Archive for October, 2008

digressing…

on my other post because I’m a bit overloaded with the holiday festivities. I’m loving them more and more as the kiddo gets older. She’s a tiger this year. She IS a tiger. Or a lion. She takes on those qualities whenever she’s challenged. She’ll growl when she’s scared or in a new situation…the kids at Headstart were a little confused when she came along. I have a warrior.

Yesterday I ran into my rockstar former therapist. I was delighted….I’ve missed her. Alot. She just returned to town from a tour of Africa. Africa. Sheesh! I’m ready to start planning for travel myself now that the kiddo is older. Africa. Wow.

One of my sweetest, semi-guilty pleasures is watching Grey’s Anatomy in bed. It’s the only show I watch. Ok, it’s also the only channel I get, too. Christina Yang is my favorite character—brilliant, flawed, a little capricious (best line ever: Oh, it’s like candy, but with blood. Which is so much better. (on surgery). But it’s Meredith’s issues that have me coming back for more. I get her. I loved last night’s episode when she was carrying childhood doll Anatomy Jane around and playing with her during a meeting to solve a surgery. Quirky and creative. And now she’s found her mother’s diaries! I love diaries. Er, journals. I call mine a journal. I have my high school art teacher, whom I’ve always regarded as a painter/football coach in soul, to thank for a habit I’ve kept up for decades. It all started with those little black and white bound notebooks he’d issued us freshman year. I still use those from time to time, but my favorite are the tall, bound accountant notebooks. There’s something elegant about their size. My art teacher believed anyone and everyone should do art. And he has a point. But I would add that everyone should journal. Even badly. Just journal. One could say that in the age of blogging, it’s not neccessary, but I don’t count blogs as journaling because of their public nature. Journals are private and a good place to put thoughts of such a nature. I’m not sure I want the kiddo perusing my journals someday, but I do wish my parents were the journaling sort. I’d be all over them like white on rice for sure.

O.k., lastly, my little finch Prudence  is expecting. Really. Three eggs and counting. In the feed dish. The fact that my first expectant bird is named Prudence kind of amuses me.  Dear Mom loves her name. Go figure. Anyway, I’m going with this, even though I have zebra finches coming out of my ears– I had already scooped up two eggs a week ago, but I haven’t the heart to take these new ones  away. Which means I’m building an aviary this spring. Doesn’t this one look sweet?

Part One: Waking up

October is waning, and I still haven’t posted the domestic violence post I’ve wanted to write. I’ve thought long and hard about this post, which was more difficult to put together than I’d expected. Namely, where in my experience  to begin?

The actual beginning? I think my family knew something was wrong with this situation before I’d realize I was in a limiting relationship at best, and more accurately, in an abusive relationship. I’ve been a freespirit most of my adult life, and in a very short time within my domestic relationship with this man, my world shrank; most specifically, my relationships with and access to my family were discouraged. And my family took notice.

We’d lived in the woods, in a beautiful little spot I’d where I’d dreamed of having a family, caring for animals, and tending to a garden. It was also isolated, and often, I was denied use of a car, and couldn’t hold even the part time jobs I’d settled on to appease a deep insecurity this man exhibited whenever I was out of his reach. Which meant I had little and often no income of my own.

The worst part? I think the most emotionally crushing feeling I experienced would be in the very early morning hours of my fortieth birthday. I’m not one for milestones of this sort, but my fortieth year meant something to me in that it meant that I’d outlived my father, who’d died in an accident at 39. He meant everything to me, and his abrupt passing left a significant impression that anything, anything could happen at anytime. If this cautious man could die in an accident, then maybe I would too. And I did not. I’d lived, mostly on my own terms, in a whimsical manner that allowed me to postpone a secondary education until I was ready, and interrupt a career in journalism to travel when I’d wanted to. To commit to nothing unless it was on my terms, which included flexibility and  ample room to indulge matters of intellectual, creative, and spiritual curiosity.

On my birthday, I’d wanted only a quiet day to myself, ideally child free. Maybe a glass of my favorite wine. Just that. No fancy dinner, no gifts. Instead I was violently awakened at 3:00 in the morning and read the riot act for a good half hour, with my sleeping child next to me, over a triviality: I’d eaten something he’d wanted. I’m not sure I was even fully awake when the tears came down my still face after he’d left the room. I’d felt scraped out and empty inside. Gutted. It’s a word that would best describe my feelings about this time. A systematic violation and then gutting of my self esteem and vitality.

Never a good sleeper, I would be awakened in this manner often and randomly, over little things like this. The counselor I’d sought out half a year later would tell me that this was unacceptable treatment, and often employed on prisoners.

The turning point? came in two parts.

We’d been forced to move (long story) and at my insistence, we settled on a location that allowed me more access to a community. The catch was, in order to access a library and the playgrounds for the kiddo, and more importantly, and secretly, a domestic violence agency, I had to use to a bike to get around. So I did, with the kiddo aboard.

 And another thing happened: I’d made my first friend in seven years of living in Connecticut; an incredible woman who validated my situation and feelings, and supported me in countless ways toward my journey toward independence. In a month, with such valuable supports, I had a little confidence. And a plan.

The more dramatic turning point came unexpectedly, and accelerated, not prematurely, my plans for a new life when a side table full of books brushed my head, tossed from a pair of angry hands. That in itself marked a new element: violence. Before, it had been primarily emotional; a dynamic of denial of common liberties (because I didn’t deserve anything. Anything.), and frequent declarations of my overall worthlessness and stupidity. 

