my 5 year old understand what his medication is for and is excited about how well it helps him.

I’m doing my best teaching my 5 year old how to live rather than survive, and it breaks my heart that I even have to.

Cosmic Balance

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, wow what did I do right in my life to deserve you? I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I had ever had that thought. Sure, I thought I was lucky to have someone in my life. Of course I felt like a won the lottery when my kids were born. And, yes, I appreciate the fact that I have an amazing and supportive family. But, until recently, I never actually looked another human and thought, wow I must have done something seriously right in the eyes of the universe to deserve such an amazing person in my life.

I’m used to the opposite. I’m used to crying in my bed alone wondering what I did so horribly wrong to deserve the shit show that was my life. What karmic injustice did I perform to get stuck with such a horrible partner? The other day it all clicked. I looked at my boyfriend and I knew why I had been stuck with shitty partners my whole life.

Friday was hard for me. My depression has been ridiculous lately, even for me. I haven’t talked about it here yet, but I was in a car accident a few months ago. I was rear ended at 45 mph while I was at an almost stop waiting for the car 2 cars in front of me to turn. I’m now the proud owner of 5 herniated discs from top to bottom of my spine. The fact that I have days where I can’t even stand too long without wanting to break down in tears does not help my depression. Friday I felt like I was going to break.

I was at the boyfriend’s house laying in bed trying to sleep. He was out in the living room just screwing around on the internet, not ready for bed. No big deal, he had just come off of a 12 day work week, as he only gets every other weekend off. He was enjoying his time as he does. I had been tossing and turning for what seemed like days when Irrational Brain decided to rear her ugly head.

Irrational Brain is my nemesis, full stop. She stands there with her smug look and slender face. She’s the type of person that would wear a cape just to see the horrified look on Edna Mode’s face. Irrational Brain is so evil she would bring Thanos to his knees with a single glance. She’s cold and calculated, but on a good day I can beat her. Friday was not that day.

I marched into the living room, declared that I couldn’t deal with whatever it was my boyfriend was hiding (spoiler alert, it’s nothing), and snatched up my keys to leave. This man looked at me with the most clueless face I had ever seen. I asked him straight up if he was cheating on me. Why? I have no clue. I have zero reason to even think that he is. My boyfriend managed a “What? No, what? Why?” Before he just looked at me completely puzzled. Irrational Brain swooshed her cape and cackled, then vanished.

Everything that happened after that moment is why I love this man with every fiber of my being. He had me go get his phone. he unlocked it and just handed it to me. I never asked him to see it because Irrational Brain had left. But, he knew it would make me feel better. He knew that if I didn’t have something to put my mind at ease that Irrational Brain would come back for round 2. Shocker, there was absolutely nothing of note in his phone. He followed me to bed and wrapped his arms around me. I remember looking at him right before I fell asleep and thinking wow, what did I do right in my life to deserve having this amazing human be a part of it.

He never got mad at me for asking him. He never told me I was ridiculous for being upset, even if I was being ridiculous. He was calm and collected the whole time. He simply did what he knew would help diffuse the situation and make me feel better. He’s gotten a lot better at helping me manage. It’s when he helps me manage like this that I realize why I’ve dealt with shit my whole life. If I hadn’t dealt with the scum, I’d never fully appreciate his value.

Not Just Loved Ones

One of the many myths surrounding abuse is that it can only come from those who you are close with. This is false. Abuse can come from people in power like teachers or bosses. It can come from people you see on a regular basis, like co-workers or classmates. It can basically come from just about anywhere, so it’s important to be able to spot the signs.

Bullying is a type of abuse. You don’t have to be shoved in your locker or pushed in the hallway to be a victim of bullying. Emotional bullying, which is a form of abuse, can come in many forms. Bullies can use name calling, threats, lying, and even excluding someone from a group as forms of abuse. The bully that constantly tells you that you smell bad or that you’re a freak. The girl who is always asking your friends to hang out, but refusing to let you come without ever giving a reason as to why she doesn’t want you around. The boy that’s going around lying to everyone who will listen that he slept with you and that you were horrible in bed, simply because you turned him down for a date last week. These are all forms of bullying and emotional abuse.

