Friday, October 29, 2010

The call

The nurse is making small talk as we walk back to the exam room, but I am not listening. We stop at the scale, she weighs me, she flips through the chart as we make our way down the hall, and she begins to ask a question but stops mid-sentence and—I am waiting for this—hesitates a moment while she is comparing my weight to what it was when I was in just four weeks earlier. She wonders aloud if she wrote it down correctly and I say yes, she did. She asks if I’ve been under a lot of stress and I realize she hasn’t read my chart, or perhaps they don’t write those kinds of details down in the notes, I don’t know.

When the doctor comes in he nods and listens and suggests something for the anxiety and to help me sleep. He is kind, he is concerned, but we both know that what I need isn’t a medical intervention. He asks again whether I have family in the area and if I’ve been hooked up with any social services. No and yes.

As I walk through the parking lot of the medical plaza, prescription in hand, a cool wind blows across the prairie, a welcome shift from the late summer heat. It’s the same sky, the same hospital across the street I’ve driven by a hundred times, the world hasn’t changed on the outside. It's my own world that is unrecognizable.

I now have a restraining order on behalf of my children. I now have an estranged husband who is under criminal investigation. All that was once certain has dissolved.

I am still raw from the day at the courthouse. When the police urged me to get a restraining order, they agreed to release enough information on his case to make sure it was granted. They passed the information to my lawyer, who in turn passed it to me.

I sat and listened as she relayed to me the breadth and details of what she had learned. She didn’t parse her words, wanting me to know everything. I struggled to take it all in, my sense of reality and my soft-spun illusions collapsing one upon the other. When she was done I wept and my friend held me close for a long time in the cold and windowless courthouse witness room.

For two days I lay in bed and did nothing. People called me and texted me, but I had no words for them.

*  *  *  *

There was a brief time, after the assault, when I was nostalgic for when it was all just a divorce. Back then I had a plan worked out, a structure in place. Then I had to rejigger it to fit the new reality of violence into the plan. I figured we could keep the settlement we had worked out and that my children would still have their father in their lives. When I found out about the criminal investigation, and as I realized everything was disintegrating, there was an even briefer time that I was nostalgic for when it was merely divorce and domestic violence.

But now. Now I have accepted that the whole structure has collapsed. I will start afresh. Build something new.

Some days I catch my reflection in the mirror and I am surprised. I am not used to the new lean lines of my figure or the tiredness in my eyes. But beneath this, there is something else. Beneath the exhaustion, there is an electric pulse that wasn’t there before and I know that despite how far and how fast I have fallen, that I will be okay. The impact from this fall will not break me apart, but rather it is breaking me open. This is not a death, but a birthing, and as this slow-churning plunge draws to a close it is time for me to come out from under the shadow of my half-self and begin a new life.

My life.

A funny thing happens when you lose so much. You also lose your inhibitions and your illusions and your fear of falling and you are left with nothing but the white hot center of your truth. As I stand here in the ashes of what was and consider the empty landscape before me, I am at peace with the ambiguity of my future, and yet there are two things I know with a rock solid certainty.

One, that I love my children like the oceans deep and I would do anything, give up everything to protect their innocence and the sanctity of their gentle souls.

And two, that I want to go home. The call is clear and distinct. After so very many years the hour hand has spun around the dial enough times and I am waiting only for the minutes to pass. I feel the unmistakable pull of her time-worn shores and I know, quite simply, it is time to go home.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

I want to passionately kiss you

Wow.  You guys.  You are about 1,000 shades of awesome.

You sure know how to cheer a girl up, you know that?  Just a few days after I put up my appeal and you have come through in a big way.  Thank you seems insufficient.

I've decided that even if I just raise half the money I need for the trip, I'm still going to go. 

I'll just buy one way tickets.

And when I get there, put on your best lip gloss because I'm going to passionately kiss each and every one of you.  Unless you happen to live in Perth or London or Vienna.  In which case, you'll have to take a rain check.

