Living WITH violence

Back in 2014, as I started this blog, I began to draft a post:

I’m looking for blogs about living with violence.

The dominant narrative is about leaving violence.

I’m not seeing the blogs by people currently in emotionally, sexually or physically abusive relationships.

Weighing the pros and cons of staying or going.

Advice on how to maintain self and sanity, while minimizing fighting while maintaining independent interests, activities and life.

Instead the blogs are betternotbroken, or faith.love.hope

Living AFTER choosing to leave.

The comments are “hells yes, you should leave!”

Or “why did you stay so long?”

Or “I WAS there. Thank you for sharing.”

But I am looking for blogs about how to stay.

Is there a path forward to a better life with this person at my side? How do I make that happen?

***

I never posted this, due to shame. I was too ashamed to say – I want to choose to live with this guy, which means living with violence. How do I do this more safely?

 

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Escaping the Beatings

When I began this blog, I was figuring out how to stay in a terribly abusive relationship.

And in a terribly abusive job.

There must be something, I thought then, that I could do, to make it better. To make him better. To make me better.  To make the world that he existed in more tolerable so that our relationship could flourish. To make my own workplace more tolerable.

But I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I could never make him, or the world around him, better. I could not be in charge of creating a tolerable existence for him, alone, to keep myself safe. I could not be responsible for his well being. I was responsible for me.

Neither could I be responsible for fixing the entire American healthcare system to fix my broken job.  I am responsible first and foremost for me, finding solutions that fit me, now.

I left that relationship, battered, and am slowly slogging my way through a terribly abusive divorce. I’m realizing this relationship will never end, as long as there is a much wanted and much loved child who is a product of the relationship in this world. But the nature of the relationship has changed already, for which I am grateful. I am free.

I also found my way to a different job. A better job. With fewer patients and easier charting. But aspects of my non-clinic hours were still abusive, so I changed the nature of my commitment to the job. I simplified from medical director to part time provider.

I’m seeking sustainable balance, renewable joy. Flexing my skills as a doctor just enough to pay the rent and buy groceries (and sadly not even to begin to imagine paying back the legal fees accrued over the last 21 months of litigation). But to create the space in my life to grow, heal and write. To take care of me.

I’m seeking a paycheck that doesn’t break my spirit to sustain my body.

I’m seeking a relationship that doesn’t break my body. Period.

Here’s to health and wholeness and happiness — on a personal and professional front.

Bursting into new life

When my baby was born, I read while breast feeding. My mom, who had previously been banished from my home by my husband, was welcomed back to help care for our jaundiced baby. She would read to me, or I to her, while the baby sucked away at my breast. It was profoundly peaceful, and healing. 

One of the poems I read was from a book my best friend gave me to celebrate new life: Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems. 

This is the poem fragment that gave me courage to leave a dangerously bad marriage.

Rain. (Part Seven)

At night

Under the trees

The black snake

Jellies forward

Rubbing

Roughly

The stems of the bloodroot,

The yellow leaves,

Little boulders of bark, 

To take off

The old life.

I don’t know

If he knows

What is happening.

I don’t know

If he knows

It will work.

***

I read that, constrained in my old life, knowing I was bursting out of an existence that was too small, too tight, painfully restrictive. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know when, but I knew that eventually, to survive, I would need to leave my husband. 

I identified with that snake. Something was happening. (I was a mother. My protective instincts that had dulled for myself were sharpened again.)

“I don’t know if he knows it will work,” I read, and I suddenly knew.

It would work. 

I would leave my husband, safely, and leave the skin I had outgrown, the life constraining me.

The home, the husband, the job, the life–a mere shell, a skin that I am bigger than. In the natural order of life, snakes outgrow their skins, they shed them, and grow a larger one. The snake may not know what is happening, but the natural order takes over.

Time to shed my skin. 

It will work. 

Battered No More

I started this blog in 2014 when I was trying to figure out how to live with abuse in my life.

Abuse at work. And abuse at home.

I left the battery. I’m recovering now.

I left the clinic. I’m recovering professionally.

I left my husband. I’m recovering emotionally.

Finding myself, once again, in a state of non-not.

I’m not married. I’m not not-married.

I”m on my way.

Not-Not Defined

We moved recently, and settling into our new apartment, I found a folder with the old construction paper signs I had created in college to decorate the walls. Including the yellow-lettered construction paper not-not sign.

The definition of Not-Not:

“Not-Not is not the negation of anything. It is only an expression of itself. Not-not is aware that liberation exists in the indefinite.”

 

Happiest moments in my life

Eating jelly beans for breakfast.

Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, watching colors at play.

Winning 400 hurdles in high school.

Running along the Palisades at night, topless.

Lying under the trunk of a fallen tree on a soft blanket of snow,  cross country skis pointing skyward as snow flakes gently fall.

Hug from behind.

Watching the sun set in Senegal.

Running in the sprinklers.

Jumping into my future husband’s arms.

Hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time on ultrasound at 10 weeks.

 

 

Pronoia

What’s the opposite of paranoia? (The delusional belief that people are plotting your downfall or saying bad things about you behind your back.)
Pronoia! (The delusional belief that people are plotting your well-being and saying nice things behind your back.)
Ponder.