Category Archives: heal


They say things come in threes.  I don’t know.  I hope not, because I think I’ve reached my limit.

About a week ago, Max and I spent a late night and day at ER trying to figure out pain and shortness of breath that woke him from a deep sleep.  I don’t know if there’s any more helpless feeling than to watch your child struggle to breathe, to see him in pain and not be able to take it away.  If I could wish for a super power, that’d be it: the power to heal instantly.  We’ve ruled out the usual suspects (which aren’t usual for teens) and he’s been feeling fine since, but follow up is needed.

And then. I’m fairly certain a good portion of the US is aware that Anchorage, Alaska, and surrounding areas were hit by a 7.0 earthquake this past Friday. Max and I and my family are all OK. In fact, Alaska came through this with relatively minimal destruction and no loss of life; which is amazing if you consider that other earthquakes in the world of the same magnitude carried devastating losses. It doesn’t minimize the emotional impact, though. I heard a co-worker, who I thought handled it pretty calmly, saying, “Oh. Wow. I thought I’d’ve handled that cooler.”

I think that’s a fairly standard feeling with a lot of my friends and family. It’s not that they / we freaked out, I think it’s just part and parcel of the Alaskan spirit. Sort of, “Get through it. Get it done. And do it without fuss.” Any expression of surprise at Mother Nature’s revision of the day’s plan is unwarranted. So. Life in Alaska brushes off the dust, moves forward, and gets to work on fixing buildings and infrastructure, even before the aftershocks finish. (One report noted over 1200 aftershocks so far.)

I had friends in, and from, other states reaching out to see if Max and I were OK, was there anything they could do to help? It’s amazing, really. Friends were trying to get through on every social media platform I regularly use, before I could even get to Max’s school to get him, to make sure we were OK. I love them.

While the past couple weeks have brought up so many emotions and fears, I’ve been astounded to find that hidden between everything is an underlying resentment of Sam that I’d thought I’d let go of a long time ago.  I want to scream at him: Why do I have to handle all of this on my own?  Why do I have to be the one tough enough to take care of it all on my own.

Why wasn’t he able to be the partner he promised to be when we started dating or got married?

The thing is (Do I say that a lot?  “The thing is…”  It feels like it.)  The thing is, even if Sam hadn’t taken off to live 3,000+ miles away.  Even if he was still in-state.  Even if he’d managed to get supervised visits with Max back… He’s not the type of man to lend support, any kind of support.  He hasn’t tried to check in on Max, but I apparently still need to remember that he had me drop him off for an imaginary chemo treatment for a non-existent cancer the day Max had surgery as a toddler rather than go with us to Max’s procedure.

No.  Sam would’ve been absolutely no help at either the ER or in sorting out damage to my home from the earthquake.  If I’m being brutally honest with the part of me that still hopes he’ll change and be an involved and supportive dad for Max (and partner), I’d admit that if Sam were still around, on top of everything else, I’d be worried about what measures Sam would be planning to take to move my attention back to him and trying to offset whatever failings he’d say were mine that caused either incident.  (For what it’s worth, I’m completely aware that I have absolutely no power over Nature and caused neither issue.  But, oh, I can still hear Sam’s voice as he tells me otherwise.)

I’m not sure if the realization that I still have a small, irrational, completely unfounded hope that Sam will become someone he isn’t would be so heavy if I wasn’t so tired.  It is though; it’s heavy as hell.  The desire to tell myself that I should be past this is overwhelming, but I know that won’t do any good either.

Now, though, my home is back in order, and I have running water again, Max is doing good, my family is safe, and I have one more day for home and family before I have to go back to the office. For now, I’ll acknowledge that hope and let it go again.


10 years

I know. I know it seems like such a long time. To some one starting to heal, 10 years is a long time to struggle. Hell, when you’re just starting to acknowledge the hurt, 5 minutes feels like forever.

News stories and research that I’ve been doing on laws and legislation have been putting a lot of strain on the healing I’ve done. One way that I’m made aware of this is that I’ve been having nightmares about Sam. Nothing as horrid as when I first left him, but since he’s in the dreams, they’re full of fear. Last night was another. The difference was, though, that in this dream, I managed to get to my cell phone and call the police. For the very first time, in my dream, I took control and called for help. I dialed and spoke calmly to dispatch. Explained that my ex was refusing to leave my home and there was a court order that he wasn’t supposed to be there. In this dream, Sam left before dispatch asked for more info.

