Karma is a Poopy Bed

This story is going to be short and not so sweet. When Rara was arrested, I was shocked. When she was imprisoned for something she didn’t do, I was, and still am, furious. Those cowardly slugs are allowing her to pay for something they did. Those cowards are able to go home to their loved ones, eat good food and sleep in nice beds. This brings me to my story.

When I was in Grade 6, our teacher sat us alphabetically by first name. In my row, the order was Jaded, Jason and Joe. Jason had a gassy problem and while I wasn’t thrilled to sit by him, my dad told me to be tolerant, because I didn’t know if Jason had any medical problems. Fair enough. To Joe’s point, I didn’t sit behind Jason.

As the year progressed, Jason did his thing and was teased about it, as well as other things. The treatment bordered on bullying and I felt bad. I told the kids to lay off and even took blame for some of the gas. Jason seemed grateful. Then came camp.

We were put into groups. Jason was in my group and appointed the leader. We had a number of popular kids, as well. They weren’t fond of Jason’s leadership and mocked him behind his back. Again, I told them to lay off.

One of the leader’s tasks was to make sure the dinner table was set perfectly. The winning table received a prize such as 15 extra minutes in the bathrooms, which was huge. One night, the counselor checked our table and a straw was our of place. The popular kids were fuming. Jason looked for me to help and I told him that we’d just have to do better next time.

That evening, I couldn’t find my tennis shoe. I looked everywhere. A couple of kids helped me and Joe finally found it at the edge of the lake. It was sopping wet. I thought it was retaliation for defending Jason and was livid. Turns out, Jason was the culprit. When I asked him why, he said I should have checked the dinner table for him. What??? I lit info him and avoided him the rest of the night. The kids teased him until the teachers told them to stop.

The next morning the boys cabin was alive with gut spliiting laughter. We heard it through our windows. It turns out that Jason’s stomach was particularly active that night and he pooped his bed. While I didn’t join in the laughter, I couldn’t help but think, “what goes around comes around”.

I know the cowards who are letting Rara take the fall won’t read this. On the chance that they do, I hope they think about karma every night they hop into bed.

Alive & Disorderly

This post was originally published at The Outlier Collective. When it was published, it helped one girl seek help for her anorexia, so we’re reposting it here.

Everyone has something they don’t really like about themselves. If a magic fairy, or maybe just a regular one, allowed you to change one thing about yourself with no Twilight Zone consequences, I bet the vast majority of us could point to some flaw in a heartbeat. You think your nose is too crooked after the Drunken Swimming Pool Debacle of aught-two. Your hair is too frizzy or you don’t have any. Your teeth are crooked or you don’t have any. You hate your skin, your ass, your unsightly unicorn horn… it’s always something.

For most of us, these little deficits that bar us from the ideal standard of beauty aren’t a big deal. We might sigh at ourselves post-shower, measuring our love handles between forefinger and thumb, and decide to forgo that second helping of pudding, but we don’t obsess over it. We get dressed. We have a cup of coffee and get on with our day. We move on.

For some of us, our body issues are a big deal, even if they only exist in our minds. They can cause severe anxiety and depression. They can cause self-destructive behavior, starvation and even death. Before I talk about body issues, I need to tell you where mine came from.

  • I was sexually abused as a seven-year old for over a year. In the summer, he pulled me out of my bedroom window at night by my ankle. In the winter, he lived just down the hall. He liked to hog tie and gag me. My family pretended nothing happened. He was never prosecuted.
  • I was a promiscuous teenager turned whore. I don’t mean whore in the slutty sense, but in the traditional way of selling one’s body. I got myself a hardcore drug addiction that quickly turned me into a homeless prostitute, all while being an anorexic cutter.
  • In my early twenties, I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship that nearly killed me. What life I had left was missing teeth, money, a will to live, and any sense of justice, hope, faith or security. All I had were bruises, a pile of debt, and a deep and binding hatred. He fled the state and was never prosecuted.

That’s my story and my life could have ended at any one of those points, but it didn’t. It’s strange how three little paragraphs can say so much.

Instead of death, I got Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Anxiety Disorder (AD), Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They’re all intertwined. I don’t have one separately; I have bits of all of them in a big disorderly stew.

I didn’t care about anything, especially my own life. I became a homeless addict prostitute because nothing mattered at all. I withdrew inside myself. I built a fortress using drug addiction, prostitution, abuse and even my disorders as bricks.

On the outside, I was tall, blonde, confident, gorgeous and fierce. I was invincible. I could have anyone I wanted, and sadly, with very few exceptions, that turned out to be true. I was untouchable. No one could get inside my walls. Love was impossible; sex was love.

On the inside, I was short, fat, insecure, ugly and meek. I only saw the scars on my body and soul from the past that I lived. I saw fresh scars from continuing to live that way. I saw the hundreds of blurred faces I had sex with, starting when I was seven years old. I saw how repulsive and unlovable I was. I saw nothing of worth, physically or emotionally. I never valued my own life or my own body. I abused it in every way possible.

I hated myself, so I tried to destroy myself, which only made the hate stronger. I was aware of the vicious circle, but unable to stop it. It was a passive way to make it end since I didn’t have the guts to take my life.