It can happen at work too. The co-worker who tried to get you fired last week, but then comes in with coffee for you to get on your good side. She’s just manipulating you to think that she is ok with you now. Chances are she’s just focused her claws on someone else and wants you to help. When that doesn’t work she’ll come back around to you. I’ve seen it first hand. I actually had a boss who was like this once. Each week it was a different person that she focused on. She made the department heads cry a lot. The next week she’d be on to a different department head, making his or her life miserable. When she couldn’t break that one, she’d step it up a notch. Pick at small details or dish out impossible tasks. She once yelled at me for helping another department head because I had 4 whole boxes (less than 10 minutes of work) that I hadn’t finished yet. She made the other department head do her work herself, which entailed climbing up and down the ladder several times (I had been handing her merchandise to help move things along).

I’ve had a co-worker yell at me because she felt I was lying on my time card. Actual yelling, telling me I was taking advantage of our boss. She even lied to our boss about driving behind me and knowing when I got to work. Luckily, he didn’t buy it, but stuff like that creates a hostile work environment. The worst part is, when you’re a survivor, you actually question yourself. It took a few days for me to convince myself that I was right. I even questioned my own memory, since I remembered seeing a car behind me that had a guy and no one else (she claimed she was behind me and that’s how she knew). Maybe I was wrong? Maybe that’s not what I saw? That’s the torment I put myself through. In the end I had another co-worker tell me he saw me at work when I said I was. He backed me up and that felt a million times better. Questioning yourself is never easy.

Then you get the abusers who are in a position of power. The teacher may constantly call you out in front of your classmates, “don’t be like Jimmy, he’s always failing.” One of the biggest forms of abuse, doesn’t even look like abuse. Jokes. Jokes can often times be mean and hurtful, and not really jokes at all. “Ha ha Jenny, you finally found something other than black in your closet. Did you finally forgive the rainbow for hurting you?” This is effective as abuse because it may make the other students laugh. by laughing, they are giving the abuser more power and can make it easier for him or her to say, “hey lighten up, it’s just a joke.”

As I stated before, bosses can do this too. In my situation it was a boss that was the bully. She’d give me 4 hours worth of work an hour before I was scheduled to go home and then remind me that I had to clock out on time because we weren’t allowed to have overtime. I went from one boss who had given me a merit raise for my outstanding performance to this boss who wrote me up for not doing my job properly (same exact job).

These are just a few examples of how abuse can come from someone you aren’t intimate with in any way, someone you aren’t even social with. Anyone you interact with on a regular basis can be manipulative or abusive toward you. Many times they will single someone out so that others don’t see it. Then, when you try to speak up, your co-workers or classmates (or whoever you are around) won’t believe you. They’ll think you’re imagining it or just taking that person that wrong way. That’s a favorite of abusers. The old “you’re misunderstanding me.” or “you’re taking it the wrong way, that’s not what I meant.”

Be careful out there folks, it’s a big scary world out there. Know the signs and if you find yourself in a toxic or abusive situation, know who you can turn to for help.

From the Outside Looking In

Being on the outside looking in is always hard. Watching someone you love go through an abusive relationship can be exhausting, especially when you have been there yourself. It’s not an easy road, but there are some very important things you can do to help your friend or family member through.

First, always be there. Yes, there may come a time that your loved one cuts you out. Don’t get mad, understand that they are being controlled. They may be mad at you now, they might not even know why. Maybe you warned you about the red flags you see. Maybe their significant other saw you helping and going against them. Usually the friends or family that seem the most threatening to the abuser are the first to get cut out. But, I promise you, somewhere deep inside your loved one feels guilty. They miss you and love you. There will be times when they want nothing more than for things to be back the way they were before, when they could talk to you about their problems. Just make sure that when they do cut you off, you let them know that you’ll be there when they need you. And if they do need you, make sure you’re there.

