Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today...

At some point yesterday, Valentine's Day, I read something comical about anticipating the discounted chocolate on February 15th.  It's interesting how dates have such different meanings to people on a mass scale.  For me, today has a much different meaning...


In 2004 I made a well thought out decision to change my life by emancipating myself and leaving an abusive family member behind.  I was half way through my first year at the Fashion Institute and part time dorming.  I went "home," packed everything (which had never really been unpacked), put my life in storage, and stayed at my then boyfriends mothers house.  I moved with what ever I could find of my belongings, anything I could not find I just left, and I even left my car behind.

Oddly enough, I don't actually remember the date.  I tend to remember these important turning points by date, but I chalk it up to being in school full-time and working full-time, among other social stresses.  I do know it was sometime between February 6th and February 20th because I wrote poetry about it between those two dates.  I have a feeling it was prior to the 15th or just after it as I doubt I sat down the day of and wrote about it.  I remember that day being very emotionally freeing and busy.

The 15th has particular significance as it is her birthday.  I do think about her from time to time, but I know better then to pursue a future a healthy relationship.  Changing a victims role in an abusers life is not feasible.  I have done quite a bit to keep myself hard for her to find, every few years something will happen and I will hear a story about her or she will try to contact me, but after the first year it has been minimal.

It's been eight long years and it feels like much longer.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  Regardless of the complicated life I have had before and after, I know I made the right decision.  As I do often, I remember thinking it's her or me.  I either live for her or I live my life.  I chose my life and I do not regret it one bit.

It's interesting to me how certain things that happen in my life remind me of just how hurt I have been.  Because of my upbringing I am painfully shy at times and the biggest conflict avoider alive (especially when dealing with women).  I often avoid conflict to the point that I become completely stressed out over something very simple and the problem winds up getting exaggerated in my mind or worse because I keep avoiding it.  I know I do this.  Why?  Because I am conditioned to expect a swarm of painful backlash to come at me that I can't handle.  Monday, I had to finally sit down and say something uncomfortable to two people and as I said it I expected to be screamed at, but to my shock it didn't happen that way.  There was no backlash.  However, often it does and when it does with people I am close with it's my cue to walk out and I do these days.

Also, I still have a hard time dealing with yelling and raised voices even when I am not involved.  When I was younger just the sound of arguing would cause me to break down, but it still makes me very uncomfortable.  I actually remember being at a friends house when I was about 21 and two family members were arguing downstairs and I got to a point where I couldn't keep calm and screamed at the top of my lungs in a burst of panic.  This stopped their argument immediately.  These days I handle it much better, but often I find myself highly uncomfortable during arguments of any nature.  Lately at work, when the men get fired up about sports I can't tell if they are actually angry or just being competitive.  From my office I imagine blows about to be thrown and I sit there unable to concentrate with worry, just like I did as a kid when I would listen to violent fights on the other side of my bedroom wall. 

It's an awful reality, but the more I acknowledge it and understand it the more I recover and I have come a long way in the last eight years.  I also know that I have to conquer my fear of conflict to move forward in life which is what has pushed me to make a lot of hard decisions about who I keep in my life.  For those that do lash back at me when I present a problem I remove from my life because often it is an attempt to control me and I can't allow that or I risk living in an unending cycle of being a victim of abuse even from people that are not real abusers.

Anyway, most of my writing from that time in my life is very dark, revealing, and heart breaking, but I will share this little piece that is certainly not my best work.

I Will Not
2-20-04

I will not be mocked,
I will not be confined,
I will not be told how to live,
Ever again.