Empathy Isn’t Served Here!

As my boyfriend and I entered a local fast food restaurant I noticed a girl sitting at the back corner making a big deal of covering her nose. From the outside looking in, I thought maybe she was suffering from a cold … the truth was far more disgusting. Not for what the truth held, but for the ridiculous reaction of the employees.

A manager approached an elderly and obviously homeless women whom was sitting in the middle of the restaurant. Apparently volume, tact, and empathy were not taught at McD’s managerial school! “Ma’am,” the manager shouted, “I’ve had several complaints about the smell coming from your body. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

The elderly women said she would and as she tried to gather herself her flip phone rang, she told the person she would have to call them back. I watched as she left, my heart breaking in a million pieces. What if she had been their mother or grandmother; how would they have handled it? Offer to buy her hygiene products? Take her into their home? Allow her to wash up at their home?

After the lady left an employee went through the entire restaurant spraying feminine body spray! Do we realize that allergic reactions are more likely to be triggered by perfume than by body odor??? Not to mention the very loud conversation being had in the kitchen long after the lady had left.

Oh, and the kid in the back corner making a big deal of covering her nose? She was not a paying customer, she had tons of candy, an MP3 player and some slime … AND, before the door even shut behind the elderly lady she uncovered her nose and took a deep breath. Really Ms. Drama Queen? If she smelled so bad, it would have taken a long time to clear the air after she left.

I’m destroyed by what I witnessed. It’s Mother’s Day! Maybe she’s not a mom, but maybe she is. It doesn’t matter! She has a heart beat, she deserves the same respect as all others. You don’t know her story, I don’t know her story, her story doesn’t matter … her story is that a little kindness and empathy can go a long way!


Sad Truths Exist in my Heart

This is my perception of how life, society, culture, times and perception have impacted me as an individual. Taking one piece of this story might be insurmountable, but putting it all together I hope to help the reader understand how a simple sarcastic comment can destory years of healing that a person thought they had accomplished.

I was born in 1973, my parents were older than most of my friends parents and had old school values as well. As much as I can appreciate the morals and God fearing home that I was raised in I can now see that some of those old school thoughts set me up for a life of private hell.

(Please note: I know that my parents did an amazing job in rearing me, especially through those teen years! I just want to show how hanging on to archaic thoughts of blame and shame for women can truly destroy a person. My parents were raised a certain way, they took that information and adapted it to create their own tool box of survival skills … they did the best that they could with the information and tools that they had available.)

At a young age I learned that I had to hug others, even if I didn’t want to, because not hugging an elder was a show of disrespect. This seemingly harmless action taught me that my body is not mine and I do not have any personal physical boundaries. When someone would hurt me in a typical kid fight I would tell on them and was often asked, “What did you do to deserve that?” All of these things taught me that I am to blame for EVERYTHING that happens to my body.

In first grade I saw a classmate do something that they shouldn’t have done. Granted, the infraction had no impact on me, but I knew that it was wrong, so I told my teacher. She responded by very publically shaming me and pinning a long tail onto the back of my pants so that everyone would know that I was a “Tattle Tale.”

You might be laughing now, but this only added to my perception that any wrongs should not be discussed with anyone. My pain quickly became my secret.

It wasn’t long after the tattle tale incident that I was touched inappropriately for the first time. My response was to kick him in the groin, I was never told to respond that way, I was never given any form of defense discussion or safety, so this was just a natural fight or flight response. Later that day, or maybe the next, another adult came to me (presumably unaware of the harrowing predicament that caused me to “harm” him). She told me that I can’t kick boys and men there, it’s inappropriate and that I can really hurt someone if I do that. I was never asked why I did it, or how my foot came close enough to connect with his groin, it was all about blaming the child for inappropriate behavior.

These things were all happening in the 1970s and early 1980s, where it was still believed that a girl was “asking for it” by the way she dressed. Although I never figured out how an 8 year old asks for it by what she wears, it’s what I heard the adults around me saying when I overheard discussions about assaults and rapes on women.

