I recently was asked by the Canadian Center for Victims of Violence to write my story of domestic abuse for their monthly newsletter. She explained that the newsletter is read by law enforcement, politicians and other people responsible for change.
I was of course honored to be asked but also felt the pressure of responsibility that I was being given an opportunity to make a difference in the way victims of abuse are viewed. I wanted to show that victims of abuse are not weak, co-dependent and some how responsible for their abuse and that abusers can be someone you would never suspect. I wanted to convey how my cries for help were ignored and how important it is to believe and support victims. The woman who asked me to write the article said it could be 2000 words and if it went longer they would break it up into two parts, one would be published in Sept and the other in Oct. As you all know I can tend to get wordy but thought I could manage to tell my story in 4000 words.
It took me a couple of weeks of stops and starts, whole days spent trying to find the words only at the end of the day trashing the whole thing and starting over again the next day
I would find myself typing away and having to stop, watch a video or I would have to lay down and take a nap, I started dreaming about James, not night mares just dreams with him in them. I started to feel depressed. I didn’t know where this was coming from, I have been writing about my relationship with James for 3 years without a problem. I was unable to stay on task, I spent days literally typing a paragraph and then napping for an hour, whole days wasted thinking and not accomplishing anything. I started to worry I would never get the article written, nothing flowed.
I eventually went to the doctor and got anti depressants, something I have avoided for 3 years, but I had to get a handle on this lack of motivation, I have my application for funding to re educate to complete and it requires a lot of time and I hadn’t even started on it. I had two open houses to prepare for, one each of the last two Sundays. I was feeling overwhelmed and I was concerned enough to consider giving up the blog and abandoning my plans for going back to school.
Then it hit me why I can write here and I couldn’t write one 4000 word article for a publication and it was the same reason I had struggled when I wrote the article for the magazine. When I write for the blog I take an incident and write about an aspect of the relationship, or I am responding to a comment made by someone coming into the blog, someone asks a specific question and I relate my experiences as a way of answering their query. I realized that I have never had to tell my story from start to finish, I have remembered the whole relationship and written about every aspect of the relationship and even had epiphanies while writing here but I have never looked at the relationship in it’s entirety.
When I got to 14,000 words and still was not done telling my story I realized I was in big trouble, no problem I only had to cut it down by 10,000 words!! and I hadn’t even touched on whole segments of my life with James. I wanted to explain the whole relationship in a way that people would really “get it” but you know what? there are no words that can adequately describe what the victim goes through and I need to stop feeling I have to justify why I stayed as long as I did.
On Monday I started to cut it down and by Tuesday I had it down to 9,300 (or something close) words. I stayed up until 3 am Tuesday to get it finished but I got it done. I had relived the whole relationship from the first time I met him, I relived the excited anticipation of our first date, the feelings of love growing and I remembered thinking how lucky I felt, I remembered how strange it felt to sleep with him at first and how after not too long I couldn’t sleep without him and how I thought I could get through anything as long as I could lay my head on his chest at the end of the day. I remembered how for 10 years I got butterflies in my stomach every time I heard his vehicle or saw him pull in the driveway. I remembered how hearing his voice always made me smile even at the worst times. God I loved that man, I thought I knew him inside and out, I thought I knew his passions and what made him happy, I thought he was always going to be in my life and the bad shit I saw was not the real him; I thought I knew the “real” James and the connection was too strong for either one of us to deny. I relived it and let it go.
When I wrote out all the times he screwed around, all the times he demanded I pay him money, the times he threatened me and hit me or destroyed my stuff, the times I woke up and found him sleeping with his face on the keyboard of his laptop because he had been watching porn and fell asleep and another little piece of my soul broke away. And when I thought about all the lies, the horrible soul crushing lies and how he tormented me with blame, shame and gas-lighting, I could finally connect the two men who were one.
Then I did something I haven’t done for a long time, I went and looked at his picture. i stared at it, I tried to remember what his voice sounded like, how his lips felt, what he smelled like, how his hands felt, I remembered I always loved his hands, hard working big hands that made me feel so safe and in the end threatened my safety. I looked long and hard at the pictures and for the life of me I don’t know what I saw in him, why I thought he was so sexy and good looking. And I looked at a picture of him and Marisa and I really stared at it trying to, I don’t know, see something I missed? What I saw was a woman in love in the early pictures of them and a woman in pain in the last pictures. I know she thought as I did that she had met her soul mate and was so blessed to have found this wonderful man and I am sure she is thinking they will be together forever and no woman has ever loved him like she does and she knows him better than anyone ever has. That destiny brought them together and for better or worse they will always be together. I realized that the man I was looking at was not the James I knew, not the James I met and not the James I left. This James is Marisa’s James, mine is dead.
After I emailed my article off with a note saying “I know this is 5 x’s longer than it should be and I give you my full permission to edit it all you want, I just can not work on it any longer.” Then at 3:01 am I went in to check my blog activity before I went to bed and there right at the top at 2:57:34 was Powell River and my heart stopped. Just the thought that he was in my blog at that exact time caused a reaction, what was the reaction about? I only knew I wanted to get out of there right now and clicked the screen closed and went to bed.
The next night I was tired because I was up so late the night before and fell asleep on the couch. I was awakened by Stella barking and realized someone was knocking at the door. I checked the clock, 11:15 pm, my heart was pounding almost out of my chest and I went to the door and asked who it was and they said, “It’s me”. I stepped back from the door and yelled “Who?” and they said “Wayne”. I felt myself exhale and realized I had been holding my breath; and I realized why I had to get out of the blog tracking app and why it was so hard to write about the relationship in it’s entirety. I am truly afraid of him, and the fear comes from not knowing who I was in love with for 10 years, and because I have every reason to be afraid.
I realized, truly saw how dysfunctional the relationship was, and how I tried to make it normal and deal with it normally and how futile it all was. By writing it out in it’s entirety I saw how crazy life had become, the tiny thread of hope I clung to for so long. It didn’t make me sad or angry or fill me with regret; it made me think, “My God you really are strong, how did you survive it? how did you go on day after day?” and I realized how far I have come. And once again I am back in peace with my life and I never took even one of the anti–depressants.
As things tend to go in life I went into my Facebook for the first time since the end of July when I started writing the article and there was a message from James’s son’s mother. MY heart stopped and I checked it right away, fearing something had happened to James’s son . But they were at a family reunion in a town in BC. i guess they don’t really know BC and didn’t realize they were at least a 12 hour drive from me because she said that James’s son would really like to see me. I felt so bad because the message was over 2 weeks old. I messaged back that I had just gotten the message and she messaged back that they were home now. I told her it would have been too far for me to drive anyway but for sure to give her son a hug for me and if they ever get a little further west to for sure give me a call.
It was kinda the icing on the cake and was another reason I was glad I was in James’s life, I hate to think what would have happened if I hadn’t been with him when his son came out to live with him. Things happen for a reason, I believe that more than ever,
On another up note, my cabin did not sell and it is the last weekend of the summer so it is unlikely it will sell now until next spring, one day, one month, one year at a time and it just keeps getting better.
Oh and I got my article back from the woman at Victim’s of Violence with some editing and what she had done made sense and made it easier for me to edit it and we got it done. Her comments:
“I have read over your story in detail now- WOW! Your last copy looked great! “
It ended up being just over 8,000 words and will be printed in its entirety in the Sept newsletter.
I am very happy with the end results. Thank God for editors!