Next, it’s ok to warn your loved one. Tell them all about the red flags you see and the toxic things their partner is doing. You might be surprised, they may listen. If it’s early enough in the relationship they may not be completely emotionally invested. However, don’t be surprised if they blow you off. Prepare yourself for a barrage of “he’s not like that”, “you just don’t know her like I do”, or “they just really care about me, that’s all.” The thing is, your loved one is on the inside. They may not see the flags, they just feel what they feel about the other person. Things most likely weren’t like this in the beginning of the relationship. Abuse takes time and it happens slowly.

Don’t push, your loved one doesn’t need that. Once you’ve told them you see the flags, don’t consistently bring it up. All that will do is make your friend or family member resent you. Tell them once, maybe twice, and let it be. Constantly reminding them that they are in a bad relationship only makes them feel worse about themselves. Just like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. The person you are trying to help is their own person. This is something they need to figure out on their own. Eventually they will realize what’s going on. When they do …

Don’t tell them “I told you so” or remind them that you tried to stop this when you first saw the signs. Trust me, they remember, and they most likely feel like shit for not listening. Right now what they need is someone to listen. It’s very possible that while your loved one realizes what’s going on, they aren’t ready to leave just yet. Make sure you remind them that you are there, and then ACTUALLY be there when they need you. No matter how many times they try to leave and fail, be there. Be there EVERY TIME. They will leave when they are ready. It’s a process and it takes a lot of emotions and sometimes a great deal of planning. It also takes a great deal of courage.

Yes, I know watching someone you love get hurt is hard, but remember, they are actually living it and that’s a lot harder. I’m currently watching someone I love go through this now, and it’s hard because I see the flags. But, I have to keep reminding myself that I was in her shoes once. I KNOW how it works and that she won’t leave until she sees it herself and then makes her choice. It’s a long road, and watching from the outside can be rough, but as long as you are waiting for them at the end, you can help rebuild.

Understanding Vs. Understanding

One of the hardest things about dealing with trauma is finding someone who truly understand what you are going through. There is a reason why many people seek support groups. In order to fully understand something, you need to have experienced it yourself. You may be able to imagine how it feels and you’ll most likely have compassion for the person who experienced the trauma, but you’ll never really understand what they are going through.

It reminds me of an episode of Criminal Minds. The team was investigating a child abduction and JJ was interviewing the parents. She said to the mom that she understood it was hard and the mom asked her if she had kids. JJ responded with no and the mother asked her she could possibly understand what losing a child must feel like if she doesn’t even have a child to lose. She wasn’t wrong and JJ said as much.

But, wait, why do trauma survivors want you to be more understanding then if we know you won’t understand? Well, understanding is both a noun and an adjective. I know you aren’t going to know exactly how I feel and what it’s like to experience my triggers. In that sense, you won’t understand. But, what you can do is be sympathetic and compassionate, or rather, understanding.

The thing is, I don’t want people to actually understand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice feeling when someone does get it. But, that also means they’ve been through it. In order to fully comprehend and understand what I’m going through, you’d have to go through it to. I would never WANT my loved ones to go through the traumas I’ve experienced. I don’t want you to understand. I just want you to be understanding.

Music is For the Soul

Music is one of my favorite things in the whole world. There isn’t much in this world that is better than having a song that you really connect with. A song with lyrics that speak to you. One that sounds like it could have been written  about your life. As human beings one of the most important things is finding a connection. To me, one of the most honest connections is one I have with music.