I was a messed up kid who grew into a messed up adult. Nobody thought to get me help, not my family and not me. When you have such twisted views of yourself, you can’t talk about it, because it draws attention to very problems you are trying to hide. I lived in the shadows for decades.

Most of that is in the past now. Not too long ago, I came out of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder closet on my blog. For the first time, I talked about it. I even told how much I weigh. I take medication; it doesn’t make it go away, but it helps me see things more rationally. I can’t afford therapy, but I talk about it like I’m doing now. I’ve been street drug-free for over three years. I eat something every day. Sometimes, for a split-second, I can look in the mirror and think that I look pretty. I know the difference between sex and love; or at least, I know that sex isn’t love. I don’t hate myself. I don’t hate my body. I still hate, but it is turned outward.

I am scarred, battered, bruised and completely imperfect, but I am alive. I am used, abused, abandoned and incredibly pissed off. I shake my impotent fists at a world that would allow such evil. I let out a roar of combustible fury and venom, then I let it go.

I try to remember that most humans are not evil. We all have good and bad inside of us, and we can choose which one we act on. We are capable of empathy, restraint and selflessness. We create beautiful things like music, art and infrared-optimized space telescopes. We love.

I am filled with childlike glee that I get to live in a magical world with trees, waterfalls and elephants. I remember how short our lives are inside a universe that is bigger and older than we are truly capable of comprehending. I am awed that I beat the odds and I’m still very much alive. I survived and I am still surviving. I have no intention of going anywhere.

It has not been easy. It has taken years of small steps and I’m still struggling, but dammit, I AM STILL HERE. I don’t want to live as a victim; I just want to live.Care to join me?

If you or someone you know is in danger, please, get help. Your actions can make a huge difference. You are not alone. There is hope.


To Anyone Who’s Ever Thought, “Why don’t they just leave?”

A version of this post was originally published at Fish Of Gold, but in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the fact that today is my abuser’s birthday, a date he would never let me forget, I’ve reworked it here. It might help those who have no experience with domestic abuse understand why it’s never as simple as “just leaving.”

“Why do they stay?” or “Why don’t they just leave?” are common questions in response to domestic violence from those who’ve never been touched by it. I should know; I used to think that way before it happened to me.

I can clearly remember saying to someone, “I’d never stay in an abusive relationship.” A decade later, I found myself with two black eyes, strangulation marks around my neck and more bruised and scraped skin than not, limping into a courtroom with copies of police reports to get a restraining order after eight years of abuse.

I’d like to address the ignorance in asking those questions. I don’t mean to imply that people who ask those questions are ignorant in the pejorative sense, but in the truly not understanding sense. Although, honestly, those questions are ignorant in the rude sense when said to someone who was lucky enough to survive domestic violence. Believe me, nobody has a clue unless you’ve experienced it.

These are just a few possible answers to those questions from my experience. Some victims might have different reasons, but these were mine.

Because abusers isolate us

My abuser told me I couldn’t survive on my own all the time and I believed it. He told me that, without him, I’d have no friends and no life. At the time, it was absolutely true. He was the conduit to all of our friends. He planned every detail of our lives. I didn’t even have most of our friends’ phone numbers (this was before the days of cell phones and internet), because he kept them from me. I could only socialize if he planned it, although, he spun it differently, as if he was doing me a favor by dealing with petty matters like friendship for me.

When I finally kicked him to the curb, I didn’t know who to call. I had no phone numbers, no way to get hold of anyone, and most importantly, no idea who my friends really were. I didn’t know who was on my side or who to trust.

Because abusers convince us that we are worthless

Over and over, subtly and not so subtly, abusers tell us that we are useless, stupid, spineless, clumsy, and absolutely worthless. Without them to guide us, we’d die on our own. We can’t cook. We have terrible taste in music, books and movies. Our ideas, beliefs and opinions are all wrong and stupid. We can’t even tie our shoes properly. They have no choice but to guide us in the right way. We’re more trouble than we’re worth, but they will deign to instruct us even though it will be a total pain.

That’s what abusers do. They manipulate us into thinking, not that they are verbally abusing us, but that they are doing us a favor. If you hear it enough, if you get scolded enough and beaten for not doing things correctly, you believe it. We really are useless. Thank god we have them to guide us in the right way.

For the last few years, I honestly thought it would be better if he killed me. I even wished for it instead of enduring more abuse.

Because, at least for a while, we think it will get better

We convince ourselves that it won’t always be this way. If only he could find a job, stop drinking, etc., the abuse will stop. If if if…

Admitting domestic violence means admitting that we are failures. We didn’t see the signs. We totally missed the red flags that were there all along the way. We got ourselves into this mess. We trusted someone we shouldn’t have. We gave our trust to another human being who completely abused that trust.

Admitting that it won’t get better means admitting that we can’t trust ourselves. How can we trust ourselves to find the right person to reach out to for help? How on earth can we trust anyone if we can’t even trust ourselves?