Each day brought me more reason to hate being female. If only I were a boy, I could have the power to protect myself, but I wouldn’t need it because I had control over the world and there would be no threats to me or my safety. All of these things congealed in my mind and my most formative years became full of fear, rage, sadness and an inability to accept myself for who I am. I know that I had brief punctuations of good memories, but a constant state of “what’s next?” shadowed every part of my life.

By the time I was a teenager I “knew” that I needed a boyfriend to keep me “safe,” yet I also knew that boys that seemed different were even more threatening to me that the “normal” one’s that just wanted to get close to fulfill that rush of testosterone that overcomes them. I became the bully, I beat the crap out of any boy that might appear to be different or kind … or weak. I took my rage toward the entire male population (save my dad who is and always will be the only man that loved me for me) on poor unsuspecting boys that I couldn’t understand and didn’t take the time to learn to understand.

These acts of badassery made me a challenge to males that just wanted one thing. Add to this that I began to find ways to self-medicate my pain and self-hatred, which put me in harms way more often that I would ever care to admit. Even to the point of putting me in a situation where I was in a public place, unable to ask for help and in a failed sense of finding safety ran to an area of privacy, over a barbed wire fence where a stranger caught me and to this day I can taste the sense of fear that his stale rotten breath breathed into my face as he ridiculed me and had his way. This and other events were never reported because I knew I was to blame and contacting police would mean that I would be ridiculed for the way I dressed or attempting to defend myself or being a tattle tale.

Over the past few months I have been so busy dealing with one situation after another that I have largely isolated myself in an attempt to focus on survival and in rare moments on healing. This has inadvertently left me vulnerable to any communication that seems kind or caring. The vulnerability has made me a target for words of hate by men that have no respect for women.

I barely slept last night because I received a derogatory text from someone that began the conversation with concern about how I’m doing. The comment was painful and in no way can be confused with being a misperception on my part. I am not okay with being treated this way, I have learned that being female does not make me an object to be used, abused and/or discarded by others. Yet, the pain of a lifetime of beliefs based on misperceptions by myself or others is still raw when a comment feels like a threat or blindside me.

I guess, in a way, this is my delayed response to the #MeToo movement. In some ways my silence may have condoned the treatment that I received, but the ultimate consequence of my silence is that no derogatory statement can be made about me that I haven’t already said to myself and at some point believed was a true statement of me.

I don’t believe that there is room in my head or heart for additional pain as I’ve already seen or been through it, now it’s just a knife reopening the scars that have been there for a lifetime.

I am not a victim, I am a survivor of circumstance … a survivor of my personal attacks on myself … a survivor of the old school thoughts of victimization … I am a SURVIVOR.

Not My Proudest Moment

I like to believe that I’m an incredibly tolerant individual, especially when I’m dealing with a person that don’t know me or my story … the past few days completely destroyed my belief in myself!

On Friday, July 13, my daughter and I officially became homeless. We went to a shelter to buy us some time for our potential home to be completed and us time to get some money toward our security deposit and first months rent.

Years ago, I suffered with PTSD, and recently the stress of everything has caused a relapse. I am aware of the physical deterioration of my health, the psychological stuff, I have learned to cope … or so I thought.

The shelter where we stayed required that we attend their nightly chapel sessions, which I was okay with as I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt and this would fill one void. However, our entire stay there was full of chaos and conflict, even during church services. My daughter and I did a great job coping with the constant stress, but last night I began to feel myself losing sight of my coping skills.

I asked a staff member if I could get Caitlin to someone that I could trust so that first thing in the morning I could see my doctor. I was told that leaving would not be tolerated and I must stay until after Monday morning classes.

During my Monday morning I was handed a list of churches that I should probably considering attending. I explained that I have a church family that I trust and love and I would not be interested in changing churches. Staff asked for the name of the church and wrote it down, then informed me that I should still consider their list of churches as they are the ones that donate to the shelter’s cause.

Although their services are Christian based I did not feel that it was appropriate for them to dictate where I worship.

