Monday, November 19, 2012
It was eight years ago yesterday that I beat the odds and kicked Death in the tender man bits. It’s a long story involving my spinal cord, a blood clot, and a team of perplexed doctors in the ER who now call me ‘miracle’ because it wasn’t supposed to be possible to survive it without major paralysis (think Christopher Reeve) and yet I somehow magically did and walked out of the hospital. (If you want those kind of gory details, click HERE.)
Needless to say, November 18th is always one of my favorite days of the year.
Now, some people don’t want me to talk about that day here anymore or say “yay, I’m happy to be alive” and things like that. Some people think I should pretend it never even happened in case I “frighten” my 16 year old by “reminding” her of it…. although how on earth I am expected to erase it from existence when I still have nerve damage and numbness on almost 50% of my body and we live with it every damn day of our lives is beyond me! (Some people have no lives and need to butt out of other people’s personal health issues. Clearly.) However, I’m not going to bow like that to some people anymore.
I celebrated my eighth “re-birth day” yesterday by going back through all the hundreds of posts I deleted back in March because of some people and re-published all my November 18th posts from the past because, well, it’s MY reality, it’s MY story to tell, it’s MY right to tell it, it’s MY blog, and—fuck it—I’m NOT taking dictation here.
(Oh, and the other hundreds of deleted posts? They’ll be coming back too…. just not quite yet because it will take some time to go through them all, and I’ve got something more important to do this week: LIKE GOING ON VACATION!!!!)
So, anyway…. the moral of the story is: Surviving a health crisis is good. And people who try to hijack your blog and use your health against you in a court case are assholes. There. But anyway….
I’m not sure if I’ll be skipping through Blogaritaville much this week before we take off on our vacay, so, if not, have a Happy Thanksgiving, you guys! I hope it’s tryptophan-tastic!
JJ, we will be seeing you soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon! :-)
Friday, November 16, 2012
I hit four stores to stock up on all things Hostess-y (and mourn my childhood) since I heard they went out of business this morning. Did you?!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
I’m getting serious now.
I have this friend that I’ve known practically forever. She married Mr Wrong when she was too young and, in a nutshell, he was an abusive jackass from day one. There. Even after they split up, he was constantly pounding on her front door and showing up at her workplace, hounding, assaulting, and tormenting her. He was an angry, scowling, belittling, cruel, and violent kind of creep, and she was terrified of him.
Let’s call her Lily.
Lily was too afraid to call the police or even tell anyone what was happening because she knew that would just make Mr Wrong even MORE angry, so instead she tried whatever she could to keep him calm. For years she tried to handle it all by herself and for years she suffered alone with it.
Sometimes people would notice things weren’t right. They’d see Mr Wrong storming around. They’d hear Lily crying. They would ask Lily about it when Mr Wrong wasn’t nearby, but Lily would always say things were fine when things were definitely NOT fine. She was ashamed of the way things were and felt like maybe there was something wrong with HER because of the way Mr Wrong treated her. She didn’t want anyone else to see her the way Mr Wrong did, so she tried to act like everything was normal…. because when she pretended things were okay, everyone else thought things were okay, and then things kind of felt okay, okay?
Yeah. It was complicated.
But, even more complicated….
They had a child together before they split up. Let’s call the baby Daisy. Daisy was adorable, chubby, and such a happy little thing! Mr Wrong—who didn’t pay child support or daycare or contribute a single penny towards the child for a long, long time (until the child support officers caught up to him, of course)—used that child as an excuse to stalk and berate Lily. She could never, NEVER get away from him.
Somewhere along the line early on, Lily got some secret legal advise behind Mr Wrong’s back. She was told to write down everything Mr Wrong did to her and the baby, to keep a record of it all to use against him some day. So, she did. She amassed a huge box full of journals detailing all her interactions with Mr Wrong. However, years later, she found out that her journals were useless and couldn’t be helpful in court against Mr Wrong because the only kind of proof that the court wants to see is police or medical reports, and Lily had none.