Because it means admitting that we’re liars

Domestic violence turns victims into liars. We lie to ourselves, thinking that it will get better. We lie to others about our visible bruises and black eyes. We lie to those closest to us, our family or coworkers: “It’s not as bad as all that. He’s really a good person deep down…”

Sometimes, as in my case, verbal abuse escalates into physical abuse. We find ourselves lying to cover it up. We wear scarves and long sleeves in summer and stage makeup. We invent excuses for scars and bruises. We lie so much to everyone we know that, if we want out, it means telling everyone that we’re liars. We cover it all up.

I told people that I tripped over the cat when he knocked out my tooth with his fist while I was driving and smashed my head into the car window. I made up an imaginary car accident towards the end; my injuries were that severe. I lied and said I was in a car accident to cover up what his fists did to me. How fucked up is that?

Because the truth is embarrassing

Abuse is gradual. We don’t begin relationships with abusers. If they started off that way, believe me, we’d definitely just leave, but they never do. It starts with a charming person who makes us feel valued. Over time, once they’re sure they’ve got us, it turns into verbal abuse in the form of nitpicking. Nothing we ever do is right or good enough. We’re so useless. We have nothing to offer. Our views are all wrong. We don’t know anything. We’re stupid, ugly, fat. No one loves us. We would be totally helpless without them.

I know it probably sounds strange, but abuse is embarrassing. It’s embarrassing telling people that you’re dominated, weak; that someone beats you up regularly and you just put up with it. It’s embarrassing that we fell for the trap. We’re embarrassed that we haven’t left. We’ve kept it inside, all to ourselves for so long, that breaking that silence and owning up to the truth is really difficult. Coming clean is really fucking hard. We have to admit it to ourselves before we can tell others.

Because people will not believe us

When we do decide to end it, for our own safety and the safety of those around us, we have to tell everyone the truth in case the abusers show up at our homes or workplaces. Domestic violence rips families apart. It forces people to pick sides. Surprisingly, a lot of people side with the abuser. A lot more than you would imagine.

Think about it for a minute. If you had to tell all of your friends, family and coworkers something incredibly personal and embarrassing, something that would make them look at you differently and judge you, something they might not even believe, how would you react? How would you tell everyone you know that you lied to them over and over? Would you want people to feel sorry for you? Would you want people to view you as weak, because even if they don’t mean to, they will? Would you want everyone walking on eggshells because they don’t know how to react to you or what to say? Would you want people asking you, “Why didn’t you just leave?” as if it could ever be answered simply?

My story was not believed, even though I showed my friends bruises and police reports. Out of a lifetime in a city, I ended up with three friends. Everyone else in my life sided with him. In the end, it comes down to the charming, manipulative sociopath’s word against yours, the admitted liar. I was betrayed by every single person I knew but three.

Because victims have no money

As part of victim manipulation, abusers typically take over the household finances. We can’t be trusted to do it right anyway. We’re useless. We better just give them the money and they’ll handle it.

At least, that’s how it went in my case. However, my abuser didn’t “handle it.” Instead, he stole all of my money and took out credit cards in my name that I didn’t even know about because he stole my mail. All told, he left me over $50,000 in debt when it was over.

Because they will kill us if we leave

At first, my abuser threatened to kill himself if I left, but towards the end, he threatened to kill me. “I will track you down and rip out your throat with my teeth if you ever leave me.” My abuser said that to me. I very clearly remember the “rip out your throat with my teeth” bit, because it created disturbing imagery in my psyche. I still have dreams where that happens from time to time. Damn my vivid imagination.

Because it means uprooting our entire lives

Domestic abuse is woven through every aspect of our lives from family to our jobs. It is not like just moving to a new apartment or getting a new job will solve the problem. It’s not about who gets the sofa; it’s about our entire lives, because every bit of them is touched by abuse. We have to carefully excise it from every single facet of our lives, sometimes, leaving nothing left.

So, you’ve decided to leave. Where are you going to go? You could call any number of domestic violence hotlines for help and they’ll set you up with at least a temporary place to stay, but what about long-term? Are you going to stay in the same city within harm’s reach, or are you going to flee and go into hiding?

Staying in the same area means living with a constant threat. It means continually being taunted and harassed by your abuser, but at least at home, you might have some support system from friends and family, if they believe your story, that is.

If you decide to run, it means leaving everything behind. It means moving to a new area where you know no one and have nothing to fall back on. If he follows you there, you are completely on your own with no one to turn to for help.

Great choices, right? Leaving is so easy. The end.

Since my abuser destroyed my support system anyway, I fled the state. I’m still in hiding some fifteen years later. He is still out there.

Because we really think we have no options

And perhaps we don’t. Depending on where we live and how much money we make, we really might not have any options at all.

When I decided to leave, a decision that took years to work up to, I called a domestic violence hotline on the sly from work with my heart pounding. I was told that I made too much money to receive help even though I had none, because he stole it all. I had no money, no friends, nowhere to go and I was refused help from every public resource available.

I was fortunate that, in the way the final chapter went down, I was able to kick him out of the house, not the other way around, but most victims are not so lucky. Most of us have to leave our homes.

It’s not like we can start packing and arrange to have some movers come. Leaving has to be done with the stealth of a ninja, which means abandoning practically everything we own.