Then, my daughter and I missed dinner because we weren’t back at 5PM, and we missed our 6PM curfew because my daughter had a doctor’s appointment. I had explained this at the classes and was told that I need to schedule all future appointments around the shelters schedule. In a week I will be returning to work, but they prefer that I miss work to get my daughter to the doctor so that it doesn’t interfere with their schedule.

When we returned at 6:30 tonight I gave staff a note showing what time we got to the doctor’s office, what time we left and we were allowed 30 minutes to return! As we were being patted down, scanned with a metal detector and our belongings searched the staff member asked what book my daughter had. It happened to be Harry Potter.

She was told she could not have that book while at the shelter. She immediately defended the fact that she has been reading that since we arrived. It didn’t matter, it would have to be locked up with all of the cellphones, medicines, cigarettes and lighters.

My daughter and I have always coped with stress by reading fictional books. This is our mini mental vacation. I wasn’t surprised when my daughter tossed the book on the desk and ran from the room, but my response did surprise me.

“This agency needs to have some empathy for those in this situation! She is 15, she is going through the worst time in her life. She copes by reading FICTION, she knows that it is FICTION, she is taking a mental vacation and watching a boy coming from nothing and turning his FICTIONAL world on its ear, making that boy a success! If you can’t respect a person’s prized coping skill then you have no business working in this field!”

It may seem stupid, my daughter and I left the shelter over a freaking book! That is not why we left, it was because that was just another symbol of our dignity stripped from us because I’m too poor to pay rent in a community that was clearly too rich for my blood.

He Didn’t Mean to Kill Me

The words that follow are results of some deep soul searching after some seemingly unrelated events triggered an enormous revelation: No matter how much I have “healed” from my experience of surviving domestic violence … I will always carry that trauma with me.

I happen to be a female, my perpetrator happened to be male, we happened to be a blended family that could easily be referred to as “trailer park trash” if the statement was based on our gross income. We happened to live together prior to marriage, and yes, I did marry him because I thought our commitment would prove my love to him and stop the beatings.

We fit just about every myth there is about the make up of domestic violence relationships. THE TRUTH? Domestic violence does not discriminate. These violent actions happen to males and females (either can be the perpetrator), heterosexual or homosexual relationships, your race, age, weight, socioeconomic status … domestic violence doesn’t care! (I’ve even heard it told that professionals that help survivors through the turmoil can sometimes fall victim to the slow lead into manipulated oppression by a significant other!)

The most difficult part of discussing domestic violence is convincing every person in the world that they too could fall victim to the manipulation without even realizing it. Once someone is able to see themselves as vulnerable to a situation they are far more willing to open their mind to hear what is being said.

Time after time I have written in depth accounts of one beating in particular, the one that led me to have the most amazing spiritual experience … but, I had to die to have that. This post isn’t about the specific graphic, blow by blow details of that night, it’s about the long term effects of surviving the chaos of loving a man that was willing to kill me.

Over time and many years of research I have learned that perpetrators of domestic violence tend to strangle their victims to show their significant other that they don’t WANT to kill them, but that they COULD kill them if the other person doesn’t do as expected. It is the ultimate real life game of Russian Roulette, the perpetrator is the gun and the significant other never knows if the gun is even loaded. We never know, until the trigger is pulled!

Approximately ten years ago, which was eight years after my near death experience and leaving my perpetrator for good, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. For the past ten years I have slept with a CPAP machine, without it I will wake up with a massive headache and often coughing and choking. If I sleep without it I am typically taking a short afternoon nap and am fully aware of my surroundings when I wake up fighting for air.

Recently I was in a situation where I had to sleep for several nights without my CPAP. I woke up many times each night, gasping for air, fighting for my life and for about 10 seconds I was sure that my ex-husband was standing over my trying to strangle me to death. Those ten seconds seemed to last forever and even once I was aware of my surroundings my mind and body had been shifted into fight or flight mode … try coming off an adrenaline rush several times a night, by the time I was settled down and able to sleep I had an hour or two to sleep and it began again.

This entire situation was exacerbated when I went to my chiropractor to see some recent x-rays that he had ordered. His first words as he lit up the x-ray lamp? “What kind of neck trauma did you have? The damage appears in a strange place!”


