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The effects of…

So, I was in a car accident yesterday; rear-ended while stopped for a red light.  I don’t think she even started to hit her brakes until right before she hit the back of my car, and hit hard enough to shove my Subaru into the car in front of me.  We all walked away and were able to drive the cars away; we were all insured, so I’m sure that will eventually work itself out.

What I find interesting is I’m a bit stiff today: neck, shoulders, back, and the ankle that I broke years back while biking with Sam hurts.  Achy would be the word.  I was getting ready for work this morning and found myself thinking “this feels familiar…  Why?”  I’ve never been in a car accident before, and breaking my ankle was the only major injury above a turned ankle or shin splints from trail running, so where did feeling so familiar with this type of low-grade ache come from?

And then it hit me.  I felt like this almost constantly the year before I left Sam.  My ankle often ached like it was still healing.  My back and neck constantly felt like I’d tweaked them somehow.  I remembered that there were days where my back hurt so bad I couldn’t even turn over to get out of bed.  I’d even gone to my doctor once because my ankle hurt so bad I couldn’t put any weight on it and had to pull out my crutches in order to get around.  (This was probably about 5 years after the biking incident.)

The pain wasn’t directly caused by Sam: he wasn’t kicking my ankle; he wasn’t punching me or getting rough every day.  But I was dealing with aches and pains without visible cause on an almost daily basis.  It was, I am sure, caused by the stress of dealing with him and the abuse.  The reason I’m sure it was due to the stress of living with Sam’s abuse was because it pretty much disappeared after I left him.  Not immediately, but pretty darn quickly.  Oh, my ankle lets me know when the weather turns icy, but it no longer aches for no apparent reason.  And until today, I hadn’t had a dull pain in my back and neck like this since I left Sam.

Not much of a reason behind this post other than to just put it out there that the stress of dealing with Sam’s emotional, psychological and financial abuse or the promise of it on a daily basis left me feeling pretty much like I’d been hit by a car.

Summer Time

It’s summer and it’s a beautiful one at that.  It’s nothing at all like the summer where we got fresh snow in June.  Max and I have been doing swimmingly.  A few hiccups, but generally, it’s just life.  We don’t have any vacations planned, but he’s gotten to go to summer camp / classes to learn how to create mobile apps and one for designing in Minecraft, which he’s completely enjoying.  Despite the title, I’m not really feeling like writing about summer…

Well, Sam is now living about 3,000+ miles away with the girlfriend that accompanied him to Sam Sr.’s funeral.  I don’t know how they met when she lives that far away and I don’t care.  I’m just happy I don’t have to worry about running into him as Max and I run around town.  He’s been there just over a year now.  I’ll admit to checking their FaceBook pages every once in a while.  I’m not sure why, because all it usually does is tick me off.  For example:  She wished him a long, gushy, “Happy Father’s day to the best dad ever”. And all I could see was red.  HOW?!  How does he deserve to be wished a happy father’s day?  Her kids have kids of their own, so surely he’s not playing dad to them.  Other than Sam Sr.’s funeral a year ago, he hasn’t seen our son in 4 years.  4 YEARS.  The photos he shares of Max on his Facebook page are from 6 years ago. How is that an any kind of dad to wish a happy father’s day to?

Anyway.

The fact that she’s made it a year with him and has reached out to Max on her own via holiday cards from just her twice has lead me to 2 things.  1.  Perhaps I should give her name in my story now. OK…. Mary (not her real name), and 2. I’ve started wondering why. My thought process has been going back and forth along the following lines:

Why would a woman get involved with and move an abusive alcoholic 3,000 miles to live in her home?   A man who had been bouncing through jobs, had been living with his father, and the only major item he owned was POSSIBLY a car that didn’t run and the clothes on his back.  Doesn’t pay child support and is barred by the courts from being in contact with his own child.

Well… why did I let him move in with me – and for that matter why did I stay with him for so long?

And I sputter.  But it was different.  We were young.  I was just out of college, so it makes sense that he came into our relationship with only a dufflebag of rugby gear, 2 antique milk crates with his small collection of clothes, a lamp and a director’s style chair.  He didn’t have a bed, any other furniture.  He didn’t have any dishes, or pots and pans.  Heck, he didn’t even have any tools.