If you make a donation, please send me a blog button to put up on Wanderlust. Because if I can't find one on your blog, I'm liable to make it myself and then you're in real trouble (Badger).  I haven't gotten to all of you yet. Something about kids and a full-time job (meh).  But be ever vigilant, as sexy buttons leading to your site will continue to appear on my sidebar.

Seriously, did I mention that I love you guys?  Because I seriously love you guys.

And don't forget the cherry lippy, baby.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Appeal

I’m going to do something today which I’ve never done and which is completely outside my comfort zone, but since everything that’s happened recently has been outside my comfort zone, what the hell.

You probably heard me fawning over some of my favorite people who had put their heads together in an effort to find me sponsorship to the Australian Blogging Conference in March and I am giddy to report they are still at it.

I decided it was probably time I helped them out and so I’ve put up a donation widget on my site. A number of my lovely Aussie friends have already seen fit to use it.

My goal is this. I would like to raise enough money to either fly my kids out with me or at the very least fly them out of the state to stay with relatives. Given current circumstances, leaving them behind in Kansas is simply not an option. I’m still hopeful that I can secure corporate sponsorship for myself. Sponsors for both hotel and conference have already been secured, so I just need a sponsor for airfare at this point.

I am grateful to Mrs. Woog at Woogsworld and Lori at RRSAHM for offering advertising on their own blogs (in addition to advertising on Wanderlust) to a potential corporate sponsor. Am further grateful to Mrs. Woog and Sawhole for their tireless networking and success in securing the hotel and conference sponsorships. You are quite simply amazing.

If I’m not able to raise the necessary funds, donations will either be returned or given to other conference attendees needing assistance with travel costs, depending on the wishes of the donor. However, I’m proceeding with the confidence that I will be there and meet, for the first time, some of my very favorite people.

There are a number of reasons I’d like to attend the conference. There’s the obvious – it’s in Australia, my home that isn’t my home but should be my home. It would also give me a chance to share my story in person with some incredible women. But most importantly, I want to have the opportunity to meet face to face the scores of women who have offered me unwavering support over the past several months. From my post on Sleepless Nights just after I was assaulted, to the following months when I wrote about my grief, to my most recent post when I spoke openly on my own blog about domestic violence, I’ve been met with nothing but amazing support and acceptance and encouragement. A number of people have emailed me privately and continued to check in regularly. Many have mailed care packages from overseas. The majority of these supportive voices have belonged to members of AMB and many of them will be at the conference. I would love to be able to meet them and thank them in person for their invaluable support. I’m not sure I can begin to articulate how much it has meant to me, but it was something like having a virtual safety net thrown under me during a free fall.

So I’m putting on my uncomfortable hat and making a direct appeal. If you’re able to make a donation, I would be very grateful. I will offer advertising space on Wanderlust to anyone who makes a gift.

I know that many of the women who have donated are themselves looking for sponsors and I’m humbled by your generosity. I hope that in the future I’m in a position to give back to each of you ten-fold.

I will now, having stated this publicly, go and hide under the nearest rock. Thank you, blessings, over and out! xoxo

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If you read nothing else I ever post, read this

Two months ago a bomb exploded in the center of my life. Looking back on it, I knew something was wrong. I had been unhappy in my marriage for a long time. But I chose to listen to the voices all around me that were telling me everything was okay instead of listening to the voice inside me that was telling me something was very, very wrong.

Two months ago I was assaulted in my home by my husband. I was afraid to write about it on my own blog so instead I wrote about it on a friend’s. It was a terrifying experience both for me and the children. My husband was arrested, charged and released on bail. I have not seen him since.

Not long after he was out of the house he came under investigation for another, unrelated and more serious crime which shocked and gutted me.

I have written very little on my blog since then. I have written about feeling afraid, because I have lived in fear, often sleeping at friends’ houses or getting police escorts when I thought the situation had escalated and we might be in especial danger.