A normal neck x-ray on the left shows no damage to the neck. My x-ray, on the right, shows damage to the bones from years of  my failure to seek medical attention after being strangled. Note: a normal neck curves slightly to align the head over the rest of the body; my neck curves in the opposite direction.

His question was nothing more than innocent curiosity. Yet, I could not deny that I had only ever had ONE injury to my neck and it was the death of me. Even though the bruises have disappeared the damage is deeper than my heart, the damage is in my bones!


Collage 2018-07-10 08_06_29.jpg

In a close up of my x-ray you can see where years of inappropriate alignment have caused severe deformities in my bones.

I have no way of being 100% certain that domestic violence was the cause of my traumatic bone injuries; however, I can say some things that were distinctly different immediately after that midnight beating:

  • My voice took on a raspy tone, which is worse when I’m tired.
  • If I am not well hydrated I will cough and choke, even on my own saliva.
  • A gland at the top of my neck and base of my jaw protrudes even when I’m healthy.
  • I will become easily winded, as if my throat is closing, if I am dehydrated during exercise.
  • A CT scan of my brain has shown a history of mini strokes and/or severe migraines.
  • My short term memory sometimes seems like it is compromised of swiss cheese.

Even when a man or woman survives a beating there is physical damage done and it can last a lifetime. It is deeper than emotional trauma, it is where … in a million years some poor unsuspecting archaeological student will exhume my body and write his dissertation on the evolution of the human neck because society no longer {insert some odd behavior here}.

My chiropractor has been very honest with me, “It’s too late to undo any damage, but I hope to give you better range of motion through treatment.”

I should also note that in 1991 I was in a car accident and suffered some lower back injuries. Those injuries are not evident on any of the x-rays that were done. Yes, two hands of the man that said he loved me did more damage that being rear-ended by a Jeep Wrangler that was traveling at 50 MPH and never touched his brakes.

Clearly, my ex-husband could have left me for dead. I truly believe that he chose to help me for selfish reasons, a man like that can’t control men by angry manipulations, he knew prison wasn’t the place for him.

Whatever his reasons were for allowing me to live … they aren’t important to me. The spiritual interaction that I had as he stood over my lifeless body … that interaction keeps me going, I know that He wants me to “fight back” for others that have been wronged. I will do that until He decides it’s time for me to join him at the pearly gates.

Grrr! Why Spare him!?

*DISCLAIMER* There is a difference between thoughts, feelings and actions. The contents of this post are my thoughts and feelings. As you explore this rant, please note that I am not capable of any of this!

It has been over two years since my children and I left our home of pain, deceit and abuse. Still, I learn of secrets that were kept, most likely for fear of not being believed, or for fear of what could happen if the secrets got out.

Right now, my muscles are tense with anger, my tears as fresh as the day it all came out, and my thoughts of a bloody battle bringing him to his demise are all brand new.

HOW? How does one work so hard to manipulate others? How does one hide this pain for years and years? How? How? How?

The sad truth is that this crap is generational. I too hid behind a masquerade of normalcy, I too kept secrets for years upon years. I continued this in a desperate need to feel loved by a man, any man. My boundaries always shifting to meet his idea of the perfect woman my insecurities and my worthlessness have been passed down via his (whichever “his” you choose) manipulation of me … putting every single one of my children at risk.

Yes, I can’t deny that he made the decisions to harm the innocent, but I made the choice to accept the guise of love because it was all that I was worthy of.

I’m done! This is me! Take me or leave me as I am. I will never allow any more or any less than who I am. I am good enough. I deserve the best that I can achieve on my own. My kids do as well.

I screwed up, it’s a mental screwing daily, but we will survive, because we are better than the mind games that others have played.


It’s Time to Tell My Story

Today is Mother’s Day, basically, my favorite day of the year. It’s not for the gifts, nor the appreciation that mother’s across the nation receive; although I do love to hear my children and their friends wishing me well and telling me how much they love me … but that’s not all.