Does that seem insignificant? It was only a dream, after all. But. Oh. I woke up feeling strong and calm. I suppose to put it in perspective, it might help to have an idea of what some of the other nightmares were like. Previously, nightmares involving Sam were studies in having absolutely no control, no say in what happened, in reliving fear and hurts, in running but never getting away from him, of nearly dying as I shielded Max.

When I was little, and up until Sam, I had a trick with nightmares. I was able to change channels if my dreams were scary. It seemed so simple. It didn’t always change to sweet dreams, but I could slip away through other dreams – or wake up. And then Sam. And I lost whatever remote control that I’d had to switch away from nightmares.

Last night, though. Almost 10 years since I first left Sam. 8 years since I finally filed for divorce. Last night, in my nightmare, I had the strength to not only shield Max, but also to call for help and make Sam leave.

It seems so minor, even now as I’m writing about it, but the feeling it left when I woke up was huge.

Just checking in

I guess it’s safe to say that my track record at sharing what I’m working on or experiencing is less than consistent. I don’t know.  I hope that on the occasion that I do share, it helps others when they stumble across my hidden little corner; I know sharing helps me.  I’m also finding that looking back at the few posts I’ve shared previously helps me see how much has changed: how much I’ve changed and healed.

In the time I’ve been gone from here, I managed to buy a condo for Max and I.  No more sharing a one bedroom apartment, and I have a garage!  If you also live in a northern state, you may understand how incredibly happy I am that I will no longer start my day by scraping ice and snow from the car all winter long.  I’ve started and completed work on a masters degree.  I think I’m finding my voice.

Max is now in junior high and officially a teenager and I’m still in awe of this person – who’s not so little anymore – who still sees so much to admire in this world, even when he acknowledges the parts he thinks are messed up.  Just by the discussions we have about his day and the things he’s noticed, he reminds me to stop once in a while to look at the mountains and how they’ve changed with the seasons.  We’re looking for a dog to adopt and welcome into our family.  It’s tricky, though, as the new addition will need to be able to deal with our cat, Serenity.  In all honesty, Serenity tends to be pretty pushy with other animals that try to get his attention; and he’s big (at least part Maine Coon), so the dog will need to be big enough to hold his own against Serenity, but also smart enough to generally leave him alone.

Max and I are also adjusting to my mom moving in with us.  He’s handling it much better than I tend to.  I love her, but there have been times already where I feel like a teenager pushing back at parental restrictions.   And then there are times I feel like I’m the parent and she’s the teenager.  It’ll be interesting.

So that’s the brief synopsis on Home.

On the Sam front: it’s now been over 3 years since Max last saw Sam, which makes it about 6 years since there was a court-approved and supervised visit.  I still don’t get it:  how can Sam let that much time pass without seeing Max?  Why doesn’t he do the things the court said he has to do in order to see Max again?  I don’t get it, and I’m aware that I never will.

I’ve been talking a little more about the abuse and rape.  Sharing more in semi-public settings to offer support to other survivors, and trying share resources that helped me.  Which ties into my post yesterday.  Because I’ve been up front about what happened, I’ve lost friends and I’ve distanced myself from extended family members.  Not everyone understands why I’ve done that and some think that I’ll “come around” later and let them back into my life.  I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also don’t think there’s much that would change my mind.  Not with the friends I’ve let go.  And I don’t think the extended family members realize that the trust is broken and while they’re still related by blood, they’re no longer going to be someone I trust with either my emotions or well-being, or Max’s.

So there’s an update.

Letting go

I will tell you that I had to let some friends go for my own well-being.  I will not shred my own scars in order to try to hold on to someone who feels that survivors hold the blame.  I deserve better than that.


It’s been a long spring and summer so far and I haven’t kept up on this…

Sam Sr. passed away this spring. Sam sent an e-mail telling me to tell Max that his grandfather died. Nothing else: nothing about if it was peacefully in his sleep, if he’d been ill, when the services were; he didn’t include a “Tell Max I love him” or words of sympathy for our son.

