June 9, 2009

Part Two of My Soul



This is a piece I wrote for violenceunsilenced.com, published April 6, 2009. In light of the amazing support offered this past day that has left me humbled and grateful (and dare I say, a part of a society), I felt it appropriate to republish it here. I hope to give a bit more background into my soul (part one over in "My Story" in the sidebar) before moving forward...which is indeed the direction I long to move in.

Thank you for your presence here and your kind words. They mean the world to me.

*

Whack!

Across my face it swept. Didn’t see it coming. But then I rarely did. It was as if there were a draft in the room. Cold air seeping. Energy being sucked out. That is how I remember the bloody wound on my young face. I knew going to look in a mirror was out of the question. I brought my hand up to my face to examine it that way. When I pulled my hand down toward my belly, my eyes focused on the red, oozing blood spattered across my hand.

In her hand, half of the wooden pizza board remained. The other half (minus a few bits still embedded in my face), on the floor in shards. She looked surprised before walking away. When she came back she handed me a cold, wet cloth-instructing me to put it on the bridge of my nose where the majority of the blood was coming from. I tried to listen to her. I always tried to listen to her.

But I could not feel my face where the whack had just landed. The impact had left me numb. I did not manage to place the cloth on the specific spot spewing blood quickly enough for her.

No matter how much I wanted to be a good girl, no matter how I strove for her approval… this time would be no different. I wouldn’t have it, never could. Not even as I sat there in that chair wounded. But what she did next surprised even me.

She walked away and I sat there in terror. When she returned, she had a roll of duct tape and scissors. I remember the panic; I knew this could get real scary real fast. Frantically, I searched her face for a clue and all I saw was the all too familiar furrowed brow and angry eyes of this cold woman. She unrolled a fair sized piece of tape before cutting it. She then told me to put the cloth back up to my nose. She had little patience for my fumbling as she guided my hand to the spot before plastering the duct tape horizontally across my face and hair. Now the cloth was where she intended it to be, and it would remain there. It was at that moment my sister came home.

I thought now this might end. She might feel accountable to someone. My sister might question her. Instead, my sister questioned me. Her questions were not ones of my welfare. Her questions were ones of “why is my shirt on you? Did I say you could wear it — I don’t think so!”

“Mom…” she whined next.

And this woman who may have been her mother and may have birthed me, but certainly was not my mother, told her to “go ahead… let me have it.” All because I had picked her shirt up and had the audacity to put it on my body that they wanted me to believe was unlovable and unworthy. And with that, I felt another thud.

*

There were many moments before, and many after. This one stands out for me. It felt more like a “two against one” war, crossing the threshold of being an angry mother in an out of control moment. And it was a damn pizza board, you know? Those things don’t just break across someone’s face without an extra helping of rage and anger. She no remorse. If she had done it and immediately thought a human, motherly thought like “Oh my God, what have I done here?” I would never have had to tell you about the duct tape and my sister. I would never have memories of her beating my head against the wall, or pulling handfuls of my hair out. I would not fight the verbal assaults echoing inside with her comments of ”shit for brains, that’s all you’ll ever have” or similarly degrading comments of “you will never amount to anything!” or the other memories that I just know are there, but in a self protective mode my mind won’t even allow me to recall.

That moment I sat there duct taped and bleeding was the moment I began to feel less than. This was the moment she clearly announced to me, to herself and my sister that I was not worthy nor was I lovable. And I struggled with that for many years. Still do. An abuser need only hit you once to leave impressions that last a lifetime. Every time you see or hear something, or connect with the powerful memory stimulator of smell, you can be taken back to the darkness in an instant.

*

I haven’t yet mentioned her husband. The moments he bonded with me the most (in his eyes at least), happened in front of only his eyes. I always kept mine shut, pretending to still be sleeping. That way I did not have to face it, literally speaking of course. I’d always have to face it — silently, alone and in the darkness that made it hard to breathe. I’d cringe as his hands explored my body in ways that are vilely etched in my memory.

What gives one human being the right to inflict their own selfish fetishes or rage against another? It is my body, my space, my place. There is a boundary. There is a limit.

Violence: abusive or unjust exercise of power.