Many don’t know this, but I almost didn’t get to be a mom. In a fit of confusion, impulsiveness, sadness and despair I attempted to end my life in 1992. Days later I learned that I was pregnant with my oldest child and chances were that the medication that I attempted to overdose on was in my system as my helpless child was beginning to grow.

The following is MY perception of what happened, others that were present may have a different perception and that’s fine, but that’s your story, this is mine.

I was 18 years old, in 3 weeks time I would be a wife to someone that I had committed to spend the rest of my life with. In a strange twist I began to see things as they were, I stopped looking at him through a lens of perfection and I noticed that everything that attracted me to him was built on lies that I excused when I found out the truth. Reality was that he probably didn’t have the motivation to do much with his life and everything that my mom warned me about was seeming to be accurate.

I was raised that your word is your word and you can’t back down. You stay loyal, you make a commitment and you follow through. Being a teenager I also had this hatred of proving my mom right … I couldn’t go to her and say, “You were right. Can I come back home?” After all, I had left when I was 17 and given up my car in order prove to my parents that I was an adult and could survive.

Now, 26 years later, I don’t even remember what our argument was about, but at that time it was obviously a life or death discussion to me. Quietly, I opened up my cedar chest (a graduation gift from my parents) where the medication was stored. I dug through the contents until I found a box of over the counter sleep aid, not melatonin, the real stuff, the stuff that takes you out in a … dream.

When he realized what I had done he went to tell him mother, whom we were living with. To this day I remember her words, “Get her out of here, I don’t want her dying here.” In that moment I realized that her words were a reflection of my worth; it wasn’t about keeping me alive, or getting me help, it was about her not having to deal with authorities coming into her home to remove my body.

I was taken to the hospital, I remember being to angry about being saved to talk to anyone … I just wanted to be left alone to die. A hose was shoved up my nose and fished into my stomach to pump out the contents of my wishful death. That hose cut off my ability to talk and I couldn’t have been more pleased, it was the closest that I could get to being isolated from the world.

Hospital staff were questioning my fiancé about the events of the evening, but he kept repeating the lie that he had told me to say on our way to the hospital. She has severe back pain from a car accident last year. She must have gotten her medications mixed up and in her tired state took more than necessary.

The nurse came to my bedside and told me that they would remove the hose leading to my stomach if I could promise to drink a glass of “charcoal” I agreed, not realizing that yes, they do serve charcoal in the emergency room.

I took a strong hard sip on the straw before I realized that I was drinking the real deal and charcoal is not a code word for a medicinal cocktail. I wanted to beg to have the hose put back in, that’s how nasty this experience was, but the nurse was too busy grilling me (pun intended) about what had happened to lead me to the emergency room half heartedly fighting for my life.

This poor nurse, she wanted to help me so bad. She asked me nicely, she asked me with compassion, and finally she tried anger, but I wouldn’t budge, I stuck to the story I was told to tell. If only the medical staff would have put a 72 hour psych evaluation on me, if only I had spoke up, if only, if only …. maybe I wouldn’t have spent years hating myself, and suffering in emotional turmoil.

When I left the hospital that night I still had a strong wish to die, I even said a bedtime prayer, “Dear God, please take me in my sleep tonight so that no one will ever have to tolerate me again.” When God didn’t fulfill my wish I spent days trying to find a way to escape this miserable world, but I had to plan better, I had to be sure that I wasn’t found until it was too late.

Before I was able to figure out a plan I found out that I was pregnant. Life became a gift, I was responsible for another human and the only way to take care of that life was to take care of me. This didn’t end my suicidal ideation, it only made them easier to fight back. Some days, even 26 years later, I wonder why I’m here or how worthy am I to have oxygen to breathe. I go on because I know that my experiences in life can help others to go on.

My Mother’s Day wish is for anyone that feels like I did, or sometimes do, to seek help, because you have a purpose. If you are reading this and know or fear that someone you know might be feeling these things, ask! Don’t be afraid to discuss suicide, you don’t have to understand the thoughts and you don’t have to get angry, just being there and breaking down the wall of fear regarding the word “suicide” can help someone get the strength to get help in surviving and overcoming their feeling of being unworthy.

