Video is 7 minutes long.
Please join me often for new episodes of Alive to Thrive! Start at the beginning…
Today I’m talking about triggers — what they are and how they happen. I’ll be writing more about this topic this month!
Video is 7.05 minutes.
Excerpted from “The First 22 Years Are the Hardest” – 1997
The backdoor slammed against the trailer as Nate took off running. The older officer of the two that came for him chased for a moment, both he and Nate passing around front.
Then the officer just stopped, rested his hands on his expanded hips, and yelled, “Way to go! Now your wife is going to jail.”
Just another tactic, just another way to get Nate to stop. But he didn’t.
“That’s a fine husband you have there,” the officer said, and then read me my Miranda Rights.
I just stared at him. “You’re not really arresting me.”
“Oh yes I am,” he said, and the younger officer looked at him with wide eyes.
“For what?” I cried. “You came here for him!”
“Obstruction of justice. And what that means is, you got in our way.”
“I…but my kids….”
“You got someone to watch them? Because if not, I have to call social services,” the younger officer said. Maybe he was trying to be helpful, but I hated them both right then.
They allowed me to find a friend, sure that I wouldn’t run and leave my kids behind, although their father didn’t think twice about doing so, and then they led me to the back of the car. “At least we’re not putting you in handcuffs in front of your kids,” the elder officer said, as if I should thank him.
All the way to jail, I bit back words and tears, refusing to give them the satisfaction of breaking me. I also held onto the hope this was still just a scare tactic to get me to talk. There was no way they were really arresting me. And as the older cop pressed on and on, trying to get me to tell them about Nate, where he might be going, I stared out the window in silence.
My wall remained in place until we arrived at the jail and they handed me over for booking. The booking officer took one look at me and said, “Honey, what could you have possibly done?” I shook my head but I couldn’t speak. My sobbing became a second language as she fingerprinted and photographed me. As she finished, she looked over the paperwork and then up at me. “Was that your husband? Did he run? Did you lie?”
I looked her in the eye, shook my head, and lied again. No to all the questions. As far as I was concerned, they didn’t have Nate, and so I wasn’t going to be the one to tell on him. He was out, running loose, and here I was, getting locked up, away from my kids.
Another officer escorted me to a holding cell, and as I stepped through the barred door, something deep inside of me snapped. This was real. It was really happening. And worse, I agreed with the arresting cop: What kind of husband just runs and lets his wife go to jail in his place?
The cell was cold, sterile, but also thankfully empty. A row of benches lined the cinderblock walls, and I took a seat as far from the door and the toilet as possible. I wrapped my arms around me as the reality of it all set in. A man hollered down the row of cells, “Laurie, Laurie, talk to me, baby!” and I ignored him. I tried not to breathe through my nose, to touch anything, to be tainted by a long history of bad decisions. But the truth is, as I sat there, I knew in so many ways, this was my fault, my own bad decision. I should have never come back to him. I should have taken my chances in Florida. I should have taken a chance on me.
“Laurie, I know you’re down there. I heard them bring you in. Talk to me!”
I wondered about Laurie and her bad decisions. I wondered about the nameless man. His voice slurred as he called out for her. What did he do? What did she do with him?
“Come on, Laurie. Don’t ignore me.”
“I’m not Laurie,” I said, needing him to just shut up so I could deal with my own troubles.
“I. Am. Not. Laurie.” Anger was taking over. Good. Maybe it was time I finally got angry enough. The longer I sat there, the more the smells hit me, the coldness, the end of the road resolve. As soon as I got out, I was going to confess it had really been Nate who ran out the backdoor and where he might be. I’d just deal with the consequences later. Hopefully much later, if he got as much time in prison as he should.
This was no way to live, and I wasn’t going to lose my kids over him.
I was out of jail by midnight. My neighbors made sure I didn’t sit in overnight; to do so would have meant an automatic call to social services and possible loss of my babies. As I walked out of that cell with its stainless steel toilet lacking any privacy and ghosts of too many bad decisions to count, I vowed never to be back, never to take another hit for or from him.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
“Mommy? Mommy, I can’t hear you!”
