Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hands Together

When I read stories of women who have survived domestic or sexual abuse, my heart swoops and falls. And then soars. It falls for the women who have to go through this. It falls knowing that there are women out there who have gone through this, but no one knows because they're afraid to tell. And it soars for those women who tell, so that those who can't don't feel alone. I've spoken before about my own survival, about giving HIM the middle finger, but what I haven't spoken about is men. Not the men who hurt women, but the men who stand by those women who are hurt. Fathers who hold their daughters tight and wish they could take it all away. Brothers who want fight the urge to enact violence on those who hurt their sisters. Husbands who are patient when their wives cringe at the gentlest of touches.

Men like Shane. I've never spoken before about this, and I never intended to do so. Except that the other day, I caught myself responding rudely to him via email. I caught myself and immediately sent another email, apologizing and saying I wasn't thinking clearly. It was good to be able to look outside of myself, because for so many years I couldn't. Hours after I was raped, I showed up on Shane's doorstep. Hurt. Scared. In tears. He settled me on the couch with a blanket and a glass of water, and then I remember he went outside with a baseball and a bat and hit the ball over and over. Recently, he told me that he blames himself for not making me go to the hospital right away, but I don't blame him and wish he wouldn't, either.

We'd been dating for less than a year when it happened. That's a lot of baggage to add to a fairly new relationship, and it's safe to say that I put him through hell and back over the next several years. There are times now when he'll respond to me in a guarded way, and when I ask him why, he says that he forgets that I'm not that person anymore. And then I realize that he spent so long tiptoeing on eggshells, worrying that he'd step too hard and break the eggs. Break me. Because I smothered him. I clung to him like I was on a sinking ship. If he was five minutes late, I would panic. I would fall apart. And then when I was done falling apart, I'd yell at him. I'd tell him he was awful, that he should just break up with me. I would test his love because I didn't understand why he loved me. All of the hate I felt for myself, I poured on him. And he took it. He took it and took it and took it and only really lost his temper with me once and apologized almost immediately. When I try to thank him, I can't make the words come out my mouth. I can't get past thank you. I can acknowledge that it was hard on him, that I was a different person then, but I can't begin to tell him HOW MUCH it means to me.

I could give him a round of applause every day for the rest of our lives, and it still wouldn't be enough. He stood by me. He sat through a two hour deposition with a lawyer attacking him, the same lawyer who repeatedly made sure that Shane was served court summons papers AT WORK, in front of his students. He took the embarrassment and never once complained. He brought me flowers and Skittles and would come over after long days of work and tuck me into my bed and kiss my forehead. He understood why I was the way I was. He listened and loved and put a ring on my finger. He took those vows to stand by me for better or worse, when he'd already stood by me through the worst. He gave me two beautiful sons and gives more every day when he tells me that he just wants them to know to respect women. To all those men out there who have stood by someone who has been hurt, thank you. From the bottom of my sometimes fragile heart, thank you.

55 comments:

Sarah Viola said...

This is amazing, Erin. Shane is amazing. I wish everyone was as lucky as we are, to have the good ones. Even if they are 80.

When did I become my Mom said...

Oh you beautiful girl I am so sorry you had to go through this. Words can never express how broken and forever changed survivors' lives are. And you are so brave to speak honestly about your experience.

God bless you and your family.

What a fantastic man Shane is!

Lesley said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Mary Craig said...

That was beautiful. I'm so sorry you went through that.

Megan said...

You made me cry.

I'm so thankful for Shane, because he showed you how special and beautiful and wonderful you really are.

keli.h said...

this is so beautiful, erin. and YOU ... well, you are amazing. and shane is a freaking rock.

love you both!

Mom23Boys said...

Beautiful, beautiful post.

Shane sounds like an amazing man. Luke and Tommy are blessed to have him as their example of being a man and a husband. Their wives will be lucky people!

Thanks for writing and sharing this.

Tasha Lehman said...

So lovely to hear a true Knight in Shining Armor story. :)

pinkflipflops said...

Thank goodness for him and thank goodness for you...

Cameron said...

Big. Huge. Fat. Rolling tears.

Beautiful post. Thank you, Shane!! :)

*Lissa* said...

So beautiful and real, Erin! Love. What a wonderful man Shane is.

Lyndsay said...

GAH the tears.

You might have snagged a good one, but so did he.

Beautiful post - I'm sure Shane will love it.

Julei said...

The world needs more Shanes. Get your kids to work on cloning for a science project.

Capribythelake said...

Wow, your story is amazing. Shane is amazing for being man enough, strong enough, and loving you enough to walk through this with you. And YOU are amazing for having the strength to hold onto your life, and fight for it, and fight for him, and God has amazing plans for you and Shane- because together- you guys are amazing. (Okay, I just said Amazing like 42 times, but its truly the best word)

jenny said...

You are amazing, and Shane is amazing, and it's so wonderful to know two real, loving, dedicated people exist. And thrive. And share.

This was just what I needed right now. I'm sure you wrote this for you but I wanted to let you know it made a difference in my day today and will hopefully pour over into my tomorrows.

Becca @ Our Crazy Boys said...

Amazing. You are amazing, and so is Shane. You are both so lucky to have each other to lean on.

Corinne said...

I want to echo the other commenters and say that I think you both are amazing, and I barely know you just through this blog! Thank you for sharing this, I know it took a lot of courage to do so.

InTheFastLane said...

I think it is because of Shane that you were able to heal. He is your rock. And you are blessed.

Kaycee said...

You are so beautiful and so strong. You both have such courage. What an amazing man as a wonderful match for such an amazing woman.

