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!”

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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!

 

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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.

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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;

Battle of the Body

She lay upon her bed, the only sound is the gasps of air as she sobs. Praying for sleep, she found none. She just wanted to make sense of the emotional pain that she had been feeling for as long as she can remember.

Freak, Fatty, Nerd, Worthless. The words rang repeatedly in her mind. No, she wasn’t being bullied, or maybe she was, but if she was, she was the bully and the bullied.

Her mind began to race, she was inundated with ideas, and it was just an impulse when she went to the kitchen, took the knife, and wildly slashed at her arms. In a flurry of activity and pain she felt the great release that comes with self-harm.

She had managed to turn the emotional pain that she couldn’t understand into physical damage that she could see and make sense of.  The endorphin rush was short, and the blood stains told her that she better hide the damage. She ran to her room to hide the knife as she cried for the stinging of the of the cuts.

Little did she know that her mind was hiding the knife for future use. She swore out loud that she would never do this again, as she placed the blade in her night stand drawer.

Washing up the evidence she had placed upon her body she allowed the tears of pain to turn to continued sobs.

As you read this, maybe you imagine a broken family, a victim of sexual assault or some other sort of crime, maybe even a mental patient.

Not once did you consider that maybe she’s just a normal girl, with normal emotional growth. Not once did you consider that her scars are caused by inappropriate coping skills. Not once did you consider how you might help her.

The Disposable Individual

For two weeks I have been dealing with some sort of break down in communication between my doctor’s office, my pharmacy, and myself. This has led to an absence of refills for several much needed medications … and a drastic toss into the life of understanding sudden, unintended withdrawal symptoms. Until yesterday I was doing a damn good job of hiding the physical withdrawal symptoms. I did tell someone about the physical aches that I was feeling, but they chalked it up to “Getting old really sucks!” so I stuffed my physical pain so that no one could diagnose me with stupid things like old age or the flu.

Yesterday I got home from work in an exaggerated elevation of mood. I was laughing about everything, probably much more than was necessary, but it felt good. That is until reality hit, my life is not where I want to be right now. I worked my ass off last week, with Friday being the toughest day of all. I was exhausted when I got home and asked my teenage daughters if they felt like cooking dinner. I know better than to use a question to motivate a child to action, but I did and it was a failure, of course no one feels like cooking dinner.

I realized my mistake as I spoke the words, but rather than getting upset I recognized that no one felt like doing much of anything. Although my girls had the day off from school, I guess they are entitled to a day of rest as well.

Sometime later I requested one of the children make me a cup of coffee, and I was told, “Get up and get yourself a glass of water!”

I couldn’t hold it in anymore! “I did not work my ass off all fucking day so that I could come home and serve myself a glass of fucking water for dinner!” I knew this was the emotional side of my withdrawal rearing its ugly head, but the words were out, it was to late to stop the train wreck that was happening! The child that suffered my words sent me three text messages in response to my outburst, but I could see from the preview that I shouldn’t bother reading those until I pulled myself together. Instead, I turtlized everything (yes, that is a new word that I am coining)!

I starting stuffing everything that I was feeling for fear of the repercussions of sharing what I was feeling. In the past I have been accused of dragging others down to my level and through my shit when I feel like this. As a helper by trade and a human by birth I work really hard to be sure that I don’t do that, which often leads to me shutting down for fear of hurting others as much as I hurt.

After many hours of quiet I decided I was in the clear and comfortable enough to talk to someone. It was quite obvious that I wasn’t being my usual funny, avoidant self, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the other person merely said good night to my attempts at conversation.

This morning I was still feeling pretty raw emotionally, and physically, I can’t even describe my level of pain; I just know that withdraw sucks. I didn’t smile when I finally convinced myself it was time to get out of bed. I found nothing to laugh about, and by about 1 or 2 in the afternoon I realized that I had barely spoken a dozen words all day … and that no one had bothered to reach out and see how I was.

This catapulted me into a place I don’t want to be, but reality sucks, and this is what I’m facing. If I am not being the funny one, the life of the party, the smiley one, the helping one, the let me kiss your ass one; then there is not a single individual in my life that wants to be around me. No one seems to know how to handle the “family mascot” when s/he isn’t able to use humor to deflect the layers upon layers of pain hidden behind the smile.

So, today, while everyone was outside, enjoying the lovely weather and doing all sorts of cool stuff that we have waited all winter long for … this mascot was lying in her bed, trying to come to terms with the fact that her pain has made her a disposable individual.

Destined for Greatness

What if I told you that each of us is born destined for some sort of greatness? That God created YOU to be an amazing individual, but from the moment that you were born your environment has catapulted trauma onto you, thus resulting in your lack of luster?

I’m asking you to consider the above, I’m not trying to shove my beliefs on you, I’m just asking you to consider it as you read this post.

In my last post I briefly discussed the death of my brother over eight years before my birth. I also discussed how my siblings often consider me lucky, because I didn’t have to try to survive during the horrific time in the lives of my parents and family. Or, did I? Did I in some way endure the consequences poured upon their souls by society?

Some will have an easier time imagining this than others, but for a moment … imagine that you have had to bury a child, specifically an infant; imagine the torture, pain, and questioning your faith in God.

Now, you find out that you are going to have another child. What if this one passes away? What if there is another investigation? Or if the children are removed out of fear that I’m not a good parent? What if … a million other things run through your mind?

In the midst of all of the chaos your father says, “You’re pregnant.”

You respond with, “Oh, Dad, I am not.”

“Don’t tell me, I know when one of my girls is expecting!”