I wasn’t entirely surprised– the prospect of bodily harm forbode itself in subtle threats: a knife swaying casually my way during a lecture, and thrown objects sailing toward the walls to make his point. I knew if I’d stayed long enough, this was inevitable.

The point that transformed things finally,  in a concrete and clear fashion, was the reaction of my daughter after this act. “Mommy, I’m tiny. Mommy, I’m tiny!”, was all she’d say, over and over in clearly terrified screams. Prior to this, I’d sensed she was aware of the tension of this living situation. Later, it would express itself in a generalized anxiety and a belief at the tender age of four,  that the world was a scary and unsafe place.

Her terror flipped a switch in me, unquestioned and direct. A 911 phone call, a statement, an arrest, and a restraining order came in short order. And a year ago this month, the kiddo and I entered a domestic violence shelter to begin a new life in a new town.

My experience is mine, but hardly unique. I lived in the shelter among women with similar stories, coming out of relationships and experiences with the same ingredients: control, manipulation, threats, and violence, seeded and perpetuated by a sense of entitlement on the part of their abuser.

Why did we stay? It’s a question I ask myself still, especially when I realize, almost daily,  in all of its colors and shades, the freedom and power of my new life. I can’t answer for those women. My own answer: Hope. My hope for someday, a stable, family life. And it wasn’t a complete fairy tale of a dream, or a figment of my imagination as long as there were honeymoon periods of calm during what is known as the cycle of violence in these relationships.

I still have that hope, but it’s different. Its realization now resides in my own hands.

Tomorrow, I’d like to share my thoughts about what I feel is the most difficult challenge of all: moving on, especially within a social and judicial system that doesn’t adequately address the needs and safety of domestic abuse survivors.

talking chicken

Yesterday, as I was preparing the kiddo’s favorite dinner, roast chicken, I was greeted by sudden protest as I was about to put he bird into the oven. “STO—OP! You’re killing him! I won’t eat it!”. I paused, wondering: “Is this a sign of a future vegetarian on my hands??? Yes!!!”

Then, she PICKED IT UP. Like a baby. Comforted it in gentle tones. “O.k., you can put birdie into the oven now.”

During the roasting and right into dinner, she kept up a onesided conversation with the poor bird, even while she was eating it.

I don’t know what to think.

accomodation

I haven’t been up for much this past week besides ringing up poor Mom and moaning on about my terrible head cold. Fortunately, for your sakes, I kept all that away from here. As an aside, however, I have noticed, in the age of sanitizers and airborne preventives, a recent reluctance….a self consciousness, even; when I blow my nose in public. Probably because I don’t carry a hand sanitizer and imagine eyes upon me, imploring me not to touch anything around them.

The last snot rag has not quite hit the floor, but I’m feeling much better and slightly more interesting. Hence, I am present.

Unfortunately, due to a slow week and extended weekend, there’s not much to report, beyond—brace yourselves, dearies—-another birdie update. After a week long quarrantine, I have let the flock of seven loose into the the palace. The big cage. With Miles and Stella. Things have changed, my friends. I knew they wouldn’t be initially pleased with sharing space, but I didn’t expect the changes I’ve seen.

Stella, who previously was content to preside as an imperious, delicate cage decoration, has morphed into an aggressive, fish mongering banshee. She’ll go after any hen who comes within a five centimeter distance of her man, or her swing, which occupies the quiet right hand (or wing, I guess) corner of her domain.  And all this time I thought she was ignoring Miles.

Miles at first regarded himself as King Cock, and hopped onto every hen…clumsily, I might add. Until the males came. One specific male seems to threaten him. He keeps mostly to Stella’s side, or guards the nest box, which I suspect will become a point of contention among the entire flock, as there is only one. I spy him periodically auditioning a concubine (yes, I really do regard Miles and Stella as a sort of royalty); a young hen I named Edie, who faintly resembles Stella. Cad. He doesn’t even try to woo her with his two hop song and dance the way he approaches Stella. Nope, he just hops on her. Unsuccessfully.

So that’s what I’m doing, these days. Crocheting a babette blanket while studying avian society dynamics and their bumbling amorous blusterings.

After all this, I can honestly say that I’m glad that I’m not a bird. And probably you would be too, if you had me watching you, no?

and then there’s this…

mothergoddamn.

There’s children going to school from homeless shelters and these pigs run with the government’s piggybank to the spa.

yikes!

We’re prisoners now! You knew that, right? Oh, and don’t miss the Nursing Moms For McCain sigh. Ewwwww.

But seriously, the two of them scare me. Really, really, scare me. The type of people they appeal to, and the emotions incited (“Kill Him!”)…truly chill my blood. I can’t even laugh at Palin anymore, she’s just a hatemonger.

Prudence, Edie, Rheya, Clea, Nate, Fisher, and Kisa

I have seven new finches. That is all.

No, not really. I DO have these beautiful creatures, adopted from a lady with too little time for them. They were all stuffed into a tiny cage. I had to rescue them! But I’m giving a few to a good home; a pal of the kiddo’s. The rest will fit nicely in my big flight cage.

The kiddo’s poison ivy is stubborn, and all over her face. Poor thing. But school is good, and she is greeted by clamoring hugs everyday. Her preferred lunch is a crab sandwich and Spiderman fruit snacks. She’s hinting to pack some octopus. Will that scare the little kiddies?

I had problems hunting for a suitable thermos. My one flask; engraved with Samhain 1991,  wouldn’t do. Wanted to start the year on a good note.

And now, that is all. For real.

Ciao!