“Move!” my brother says, shoving me aside. He leans down to the heater vent and calls to our mother, whose voice comes back to us muffled.
Our stepfather Harold storms through the house. His kingdom is never enough of anything — never clean enough, quiet enough, obedient enough. He has once again shoved our mother into the bedroom, locking her in, and then locks us in our rooms. We yell to each other through the vents. He can probably hear us but he rarely intervenes at this point.
I hear Mom tell my brother to go out the window and run to the neighbor’s house. We’ve worn a path in the woods between our homes with this plan of action. It never leads to being saved, only to ridicule from the same sheriff’s deputy who comes out every single time.
“Now, you know he didn’t mean it,” Deputy Tommy always says. He’s Harold’s friend and it’s the 1980s, so all domestic violence is just a hush-hush scuffle of sorts. “You can’t keep calling us every time you can’t get along.”
My brother decides he’ll run for help one more time. Maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time another officer will come out. Maybe this time he won’t suffer the consequences of trying to be the protector of our lives.
This is one memory and a million. They mush into each other, the details playing out the same, the punishments for breathing too loudly in the same space as my stepfather the same. Always tiptoeing, trying to avoid the new something that will set him off this time. If the dishes aren’t finished, he’ll pull them all from the cupboards and tell us to begin again. I stand on a chair to reach the sink, always trying to keep water from the floor so I don’t have to mop it with my own little head. If the dogs bark, it’s our fault. If it rains, it feels like that’s our fault, too.
He has no concept of love.
Except once upon a time, I thought he did. I was sure of it. He loved me. He doted on me.
I was his little girl.
I used to call him Daddy, not Harold.
Too often, I think it is worse to have been loved briefly by someone who now hurts you, than to never have been loved at all. I don’t understand the change of his affections, what I did wrong, and how to make it right again.
This try and try again to fix love, to put it where it belongs and how it feels right, will become the way I operate with all relationships — friendships, teachers, bosses, and anyone else I meet along the way. How do I make you love me right? How do I perform to keep you happy?
I become a chameleon early in life.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Have you ever listened to someone’s story and found yourself shocked at how many times he or she was a victim of abuse or assault? Did you find yourself wondering, even a little bit, why they were victimized repeatedly? Or maybe it’s you — you have been hurt by many, like I was. You can’t figure out why you were singled out, even if you’d rather it have been you and not, say, a sibling or friend.
In the last year, I’ve received different pieces of advice concerning the work I am doing here. Many say that if I specialize and bring the focus in tighter on one subject, like domestic violence, the site will grow. As it is, they say, it’s too broad.
At first, I really considered what they were saying. But then this snippet of pretend conversation popped into my head:
“Sorry, you can’t assault/abuse/hurt me because someone else already assaulted/abused/hurt me before you got here.”
“Oh, I didn’t know. My apologies. Moving along now.”
Kinda silly, right? If you’ve been hurt once, no one else can hurt you. That almost sounds like a dream. But the fact is, many get victimized over and over. Many factors come into play as to how this happens (age, the level of the assault, etc.), but it does indeed happen. I am a victim of many different types of abuse, all culminating in what I can only term “a painful past.” I don’t specialize in one topic because my pain didn’t come from one place in one way. I was built from a foundation of hurt.
Let me tell you what I do specialize in. I specialize in healing, in taking back what was taken, in tearing down the walls built of lies and rebuilding from truth and strength and love. I specialize in holding my hand out for someone else, whether his or her pain is from one experience or many.
So many of us carry around a million pieces of pain that we’re trying to let go of, and the load is heavy. I don’t have easy answers for setting it down, but I do know that each day forward is another day of trying to heal. There’s no deadline to get there, to get as close to healed as we can get, but we’re trying — I’m trying.
My goal here isn’t always clear because I’m still trudging through mud. I’m in the shallow end, but it’s still a mud pit all the same. Every once in a while, it sucks me back in deeper and I cry and feel all the pains from long ago. But each step forward eases that pain a little more each time. And maybe just by sharing, just by saying I don’t know how to do this completely because I’m still learning, we can keep growing together and help others avoid becoming victims in the first place.