Most victims, when they do decide to get out of an abusive situation, have to run from their homes like refugees, clinging to the few personal items they managed to grab when they fled in the middle of the night. For some, it’s not just themselves they have to worry about either; they have to think of their children.

Because the legal system sucks

The burden of proof is on us, the victims. We have to prove abuse, which isn’t easy. Again, it usually comes down to our word, the admitted liars, against the charming sociopaths.

Even if we can prove abuse and manage to get some arrest warrants, it’s very far from guaranteed that they’ll be arrested, tried and convicted. Even if they are put in prison, domestic violence doesn’t get a life sentence. One day, they will be released with a big grudge against the person who put them away.

The last time my abuser tried to kill me was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I lived in Boston, Massachusetts, a different jurisdiction a few miles away. After filing a police report in Cambridge along with two witnesses, I went home and he followed me there. The Boston police could not arrest him because the arrest warrant was in Cambridge, not Boston.

They could not arrest him for trying to break into his own house. They could not arrest him for yelling up to the window that he was going to kill me while the police were in my living room. Unless he actually tried to kill me in Boston, they could do nothing. I wanted to go outside to let him try, but the police wouldn’t let me. I hadn’t gotten a restraining order yet, because the courts that give them out are not open 24 hours. I got one the next morning. The best they could do was detain him for public drunkenness overnight, 12 hours at most.

I spent countless hours on the phone talking to credit card companies and reporting agencies trying to get all that debt erased. It never was, because it’s impossible to prove that you didn’t know something. How could you not know that you had credit cards in your name? He stole my mail. Sure, ma’am, likely story. Even now, my credit is fucked. Every so often, my debt file gets sold to another debt collector and it starts all over again.

I spent countless hours talking to detectives about filing charges that never did any good. In the end, I managed to get four warrants for his arrest: assault and battery (misdemeanor), property damage (felony), fraud (felony), and federal mail tampering (felony). Not one of those warrants was ever cashed in. He left the state and that was that. Most states in the US don’t extradite for anything other than murder and the statute of limitations have all expired now anyway. He is free and clear forever, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Because we will lose everything

I lost my hometown. I can never go back there; there’s nothing left of a lifetime’s worth of friendships anymore. I had to start all over from scratch.

I lost all of my valuable possessions; I found a brick in my camera bag instead of a camera. He sold all of my jewelry, some of which were family heirlooms. I lost all of my money and was left with a mountain of debt. I lost my personal information and still deal with identity theft even now.

I lost my job because I had to take so much time off to go to doctors, make phone calls and go to court. They didn’t give that as the reason for my dismissal; they claimed downsizing, even though I was the only one downsized and it was pretty obvious why.

I had nothing except an ever-present fear that he would find me and a new-found sense of freedom that I had no idea what to do with. Fifteen years later, I still have a baseball bat next to my bed. I still live in hiding with the fear that he will show up at my door someday.

I sincerely hope that this post dispelled some ignorance and helped you understand that it is never as simple as just leaving. The amount of courage it takes to act when you’ve been put down for so long is staggering.

The next time you are tempted to say those words, realize that it’s a form of victim shaming. You are placing the blame on the victim for not leaving, instead of where it belongs, on the abuser. Victims of domestic violence need help and support, not ill-informed judgment. Thanks for listening.

If you are in danger in the US, call 911 or reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1­-800-799-7233 or TTY 1­-800-787-3224.

Shock And Awe

Please welcome from Amusing Nonsense with a rather serious post about suicide and perspective.

Author’s Note: This is going to be a post that might offend people. It might unsettle people. It discusses things that might disturb sensitive people, and it discusses things that might trigger depressive episodes. Please do not read this post if you are currently considering or are about to attempt suicide. Instead, seek help.

First, the shock.

The problem with attempting suicide in a humane manner is that the plans are not ideal. I faced this myself in November 2013 when I woke up six times with a bag over my head. Six times I couldn’t get it all to go the way I wanted it to. At first it was the sleeping medicine that made me nod off before I could get the whole thing accomplished, then it was the drawstring keeping the bag shut (I used trash bags because I liked the poetry of trying to dispose of myself as garbage). Then I had found out tying a knot while dozing off wasn’t quite problem free. One time I almost had it, but a gap had formed where my head slid, rolling up the bag enough to give me some air.

It’s quite embarrassing how inept I am at trying to kill myself.

I took a few days in between each attempt, trying to figure out what went wrong while simultaneously working up the courage to do it all over again. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy killing myself in a way that wouldn’t maul me so badly my family and friends would suffer needlessly seeing my corpse. Since I was a recluse, I had to leave my door unlocked so the neighbors could open it when the smell got too bad. My plan included a sleeping agent because I tried suffocation before, but I’m no good with tying things and the confusion that sets in right before passing out worked against my desire to end things.