I have written about being silenced when I wanted to speak. And while I can’t talk about the criminal investigation at the moment (though I will talk openly about it once given the green light), I’ve begun to wonder who I was serving by remaining quiet about the rest of it. The domestic violence.

Domestic violence thrives in silence, after all. One in every four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime and most cases are never reported.

If you had told me six months ago I would be a victim of domestic violence, I wouldn’t have believed you. No one had ever hit me. I would never tolerate someone who badgered me, cut me down, belittled me. Those were all traits I associated with the abusive personality.

While those traits are indeed reflective of some abusers, they are certainly not true of all. I’ve had quite an education on the abusive personality in the last two months and what it comes down to is this: control. Someone who is abusive will figure out the best means of controlling another person, be it financially, through intimidation, guilt, blaming or use of children. They are master manipulators.

There is volumes of information available on the web about domestic violence and I won’t try to duplicate it here. If you or someone you know is in danger, I urge you to seek help immediately. If you are not sure how to get help for yourself or another, start with these links.

In the United States.

In Australia.

In the United Kingdom.

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize an abusive relationship from the outside, just as it can be confusing to see it if you’re on the inside.

Ask yourself this. Are you afraid to leave your relationship, even if you can’t pinpoint exactly why you’re afraid? Perhaps everyone else (your family, your friends, even your marriage counselor) thinks he’s a great guy, but you’re afraid to leave.

Tick tick, tick tick…

That was me, right before I walked out the door, and that was the sound I heard in the background as I waited, ears pricked, senses heightened, because I knew, I knew, I knew something was going to blow.

For me, domestic violence was the tip of the iceberg. I’ve now been told I need to prepare for the worst. To batten down the hatches. To ready the house for sale. That when charges are filed this will hit the media and life could get rocky for me and the kids.  Understatement.

For the longest time I have been afraid to speak.  But I am tired of running and I am tired of sitting in silence.  And when so much has already been lost, the risk of speaking out takes on a slighter weight.

Now I stand here, the bomb has been detonated in the middle of my life and the landscape forever changed. My marriage is over. My children have effectively lost their father. Gone is the certainty of my own home, my financial security. I don’t yet know what I will be left with when the dust settles, but I imagine it will be this: my children, a circle of good friends and my writing. And I can live with that. Because in the end, what remains is what was aligned with my heart in the first place.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, please know this. You should never live in fear of speaking your truth. You should never be afraid to be yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable being 100% yourself in your relationship, please, please, think long and hard about why you are there.

Know that everything you do, your children are absorbing. If you are allowing your spirit to be crushed, you are teaching your children to live that way. If you are choosing to break free and let your spirit soar, you are teaching your children that as well.

Everyone deserves to be free. Everyone deserves to sleep peacefully at night. Everyone deserves to know the joy of open expression. Every woman. Every child. Every man.

Don’t settle for anything less.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A blog carnival, ooh what's this?, and the future poet laureate of Kansas

It's AMB Blog Carnival time again and this month Alison from Melbourne Mumma is hosting.  So hop on over to her site and read all the best posts from September from the members of Aussie Mummy Bloggers!  If your post is featured, you can grab the button on my sidebar and it will link straight to her site.  There are some phenomenal posts this month.  If you like what you read (and you will), please help promote the post by tweeting, stumbling or otherwise sharing.

And while we're talking about things phenomenal, I was pleasantly surprised to find in the post today a package all the way from Perth, Australia from the lovely lady at BM-I Don't Care.  It was filled with candles and buttons and other celebratory goodies.  Thank you my friend.  You brightened up my day.

Finally, forgive me a quick brag.  You may remember this post from six months ago when I came across a poem my young daughter had written and tucked under her pillow.  I was so moved by the maturity and beauty of her words that I submitted the poem to a statewide youth poetry contest.  We found out last week that she won first place.  A spot of sunshine in what has been a difficult chapter of her life.  I couldn't be more proud of you, baby.

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