As always, I invite you on this journey. Read, share, comment, or just nod silently. I know you’re there.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Read personal stories from survivors who were helped by TESSA, the domestic and sexual violence organization of El Paso and Teller Counties.
Quick but powerful reads: READ HERE.
“The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs.” –Vance Havner
Did you know that you can just say you won’t be bothered by your past anymore and just like that, you’ll snap out of the pain?
Also, you can decide one day to start running and immediately complete a marathon.
OK, neither one of those statements is true and yet we push ourselves to make such miracles happen. Or we listen to others who tell us to just get over it and move on. (Or get off that couch and get in shape!) The truth is, everything has to happen in small steps, in manageable bites.
This morning, I walked/ran five miles. I’m very proud of that. But the thing is, I started really pushing myself to walk and run at the start of the year. It has taken me 10 months to reach a point where I can manage four to five miles at one time. I’m not overweight, but my body was still out of shape, so it was still just as hard to reach this point.
On almost every outing, I come to this fork in the road —
This is one of those moments where I am less than a mile from home. If I go straight, I can end the workout session. If I turn right, I will continue on for approximately another mile in the opposite direction.
Let me be honest: I often just want to go straight. I want to call it a day, be content with the couple of miles I already have, not push on. But I turn right anyway. Even though I’ve just come to the end of another running sprint and my legs are jelly and my lungs are working harder to pull in air, I still turn right. I still push on.
Healing from my past has been very similar for me. The only thing that is different is, for too many years, when things got too tough, when the pain was at its worst and my heart couldn’t handle any more, when my lungs gasped for breath as another panic attack hit, I would return home. I wouldn’t push on through the pain. I’d cower away, content that I kinda sorta maybe did not really try, but IT’S HARD! I’d take those three steps forward, but then I’d run three dozen backwards. I had it in my head that I had to make the leap from broken to healed, all in one step.
That’s just unrealistic.
Healing, like walking a long distance, only happens one step at a time. Today, why not decide on one step you can take to work toward a better you. And when you come to the fork in the road, don’t run home. Instead, push on. Lean into what is hard and push through that wall. Healing won’t happen overnight, but if you consistently push, it WILL happen.
1 – 3 Sons Have I
Errin is sharing her story as well as resources to raise awareness. She’s also having a really great giveaway centered all around domestic violence. http://www.3sonshavei.com/2013/10/the-official-domestic-violence.html
2 – Domestic Violence as a Whole
“This blog seeks to address domestic violence as a whole and to address the myths that are out there regarding this subject. Through this blog, It is also my hope to bring hope and healing to everyone who has been affected by DV as well as raise awareness to those who have not.”
3 – Domestic Violence and the Workplace
“This blog is about domestic violence & its impact on the workplace as well as related topics.”
4 – Violence Unsilenced
“Gives a voice to survivors of domestic violence, sexual abuse and sexual assault and raises the public’s awareness and understanding.”
5 – I Am a Survivor of Domestic Violence
Personal Stories, Advice, and Support
In under five minutes, the little girls on stage were finished with their recital dance.
As I looked around at the rows of family and friends in attendance for this one little girl – the same one I came to see – for this small amount of time, some who drove at least an hour to be there, one thought crossed my mind: every single child should be as loved and adored as this one.
Statistically speaking, a child is abused every 10 seconds. EVERY. TEN. SECONDS. Can you imagine? Well, if you grew up in an abusive home, you certainly can, I’m sure, but the idea is still staggering.
“Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.” –Source
If a child is witnessing domestic violence, that child is also being abused. Too often, we think of child abuse as something physical only (in fact, most people think of domestic violence as physical only, as well), but it’s emotional and mentally destructive to children to witness others being harmed, especially their mothers or fathers. Even if the abuser never lays a finger on the child, the damage is being done; the children are seeing and learning.
It goes without saying, or so we would think, that every child deserves to grow up healthy, taken care of, loved, cherished, and doted on to the point that over a dozen people would show up at a 5-minute dance recital, but that simply isn’t the case. Children are witnessing terrible violence, and they are being hurt by those who are supposed to love them.
“More than four children die every day as a result of child abuse.” –Source
Even one is too many.