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Monday, November 23, 2015

Push and Shove, Twenty Five Years Later

The domestic violence I went through with Bob when we were young seems like something that happened a life time ago.  Most of the time, it could almost have happened to someone else.  But then I'll see something on tv or hear someone talk about domestic violence, and I am taken right back to a different time, a different place, and being a different person.

Even now, one of the things that infuriates me most is that Bob won't own up to what he did.  But then, expecting your abuser to label what he did as abuse is ridiculous.  Of course he thinks it was okay.  Of course he'll avoid the question with come-backs meant to push the blame back on you, "if it was so bad, why'd you stick around?  why'd you always take me back?"

Sometimes I even forget just how bad it got.  I was talking with a co-worker today about domestic violence and he shared what he'd gone through when he was a child.  He asked me how bad things were for me.  I told him about finally leaving Bob when Cory was 8 weeks old, and how he showed up about a month later, punching his way in through a window to unlock the door, cutting his arm, slinging blood all over my house, and proceeding to drag me out of the house by my hair.  I stood there a moment in my dress and boots, safe and sane just outside of my office door at my place of work and relived the police coming, staring up into the branches of my pine tree where my phone dangled by its tangled cord.  Nowadays, they call that interference and in some states, it's a felony.  I just shook my head bitterly at this information.  Tearing the phone out of the wall and blocking the exit were the first things he'd do.  PTSD?  I think I had that a long time ago.  No wonder it's so hard to shake.

I stood there and thought about that girl. She was seventeen, eighteen, nineteen.  I thought about how she'd been afraid to stay with him and afraid to leave, all at the same time.  I thought about how much she loved him, how she loved him with her entire body, soul, and being. I thought about how the good in him always shone through brighter than the sun and it blinded her... how sometimes the good times seemed worth any cost.   I thought about how she never wanted the relationship to end, she only wanted the behavior to stop.  I thought about how she'd thought if she did everything right, if she kept him happy, he wouldn't lose his temper anymore. He had succeeded at making her think it was her fault.

I thought about how alone she was.  I thought about how she was too ashamed to go to anyone in her family. And some of it was just too awful to explain to someone who had no idea what in the world you were talking about.  It was like living on a different planet.
"Why don't you just leave?"
 I thought about how discouraged people who meant to help her became when she did leave, but went right back.  Over and over and over again.

It took me nearly twenty years, all told, to finally say I won't accept that treatment.  The last go round never got physical, but the emotional abuse was still there. And he did, on one memorable occasion, threaten to come over and cut me into 86 pieces.

I finally had to say "I am not your mother."  I won't be treated this way, and I won't let my kids see me treated that way. 
 The last thing I wanted was to perpetuate the cycle by raising a boy who thinks abuse is okay or a girl who thinks she deserves it. No Cory, you deserve so much better.
 It doesn't matter one flying fuck how Bob views what took place between us.  What matters is that I know I made the right decision.  He doesn't think it was wrong?  He doesn't think it was abuse? 

Well, then, if I'd stayed, he'd still be doing it, wouldn't he?

I can wish him well from the safety of my home with my son who will never think it's okay to push a girl or call her a cunt.  I can love the parts of him that I love and treasure the good memories from a distance.  I can always wish things had turned out differently, but I won't gamble my emotional health or physical safety on that wish ever again.

I am not his mother.  Turns out, I never was.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

All I Want Is You

Her wind chimes are playing again.  The wind has picked up enough to move them often in the middle of the night, so I have some company when I'm missing her too much to sleep.  The days haven't gotten easier, so much, but maybe...fuller.  There is a puppy in the house now, so there is always someone who needs me, which makes the fact that Jake doesn't need me quite so much these days a little easier to take.

Work is busy; stressful.  At times it is a little overwhelming, but the routine is a good thing for my brain.  I recognize this now.  The purpose is good for my soul.  Helping others is the thing that helps me most.  And if I get a little passionate about my children at work, well...I don't apologize.

The holidays have snuck up on me this year with a little less foreboding.  Maybe I've just been too distracted.  I guess we'll see how I'm feeling when the turkey actually hits the table.  I remain cautiously optimistic, which is about forty steps ahead from last year.

But tonight, I want to take a moment to cave in and give over.  My pain deserves a seat and a proper conversation.  Grief may be put off if you can get yourself busy enough, but it is a stalker of singular purpose.  You will be cornered at some point.  You will be forced to see that face again.  That old familiar pain will be back, and although it burns and strips and whips you to the bone, it also connects you to your child.  Give that up?  Give her up?  Never.
 Tie me to the post, but let me look at her face while I scream.

Monday, November 9, 2015


Tim seems less than happy that we got a puppy so soon after Gizmo died.  I asked Jake how he felt about this, and his answer was short, but succinct, "It's a good distraction."

I agree.  If not for a tiny new being to care for, I'd be sleeping round the clock.  Instead, Jake and I have been making the rounds showing off Winston, busy with feeding and potty runs, crate training and play sessions.

Replace Gizmo?  Are you kidding me?  There is no way, nor would I want to.  How could a tiny stranger infringe on what Gizmo meant to me?  He can't.