At that stage of things, I’d considered many alternatives. I’d researched successful rates of suicide by method, the chance of failure, the manner of failure, the gruesome factor on loved ones and other potential viewers of the body. I had one suicide attempt 11 years before that, and I vowed to learn from my mistakes of that time. This is very important to someone serious about killing himself while minimizing the impact on others around him. Death by cop is no good because it can emotionally scar the police officer. Ditto with jumping in front of trains and trucks. Handguns aren’t as successful as one might think, and pills are more likely to induce a coma than death. Suffocation had the same problems because of brain damage and oxygen deprivation, but sleeping agents in conjunction with suffocation seemed to be the best way of alleviating the risks of both. Determined to succeed, I kept going and going again until I ran out of sleep medication and I was too broke to buy more.

Not once that entire time did I think that I was going to Hell. That was because in the months leading up to the attempts, I had actually prayed for something I wanted more than anything in my life: divine intervention in helping end it. A meteor, car crash, freak accident, whatever He felt like doing. And I prayed hard for six months while I couldn’t get work. My mind was circling the drain, urging me to end my life, and I prayed as a way to placate my suicidal urges.

Sounds pretty crazy, huh?

I thought so too. How ironic that it took me asking for the only thing I’d ever wanted from God to finally admit to myself that He doesn’t exist. That’s the shock part of my de-conversion. Having to hate myself so much that I want to quit my one and only existence, pushing myself to shut my mind up so I can be at peace and accidentally learning right as I’m about to end things that I’d duped myself my whole life. In my defense, at the time I reminded myself at least I wasn’t going to be disappointed about my faith for very long.

And now the Awe.

Little by little, learning to live life without God has opened doors to appreciating the true grandeur of the universe and the tiny blue speck of planet we call Earth. Each human life is a tiny flame dancing on a floating candle, the seas are high and yet that tiny speck of flame burns to spite the coming end. Some people burn hot and fast and wink out to be missed by the others around it. Others burn slow and long and do not give in until the flame is taken from them.

I learned God is unnecessary for miracles to occur. I’m not talking about divine intervention; I’m talking about things happening that are so against the odds of success one can’t help but marvel at the outcome. Every child born prematurely that claws and fights for life and wins, every victim who overcomes herself and her attacker to see justice done, every person who survives natural catastrophe unscathed is a testament to the idea that life can overcome adversity. They might not be miracles in the classical sense, but they’re pretty damn inspirational nonetheless.

To explain these away as the interference of a divine hand takes away from that splendor. People can and do everyday things that should be celebrated, not given over to an invisible benefactor. People are potent and wonderful, capable of staggering acts of compassion and love. People can and often do what is right by themselves and everyone else without needing to resort to superstition.

I don’t always see the beauty around me. The workings of my mind quite frequently hide good things from my attention, leaving me alone and in the dark. Sometimes I even quietly acknowledge that my illness will one day be the death of me. But now it is like I have a new world open before me, new things in new lights and new colors. The new realizations I make every day fill me with a serene joy unattainable from religious introspection.

Most importantly, I realized that every day is not a blessing from God. Every day is a blessing from myself.

Source: Dr. Phil

But He Loves Me

Please welcome Alicia Benton from Imperfectly Perfect with a story of surviving domestic violence. It was originally published on Black Box Warnings, but since that site is gone, we’re reposting it here.

Trigger warning: this post talks about domestic violence. This is not an easy post to read, but it’s an important one and there is a happy ending since she’s still here to talk about it.

He is screaming at me so close to my face that I can feel his spit. I close my eyes and hold my breath.

He is wrapping his hands around my neck and squeezing tighter and tighter. I start to see spots.

He is grabbing my hair and shoving my head in the toilet. I try not to breathe, but I have to gasp for air.

He pulls the car over to the side of the road and demands that I get out. When I refuse, he comes around to the passenger side and yanks me out, leaving me standing alone on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with no money or ID.

He is tearing everything in my purse into shreds. I watch helplessly as my social security card, driver’s license, and photos of my babies float to the floor in hundreds of pieces.

He is cutting into tiny scraps all the homemade Mother’s Day and birthday cards I’ve collected from my babies since they were born.

He is breaking my cell phone into two pieces, ensuring I can never use it again.

He rips every signature from my high school yearbooks. I can only vaguely remember the memories my friends have written so fondly about.

He is bleaching all of my clothes in the bath tub. I panic inside, wondering what I’ll wear to work the next day.

He is burning the boys’ clothes in the fireplace in the living room. The boys don’t dare ask what’s going on.

He is shattering my camera into pieces, stomping on it after it smashes on the concrete.

He throws the kitten across the room and into the brick wall on the fireplace. It immediately begins to bleed profusely from the nose.

He tears the boys’ homework into tiny scraps the second they complete it.

He punches my car windshield in a fit of rage. My heart feels like the shattered glass, spreading over every inch.

Source: Madrid Law

Source: Madrid Law

But, despite all this, he loves me… He tells me how sorry he is – how it’s my fault that he loses his temper so often. I made a stupid decision that wasn’t good for our family. He can’t bear the thought of living without the boys and me. He promises that he’ll never put his hands on me or the kids again. All those times were mistakes. I’m the mother of his children and his wife. He loves me.

I stay. For years and years, I stay.

I’m scared of him. Terrified to leave.