I felt it was important for Max to go to his Grandfather’s funeral, but I also didn’t want to run the risk of taking the focus off of Sam Sr. by attending myself. I was worried that if I went, Sam and Francine might start in on why Max hadn’t seen their family in years. I also didn’t want to have to defend myself and the court’s decision to pull Sam’s visitation rights or explain that just because Sam couldn’t see Max, it didn’t mean Sam Sr. couldn’t. My sister and I talked about the situation and possible complications, and she and her husband agreed to take Max to the funeral.

Max got new slacks, and he got to pick out a new dress shirt and a new tie along with a tie bar. We researched tie knots and how to tie them so we’d get it right. It was the first time he’s pulled together a more formal outfit on his own and he was nervous about making sure he looked nice enough to make Grandpa Sam proud. He did. He would have no matter what, but he did a good job.

The day of the funeral, my sister and her husband arrived and accompanied Max to the funeral and they walked back afterwards so they could talk about anything Max wanted to talk about. Max kept talking about his Grandpa Sam and the funeral when they got back to our apartment. Max found new connections with his Grandpa: “He was a trickster, just like me, Mom.” “You know that one song I like, about the ring of fire? Well, that singer, Johnny Cash, was Grandpa Sam’s favorite.” He also found out new things about his Dad. “He has a new girlfriend. She was more upset about Grandpa being dead that Dad was, or at least, she looked sadder. She cried more.” “She looks like Grandma S,” (my mom). “He looks different and I must look different, Mom.” And then he stopped talking.

I spoke with my sister about a week later while Max was at a friend’s house. It turns out she had to introduce Max to Sam three times before Sam realized Max was his son. That broke my heart more than a lot of the other things Sam has done. I know he hadn’t seen Max in years; I know that Sam’s addictions have probably hurt his memory retention, but I can’t even imagine how much this hurt Max. Three years. Max hasn’t changed THAT much. He generally looks the same at 10 as he did at 7, a little taller, his hair is longer, but he’s still Max. The same coloring, same facial structure, same eyes, same walk. Max.

I guess to be fair, I should also mention that Sam then introduced Max to his aunt, uncle and cousin as if they’d never met before (even though they have and each of them recognized Max right away). He also repeatedly made the mistake of telling Max that his cousin was his Aunt. I don’t know if Sam’s cognitive abilities have declined that much, or if he was on something to get through the funeral, but I’m finding it really hard to forgive Sam for hurting our son this way. I know it’s not rational, my anger and hurt on Max’s behalf, but it’s there.

I think one of the other hard things for me about losing Sam Sr. has been letting go of the guilt over Max not seeing him. When Sam lost visitation rights because of his relapse and events with Ingrid, both Sam Sr. and Francine stopped seeing Max also. I felt like in trying to protect Max from Sam’s addictions and abusive behavior, that I had also robbed Sam Sr. of time with Max, and Max time with his grandfather. I did try: invitations were sent to Sam Sr. for birthdays, Grandparent’s Day’s at Max’s school. Offers that we could arrange time for him to do stuff with Max were extended. Only one offer was accepted: a Grandparent’s Day tea right after Sam lost visitation. I recognize that it wasn’t my choice to keep Max away from Sam Sr., but it’s still easy, sometimes, to forget and let the guilt sneak back in.

Max still doesn’t want to talk about his father, but he will talk about his grandpa. I hope he knows he can talk to me about anything.


I’m having trouble sleeping again. I’m so tired, but I can’t find the off switch for my mind. I’d have thought that with the recent court hearing on the visitation issue (I probably need to write that out – maybe in the next couple days), that I’d be doing better.

I think it’s a plus that I’m not constantly getting up and checking all the locks and windows, but I’m so tired. And I’m finding it hard to follow my ‘get to sleep routines’. What’s going on? I’m not sure…

Cant Treat Me That Way

LOVE this song today: You Can’t Treat Me That Way – Kate Earl

You’re not the guy I met
And if you are only get
One chance to prove it
Baby make it count

Maybe she let you do that
Maybe some other fool had
Too many problems
To respect herself

You’ve go a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You’ve go a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You can’t treat me that way

I hope it’s my mistake
Simple misunderstanding
Trivial bull**** we blew into space
A common lovers rift
Uncommon words thrown like fists
Cause if you meant it
Baby it’s too late

You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You can’t treat me that way

You better make it better
You better make it feel right
You better make it feel the way it ought to feel
You better make it better
You better make it feel good
You better do it cause you know that you should

You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You’ve got a woman who knows her worth
And ain’t prepared to compromise it
You better listen you better make it better
But don’t make me say
You can’t treat me that way

Project Unbreakable

A story I found via Pandora’s Project Facebook page from the Guardian: Project Unbreakable

Self-Defense Trigger

I should have realized there would be triggers in the self-defense class I’ve signed up to take.  But other than acknowledging that I want to (NEED to on a very visceral level) take self-defense, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that the Rs ever happened.