One of my favorite things is the way that connection changes through time. The best example for this, for me, is “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos. Here are the lyrics for reference:

Excuse me, but can I be you for a while
My dog won’t bite if you sit real still
I got the Anti-Christ in the kitchen yellin’ at me again
Yeah, I can hear that
Been saved again by the garbage truck
I got something to say, you know, but nothing comes
Yes, I know what you think of me, you never shut up
Yeah, I can hear that

But what if I’m a mermaid, in these jeans of his with her name still on it
Hey, but I don’t care ’cause sometimes, I said sometimes I hear my voice.
And it’s been here silent all these years

So you found a girl who thinks really deep thoughts
What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts
Boy you best pray that I bleed real soon
How’s that thought for you
My scream got lost in a paper cup
You think there’s a heaven where some screams have gone
I got twenty-five bucks an’ a cracker
Do you think it’s enough to get us there

Cause what if I’m a mermaid, in these jeans of his with her name still on it
Hey, but I don’t care ’cause sometimes, I said sometimes I hear my voice
And it’s been here silent all these

Years go by, will I still be waiting for somebody else to understand
Years go by, if I’m stripped of my beauty and the orange clouds raining in my head
Years go by, will I choke on my tears ’til, finally there is nothing left
One more casualty, you know we’re too easy, easy, easy

Well, I love the way we communicate
Your eyes focus on my funny lip shape
Let’s hear what you think of me now
But, baby, don’t look up- the sky is falling
Your mother shows up in a nasty dress
Hmm, it’s your turn now to stand where I stand
Everybody lookin’ at you, here taken hold of my hand
Yeah, I can hear them

But what if I’m a mermaid in these jeans of yours with her name still on it
Hey, but I don’t care ’cause sometimes, I said sometimes I hear my voice
I hear my voice, I hear my voice, and it’s been here
Silent all these years. I’ve been here silent all these years
Silent all these, silent all these years

 

And the song: Silent All These Years

Let’s dive into the back story. This song came out in 1992. I didn’t hear it until around ’95, when I was in high school. The last 2 years I was in high school until I was about 22, I went through a major depression. I dealt without a recurring nightmare that escalated from once or twice a month to once or twice a week. My mom and my step father were fighting constantly. My step father was constantly blaming me, very loudly, for their failed marriage. I was a bitch and a failure, and I heard that constantly. It wasn’t easy. I was suicidal and actually attempted once in the shower. While I knew the words didn’t exactly fit my circumstance, some of the lyrics spoke to me. Especially that first verse. The line “boy you best pray that I bleed real soon” is obviously about getting pregnant, but I equated it to me wanting to die. It’s funny how lyrics can be so subjective.

Listening to the song now, it’s more about my life than I could have imagined. The words have changed meanings for me and I truly have a deeper understand for them. “I’ve got something to say, you know, but nothing comes.” I lived this for so long. So many years of wanting to speak up, but just not having the words. Or not wanting to cause an issue by saying something. That’s what abuse feels like. It’s remaining quiet even though you want to scream to the world. It’s knowing that what is going on is wrong, but being too afraid to make the words come out. It’s listening to someone constantly berate you and just standing there and taking it because you know it would be 20 times worse if you say even a word in your own defense.

“Boy you best pray that I bleed real soon.” Then there’s the pregnancy scare. I was 21 and scared as all get out. In the end, I decided becoming a mother was what I wanted, and I now have an amazing 16 year old, but I won’t pretend I didn’t dwell on it a lot. Same lyric, different meaning. Amazing how that works.

I won’t detail every inch of the song, but it’s still my go to when I need to relate to something. When I’m feeling lost, like no one in the world understands, it’s there for me. Reminding me that I’m not alone and that things like this happen to other people. It speaks to me and helps me stay grounded.

Music speaks to the soul. All you have to do is listen.

Meltdown

Yesterday I had a meltdown. My boyfriend got to see 100% in full force what a real trigger looks like. Not that he hasn’t seen it from me before, but this was probably the worst he’s actually seen with his own eyes.

We were sitting in his living room watching YouTube, or maybe it was Netflix, I honestly don’t remember at this point. I can’t even remember what we were discussing, but I remember I Googled something because we had conflicting ideas about something. He has a habit of saying “no, you’re wrong” no matter what the answer is, no matter who he’s talking to. I could quote exactly what he said word for word and he’d say “no, you’re wrong.” He doesn’t do it to be mean or be a jerk, he’s usually just trying to be funny and then he’ll ask what it actually says. 95% of the time I’m absolutely fine with it. 4% of the time it makes me a bit cringey, but I brush it off. Yesterday was that small 1% of the time where it makes me want to gouge out eyes.

