Still swimming

Note: I’m pretty sure I blogged about this incident before.. but it’s been a couple years since I blogged and this was such a big event in my life, it was bound to come up again.

 

“I haven’t moved anywhere,” I thought to myself as I looked at the water tower to my left. “The current is too strong.” Tears came to my eyes and defeat tried to overtake me. I was weak and tired. How long had I been swimming? How much longer would it take to get back? Could I get back? Will I see my children again? I blinked back my salty tears, and lowered my goggles over my eyes to protect them from the salty ocean water. And I swam.

Earlier that day my husband and I had decided to go snorkeling. We had no experience. He was a strong swimmer though and had heard enough about snorkeling that he felt comfortable. I hesitated because I wasn’t much of a swimmer, but I didn’t want to disappoint him, so off we went. The rental hut was covered in reeds, lights dazzled, flowers brightening the entrance. “Snorkeling are we?” questioned the man. He gave us some tips and suggested a small coral reef off the shore on the other side of the beach. So there we went.

The water mixed with the sky on the horizon. “We got this,” my husband encouraged. “You’ll do fine.” Goggles, mask, flippers, gloves, thumbs up, and into the water. The cold waves dancing on my already goose-bumped skin, set in from a tinge of fear. And yet I swam.

It was beautiful… the colors, the fish, coming up to say hello. I was relaxed, laughing at the puppy fish following me, just as a little puppy would. My husband wanted to see more. He led us out into deeper water, hoping to find another reef, another corner of the world to explore. Darker waters where we couldn’t see much. I motioned that I wanted to go back. He nodded, and then turned. After a moment’s pause he looked at me. The shore was a beautiful landscape, like one you would see on a postcard. Except, this wasn’t a postcard. We had gone much further than we both had thought, the current had carried us out. Were there sharks? How strong is the current that brought us out here? I was frozen. But then I swam.

That’s when I noticed the water tower off to my left. And that’s when I started my journey. This was a quiet journey, in which I discovered apart of myself that I didn’t know existed. A determined journey. I watched the world below me, unknowing to my struggle, my desire to get back to my own world. Along they swam, so easily, so happily. I lost sight of all of them, as I had to push through each stroke of my own. Feeling hopeless in their world where they so easily moved. But I swam.

Eventually the waters cleared and I lifted my head, taking it all in. The tower behind my shoulder. The reef in front of me. My husband closely following. I had done it. I swam over to join the frolicking world of the reef. I celebrated with them over my accomplishment. The colorful party of fish coming over to me to offer their congratulations. Some people say we are a small brick in this vast cathedral… a speck in the universe… a mere drop in the ocean. All you gotta do is swim.

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Memories

Once upon a time I was 16… My family had just moved out of our house into an apartment. I had been dating him for several months at this time…

I was a night owl even then. It was pretty late for a school night.. Maybe 12… 1?…

I woke up to a noise. I froze in my bed… Eyes wide in the darkness.. Ears tuned into the noises around me.

It was outside.. a scrambling, a whimper… a thud, a grunt… a cry.

I wrapped my blankets around me and got on me knees in front of my window. Slowly, I barely opened one of the blinds so I could peer out into the night… There was one light in the parking lot.. Immediately I saw that there was a woman and a man in a vehicle down below. She was in the driver’s side, obviously trying to leave.. He was in the passenger’s side facing her, one knee propped on the seat, the other leg standing on the floor board… One hand on the seat and the other in front of him with his finger pointing towards her.

They argued… They were loud…

I watched… I was silent… Frozen…

He slapped her.