Disgusted, Lily boxed up her diaries and gave them all to me. She said she couldn’t stand to ever see the damn things again because she felt like they had kind of betrayed her. She had poured all her misery out in those little books all those years, thinking she was doing the right thing and that those books would swoop in and save her one day…. but they didn’t. Instead, they left her alone in battle with Mr Wrong all over again, just like she had always been, and she hated them for it.
She said I could read them if I wanted to, she didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want to for a long time, but eventually curiosity got the best of me and I broke into the box of books. And I have never been the same since. My heart physically hurts, you guys. I can hardly stand thinking of my friend and her bubbly baby going through shit like that! Domestic violence and emotional abuse is never pretty, everyone knows that, but here in my hands I have a blow-by-blow account of it, spanning over a decade. I can’t believe no judge would accept this as evidence for Lily against Mr Wrong!!!!
I’m going to share snippets of a few of the many, many entries here in Lily’s own written words (with names altered to protect the innocent—and the guilty). Tell me what you think about the court system ignoring all of this either in the comments below or in email, as I know a lot of you prefer.
Domestic violence is not always like Law & Order, chock full of black eyes and restraining orders. Here’s what abuse more often looks like….
SNIPPET #1 (written one day in the Summer of 1997 when Mr Wrong flew into one of his many rages in front of Lily and baby Daisy while they were still living in the same house and Daisy was about eight months old):
“I don’t think I will ever make it out of his grip alive. He is getting more and more enraged over little, little things. I don’t know what to do.”….
“I’m not ‘allowed’ to touch his things anymore in case I somehow break them.”….
“He started yelling at me and getting in my face, saying, ‘you will treat my things with respect!’ and ‘if I come home and find my things ruined, you will be SO SORRY!’”….
“I didn’t break and ruin any of his things. How many times do I have to defend myself on that?”….
“He had his finger pointing in my face. He was yelling on and on about what a terrible person I am. He said I am ‘pathetic’. He said I am ‘hopeless’. He said I am ‘just a bitch’. He said I am a ‘fucking idiot’. He said I am ‘stupid’. He said I am a ‘moron’.”….
“He told me repeatedly to ‘fuck off’ and he told me all our problems are all my fault.”….
“He said that I ‘don’t deserve’ his ‘attention’ and I ‘don’t deserve’ his ‘respect’ and that I will never get it from him.”….
“He said I have nothing ‘important’ or ‘interesting’ to say.”….
“During his rampage I was feeding [Daisy] some cottage cheese, and right there in front of her, he kicked her Donald Duck toy across the apartment and it hit a wall by the front door. She burst into tears, with cottage cheese falling out of her mouth, tears running down her cheeks, and her arms up by her face, shaking in fear! I scrambled to get her out and comfort her. He didn’t feel bad, he didn’t stop to see if she was okay, he continued his yelling and accusations and went past us into the kitchen and kicked Donald Duck around some more until it broke!”….
”He told me that he thinks I don’t love [Daisy], that I was only comforting her to make myself look good and to feed my ego!”
SNIPPET #2 (written in the Spring of 1998, eight months after Lily and Mr Wrong had been separated, and the day baby Daisy had just had surgery in the hospital):
”He followed us home and while [Daisy] was sleeping off the anesthetic in her crib, [Mr Wrong] was pulling me around and trying to talk me into having sex with him! He offered me money for it! That makes me so sick. He leaves us dead broke, then thinks he can get my pants off by waving money in my face. This is not the first time he has tried this! That is his opinion of me?”….
”After all that has been happening and his not paying child support, the only way [Daisy] and I will get money is for me to have sex with him? We don’t need the money if that’s how we have to get it! I am not a prostitute!”….
”I kept bluntly saying no and he kept asking for it. He wouldn’t stop!”….
”He said he could ‘rape’ me if he wanted to.”….
”He even offered me $100 to just drop my pants and let him have a look!”….