For the very first time, I am trying to accept a death as a death, and move on with my life in a way that honors my loved one, giving my love to someone who is currently alive.  It's sort of a big deal for me,

If you're not ok, that's fine.  But damn, let me be ok if I can.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Jacob and I

He is amazing, my boy.  I lured him into watching The Walking Dead with me tonight...who can resist the zombie apocalypse?  He kept wanting to fast forward through the commercials whenever possible, which I was beginning to bristle about, thinking he wanted to cut our time together as short as possible.  He turned to me, putting a gentle hand on my arm, and said, "No, no, it's not that.  It's just that I like to enjoy it- seamlessly."

Who is this child?  He is mine, mine, mine.  He may look like Tim but he talks like me.  Small smile of triumph here.

And then, when the show became too emotionally harrowing for us both, we held hands for at least five minutes.  That's who we are when we're together.

Truth Is...

If you are willing to reflect and be honest about it, you'll see things about yourself that make you cringe.  You can acknowledge them and try to change.  Here are mine from this weekend:

I am afraid to give my whole heart to my other child lest he die.  I must not be a coward.  He is deserving of every bit I can give him and shouldn't have to get less because I am scared of losing him.  I have to focus on him right now- today and tomorrow, and every day he is alive.  This doesn't mean I love Cory less or have forgotten her.  She will not be jealous or upset with me in any way.

Tragedies happen to people every day.  I am not special.  I saw on the news about the drunk driver that drove into the crowd at the homecoming parade- four killed and dozens injured, and I felt small and ashamed.  Everyone deals with loss.

Then I read about the woman who fought off two cops and went back into her burning house to rescue her three children.  None of them made it out alive and they were found together:  the infant in her arms and the older boys beside her.   I looked at their pictures and felt so incredibly humbled.

My story is mine and it's important to me.  But everyone has a story.  And some are just as incredibly unfair as mine.

I may still be unable to get where people want me to be on the religion thing, but here is what I do have.  I have so many people in my corner, my family, my friends, my co-workers, loved ones I treasure, even people I've never met in person who live across the world. With that amount of love and support, I have to find a way to be the person Cory called her mom and that Jake can look to as a positive role model.  Who am I to waste all that goodwill?

Buck up, Nick.  Never, ever, ever, ever give up.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

She Was Honest, lol

I just turned 42.  I can tell I'm getting old because I only want to listen to the music I liked in high school.  My favorite all time band ever, ever, ever has always been Queensryche, and Cory tolerated this valiantly.  One time while chopping up vegetables, I bent back suddenly at the waist and came up singing some crazy note with my neck tendons bulging.  Cory nearly fell on the floor laughing.  She may have clapped.

All was well until we watched the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  The lead character was a kooky writer whose passion was writing a play for puppet vampires.  Actually the play was a musical.  He sang for the puppets and Cory uncomfortably noted the spooky resemblance of this sound with the theatrical stylings of Geoff Tate from Queensryche.  That was it.  It was just over for me.  There was no denying it.

I just listened to one of my favorite Queensryche songs and had to laugh myself silly.  Cory was right here making her goofy Dracula puppet voice for me.  That child.

Monday, October 19, 2015

All The Cool New Things

I'm failing.  I couldn't keep her alive.  I can't let her die.

 This horrid new normal is determined to break me, or at least bend me to its will.  You will live without a daughter.  You will learn to like at least something about it.  You will.  Not fitting in, yet?  Let's just cut off another chunk of your flesh and try again.  

I don't want to embrace today.  I do not trust tomorrow.  My job is to preserve the world I used to love.  It's all I have.

What is so bad about living in the past, before the sirens and all the gore? Will I really miss out on all the cool new things happening in my post-Cory world?

And really, looking to the future is for fools, is it not?  Why make plans if someone might just die before you get to them?  What is the point?

Will Jake really start high school next year, with the bus stop the very one Cory bopped to every morning?  He might or he might not.  He might die.

And so I cover him with kisses and beg him for hugs, treating him like the ten year old he was and not the nearly fourteen year old he is. I am needy, and I hate it, but I cannot stop myself.  In exchange for his love and the magical way he is just alive every day when I get home,  I try not to let him feel any pain or disappointment, other than the loss of his sister. Chores?  As if.

 You've heard of the breathing allowance?  You don't have to do anything to collect the money but be there, drawing breath?  It's sort of like that between us now, but with the additional expectations of not setting fires or killing anyone.  I can't give him Cory back and so I give him a pass on most everything.  Here, son, let me pick out your outfit to wear.  Better yet, let me bring it to you like a live-in butler.  It's an interesting choice of parenting style.  Cory must be so pissed.

I can feel myself fucking up all over the place- failure at work, failure at home, failure as a parent, failure at relationships- but just keep steam rolling ahead.  Finances?  Fail.  Moderate house-keeping?  Fail.  Closet organization?  (Laughs politely.)  I have two modes of personal appearance:  aging super model (everything goes together and the makeup is on point) and clinically depressed (pillow creases on face and uncombed hair).

So is this success at grieving: being alive, drawing breath, but not really doing anything of value?  Is making things worse for myself and everyone around me what is considered "coping"  and learning to live with my "new normal"?

I'd rather sit back and share a Cory story with someone.  Seeing her face clearly is the one thing I still get right.  Sometimes I can even make other people see her, too.