I’m years younger than him and I had all of that.  Maybe it wasn’t the finest quality, but I had made a home right after college.

Forget when we first moved in together. Now.  Now he’s an almost 50 year old man.  Shouldn’t some one that age have something?  Wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – a woman be at least a little leery of starting a relationship with an almost-50 year old man who doesn’t own ANYTHING?

Maybe she didn’t know.  After all, she lived 3,000 miles away.  Maybe he told her he’d just sell his furniture and car and move down to her.  Or (I’m leaning towards this one) maybe he’s telling her that his ex-wife and then his next girlfriend took EVERYTHING he had.  They were so mean and treated him so bad.  Maybe with a little bit of “I moved in my elderly father to take care of him” thrown in.

I guess I really can’t fault her for falling for it when I did.  I made excuses for him, too.  Different ones, but they weren’t any truer than whatever it is that she might be  believing.  It’s a habit of his, apparently.  He owns nothing.  And pretty much never has.  He relies on the women he dates to give him everything: a roof over his head, a couch under his backside, cable TV to watch and bed to crash in.  Throw in some clothes and a mode of transportation and he’s got it made without putting too much work into it.

OK.  No fault on the has-nothing-to-his-name front.  But he’s an abusive alcoholic.  Why would a woman move that into her life, especially when she has kids and grandkids?

It’s true that he’s an abusive alcoholic.  But he can be so charming.  He didn’t start out our relationship with threats and intimidation.  I wouldn’t have stayed if he had.  But… there was drama.  Quite naively, I chalked that up to passion.  Love.

OK.  Naive.  Young.  Passion.  But she’s almost as old as Mom.  OK… not really, but she is quite a bit older than me and she’s a grandmother.  At her age, shouldn’t she know better than to move a strange man 3000 miles into her home?

Maybe.  Maybe she should know better, but Ingrid didn’t.  She moved Sam in with her AND her two kids the same month she met him.  Sam can be quite charming, remember?

And maybe Mary just really likes taking care of some one.  Sam loves the idea of his significant other devoting all her attention and energy on him.  In fact, he kind of expects it.  Maybe she’s one who can do that.  It doesn’t mean he’s any less controlling.  It doesn’t mean you have to like her.  It doesn’t mean you have to put up with her trying to ‘fix’ the relationship between Sam and Max.  It doesn’t have to mean anything to you.  It certainly doesn’t change the fact that he hurt you and Max.

So I’ll try to drop the “Why?” for now.  I get that him being nice to her and playing the poor-me-I-can’t-see-my-son card doesn’t change the fact that he’s an abusive alcoholic.  I don’t know why she does the stuff she does, just like I don’t know why he does what he does.  I just have to protect Max.  And it’s easier with 3000 miles between us.

It’s been a while

It’s been a while, both since I posted here and since I last heard from Sam…  But it’s almost Max’s birthday, so an e-mail from Sam popped up asking how he could deliver a present to Max.

Is it progress that while the first thought that entered my mind as I read the e-mail from Sam is “I hate you,” it’s not a blinding pain? It’s just a quiet little statement.  Not the “I HATE YOU FOR HURTING US!!!!” that was showing up in my journal years ago.  Yesterday’s “I hate you,” was more like a reflex, and not a vocalization of raw pain.

It didn’t feel; it was just a statement.  I want to believe that it means I’m that much closer to my goal of not caring about Sam, about anything he is or does.  I think right now it’s a calculated indifference (or why else would that statement be the first thing that I think when reading his e-mail?). But maybe I am closer to a lack of concern for him.

And here’s my thought process for hoping for indifference towards Sam:

  • Love and hate are really just two sides of the same coin.
  • So, hatred is just love flipped around.
  • Continuing to hate Sam for the things he did to me and to Max is still giving Sam so much power.
  • I’m tired of how holding onto that hatred, anger and hurt towards Sam drains me.  He is not worth it.
  • If hatred is not the opposite of love, apathy / indifference must be.  Apathy is a lack of feeling or emotion.  That is what I want thoughts of Sam to engender: nothing.