If I leave him, he’ll find us. He’ll kill me, or worse, them. Or he’ll kidnap them, and I’ll never see them again. I can’t live without them.

How will I afford to raise two boys on my own? How will I work and pay for daycare?

Where will I go? Who will take in three extra people when they have families of their own to raise and support?

What decent man will ever want me – a 21-year-old girl with a two-year-old and an infant?

How will I ever swallow my pride and tell my daddy that he was right and that I had made one terrible decision after another?

How will it look if I get a divorce and have two young children? Divorce is bad, right?

What if I really am the problem, and I keep provoking him?

What if he really is sorry and will never lay his hands on me again? Will I be throwing away a potentially great marriage?

All boys need their dad, right? How will I ever successfully raise two young men without their father in their lives?

What if the fear that consumes my life is a healthy fear and proof that no one will ever love me as much as he does?

What if he really does love me, and I just have no idea what love is?

What if he really does love me?

Yes, these are really the thoughts that tormented me every single day of my 14-year relationship with my first husband. I was stuck – with no end in sight – in a vicious cycle. I was going crazy… I was literally going crazy.

I had myself convinced that he really loved me and was simply scared of losing the boys and me. I just knew that my family was no good for me and if they really loved me as much as he did, that they would support us and our relationship.

genuinely believed him every time he swore to never put his hands on me again.

To protect him, I made all the excuses you’ve heard on TV: “I fell down the stairs.” “My son accidentally head-butted me.” “He threw something at me to catch, but I missed it, and it hit me in my face.” “Oh, it was definitely an accident.” “He didn’t mean it.” “But I made him mad.” “Oh, I don’t know where that bruise came from.”

The list could go on, but the point is that I covered for him every time. I even ended up in the emergency room once and lied to the doctors, even when they were quite sure I was being abused. But I refused to budge. I wouldn’t give him up.

Source: Wynn & Wynn

Source: Wynn & Wynn


FEAR, plain and simple.

Fear of his rage and temper. Fear of being alone. Fear of being judged. FEAR.

I thought I was alone. I thought no one would understand what I was going through day-in and day-out.

For any of you ladies (or men, I suppose) who are in the same type of situation, please listen and hear me when I say this:


You don’t need to be abused. You don’t need to be manipulated. You don’t need to be controlled.

Please, if you shrug off every other sentence in this post, just understand this:

You are NOT alone.

Don’t stay silent any longer. You are valuable, and you are loved. No matter what you’ve done, you will never ever deserve to be abused. Speak out. Get help.

You can start here:




Every lie – whether mine or his – that I believed, turned out to be just that… a LIE. I met a wonderful man who loves me and my kids. I can take care of my kids on my own. I am successfully raising two handsome, respectful young men. My family does love and support me. And most importantly – I will never be alone.

Remember, you are loved, and you never deserve to be abused. Stop the cycle.

Source: Dr. Phil

Source: Dr. Phil

Body Memories and Boundaries

Please welcome Sofia Leo from I Won’t Take it with an honest post about relationships after abuse.

Readers of my blog will be surprised to hear that I’ve been seeing a BOY. Yup. Sworn to singlehood (“one can only truly be enlightened if one is celibate” was my mantra for almost two years) I never would have thought the day would come.

We met via eHarmony. I know, right? Turns out there’s something to it. We emailed a few times, texted and finally talked on the phone before scheduling an in-person meeting. We hit it off immediately and last weekend was my fifth visit to his house, 90 miles away -

Week Five and another play-date with D. His kids (a girl age 17, and a boy age 16) were at their Mom’s for the weekend so we had the house to ourselves and I spent Friday and Saturday nights because The Girls were busy elsewhere so I had no social obligations.

Ate well-prepared venison for the first time and learned to cook it, too. We stayed in, sitting around in sweats, watching movies. D was sleepy and drifted off a lot on Saturday, laying on the couch.

He’s depressed about his work situation (laid off a couple of weeks ago) but would not easily admit to that fact. He’s scared of me and what I might represent. You see, from the moment we met we recognized something in each other. We have the same history, although we haven’t told each other our whole stories.

He admitted last week that he signed on to eHarmony looking for a fuckbuddy. What he found was me and I think he’s having trouble with the notion that he and I will never be just fuckbuddies. He was not prepared to find a kindred spirit and he is freaked the fuck out.

I can see the wheels in his mind churning constantly, watching for me to reject him for something, trying to catch me in a moment of disgust or disapproval. I think if he saw it, he would pounce on it and find a way to start an argument and make me leave. He’s just that scared, hence the sleeping as an escape from reality if only for a little while.

The fact is, he doesn’t want to be fucked, he wants to be loved. He pours his feelings out through his fingertips and onto my body where they are having some really strange effects. In the beginning, I thought, “Right on! Go ahead and turn me inside out – I love it!” and I soaked it up like a sponge. Now, however, I can feel much more behind his actions and it has me wondering just what’s going on in his mind.

He is giving, and only giving, taking nothing in return and frustrated because his Little Brain is refusing to obey his commands.

I understand what’s happening and am waiting to see if he comes to the same conclusions – that this is not a meaningless FWB situation we have going on here. Oh, it might not last forever, but if we part it will be as friends, with no hard feelings and hopefully some healing on both sides.