; Sequitur Historia Mea;

;My Story Goes On;

Can You Prove Who You Are?

For the most part I have been avoiding social media today. I’m furious at the world at large, but mostly at the hatred currently being spewed in North Carolina. Just from skimming headlines I can see that two troopers are dead when their helicopter fell out of the sky while attempting to get order from the chaos of hate fueled anger. I also see that one man is in custody, allegedly plowing his car into a crowd of people, killing at least one person.

Why does it matter? White Supremacists? Black Lives Matter? Gay Pride? Etcetera?

Often times we base our beliefs on our culture and family tradition. Few of us hate people based on outward appearance because that person did something to influence that hatred; rather we base our anger on what someone else has done to us or our forefathers. In these instances we no longer see individuals, we see blind hatred, infuriating anger, maybe even murderous intent!

How is it okay to do wrong to a great part of society for the wrong of one individual? How can we accept wiping out certain races because a hundred years ago one person did wrong by another person?

For a majority of my life I believed I was a good portion of Irish. Recently my sibling showed me her DNA profile:

Genetic Ancestry Estimate

As you can see, I am about as Irish as the Lucky Charms Leprechaun!

Clearly, I am not as Irish as I thought, or as I was led to believe by my ancestors! Here I was, thinking that the Great Potato Famine nearly wiped out a majority of my ancestors and in a rush they managed to defy the effects of poverty and starvation to come to this great nation!

Worse yet, I was lead to believe that my father’s great aunt was the cause of the Great Chicago Fire that wiped out a large portion of the city. The result was for Mrs. O’Leary’s brother-in-law to flee the city and head for the hills of West Virginia to keep his own family safe from the anger of an entire city. As the family fled they dropped the “O” from our last name and would forever be known as “Leary” with no relation to the family whose cow destroyed a city.

Research (and lots of it) has taught me that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow most likely did not start the fire. There is also a great chance that some neighborhood boys accused of smoking cigarettes in the barn did not start the fire … there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a meteor shower which covered a good part of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana on the night that changed Chicago forever. This is neither here nor there, as the same research taught me that Mrs. O’Leary’s husband did not have a brother that ever lived in Chicago as family folk lore taught me to believe!

My family was never known as O’Leary, at least not in recent history. Moving forward in my quest for genealogical answers I now know that I am searching for the family of “Leary!” What a relief, I am no longer living a life of deceit of my heritage! Am I really free from the unknown, though?

The search continues, briefly, my research came to a slamming halt when I discover that my ancestry comes to an end in Canada in the mid to late 1800s. There it appears that Daniel Leary has a live in maid and the maid’s three children. The maid and her children have the last name of “Harris.” Within a decade of that discovery it seems that Daniel and his maid, “Mary,” get married, move to Pennsylvania and either Daniel adopts the children or they assume his last name.

If this is the case, I’m a Harris masked by a Leary! This doesn’t change the fact that my last name is Leary, but having a distant cousin come to the same conclusion leaves me to wonder … for 150 years we are Leary’s, we live and die with this name … prior to that our family history is quite elusive … obliterated really.

When my sister showed me the DNA results I hurried into the app to search for possible relatives. My hits for “Leary” equaled exactly “ZERO!” However, my hits for distant “Harris” cousins proved to be numerous.

With all of this information I can sit in turmoil and hatred because I don’t know who I am anymore! I can’t do that, I just can’t! Who cares if family folk lore was wrong? Who cares if I’m a “Leary” or a “Harris”?

This all as no impact on my life, because I am me, a child of God. A daughter of two amazing parents. A sibling to the best five siblings a girl could ask for. A mom, a girlfriend. I am me!!!

If you are so sure of your heritage that you are willing to kill in the name of your forefathers, in the name of your skin color, in the name of your religion, in the name of anything that matters to you; I ask you to keep one thing in mind: YOU were most likely created behind closed doors … when it comes to it, there will come a day that only God will know of the true parentage of you and all of your ancestors!

Is it really worth killing and/or dying for beliefs that have changed and will continue to change from one generation to the next? Does it even matter!?