#DomesticViolenceAwareness, #WhyIDidntReport, Domestic Violence, Grief and Loss, Rape, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Nancy’s Story

I’ll have to just focus on one traumatic incident of domestic abuse, because there have been many situations in my life. This one incident involves my cousin and his family. It happened when we were all young, in our 20’s. I had grown up close to this cousin and was Matron of Honor at his wedding. The day of this incident, my then husband, Peter, and I showed up at their apartment to help them with a move, as planned. When the door opened to let us in I saw my cousin’s wife holding a bunch of tissues to her nose. Their little boy, age 3, stood with his arms wrapped tightly across his chest, as if to hug himself. His mouth was turned down at the corners and his eyes averted mine……..I had to use the bathroom and in that room I saw a bathtub half-filled with bloody red water and soaking clothes….the move didn’t happen that day.

I once had a dream that my cousin was a silver airplane that slowly slipped out of the sky and crashed silently to the earth. That’s about the way it went.

Having written a brief account of a day in the distant past when my husband and I showed up to help my cousin and his wife with a move to a new apartment, only to have the moving plans cancelled after finding the wife incapacitated due to the broken bloody nose my cousin had caused earlier in the morning, I decided to write a little more about the violence that enveloped the life of this family member and the lives of many of the other family members whose lives intersected with his.

I’ve been wondering how it all started but analyzing the family, with its history of both wonderful and horrible stories of failures and sadness, joy and accomplishment, is too large a task, so for this project I will focus on telling a little of the story of my cousin.

I grew up with him and shared amazing childhood memories of fun, adventure, competition, love and brutality with this cousin, two years older than I. I can’t begin to encompass our lives in a write-up but his life impacted mine deeply and does to this day. He passed away a few months ago and when I got to the church, before the service, and saw the urn containing his ashes I choked up, in tears. Unlike a lot of others in the family I loved him and didn’t suffer violence at his hands, other than a few ice-balls to the head thrown between our snow forts and a few wicked “Indian sunburns” he gave me, twisting his strong hands around my arms. He did put me in some precariously dangerous situations, climbing trees, crashing into woodpiles on our sled, piled up, one on the other, and daring me to walk across the beams high above the concrete barn floor. We also rolled down a sandpit but avoided suffocating and we capsized while out fishing in a little boat on a pond, but didn’t drown. We went hunting but he was the one who fell into a hole out there in the woods and screamed for me to help because, he said, he’d spotted a bobcat. I left him and ran for my own hide.

When he stayed overnight in our house my mother had to put plastic on the bed to cover the mattress because he wet the bed ‘til he was 11 or 12. He had troublesome signs, including his propensity for torturing the family cat. One day, at his family home, he stuck his jackknife into the snout of the pig in the pen. The last time I saw him, within a year before his death, I recounted that memory but with the expectation of his laughing ruefully, remorsefully, at that outrageous act of cruelty. However, he just said, “I always hated that pig.” He was in his late 70”s when last we met up, he and his wife, and I, at McD’s for breakfast. His treat. I said next time would be on me. There was no next time. I took a picture of the two of them in their beat-up truck that day. I thought, when seeing the photo, that he looked like a hurt little boy in an old man’s body.

That day, he’d told me something I have had a very hard time believing. That he’d been molested growing up, by a family member. Now I wonder. His sister had told me that their father hated him and often beat him with a belt. Far worse, and something she later tried to rescind as maybe not true, was an account that the father’s friend had raped her brother when he was five years old. She had been told that. We will never know.

She also told me that her brother raped her when she was eight years old. I know that he molested several of the cousins, including myself, and one couldn’t bear to come to his funeral service because she was still dealing with things he had done.

In preparation for the funeral reception I contacted one of his daughters. In the planning conversation she casually mentioned that her father had raped her, before asking if she should bring a pasta salad. Apparently he raped both his daughters.

A granddaughter, who did attend the services, had told me some time before his passing that her grandfather had done “unspeakable things” to her during her childhood. Another granddaughter still misses both him and her grandmother and is sad at losing the best friends of her lifetime. She did say that he wasn’t really a nice man and had once punched her mother and had even punched her once.

I look back on our earliest childhood immortalized in black and white photographs. He and I in Florida when the sisters lived and worked there while the fathers were in the service, WW2. He and I playing in the park on stone monuments; sitting on the wooden stoop of an apartment building; later, he and I on the porch of the duplex in Enfield, he in ragged pants and I in my little wool coat.