She moved her hands in front of her face… In the dark with little light I couldn’t see what exactly was happening, but it looked as though he was grabbing her shoulders and she was trying to protect herself… At that point I quietly slipped out of my room and ran to the phone… As I dialed 9-1-1, I dragged the phone to my room as far as it could go…

The dispatcher answered. I quickly told my story, while trying to make the cord reach to my window so I could see what was happening. He asked questions, to which I whispered my reply. I was so afraid the man below would see me.. would know that I had called.. and my family would be in danger…

This man was dangerous in my mind! Someone not to be trusted for myself or my parents… I waited on the line until the police arrived.. It was late in a small town, they didn’t take that long…

I hung up the phone and watched as two police officers arrived and went to the vehicle.. The couple immediately got out of their car. One officer led the woman inside and the other officer hand cuffed the man and put him in the back of the police car. I watched until the 2nd officer came out and they drove away…

I prayed he wouldn’t know it was me. I prayed for my family’s safety…

Then I forgot this story… Amazing right? Amazing how memories can be forgotten… Especially one so different, so traumatic as this… I didn’t see things like this very often. The only way I can explain why I forgot is because my own life was happening… I was with him at this time. He was controlling from the start… There’s a lot to tell about my own story at this age… So, yes.. this memory faded to the background…

Fast forward years later…

It was pretty late for a week night… Maybe 12?.. 1?..

This time I was already awake. Eyes wide in the darkness.. Ears tuned into the noises around me.

It was inside this time.. a scrambling, a whimper… a thud, a grunt… a cry.

Waiting for him to finish his drinking… Wondering what would happen this time… Praying he would drink fast enough to just want to go to sleep right away…

And I remembered.

I wrapped my blankets around me and sat up… I saw them in the vehicle below, on that night so long ago… I remembered my fear. My worry for her safety… for my parents safety…

And I wondered…

What had happened to me?… Why had this become ok?… Why wasn’t I on the phone dialing 9-1-1 as I had so many years before?.. Where had that brave girl gone, and who had replaced her with the shell that I had become?

Then I heard the footsteps coming up the stairs… and I forgot that story… Amazing right?.. Amazing how memories can fade into the background.

Adrift

What do you do when you are down?

Is there anything that helps lift you up out of the depression?

Sometimes it feels like I am in the middle of the ocean… and I am trying to reach shore… Wave after wave is crashing over me and I can’t swim any longer. I just want to give up…

This actually happened to me once… I went snorkeling with him a long time ago off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. We lived there for several years… He got the bright idea to swim out further and see if we could find any coral reefs. Yeah, neither one of us knew what we were doing… After a bit of swimming away from shore together, we both looked up and realized… yup… it had happened… We had been carried out further than we anticipated by the current. We began to swim back. It felt like every stroke into shore was 2 strokes back out… I felt like I was getting no where… I kept my eye on a distant tower that was on the shore to the left of us. It seemed like I was never going to pass it. I started crying, telling myself I was going to drown… I was so tired I could barely move my arms… But I had two children waiting at our campsite for us to get back. I kept thinking of them. I just kept moving my arms and praying.. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… Please help me. Give me the strength… That tower moved little by little… It wasn’t much.. but each time I noticed a difference it was enough to keep me going… I eventually got to shore and just laid there.. completely exhausted, physically and mentally.

That’s how I feel now. Each time I take a stroke towards reaching my goals and dreams, another wave crashes over me. I’m worn out… that tower is barely moving.. But I have children waiting for me.. Watching me this time.. actually.. sometimes I feel like they are in a raft, tied to my leg… depending on me to take them to shore as well.. and I get so overwhelmed by the waves… Crashing over me, I can barely breathe… can barely swim… can barely see the shore line… and I just want to stop sometimes.. just to rest a bit. Just to catch my breath.. Just to lay down for a moment.. but it doesn’t work like that out in the middle of the ocean.. You’ve got to keep moving, watching out for those waves, or they’ll take you under. I am trying.. but sometimes… sometimes…

 

Bound

What has you bound?
Is it society? Our culture’s limitation that it sets on people?
Is it your family? Friends? Do they talk down about whatever it is that you are wanting to accomplish in your life?
Is it you?… Do your own thoughts limit what you think you can do? How far you believe you can go?

Most of the time, the abuse was… how should I say it? Manageable. There was a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse going on… It was always there. The physical abuse was random.
It could be every day.. It could be once a month.
The act of the physical abuse was just as random. Sometimes it was as simple as hair pulling, smacking, pushing me down.

