Domestic Violence — Suck it up.

social awareness

November 21, 2015

I woke up from a terrible dream today that my father barged though the front door of my house looking for my brother. It was loud, terrifying and dramatic. Ev was there I was frantic but trying to be strong and then I jolted awake. (For the record I really don’t know my dad for any intensive purposes and thankfully was mostly spared exposure to his violence as a child, thank you Jesus).

That dream was probably less than three minuets long but it really rattled me. It broke loose a wall of emotions that I meticulously cemented into place long ago. A wall that damed a flood of chaotic emotions that rarely let loose any longer. Unfortunately you can’t always anticipate what seeps out in your sleep.

So, what it’s like to live a life where every man around you (save my SAINT of a grandfather) is extremely violent?

My brothers. My mother’s partners who stopped short of being a step-dad  but never hesitated to beat me like their own. The man that I would eventually make a baby with. Were they every man? No. But they were a daily barrage of anger, lashing out, irrational decisions and walking on egg shells.

So what’s that like? It’s hell. (I aim to only speak from my experience as every woman leads a unique existence). But let me assure you that it is hell.

I grew up in a snow globe, always getting jostled about. A world where violent rages against you and your mother were always on the horizon or just over your shoulder. Any one specific time was probably no worse than the time before and look you’re fine. No blood no tears huh? Brusies heal, eventually you’ll catch your breath, next time maybe don’t antigonise so much. I don’t know that I was ever told verbally to suck it up but that was the way.

An expansive rhetoric existed about me being so privileged. I was cute then pretty. I was charming then verbose. People liked me – out side of my house. Life was easy for me. I was a spoiled brat, I had it coming. Thus a campaign to cut me down to size was waged.

It was hell.

 

I was (am) hated. Genuinely hated by the people that were (are) supposed to be my family. I don’t think that pointing fingers though I’ve done plenty of that serves useful. Each of those people were and are very broken. Each with a laundry list of their own deamons. I was simply an outlet. I’m learning to not take it personally.

For all of my formative years I was so grateful to have a resounding sense of self. To know exactly who I was and that I had worth. Where that came from I am so eternally grateful for. Lord knows that they tried to beat if out of me.

So what happened to me? I became really tough. Resilience is built not learned. I fought back. Eventually my mother gave up on men that weren’t worth the air they  breath(ed). Eventually the bad guys whittled themselves down to one.

I couldn’t defend myself from grown men as a child but I would be damned if I would let me LITTLE brother terrorize me. He did. We fought. Not like ohh siblings will be siblings but real blood and tears. Things that would put MMA fighters to shame. Times when pulling out a kitchen knife was the only relief. But he grew. He became a man. With all of the anger, angst and confusion that he had since young boyhood festering in a 250 pound body it never got prettier.
Last year things came to a head. It wasn’t much different from any other time other than it was the last.
I walked away. I turned ice cold shoulder. And I said good bye to my baby brother.

It has been a relief but it has also been heart break. I loved that kid. I raised that kid. I prayed for that kid. 
Miles will always feel like my own personal failure. You see I carry in my pocket this notion that I can save people. That I can shine some kind of light and inspire a turn around. It rarely works. He was my project and my disbelief for 22 years. And I failed.
That afternoon screaming into the receiver at our other brother about excuses and my dismay. Balling and trembling on my then new boyfriend’s couch. Julius looked at me that day cock eyed and bewildered. Damn your family is fucked up. 
You’re telling me.
That July day last year was a pivotal and crucial element of my journey. By this point I had trudged up hill to learn the type of man that is not allowed to be my romantic partner. That was no small lesson to undo. But I hadn’t cleared the table of all of my abusers.  Because they still sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with me.
Part of the cycle of abuse is disempowerment. This notion that you’re acting like a baby. That you’re painting a more grim picture than reality. I bought that for all of these years. Still tucking these experiences (daily life for at least 14 years) under my pillow and I pulled up my quilt of shame up to my ears. It never got warm enough under there.
Today I woke up from that dream that felt so horrifyingly real. Because it was real for so long. But today I got to digest that scenario with my dignity in tact. I found the words to say that’s wrong. I won’t stand to be terrorized any longer. 
But mostly in the wake of that dream I feel validated. That I’ve made the right decision. That distance is safety. And safety is my right.

Won’t you please join me this holiday season by supporting a domestic violence shelter in your area. Volunteering in person usually involves some vetting but they can always use supplies and money.
Kansas City: Safe Home 
Albuquerque: Haven House
Love
-Reg

 

 

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