We were in Germany together, he stationed in one area, my husband in another. He visited one week-end and fell asleep in a chair. When I woke him, he shot up straight, swinging his fists. He was drinking heavily by that point and had been since his teen-age years, during which time he once came to my house, woke me up and wanted me to go with him, which I did. I always did. “Little Cousin” he called me. He was very drunk and we just rode around. My mother never knew.

His life went by in a relatively quick period of successive violent incidents. I remember his holding off the police at gunpoint from an apartment when he was younger, ‘til he waved a white flag of truce. Violence is kind of a ridiculous waste of time.

Photo Courtesy of: Jourdan Buck Photography

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your story. You are strong. You are brave. Your voice matters.

#DomesticViolenceAwareness

Depression, Hope, poetry, Uncategorized

Falling Down

Sometimes I fall down, inside of myself.

Unable to get up, or out of the way.

I don’t know what I will trip on,

or what will cause the fall.

But I know I will land, in a hard, loud thump.

My body rejects any efforts of comfort,

and pushes away love and concern.

I am not sure what makes the light fade away,

and allows the darkness to creep in.

I know the pain of trying all too well.

The empty spaces growing,

while the numbness tingles places unknown.

Staying down, too long is not an option.

Pushing my way through the darkness, 

helps me live again.

Each fall is followed by my rise,

through the darkness, into the light.

With each fall,

I know one thing,

Nothing remains the same.

Depression, Grief and Loss, poetry, Uncategorized

I’m Sick

I’m sick of caring what everyone else thinks.

I’m sick of being ignored by the people who used to care about me.

I’m sick of perpetrators playing the victim.

I’m sick of the unsaid things that linger in my mind.

I’m sick of the days bleeding into each other.

I’m sick of how quickly negativity spreads.

I’m sick of being the adult in all situations.

I’m sick of people hurting others, and never having to pay.

I’m sick of the anger.

I’m sick of watching while others hurt.

I’m sick of the noise that takes over the quiet space.

I’m sick of not knowing what is to come.

I’m sick of not having anything to grab onto.

I’m sick of twenty-five years turning to silence.

I’m sick of depending on people who don’t really care.

I’m sick of humanity becoming anything, but human.

I’m sick of the hate.

I’m sick of waiting for things to change.

I’m sick of it.

healing, Hope, poetry, Uncategorized

Vulnerability

I’m naked, and bare.

There is nothing left of me to expose.

The secrets I held so dear,

are leaping off of pages,

from eyes to ears.

There is no more hiding.

My inside cringes when I realize what you know.

I can’t take change it now.

I can’t take it back.

Vulnerability takes hold,

And I learn not to push people away.

I pull them close,

And share all that hasn’t been exposed.

Be free.

Be true.

Be you.

Vulnerability is strength.

Vulnerability is pure.

Vulnerability is authentic.

Trust in the power of vulnerability.

poetry, Uncategorized

Lost

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.

– Winston Churchill

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When you are feeling lost,

don’t forget who you are,

or what you stand for.

When you are feeling alone,

don’t forget, others feel the same way.

Things are never as bad as they seem,

this much I know to be true.

One day at a time,

all the things people say to make you feel better.

They can,

and they do,

but only if you allow them to.

We are in control of how we react to situations.

How we see situations.

Ultimately, it is up to you,

and you alone.

How you perceive it,

and how you allow it take over.

Go for the good.

Go for the strength.

Go for the love.

Hope, Love, poetry

Just a Dream

How different a world it would be,

if people helped one another.

Without taking,

without expecting.

Maybe, it is just a dream,

these lives we lead.

A dream that we cannot wake up from,

until the lessons have been learned.

Some are educated more than others,

some are teachers, sharing all they have learned.

A random, selection,

targeting those who need it most,

and then, those who don’t at all.

Vulnerability strikes us all.

Give in to it.

Open your heart and your mind.

Give more than you take.

Smile.

Love.

Trust.

Find your purpose before it is time to wake up.

Learn who you are,

And just be.

Be you.

Be great.

But, mostly,

Be kind.

Hope, Love, poetry, Uncategorized

I Know

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I know.

I know that regardless of the doubt my mind floods with, I am loved.

I know that no matter how much fear that lingers inside of me, I am safe.

I know that even though the names I was once called became who I was, they do not define me.

I know that after all of the lies I was told, I deserve the truth.

I know that when someone gives me a compliment, I can accept it graciously.

I know that there are good people, who mean what they say.

I know that some sins can be forgiven, while others never will.

I know that some days are harder than others,

and the knowing becomes complicated.

The familiarity of pain can take over, and I have to remind myself that

I know.