So.  Progress?  I hope so.  And now, I’ll get back to trying to figure out an awesome way to celebrate Max’s 10th birthday.  (10 Years Old already! a Decade! Double Digits!  Woo hoo!)

Video

Lauren

A female military officer faced with the choice of whether to expose a sexual assault

When someone shows you…

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

– Maya Angelou

I’ve just started reading (and working through) the book But He’ll Change: Ending the Thinking That Keeps You in an Abusive Relationship by Joanna V. Hunter.  And I do mean ‘just’.  As in, at the beginning of my lunch hour today, only pages into the introduction.  The quote from Maya Angelou is there; I’ve heard it before, but it didn’t really click.  You know? Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Sure.  Got it, moving on.  Ms. Hunter pairs it with the following:

Not just the first time he hits you, but the first time he puts you down or makes you feel less than who you are.  The first time he runs over your boundaries, or discounts your feelings.

The 2 together really caught my attention.  Thinking back to when the relationship with Sam first started out.  You know, when it’s supposed to be all rosy and sweet.  A new relationship, so exciting and uplifting.  Only…not so much.  Oh, I know hindsight is 20/20.  I know the later events in the relationship are likely coloring my view of the start…  But…  I so did not believe what he showed me.  Jokes about my ethnicity.  “Oh, but not you.  Not your Mom.  You guys are different.  And of course, your dad is, what, German?”  Oh, okay.  He and his friends think that way about Alaskan Natives, but not about us.  We’re special.

Sure, I’d end up paying for our dates most of the time.  Yeah, I got the last tab, and I’m getting this one; I’m sure he’ll get the next one.  I think it’s sweet how he wants us to be financial equals in the relationship.

Sure, I ALWAYS had to drive through the city to the south side for our dates to pick him up.  The movie theater out here in the outskirts to the north of town is not as nice as the new ones mid-town.  And of course the restaurant I wanted to go to is not nearly as good as the one he wanted to go to.  It’d be so helpless-female-ish to expect him to drive when we go out or expect him to meet me there.  Besides, his car is always breaking down…

Ummm… Okay.  Rosy… rosy… rosy… What was a happy memory?  Him teaching me to roller blade.  That was nice.  That was a nice day.  Him taking me to a hilly, gravelly part of town and leaving me… to try to skate… while he skated with his buddies.  Oh. Hmmm…

Okay…  Christmas Eve that one year!  He actually came out to my house!  Remember?  He was polite to my family and especially to my Mom.  Not a single racial joke.  Plenty of compliments on dinner and the house.

There’s one!  Oh!  And on one other Christmas Eve he actually took me to his family’s celebration / open house…  And the Christmas Eve’s when we were married, well those were for OUR family.  Not to share with my family or his family.  Just the 2 – or later the 3 – of us.  That’s romantic, right?

Any way.  So far, there are a lot of things from the book that I want to copy and paste to my refrigerator, or my mirror, or my computer monitor, and I’m only in the introduction.  I’m kind of amazed.  Just at the fact that a book I’d bought but put off reading because, well, because I’m already gone from the relationship, still seems to be resonating with how I feel.

So here’s the thing.  I’ve been physically gone from living with Sam since April 2008.  That’s nearly 4 years.  4 years.  4 YEARS.  I’ve been in therapy for dealing with PTSD, recovering from the abuse and rapes that Sam put me through for about 1/2 that time.  I’m still finding new insights into how the relationship started out and evolved into one where I stayed with a man who berated me, ridiculed me, intimidated me…. raped me.

4 years.  That seems like a really long time.  Why does it take so long?

Rape definition updated by FBI – USATODAY.com

Rape definition updated by FBI – USATODAY.com.

Link

Monsters in the Closet

Monsters in the Closet

“MONSTERS” portrays the alarming impact of domestic violence on families and children, as seen through the eyes of a young girl. Studies suggest that between 3.3 million and 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence each year. The video notes that girls who witness abuse are more likely to be abused later in life, and boys are twice as likely to abuse their own partners — “because that’s the world they know.” MONSTERS is produced and funded by the Verizon Foundation and supported by the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Share the MONSTERS video with your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. It’s a simple action that may have a huge impact. If you or someone you know needs help, get free advice 24×7 at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-779-7233) or http://www.hotline.org. You don’t have to give your name.