As for me, I feel very safe with him. He spends a lot of time massaging me, finding all the little tight spots and working them out with his hands. It is bliss, I gotta say.

I told him that I have three triggers that I won’t tolerate being messed with – I will not be tied up, choked or marked. He has been respectful and not made me feel trapped.

Yesterday morning we were laying in his recliner and he was massaging my neck. I carry my stress and baggage in my neck muscles and he has not been able to work the knots free, hard as he’s tried.

I was fairly relaxed, but he came upon the largest knot and commented on it, “this spot is always tight, isn’t it? Does it give you problems?” as he slowly worked his way towards the base of my throat. With one finger, he probed a spot that instantly made me flush. “This muscle has been torn in the past…” he thoughtfully moved his thumb in circles, talking very quietly, maybe paying attention to my reaction or maybe not, I really don’t know.

I do know that my brain was flooded with memories of that time when ex#1, the psycho, came home drunk and high on god knows what. I was eight months pregnant and feeling like shit on toast. It was very late and he was raging. He stomped around in his heavy hiking boots, kicked a lamp that was right next to my head where I sat on the couch barely awake, shattering it into pieces. I knew he was winding up for something truly terrible, so I tried to diffuse the situation by announcing it was time for bed. I got up slowly, my big belly a real hindrance, and headed down the hall to our bedroom.

He caught me by the shoulder, jerked me around to face him and began yelling, spewing foul breath and spittle an inch from my face. His eyes got dark and he made a decision. I needed to die. It was that simple. I was not worthy of living. I would make a terrible mother and it was his duty to protect his unborn son from me. He was too out of it to realize that without me there would be no son. That I was carrying a boy was never a question.

He shoved me up against the wall and starting choking me, still shouting about what a horrible person I was. The scariest part of this whole incident is that when my vision started going black around the edges, I welcomed death. My life was hell with that man and I really wanted to check out in that moment. I didn’t want to be a Mom. I didn’t want to be a wife. I didn’t want to have to live through any more nights of his addiction as he was chased by demons of his own making. I was d-o-n-e. Go ahead, just end it.

For whatever reason, his Mom was there that night (We lived in her house. She worked the graveyard shift and should not have been at home that night) and she managed to distract him enough that he let go of me. I slid to the floor, gasping for breath and crying. For a long moment I was sorry he hadn’t finished the job.

The rest of the night was spent trying to keep the psycho from leaving the house. He puked in the hallway. Wet himself. Finally fell out of a window that was high enough off the ground it knocked him out cold. His mom and I stood looking down at him, looked at each other and then went to bed. He woke up on the lawn and came inside like he did it every day. He denied everything that had happened the night before, calling us crazy and refusing to even think about getting help. He admitted what drugs he’d taken the night before and that he’d downed a surprising amount of cheap ale. The ale seemed to up the Crazy Factor and ever after I did my best to keep him away from it when I could. He never choked me again, but he did like to grab me by the throat and glare at me like he was thinking about it. I hid the bruises and told no one.

All this came vividly back and I had a moment of panic. I pulled away, head down, trying to control my breathing. I didn’t want to freak out. This shit happened so long ago that it shouldn’t be affecting me this way, right? Obviously I still have some work to do on this particular set of memories.

I’ve read about Body Memories and had a few myself, but this was above and beyond anything I’d experienced to date and I did not like it one bit.

D asked if I was okay and pulled me close again. “You’re safe with me,” he said and I believed it.

Maybe I’m crazy for trusting this man I’ve known only a short time. It’s a sad fact that my Picker is seriously out of whack, but I didn’t choose this one – eHarmony decided we were compatible on some other level and I decided to trust them to see where it might go.

Now I’ve arrived at a place I’m very unsure of. I trust D like I never trusted a man in my life. If he’s a monster inside it’s a species I haven’t encountered yet. I suspect he is another tortured soul finally becoming brave enough to try again, but do I take that chance?

I don’t have D’s permission to blog about him, so I’ve been filling up my “draft” folder with these musings. He doesn’t know my real name. He knows my town but not my address. I can flit into and out of his life at MY whim. Has this given me a sense of safety that I wouldn’t normally have, encouraging me to take absurd risks? I mean, who drives 90 miles to the house of a man they’ve never even met? Who then spends the night? I may have lost my mind…

Interestingly, I left my eH profile up and have not had even ONE response  besides D’s. Not a one. A few profile views but nothing more. How weird is that?

The Results are In

Below are the results to our poll from Tuesday.

It was interesting to see what all of you had to say. At first, you were completely evenly split just like us. Then, more of you started to weigh in.

It seems most of you agree fictional stories would not go with the overall feel of this site.

We thank all of you for your votes and input.

To Fiction Or Not To Fiction?

Yesterday, I asked my Fish of Gold readers for guest posts on Stories That Must Not Die. I was asked whether or not STMND allowed fiction. It was a question we had never considered since no one had asked it.

After much debate amongst the admins, we’re a hung jury on the matter. We’re roughly half for and half against.

