It’s 9:30 am on a weekend morning and I’m already exhausted. My three children under the age of nine are all awake, fed, changed, teeth brushed and sitting quietly in the living room watching television. I quiver at the thought of them remaining quiet enough as their dad, my abuser, sleeps in the room above.
Concurrently, I’ve silently but diligently cleaned the kitchen, straightened up the down stairs, and paid bills all while hushing the children to keep silent with their every move. I would love to sit and enjoy a few minutes with them but I know taking time away from my responsibilities risks a painful punishment.
Last week I looked at my bank statement and saw that my car payment draft was two-thirds lower than what it should have been. I believe this deduction was my last payment; I now own a car free and clear.
Six years ago, bankrupt and barely hanging on financially, I walked into a car dealership some 45 minutes away from my house. Embarrassed due to being bankrupt, I thought looking at cars a few towns over would spare me the awkwardness of someone in town knowing my situation.
Not unlike many domestic violence victims, my abuser had over spent and thrown us into bankruptcy a few years earlier.
It’s Saturday and I just asked my husband if it was okay to take some quiet time and do nothing today. I continued on by saying “I’m feeling like if I don’t rest my head, I am not going to be good for you and the kids.”
Shocker #1: I acknowledged my weaknesses of being in an overload mental capacity and prioritized doing something for myself. As my recent weekly blogs have stated, I am teetering at the edge of a PTSD cortisol mental shutdown (that’s my self-described diagnosis when my ability to function shuts down). Given all that is going on in the world I imagine everyone reading this post can relate.
When I am feeling good with minimum anxiety and stress, I know God is in control. Even when my life turns upside down, I know God is in control; yet during stressful times holding onto this thought is extremely challenging for me. Stressful times bring forward a weakness in me that I am ashamed of.
Last weekend, I caught myself thinking about one thing while doing another. Trust me, I find myself doing this all the time! Yet, this time was different; it was more significant because for the first time, I changed my response.
I stopped my thought, realized what I was doing, and redirected my thoughts to my activity.
I was being mindful of the moment. Really, really mindful of directing my thoughts to the task at hand.
I learned a lot from giving up dessert, ice cream, cereal, and other major sugar cravings during Lent this year.
Situational awareness of how significantly more dangerous it is for domestic violence victims to “stay at home” with their abusers during these turbulent times is being written about throughout the news. Personally, I am thrilled that our story is getting out. Yet, to me, the awareness is still on the educational level.
By that I mean a reporter is explaining the dangers we face staying at home with our abusers, with a noteworthy statistic to prove our existence, but the now what part is kind of left hanging there. From what I am reading (again, my opinion), we are being led to utilize already overburdened community resources.
During the dark, depressing days after I separated from my abuser, I found two approaches that helped me break out of my depressing thought processes. With all that is going on with the Coronavirus, I hope sharing an excerpt from my book is helpful:
One philosophy that worked for me (during my depression phase after leaving my abuser) was to “tackle the elephant one toe at a time.” During those early recovery years, many competing life issues fought to overwhelm me: my finance, living situation, childcare, job, car maintenance, parents’ health, divorce proceedings, and my children’s health.
A few years ago, I asked my daughter to make an Easter card for my mom. At the time, my mom was suffering through the later stages of Parkinson disease and I thought a handmade card would brighten up her nursing home room five hours away from us.
I hear you’re not doing so well so I gave my mom a stuffed animal for you.
I hope you like it and don’t worry you are going to get through this.
The innocence of my daughter’s understanding of what was going on was so emotional for me to grasp.
I’ll never forget Raven’s football player Ray Rice and his story of domestic violence in 2014. Only a few years after I was separated from my abuser, the triggers were uncontrollable as Ray’s story seemed to be told, rehashed, and replayed everywhere. I got the impression that for the first time, our story of abuse took center stage on a huge platform.
To me, it seemed to be more of a curious, intriguing, I can’t believe it happens kind of story. Not a narrative that came with supportive help and actual call to action for change. But, I often hoped that something impactful might develop as a result.
Regardless of what did or didn’t happen, the continuous talk about the subject for months on end started a continuous trigger that had no boundaries within me. I never knew when Ray’s situation was going to be brought up at work, on the sports channel my sons continued to watch, or online as I read the news.
Hi, I'm Sue
Welcome to my blog! I served twenty-one honorable years on active duty, living a double life of capability and accomplishment in the service while enduring brutality and abusiveness in my twenty-one year oppressive marriage. Today I'm happily married and have three children who are my inspiration and motivation.
My goal is to help combat the lies of abusers with the truth of God. I hope you find my words to be healing and helpful through your own life experiences.
Being separated from my abusive husband didn't make me a domestic violence survivor. It surely didn't release me from the grip of his brainwashing control and the innate power he had on me.
Read the full raw story in my new book, Rock Bottom and Faithless.