See, here’s the thing, A2 was notorious for telling me I was wrong. Always. Not jokingly, to gaslight me. I was ALWAYS wrong about EVERYTHING. I could show him proof that I wasn’t wrong, and I was still wrong. I could tell him how to spell his name, and I would be wrong. And when I would prove to him I was right, then I was a horrible person who always had to be right. He always asked me why I couldn’t just admit when I was wrong. The thing about it is, I never had a problem admitting when I actually was wrong. Hell, I just did it yesterday.

I just did it yesterday when I apologized to my boyfriend for blowing up at him when he didn’t do anything wrong. I actually got up and stormed out of his house. I called him from my care and told him to find another way to work Sunday morning. I was THAT mad, and he had no idea why. When I was first upset he tried to make me laugh. It’s what he does. It usually works. Yesterday it didn’t work. It just made me more angry. He even did it again after I left. I got as far as the stop light when he called and said “Guess we’re not getting 5 Guys then, huh?” I feel like I should reiterate that he was 100% trying to make me laugh. That’s how he deals with things in his head, he cracks jokes. He doesn’t like fighting or confrontation, so he’s always dealt with it by trying to turn it into humor. On a normal day I probably would have laughed.

But not on this day. No, this day I had a flood of past emotion. The feeling of helplessness of hearing A2 tell me I was wrong. I could hear it in my head over and over like a tornado siren warning me that a storm was coming, because that’s usually what happened when A2 said those words. I fought back. Not always, there was a point in time that I would just shake my head and brush it off. But, after a while I started fighting back again. I had to, for my own sanity. Near the end I wasn’t fighting him so much as I wasn’t fighting myself. I started to believe him when he told me I was wrong. I started to slip and question things I had seen with my own two eyes. Something as simple as knowing that I text him to tell him I had to work a different shift, even though he claimed I didn’t. He’d tell me I was wrong, that I was lying, or even worse that I was delusional. I’d scroll until I found the text and tell him see, see right here I told you, I text you. Suddenly he’d say he never got it so I should have done more to make sure he knew. Or he’d say I must have sent it to someone else, even though with smart phones you can clearly see the whole conversation that it’s in. Even at times when he replied to my text, he’d say he didn’t get it. He must have been replying to something else. He would say anything to make me question my reality. I felt all of that return yesterday. I couldn’t handle it and I walked out. I didn’t know what else to do. I felt broken and upset.

I had to walk away because I felt like I might actually have hit my boyfriend. I know, that seems like something shameful to admit. My mind resorted to violence, and I told him that. But, I walked away from the situation because I recognized that and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I had done something like that. It scared me. The amount of anger I felt at that moment toward him scared the absolute shit out of me. Rationally I knew I wasn’t mad at him, but I was projecting it on to him and that’s not fair to him.

Lucky for me he’s a great guy.  He called me again on my way home. He realized how upset I was when I hung up on him after the humor didn’t work. He apologized. Yes, even though he had done nothing wrong, he apologized. He apologized because he was genuinely sorry for the way he made me feel, even though it wasn’t his intention. Anytime A2 ever hurt my feelings, and that happened a lot, he never apologized. Or if he did, it felt forced. Instead he’d tell me I was too sensitive and that he was just joking so I should calm down. I’m lucky to have a man in my life that recognizes that even if he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, they still got hurt. So he apologized, and then I apologized because he really didn’t do anything wrong. I went home and took a nap to calm down, then went back over later. We’re fine now and life is how it should be.

And as shitty as I felt yesterday I feel amazing. To finally have a proper relationship with someone who listens, even if sometimes I think he doesn’t, and can understand when I get upset, truly is an amazing thing.