”Then when I made it clear I didn’t want to be poked, tickled, or otherwise touched by him he started making fun of me. He brought up all the physical things that are ‘wrong’ with me. Then he said that he knows that a lot of the things he said and did to me during our marriage were ‘physical and emotional abuse’, but that I ‘had it coming’. (I could just scream!) He said that he knew when he was doing it that it was ‘wrong’ and that he ‘should stop’, but he didn’t because I ‘deserved it’.”….
SNIPPET #3 (written one day in the Summer of 1998, a year after Lily and Mr Wrong had separated):
”[Mr Wrong] came over unannounced again today. He kept grabbing and touching me and trying to talk me into sex. He pinned me to the floor, got on top of me, and was trying to pry my legs apart, all in front of [Daisy]. I fought and kept yelling no, but he wouldn’t listen or stop.”….
“Then he kept trying to kiss me on the lips. When I guess it finally became clear that I wasn’t going to give in, he said something mean about my weight and then kicked my stuff across the room. I could just puke!”….
SNIPPET #4 (written one day in the Summer of 1998 when Mr Wrong was in Lily’s house to, supposedly, have a visit with Daisy who was one and a half years old):
”[Mr Wrong] refused to leave me alone. He kept sneaking up behind me and jabbing me in my sides.”….
”It didn’t matter how many times I told him to stop it, he just kept doing it. He pulled me to the floor and dug his fingers in my sides—it is very painful, he just digs his fingers in my sides as hard as he can and grinds them in me and ignores my crying, my telling him it hurts, and my telling him to stop it!”….
”I hate myself for not punching him in the face.”….
”[Daisy] kept shouting ‘Stop it! Stop it!’”….
”’It wouldn’t hurt if you didn’t struggle,’ he said. ‘Don’t fight me!’”….
SNIPPET #5 (written the morning after the previous snippet):
”I woke up today with bruises all up my sides from what [Mr Wrong] did to me yesterday. I’m still in pain! He has no business touching me!”….
”I am SO ANGRY!”….
SNIPPET #6 (written one day in the Summer of 1999, two years after Lily and Mr Wrong had separated, and the day after Lily had told Mr Wrong to stop talking about her body in a degrading way because it made her uncomfortable):
”[Mr Wrong] told me he is mad at me for telling him my breasts are none of his business. He said it was ‘shitty’ of me. He told me he is a ‘smart’ person and ‘smart people should never be questioned’.”….
”He yelled at me every time I said a word. He said ‘I can’t have a conversation with you if you talk!’”….
”He told me to never say it is none of his business again, because when I did that, I was being ‘disrespectful’ and ‘discourteous’ to him.”….
SNIPPET #7 (written one day in the Summer of 1999, two years after Lily and Mr Wrong had separated, and when Lily was having trouble with Mr Wrong stalking her):
”Today [Mr Wrong] called my workplace and my chiropractor’s office looking for me. When the receptionist at the chiropractor’s office told me he had called, I figured something terrible had happened, so I called him back. But he had called me there just to tell me he wanted me to go out to dinner.”….
”When I got home, my caller ID showed he had called [my home] 5 times this afternoon in addition to calling my workplace and my chiropractor!”….
SNIPPET #8 (written one night in the Fall of 1999, when Mr Wrong was in Lily’s house, supposedly, to visit Daisy who was two years old):
”[Mr Wrong] kept telling me and [Daisy] again and again that he is ‘evil’ and a ‘monster.” He actually put his face right into [Daisy’s] face and told her he is a ‘monster’.”….
”He was saying he can foresee a day when [Daisy] will understand what he is and will want to kill him for it!”….
”And he said ‘in five years, we will be friends or I will be dead’. I can only assume he means suicide.”….
”He kept trying to hug me. He kept talking about my body. I was trying to hide my body under couch pillows again so he couldn’t see it.”….
SNIPPET #9 (written one night in the Fall of 1999, over two years after Lily and Mr Wrong had separated, and when Mr Wrong kept hiding in the dark to startle Lily outside her house and Daisy’s daycare night after night):
”[Mr Wrong] snuck in the dark and followed me. I didn’t know he was there until I turned around to find him behind me, glaring at me with a really frightening look on his face.”….