Before I go further, let me say that I understand that’s not the best way to deal with R; I’m just so tired of dealing with it, with the fallout from it, with ME. Because I’m the only one who HAS to deal with it. HE certainly doesn’t; Sam still thinks he did nothing wrong. I’m so tired of dealing with him – every flippin’ weekend he has our son.  So every weekend, I have to deal with pick-up time and seeing the piece of filth that calls himself a man and a father.  I just want to ignore it, but I can’t.  I can’t and I can’t keep doing this.  When do I get to just BE? To be ME, not me-the-R-survivor or me-trying-to-heal-from-R?

Already, I’m off-track.

Last night was just the first night of the class – the fill-out-the-release-form, disclose-any-medical-conditions-that-may-need-to-be-considered night. And apparently go over information about the myths vs. realities of R and the statistics for R in our state.

According to the class instructors, who are or were police officers, our state has had the dubious honor of being No. 1 in the nation for the number of reported Rs per capita– for 23 of the past 30 years.  1 in 4 women in our state will be R’d. In this class, which is only for women, there would be 2 of us.  They also discussed making the decision to fight or submit. That whatever the R survivor decided to do was the right decision; that the important thing is to SURVIVE.  They did a very good job talking about it. Of clarifying submission is not consent.

I’m off track again.  I think I’m going to be talking in circles here, and I’m sorry for that. I really need to get this out and I don’t even really know what ‘this’ is…

I don’t remember how it was tied in, but it was; the instructor stated very clearly, very adamantly that R is a heinous crime. The way he said it, I believed it, I believed him, I believed that he believed that statement.  I understood, at that moment, that just because the judge in my divorce and custody case, and my lawyer, who heard Sam admit to R-ing me in the hearing, put it down to a euphemism and down-played the effect of Sam doing that with Max in the same bed, doesn’t mean that it had no effect on me – or our son. It doesn’t mean that I should, or have to, pretend it didn’t happen – happen repeatedly.

Which I guess is what I’ve been doing…  Pretending, ignoring…

When the instructor started talking about if you were attacked, “whatever you did, you survived.  That’s important.  There is no shame in surviving, no matter what your options were if it was to submit or fight, to press charges or not. You survived.”  It was all I could do to not break out in sobs and run out of the room.  I think I actually started getting out of my chair then and sat back down.

I don’t understand why.  Why does his compassion, his understanding, hurt?  Because it does.  It hurts more than the judge down-playing it.  It hurts more than my lawyer saying that doesn’t matter, we need to talk about his alcoholism more.  It hurts more than my lawyer saying why did you put that much detailed information in your affidavit, these are public and any one can see it: your employer, the public, your son when he’s old enough to ask; that level of detail is usually reserved for criminal investigations.

Max, instead of being asleep by the end of my class, called and asked me when I was coming home.  He told me Auntie told him to go to bed but he couldn’t sleep without me there.  After class, even knowing Max was waiting for me, I sat out in my car and cried and sobbed for a very long time.


I don’t know. I’m not expecting any answers.

I don’t know if I even want to keep looking at this.  I do…. I don’t.  I want to ignore it, but I can’t, can I?

Where are my rosy glasses?

My psychiatrist told me that the more I let my sister and brother-in-law handle the pick ups for Max’s visits with his father, the worse my fear of Sam and general anxiety will get.  Oookaaaay. It kind of makes sense.

So now, I’ve made it a point to go to each one. And yes, the anxiety is kind of abating, (the fear of Sam, not so much) but the little doubt I’ve been trying to get rid of (the one that tells me the abuse wasn’t that bad, he was my husband, maybe I’m crazy…. and other miscellaneous crock of poo) is getting louder and more insistent. So are those my options? Being terrified or thinking I’m crazy? I’ve gotta tell ya, if this is my path to recovery, I’m kind of wishing for a big dose denial and rosy glasses.