*

Every time her skin violently attacked mine, his skin violently touched mine, her words violently echoed, I reminded myself it was not me who had the problem. It was them. I tried like hell to keep the messages from encroaching upon my soul. Intellectually, I knew better. But in matters such as these, logic becomes secondary and try as I may some of it gets past the filter, past the barrier I’d built to remain strong. On some level I began to believe them, that I was less than.

In moments of clarity, I knew. I knew it was their problem and theirs alone. I reminded myself that whatever they did, I would just do the opposite when I had children one day. Hell yes! I would break this cycle of abuse and insanity. Nobody should have to live like this. Nobody.

I don’t think I ever fully got mad until I gave birth. As I watched my newborn daughter lay there helplessly, I began to feel the full gamut of it. How could anyone hurt their own child? Oh I was even more pissed at her then. How could she do the things to me she did? How could she not have protected me?!

I knew two things: if ever someone hurt my child, I would hurt them first and ask questions later. Also, I knew what love was, for the first time ever… as a single mother.

Finally, I knew love.

*

Little did I know in the cruelest blow ever felt in my life, that love would be cut short. As my daughter later lay dying, she mirrored back the love I had given her for the previous 11 years and 49 weeks. She would tell me “Don’t worry momma, it’ll be okay. Just breathe in the light, and blow out the darkness.” The cancer had invaded her brain, but her heart was far too big for it to even try. Her heart, full of love and purity.

As I said about smells and memories, this is one of the reasons I keep breathing. In and out, like my daughter told me. It keeps the smells constantly changing. One memory will not linger too long. Some days, that’s all I can do. And some days, that is all I need to do. In and out… slowly, and with intent. In doing so, I stay alive.

I haven’t spoken to either one of my abusers in many a years. People ask if it’s hard not speaking to them. The answer to that is no. It was hard sticking around, hoping they’d change and allowing them to continue inflicting pain in the process. What happens now is predictable for the most part. Now I have a simple appreciation for the predictability in my day, and that is a blessing.

37 comments:

JD said...

I just wanted to give you a warm, comforting, understanding hug, even if it's only sent virtually across the miles. The parents sound like my father, I understand too much of how this child felt... I wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you and I understand each other. Praying for you!!

((((((((((( hugs )))))))))))))))

Rebekah - A Wife and Mom said...

I found you through MckMama's site and I have to say my tears are streaming down my face and my heart is aching for you ... amongst all of this pain I have for you I have to admit that your writing is beyond amazing ... I am finding myself wanting to read more but knowing if there is more to read then there is more heart break to read about ... thank you so much for sharing such intimate parts of your life ... I am praying for you and N and thinking of you often. God Bless ...

Hugs from the Thawed Tundra (aka Minneapolis)

Rebekah and her girls!

Momma B said...

As I sit here crying silently, I know some of the pain you have endured. I too know the man who had no business in the family, but it was my grandma's husband, not my mom's.

I am so sad for you to have lost her. My son is turning 12 on Sunday. An age you never got to see with her. I am so sorry. I am so so so sorry.

You are amazing for just being able to wake up in the morning. You are amazing to carry on after the initial abuse, let alone after the loss of your one true love in life, at that time anyway. You are a blessing to many, you just don't know it yet. You must know how many girls who have been in your position read your article and felt that they were, at the very least, not the only ones it had happened to. You are amazing and inspiring to me!

April said...

As usual, I'm left with nothing but awe at your courage, and gratitude for you telling your story.

jilliebean said...

Wait. Do we have the same mother?

Tears roll down my face as I read your story. It feels like I wrote it.

Except the part about your daughter. My daughter is 11 years and 7 weeks. And oh how I love that little girl. I cannot imagine life without her. I cannot live without her. I would not be able to breathe anymore.

My heart bleeds for you. Seriously bleeds.

Jana Kunz said...

Wow, that was powerful and so so sad. :(

Rachie (Walker's Mom) said...

I am crying for you and praying that God will continue to use you to give others the courage to share their hurts. I would give you a HUGE hug if I could. But for now, just know that you are loved by a stranger - with the love of Christ.

As You Wish said...

No one should have to feel the pain you have experienced. It is not fair that you should have to suffer so much as a child and then feel such terrible loss as a mother. My thoughts and prayers go out to you that you might experience some healing and feel peace. I pray for the love you desire and deserve to come into your life.