”A chill ran right through me and I felt like running. He looked furious and I couldn’t think what I might have done to piss him off. I felt trapped in a spider web.”….
”But it turned out [Mr Wrong] was just following me to ‘scare’ me. Mission accomplished!”….
SNIPPET #10 (written one night in early 2001 when Mr Wrong was at Lily’s house, supposedly, to visit Daisy, who was three years old):
”[Mr Wrong] said he threatened [an acquaintance] with a baseball bat and hid the phone so [the acquaintance] couldn’t call 911 during ‘the beating’ and now [Mr Wrong’s sister] is ‘afraid’ of him and thinks he is ‘a monster.’ That’s what [Mr Wrong] told me while sounding all proud of himself, acting like being seen as ‘a monster’ appeals to him.”….
”He told me not to tell anyone and told me he would come after me too if he ever hears back from anyone that I told them what he said.”….
Wow. Can you believe the legal system just dismissed all of that because it was written in journals instead of police reports?!
That was just ten diary entries. Ten out of hundreds and hundreds of them! That was just a small sampling of the earlier stuff Lily and Daisy went through. I haven’t even gotten to the more recent diary entries yet, because I could only stomach reading through the first couple of books on the pile, but I do know that in more recent years, things were really no better for Lily and Daisy at the hands of Mr Wrong…. although Daisy’s school did end up calling the police over red flags they picked up on regarding Mr Wrong’s behavior, and that changed the dynamic somewhat.
Why am I telling you about this? Well, because it dawned on me that just because Lily’s journals couldn’t help protect her from Mr Wrong within the legal system like she had thought they would, that doesn’t mean they can’t still be helpful. What’s that saying?…. If you can’t be a good example, at least be a horrible warning. (Or something like that.) Maybe by talking about it here, someone in a similar situation will be helped by it and then it won’t have been for nothing.
You guys, if you get the feeling someone you know is in an abusive, controlling, or otherwise twisted relationship, you are probably right. And, if she is, she likely feels that reaching out for help will only make things worse and that it’s best if she just handles it by herself. Don’t just ASK her if things are okay, because you probably won’t get an honest answer: GET HELP. Just do it. Do whatever you can to help her get out. She needs you, even if she can’t say so.
If you, yourself, are in an abusive relationship, please, PLEASE get help. If he is hurting you, threatening you, degrading you, scaring you, stalking you, or doesn’t understand that no means no, YOU NEED TO GET AWAY FROM HIM. Tell someone who can help protect you and whose statement will carry weight in court—a therapist, a doctor, or the police—but also tell your friends or family members as well, because the more people you have in your support system, the better.
One of the things I read in Lily’s journals that really crushed me was how much her friends and family disliked Mr Wrong, so they would just scatter like cockroaches whenever Mr Wrong showed up because they didn’t want to be in his company. That meant that, over and over again, Lily and Daisy were abandoned and left alone with him, and that’s when the abuse would occur. Mr Wrong knew Lily didn’t have much of a support system to protect her, and that’s why he kept doing those horrible things. Because he could.
Abusers can’t do what they do best in a crowd, they need their victims isolated. If someone is mistreating you, keep your support system close, tell people what is going on (even if your abuser tells you no-one will believe you—as Mr Wrong kept telling Lily), and always remember that what he does to you does NOT define who you are.
Abusers are just assholes. Plain and simple. It’s not YOU, it’s THEM. They don’t outgrow it. They don’t change. They don’t magically wake up one morning with newfound respect for you and realize what shitbags they have been. They just keep abusing people and convincing themselves that their victims ‘deserve’ it…. Like Mr Wrong, who just two weeks ago called Lily his “adversary with benefits” (in front of a court-ordered therapist!!!!—can you believe that????) when she attempted to confront him about the times in the past when he sexually assaulted her.
Assholes never learn.