I was no help since I vacillated wildly on my answer. At first, I said I thought it would be alright as long as it was fiction rooted in personal experience, or what I call autobiographical fiction.

Then, I changed my vote to no, since perhaps this is more of a place for personal experience, not fiction.

Then, I changed my vote again, because some of my most personal stories have been written through fiction. Sometimes, you need that distance to tell it. So, my final vote was yes with caveats.

Since we couldn’t make up our minds, we thought we’d ask you, our readers, the people who ultimately have the most say in what’s posted here.

So, what do you think? Should we allow fiction on STMND?

A Message of Light from Rara

I skyped with a dinosaur!

How I’ve missed this icon on the blogosphere

The Space Between

There’s a cold science to the warm observance of art. Fancy galleries and museums all over the world apply careful calculations to the placement of viewing-benches and lights. It is a detailed symphony of diagonals and distance, measured to accompany the artistry and elevate the experience of beauty. At a certain angle, from a certain number of steps away, even your favorite masterpiece could look unappealing, or downright ugly, or worse–simply quiet. Can you even fathom the travesty of such a fate? To have something silenced by the space between when it could have spoken to you and shared its ageless secrets with the very insides of your soul? Such is the power of distance.



Anything can look gross from up close, but if you look even closer, most things become wondrous once again. It is an issue of science and the computations required to discover the perfect perspective.

For someone like me, life is as much about the observations as it is about the experiences. (It’s not that I don’t have a little adventurer in my heart–it’s that I have a giant scientist sitting on top of her.) I am constantly calibrating my perspective–growing and shrinking the space between myself and my observations with a dexterity evolved from life-long practice. The decision to look closer or step farther is a crafted science I learned from my father, but the act of doing so is an art I picked up from my mom. I continue to study the science, and act the art into existence. The goal is not to change reality, hide from truth, or eradicate the acknowledgement of all the world’s bad–but to shift a paradigm and to remember that everything under the sun has a place and purpose.

Rara quote

How it affects us on the outside is often unavoidable, but we can control how it speaks to our insides. We can translate it–changing what is whispered into a language that creates our best selves, and a landscape of our best possibility. Language is our legacy, after all–and, much like perspective, is a melody of science and art.

Today, the sun set over me. Her rays warmed the air and her shimmering power stilled the clouds. Fragments of orange and silky webs of red-purple shot around in all directions, kissing the ground with pink light. The sun herself glorified in the show–radiating inward as much as outward–reveling in her great celestial roundness and yawning into her cosmic nap.

Below her, on the dusty plateau around me, a baby jackrabbit chased a pale green apple, paying no mind to the schedules of stars. He tried to capture the fruit, but its size was too great for such small eager hands and it would simply roll away. The little rabbit didn’t seem to mind the chase–the treasured green prize was more than worth a weary hunt. A hundred feet above his tall ears and grand adventures, a bird flew in circles, stretching her wings and enjoying this brief moment of time where her wingspan was larger than the sun. She sang loudly, and her whistled song was about her freedom from everyone and her ownership of all the world. No one contested her tune or argued her claim, because no one could. Hers is a freedom that lives in her heart and an ownership of possibility that lives in her mind–and she is the only one who has power or providence there, in her insides, where the truth of her lives.

I mimicked her whistle and she approved–acknowledging my heart’s freedom with a proud slant of her head. I nodded back and caught another glimpse of the little rabbit. He was focused on apples and even less interested in whistled freedoms than in the mapping patterns of magnificent stars. I let myself absorb the secrets of the Sleeper, the Hunter, and the Singer. It required no shift of diagonal or distance because beauty such as theirs needs no elevation. Anyone who looks or listens will experience full measure of their truths–the sun’s faith in the sanctity of cycles, the rabbit’s dedication to the purity of the present moment, and the bird’s reminder that every soul is as free as it believes itself to be. I filled my mind with their wisdoms and carried the inspiration with me–down the pathway, past the guards, through the gates, and into my prison cell…

where I continued to whistle the song of my freedom.

Such is the power of perspective and beauty.



animation of sun

Star-Sweet Light by Rarasaur

Star-Sweet Light
By Rarasaur

There’s a light behind the curtain -
Like star-squeezed lemonade – -
I’ve tasted it, I’ve drank it down,
It’s part of how I’m made.

There’s a space behind the curtain,
Where some have never basked.
The heaviness blockading it
Keeps the magic darkly masked.

The light behind the curtain
Cracks all minds open wide -
Shadows and dobuts melt away -
There is no place to hide.

And in this quiet center -
In this kismet-tangled knot -
We harvest possibility…
What we could, and should and ought.

It’s refreshed by connectivity,
By compassion and insight,
And the more of those we squeeze from life,
The sweeter is the light.

Yes, there’s more behind this day…
And though I know it’s there…
Today’s curtain is dark and heavy -
Too sour to squeeze, or bear.

Still, I continue to chase the stars…
I won’t let the sweetness fade.
It holds my coulds on the days I can’t.
It’s part of how I’m made.

(Dedicated to E.’s mama, in gratitude of the reminder.)

This was written & dedicated by Rarasaur to
E from A Sign of Life‘s mother.