Monday, November 8, 2010

Mindful Monday

Being Mindful during difficult times is not always easy.  Honestly, it's a bit of a challenge.  Although I have been talking about the changes in my family dynamics, I have avoided sharing the details of what I have been going through.  I wanted to keep it off of my blog because I wanted this corner of the web to be my happy place.  A place to escape the difficulties and struggles and find the positive in the world.  However, in order to be truthful with myself, I have to admit what I have been going through...out loud.

I have been a victim of domestic violence for the past six and a half years.  Just writing that was upsetting.  Admitting that I am one of "those women" who stayed for too long coming up with excuses for my husband and subjecting my children to listening to it.  But, it doesn't matter how long my fear kept me there, what matters is I finally found the courage to walk away.  Yes, I am slightly damaged emotionally and so are my children.  We have a lot to overcome and we are taking it one step at a time.

When a woman subjects herself to this type of situation she loses a piece of her identity to her abuser.  He changes her; breaking her down emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically to shape her into how "he" wants to see her and/or how he wants others to see her.  The abuser will isolate her from those she cares about and/or those whose opinions she finds matters, removing her from social gatherings and friendships and promising that he could be all that and more.  There are days when things are good, like walking on cloud 9 in perfect harmony and step with all that is good in life.  But, it's an abusive relationships which means that there are good days, and there are bad, with no in-between.  The highs are wonderful and the lows are devastating.  The biggest difficulty for the woman is figuring out how to leave when she has been left to survive only on the means that he can and has provided for her with the self-esteem that he has slowly diminished.  Everyone has a breaking point, a point where enough is enough; I FOUND MINE. 

I've been on autopilot these past 2 weeks, moving from one meeting to the next.  Meetings with lawyers, school counselors, child protective services, battered women services.  Not to mention trips to court for the restraining order, doctors appointments for medical records and police departments for police records.  It's never ending.  I still need to go for temporary assistance, evaluations, counseling and to court this Wednesday for the final restraining order.  It looks like I have a good case and hopefully, the judge will see that it is in my children and my best interest to have him out of our home. 

I hadn't had time to actually sit down and think about what is going on.  I have been constantly in motion and hadn't had the time to feel anything but empowered, free and safe.  However, during the past few days when more difficulties arose the negative emotions finally began catching up.  With the sudden whims of euphoria, I have also been experiencing grief, loneliness, anger, futility, anxiety and disorientation.  I am learning that this is a normal process and what I am experiencing is mourning.  Mourning of my marriage and what it should have been.  Although difficult to hide away from my children and let it out, I know that I have to in order to move on.  I have been blessed with a wonderful support group of family and friends that have graciously just been there for me.
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." ~ Henri Nouwen
Today I accepted the emotional roller coaster that has been building up for days and let it flow.  I didn't know which way was up or down, I just rode with it.  I hid away in my bedroom and just cried.  I spoke to friends who just sat and listened and tried to reassure me that this was part of the process.  I continued to vent and cry believing that I would never see through tear-free eyes again.  But like all bad times, the mood lifted and I felt relief in the sniffles and hiccups from a good cry.

Although, I started feeling better, it was still in the back of my mind when I went to get today's mail. 


The little things.  Amidst the bills and junk mail came a package from a dear friend across the country.  Just seeing the postage stamp and return address lifted my spirits in hopes of a better evening.  I had a huge smile on my face when I brought in the package and began to open it. 
"Friendship isn't a big thing - it's a million little things."

What a wonderful package.  Filled with teas to help me get through these ups and downs, highs and lows.  Ways to relieve stress and detox from the negativity that has harbored inside me for so long through body and soul.  But the most interesting piece and the most touching was the little bottle in the center. 
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit."  ~ Albert Schweitzer

It was the first thing to catch my eye in the box and the one that puzzled me the most.  At first, I thought it was a homeopathic treatment until I read the wonderful handwritten poem my dear friend, Chelle, wrote for me.

"What, do you ask, is in my hand?
I say open it up and look at the sand.
Taken from Bodega Bay,
In California on a gorgeous day.
Bottled up sunshine from the west,
and from some friends who hold you best.
Hold this bottle like we're holding your hand.
For we are more than all that sand."

This brought more tears to my eyes.  Unlike the ones I shed earlier, these were tears of gratitude, happiness and strength.  Gratitude for finding such an amazing group of friends even though we are separated physically; happiness in knowing that miles can't get in the way of true friendship; and strength in realizing that love doesn't come out of fear but out of mutual respect -- whether it be from spouse, child or friend.  

Thank you Chelle, for brightening my day with a little bit of California sunshine and support.  

Thank you Karyl and Amiee, for a supportive ear.  For helping me through this one day at a time and for being the best of friends to me throughout the years.

Thank you Heather and Stacy, for the texts of love and support.  I appreciate them and you both, dearly.

Thank you CJ, for being here for the boys and myself.  It truly takes a long time to grow an old friend like you.  

Thank you LeeAnna, Marie, Elizabeth, Daniella, Christine, Krissy, Courtney, Chelsea, Ceci and Megin for being a soft place to fall. 

Thank you Mom, Dad and Jenny.  I am so blessed to have such a supportive family that is reminding me of who I really am.

Thank you boys.  You are my reason for waking up in the morning, for each smile throughout the day, for my laughter at the little things, and my ability to keep going.

I also want to thank everyone who has contacted me with their stories, support and words of encouragement.

Each and every one of you are helping me find myself again and reminding me once again what is important in life.  I appreciate all of you.
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Jo said...

From one survivor (me) to another (you), sending you many hugs and much love. I'll keep you & your sons in my prayers too. I know how hard this is (to say the very least) for you! And I am so sorry for what you've been through and what you're going through.

Holli said...

Mandy... I've been down this road before and I can understand some of what you are feeling. The fact that you got out and are moving forward is a huge testament to your strength and your determination. You are a fantastic woman and my love goes out to you and your kids.......

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