With in a couple of weeks of this conversation your dad, your hero, passes away. You grieve, you deny, you hide and five months in you find out that Dad was right, you are pregnant. Three months later the baby is born a full month early.

Every stressor that you endure during this time is flooding your infant with cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal gland during times of stress. Stress, upon stress, and yup, more stress, and your baby is fighting this intense hormone that is being directed right to him or her.

The child’s environment is already changing the child before birth, the infant is ultimately fighting a war in utero. The destiny for greatness suffers, the child is born not knowing who s/he is, just a baby, already tainted by society.

I hope that you were born to achieve greatness, but the truth is … I was not. If you were, you have a fighting chance to find you, your true destiny, yourself. However, there are many just like me, born lost and fighting a war that no one knows about, we can reach greatness, we just have to put up a bigger fight.

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Unblaming My Parents

October 16, 1965, a day that forever altered the progression and growth of my life.

How can that be when I wasn’t born until December 8, 1973?

I always thought that I was spared the pain of my brother’s passing, by being born many years after his death in infancy, but was I!?

Trauma has followed me through out my life, and when I told my parents in a desperate attempt to get help I was told things like, “Well, if you wouldn’t dress like that …” “Don’t tell anyone.” Or even just the silent treatment. One thing was clear, police and investigators had no place in our lives.

I learned to sit down, shut up, and take the blame. For a short time I was very angry that my parents were unable to be more supportive and less blaming in these matters, but today I had an epiphany.

When my infant brother passed away the media found them guilty almost before they were even questioned, and the inquest must have been horrific to endure. Everyone was pointing fingers, all but one detective that took the time to not only hear my parents, but to fight for them. One person out of all of those that were involved in the case, the odds were clearly stacked against my parents. God willing, they survived the tension of that chaos and moved forward to not only raise three older children, but to have two more.

Now there’s me … repeatedly raped … but the odds are stacked against my family, so I go to no one, it’s a risk too great to endure.

I acted out in ways that made me pure hell to raise, when life got to be too much I even tried overdosing … having your stomach pumped is not for the weak. I ran from my problems, leaping from a cliff with no parachute into a valley of lava.

I tried everything I could to be the better person, to be stronger and more resilient than I was raised to be. With each passing trauma I realized a tiny bit more that my reaction is my choice, not that of my parents.

My parents must have been really scared during the loss and investigation into their son’s death … sort of like me … deep in the brush of the old race track during the state fair. No one to turn to, no one to help, no one to guide me … No one, but God, and I missed it. I was so busy blaming my parents that I forgot about the faith I’d been raised in, besides, God didn’t want a dirty hoe like me in His house!

Today was different though, today I was driving past a location where I had once been severely beaten by an ex-husband, and I experienced a flash back. I had one of my children in the car with me … and I realized I had to keep myself together, or risk freaking her out. I can’t blame my parents anymore, they are both deceased and can’t fight back, I can’t blame my ex, because if I got that close I can’t be responsible for my reaction. The only person to blame for how I handle this situation is me, and this time I turned to the faith I’d been raised in and somehow I just knew, it’s not what happens to me, but how I react … I own that, so I am unblaming my parents for lifes traumas.

Applying God’s Word to Abuse

When I decided to move from Pennsylvania to Michigan, a single mother with three small children, I remember my mom’s tearful, parting words, “You are breaking up the family that you created. God doesn’t look kindly on that.”

In that very moment I not only questioned God’s love for me, I also accepted that any and all bad things that were about to happen were God’s punishment for my sins. I had felt this way for a very long time, to be honest, I had been attoning for my sins since I was about eight years old. I never knew what the sins were, just that the world was about me and all bad was caused by my failure to follow God.

The idea that an eight year old has so many sins to atone for may seem unjust to you, but at that developmental stage a child is unable to see the world beyond themselves, thereby accepting all grief and pain as their fault.

Many years prior to my move to Michigan I had pulled away from church, I was ignoring everything that God put before me. I only saw the bad, because I was looking for it, and when you look for something, not only are you bound to find it, chances are that you will find it in the last place that you look. So, here I am; almost eighteen years later, trying once again to figure out what I did wrong in life to deserve all of this.

Recently my daughter has been attending church, and placing loving pressure on me to attend as well. I can think of a million excuses not to go, but I have one reason to go; God really does have my back, He always has, and He always will.

My biggest reason for turning my back on my faith and religion is that much of scripture is twisted by individuals to meet their own needs.

You have heard it said, “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Matthew 5:38

This passage is used many times through out the Bible, but I choose Matthew 5:38 to demonstrate what often happens …

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:39

Matthew 5:38-42 discusses the topic of biblical contraversy elegantly. Often times, an abuser will stop reading at verse 38, because they have met their own needs, but continuing on we can see that it is not man’s job to bring us to repent for our own sins.

I am definitely not a theologian, but maybe that’s something I should study, because one of the reasons that I have made the decision to turn my back on religion is the mass confusion concerning this. Every swing that has ever connected with my body has touched my soul and allowed me to turn it into this is my repentence for past transgressions. My assailants have grasped onto my thought and torn me apart with words from the Bible about how women are less than man, how we are meant to be a man’s slave, how divorce is against Christianity.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:18-19

Now, it’s time to face the cold, hard truth; I’m watching some of my children suffer from control and abuse of others. Their take is that it is their penance for past transgressions, one of the “gifts” that I have given them, which I must now take back. We are not placed on this earth to repent for our sins at the hands of evil, for we are here for a greater purpose, and our sins will be judged by God, on the day of His choosing, when we are brought before Him, our shell encapsulated in a grave, and our soul standing before Him.