Anonymous said...

You have an amazing strength to be able to tell your story, though it is a horrible one that no one should ever have to experience. Your daughter was an amazing little girl, who obviously knew you that you love her as no one else ever could. I pray that you will one day find the peace and love that you seek and most definitely deserve.

Tori said...

Found you by way of MckMama.

My heart and prayers go out to you. My best friend lost her 6 yr old son to brain cancer in 2003, and I empathize with your heartache.

My prayers are with you!

snekcip said...

I sit here in total awe. Your writing is amazing. The abuse you suffered just reduced me to tears! I came to your site via McKMama and I have to say I'M GLAD I DID. I KNOW YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL BOTH INSIDE AND OUT and SO VERY LOVED. I am privelege to read your writings. I have followed many BRAVE and INSPIRING KIDS who have battled cancer on Caringbridge and Carepages. These AMAZING KIDS put a face on childhood cancer and my life has been changed by these precious kids. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to "know" your precious daughter before she earned her HEAVENLY WINGS, but through your words, there is no doubt she was just as amazing! Thank you for sharing your journey, and if you don't mind, I think you have found another follower of your blog!

Caution Flag said...

Ah, W! I'm sorry. Simply sorry that anyone would work so hard to destroy you. Beautiful you with the wonderful mind, the ready laugh, the gifted words and so much more. I am praying for you - that peace and joy will eventually come.{{hugs}}

Amy Lynn said...

Won, I am so sorry you had to deal with all that. Hugs and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what you have been through but I know that you are one strong woman! I am praying for you!
~L

Mama10EE said...

I found you through MckMama's site, and my heart is crying for you. I pray that you will find love and comfort in releasing your words, fears, joys, life lessons. There are plenty of people out there who think you are fantastic. They probably will never voice it, but know they are there. Be the best mom you can be and that will be enough for N. Praying for you!

Laura in NC said...

I too, found you through MckMama.

I'm too stunned to cry. I don't even know what to say or why I'm commenting. Mostly I felt compelled to say SOMETHING... like;

...I heard your VOICE
...It's no longer just YOUR burden because in sharing it, you've let some of it 'go'
...Perfect love casts out all fear
...

My husband is a police chief and a vocal advocate against domestic violence; even helping change state laws and statutes to protect children and women. I've heard a lot ... he's seen a lot! But nothing so brutally honest, raw, chilling, numb.

It would be my privilege to pray that the peace of my Abba Father, your Perfect Father, wash over your soul and soothe every wound you bear. And to pray you feel him surround you with Perfect Love!

Di said...

I hope you are proud, really proud of the woman of faith that you have become. I'm sure it must have been so difficult, painful to grow.
Your daughter must have been so proud of you. So proud to call you mama.
I love the breathe in the light, and blow out the darkness.
I may borrow that one.
I hope you are writing a book. It's one I will read for certain.

Aunt of 14 said...

My heart is suspended... hung in frozen animation at reading your words. My...God. I am SO glad you were able to break free of all that and focus on you and N. You have immeasureable courage and a will to live that is amazing. You are an exemplary writer and I hope you continue to share.

A pizza board! Crickey, I would have killed her if I was there!

sriggs said...

I found your blog through MckMamma also, I too like you was abused by my Mother, it took years for me to finally forgive her, I didn't forget what she did to me or what she said to me, I just forgave her. Now that she is 80 years old and very sick, I am the one who taking care of her, how strange life is.....

Adventures In Babywearing said...

There's nothing I can say to this but, this was beautiful, and your will, your breathing, it will get you through this moment. Please know you are not alone and you are loved, no conditions.

Steph

Paige said...

What a beautiful post! Praying for you.

kay said...

Thank you for sharing yourself so deeply. I am praying for you and sending you a HUGE HUG.

Mimmy said...

WON - If you have not already, please go to your library and get to know David Pelzer. Read all of his books and get to know a child who went from total emotional depravity to a young man of total emotional victory. Your lives run in very nearly perfect tracks and I fully believe that seeing someone come from darkness into light can help you reach there too.

Thank you for sharing. It is hard to open up to a world that can be cruel. However, if you don't, you can never receive all of the love that is waiting for you.

God bless,
Mimmy

tpillstrom said...