Other times… Yeah… other times…

One of the worst experiences I had was when I was laying on the bed, tears steaming down my face and I just kept saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
Of course you wouldn’t be able to understand what I was saying because I had duct tape over my mouth. Actually, I had duct tape around my legs and my arms as well.

I was bound.

I also had a knife to my throat…
I’m not really sure what I was thinking at that point. I couldn’t really explain that away as him just getting mad and going over board in a fit of anger… This wasn’t just a fit of anger.
This was wicked… premeditated (duct tape laid out beforehand)… calculated…
Sometimes, I wonder if I’m just as mentally ill as he is. To let these things go on like I did.

Anyways, I was bound. I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t escape… I could move a little bit… My mind was still working… Wondering how to get out of the situation.. Looking for something to set my hands free. It’s funny what will go through your mind at times like these. I had scenes from movies that came to my mind, similar scenarios where the woman was able to escape.

Basically, I could move around a little on the bed. I could speak from under the duct tape… That’s all I could do… Physically I was bound.

Mentally, I was bound. I was stuck. I had stayed in this relationship for years. I could flail about a little bit.. thinking wonderful thoughts of escape… but in the end, I was never able to find that hidden tool that would help set me free.. Over and over, the tools were just out of my reach…

Where I started to find the strength to reach a little further, try a little harder.. is another story. Eventually, I did get free. I’m here to share that freedom and hope with you… Stay tuned, I will share more about both stories with you.
Blessing to you! And remember… I believe in you!

Way of thinking

It is good when we start something new to get confirmation.. I have had confirmation after confirmation that I am in the right place at the right time. Let me encourage you in that as well! Are you taking steps to better yourself? Even just baby steps? Any step in the right direction, no matter how small, is one step closer to who you are designed to be! Start now! Don’t delay any longer. Don’t let anything that has happened to you stop you from making headway in your life now!

Who was I? Where did I come from? What kind of things torment me, trying to cause me to stop?..

One day I was in the kitchen finishing up dinner… The children were in their rooms playing. He came home in a bad mood. He proceeded to point out everything that I hadn’t done that day. There were toys in the yard, shoes in the foyer, couch pillows on the floor.. Never mind that I had just vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, weeded the flower beds and done school work with the kids among other things, on top of having dinner made before he got home, which was his pet peeve.

So this was the day that I got dragged into the the hallway. He was showing me everything I had done wrong that day. He only made it as far as the hallway, probably because he realized that he shouldn’t be seen dragging me by the hair out into the yard to look at the toys.

That was the night that I had to go to the hospital to get stitches. I was even asked if it was a domestic abuse case, because my story sounded strange. I lied.

Why? I remember to this day what I said to myself… and I continue to ask why I thought the way that I did. I am still working out the answers… I want to share with you my thoughts, no matter how embarrassing they are to me now. No matter how confusing they are to me this day, because I hope that maybe someone else who is in the same situation will see this. She will see that she is thinking the same way, and she will get out of it a lot sooner than I did.

I thought to myself, that if he hit me again that week, and I had done nothing wrong, then I would leave.

Really?

Yes. Really… That is what I said. That if I could be a good enough wife, if I could pray enough, love enough, clean enough, cook enough, laugh enough… Then maybe he’d stop. But then, if he didn’t stop… then I’d leave… Well guess what? I always made mistakes.. We all do. None of us are perfect..

So what do I do with that now? I am very careful in my decision making now. I am very careful in who I let in my life, who I let influence me and my children. The mistakes of my past do not define who I am now… The hurt from my past has not destroyed me… It has only strengthened me and my resolve to be a better woman, a better mom, a better friend, daughter, co-worker, employee. If I let you into my life now, it is very purposeful and I promise it will be a very rich relationship.

If you are telling yourself some of the lies that I told myself, if you are waiting until the perfect timing to leave… I urge you now to not wait any longer. Please. You can do it! I believe in you. I believe in your potential to have a better life. A life free from the fear of the man who is controlling you today. Contact someone, anyone and get help.