You are an amazing writer! While I can not say I understand where you are coming from, I do know that I have heard similar stories in my classroom (I am a high school teacher). Thank you for giving those girls in my class a voice! I am also so sorry for you loss. I look forward to checking back and seeing how God uses you!

Kristi J said...

I've been thinking about you today, and wanted to come back and let you know that you've been on my mind since Mckmama's post. Reading your latest blog entry was just heartbreaking. To know you suffered this way is just so wrong and unfair.

I continue to pray for you.

Lynda said...

I also found you through MckMama.

I want to thank you for sharing yourself so deeply with the rest of us. I can't begin to imagine the pain you have suffered through your life.

I will be praying for you and N. May God bless you.

roadrunner201 said...

Thanks for being brave enough to share your story and determined enough to break the cycle of violence in your family. I think that it is no coincidence that the verification word I had to type this morning to comment here was "cured."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this.
I found you through mckmama's blog and am very happy to know you.
My childhood was also the most trying period of my life but it has impacted me in a different way: I am resolved never to have children of my own. So, you see, as broken as you may feel, you have managed to turn your pain and the darkness that sometimes overcasts your heart into the purest, most amazing love there is, a mother's love. I wish with all my faith that your heart continues to mend, after all the trials you have faced, not least of which the passing of your sweet daughter O.

My heart and prayers go out to you and N.

R.

Anonymous said...

Wow.
Reading this post, I felt less alone. I didn't suffer the violent physical abuse you did, but I can def identify with some of it. (I am relieved that I;'m not the only little girl to pretend to be asleep to avoid an unpleasant reality.)
I am so sorry for your losses. You had a right to love and care from your family, and that was taken from you. And the loss of a child is something I cannot even begin to contemplate.
Thank you for sharing... (Is it something in the air this week? I just blogged my story last night and then read yours this morning.)

-C
at runningleap.wordpress.com

Anonymous said...

What strenght you have. And what a "voice" you have in telling your story. I will continue to keep you in my prayers for our heavenly Father to provide you with peace and comfort to your soul.

Karen

the girls, the boys, and me said...

I am also sitting here in awe...amazed by your strength. your courage. I also believe that God is working through you. Through you revealing your pain and sadness, you may be giving someone else the courage to remove themselves from a bad situation. Your writing is amazing. I would also read your book-without putting it down. you are an inspiration. may you feel the love of all these people and feel God's love as everyone is praying for you and your son. give him a congrats hug--here's yours (((HUG)))) you both deserve it...til next time, Tina

Jennifer said...

Like I've said - you have my heartfelt admiration and sympathy. You know I get it. I think the world of you for pulling yourself out and creating a new life for you, and especially for your children. You are an amazing woman.

Anonymous said...

As painful as it is to read your story, it is also amazing to "see/read" you now. You seem such a strong, all together woman/mom..and your testimony of love and the legacy you continue of Olivia Grace is beautiful.
You all are doing a true service of sharing your stories, thank you...

Heather said...

won, i have no words. i'm so sorry. you are loved. very much loved.

Carolsue said...

This is a heartbreaking story and you are an amazing writer and strong human being. I don't know what else to say. [[[[[Hugs]]]]]]
digicat {AT} sbcglobal {DOT} net

cinderella11pm said...

My heart aches for you and tears fill my eyes, pouring down my face.

I have not felt the physical violence that you had to so unfairly, unkindly, tragically endure - but I know the emotions associated with it.

You spoke what I felt as well with my family, and their ever-present emotionally shattering and degrading cruelties.
My empathy to you WON.

Your last paragraph is wonderful. I am so proud of you. You learned how to oversome them and be good to yourself in spite of amazing odds. GOOD FOR YOU, SURVIVOR AND THRIVER!

সোনার বাংলা said...

My heart aches for you and tears fill my eyes, pouring down my face.

I have not felt the physical violence that you had to so unfairly, unkindly, tragically endure - but I know the emotions associated with it.

You spoke what I felt as well with my family, and their ever-present emotionally shattering and degrading cruelties.
My empathy to you WON.

Your last paragraph is wonderful. I am so proud of you. You learned how to oversome them and be good to yourself in spite of amazing odds. GOOD FOR YOU, SURVIVOR AND THRIVER!

August 09, 2011 11:10 AM