Courtney said...

I cant thank you enough for writing this! My husband is one of those men who has stood by me helping me step by step to rcover from a sorted past that happened years before i even met him. Some days i dont even know i would survive without the strength he gave me.

Bacardi Mama said...

May I just say that I think you and Shane are amazing, loving and beautiful people. You are both very lucky to have come through this together and intact.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I never want to go along with the other girls that make fun of Shane. :) I'm so glad you have him in your life.

Steph

Meghan said...

I'm sending big, huge *hugs* to you, Erin. Every time you write about your past, I read it and I'm both amazed and heartbroken by the way that you reflect on it. Amazed, because you can reflect in such a brave way, and heartbroken that you had the experience required to do it in the first place.

While I haven't been through anything remotely as shattering as what you have, the things I have been through have sometimes made me a difficult person to be around, and this post reminds me that I am ever so lucky to have found someone who can understand and handle it the way my sweetie can.

Katie at A List Maker's Life said...

Your heart may still feel fragile, but you are a picture of amazing strength - and it sounds like you share your life with a superhuman Shane too!
Thinking of you this week!

WolfePartyOf5 said...

Thank you for posting this. It takes alot of courage to write those things. I work with domestic violence and sexual assult victims daily at the Battered Womens shelter. I love being able to help a woman and her kids through the abuse. You are not a victim anymore, you are a survivor.

~love said...

i love you. and i adore Shane. {in a not weird way at all.} =)

Elaine A. said...

I am so glad that you are blessed to have such a wonderful, supportive man as your husband. Thank God.

james and michele said...

oh erin. such a good post. i needed to read that tonight. make me remember how grateful i should be to the men in my life. the good ones. i'm so glad shane is there (and always has been) for you. you are blessed! love.

Kathy said...

So brave. Thank you for posting this. I'm sorry you have a reason to. You give many of us reasons to be brave too.

It sounds as if you've got yourself a good 'en there. I snagged one of those myself. ;-)

anymommy said...

What a voice you have Erin. This is such a strong, loving post. You are so lucky to have him, but he is equally lucky to have you.

Rebecca said...

I'm delurking to say two things...1) I love your honesty and your love for you husband and boys and 2) I have had a knot in my stomach for you all weekend knowing you have to go back to work this week. I have a one year old and I would literally die if I had to leave him. What you're doing is brave, courageous and the most selfless thing you could do for your family. Your boys will know that someday.

Anonymous said...

i was raped in college and my husband has dealt with the aftershocks ever since. it rears its head randomly and always takes us by surprise!
i'm so thankful for my husband to walk beside me through this. and i'm so thankful that you have an amazing husband to walk with you!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

Wow. Wow. And again Wow. Amazing story that I almost didn't read because I didn't think I could handle reading about your pain. How selfish, right? Yes, I know. But I'm glad I read it and learned not only what you went through but how amazing your husband is. I want to hug him! I know he isn't perfect and I know he would say that, but he is a real man and those men are hard to come by!

Brianna said...

Oh, Erin. Thank you for sharing. What an amazing guy you have and how beautiful that you realize it.

Bri

The Fritz Facts said...

Shane is amazing. I can only hope that my friend find someone as amazing as he is, that will love her with all "the baggae" that comes along with her.

You are a wonder.

Crooked Eyebrow said...

perfectly written from such a deep place. Hug Shane tighter for all of us.

you are so beautiful, inside and out, it's my hopes that you never forget it.

designHER Momma said...

I read this last night but am coming back to comment now.

First, I am so deeply sorry that you have had to deal with this.

Secondly, sounds like you have found the perfect person to spend the rest of your life with. he's a good man.

simplicity said...

I can't imagine experiencing what you have experienced so I am glad that you have such an amazing husband who has helped you through it all.

~Mendie~ said...

what a heartfelt message of gratitude that I'm your husband can see in your eyes more and more each day. You both are so lucky to have each other!

Heather D said...

Love this so much! Shane is a great man, and you two are a wonderful couple - the strength of your relationship is inspirational!

Aubs said...

so blessed by your words today! your heart shines thru your words and it is beautiful. YOU are beautiful!

Your hubby sounds like an incredible man and you guys have an amazing family! HUGS!

Ryley @ That's My Family! said...

Thank goodness for amazing men like Shane! How lucky you are to have him in your life and how lucky the boys are to have such an amazing role model to look up to.

Sometimes we need posts like this to remind us of the awesomeness we have in our husbands.

I took came into my married with A LOT of baggage. My husband has never once backed down. He is my rock. For that, I never give him enough credit.
Thank you!

Carrie said...

Erin, this is so sweet. I'm so sorry you had to go through such a difficult thing, but I'm so thankful that your husband has been there to support you through it all. He sounds like an amazing man.

Leah said...

i am so thankful you have shane. much love to him. and always to you.

Heather of the EO said...

Erin, I'm just speechless.

Thank you for this.

I'm going to email you or I'll write a novel in the comments...

To Think is to Create said...

i love you. your strength inspires. your honesty gives hope. that is beyond powerful!

xoxo

Stephanie said...

Oh Erin...my heart is breaking for al that you've experienced but rejoicing in the wonderful man who has stood by your side through it all. You are an amazing woman, Erin - thank you SO much for sharing.

Maggie, dammit said...

Well done, my friend. Well done.

Much love.

amanda said...

totally feeling like a clueless idiot! i had no idea. none.

shane sounds amazing. and somehow this post made me heart you even more.

hugs times a million

april said...

This was so beautiful. I'm so glad that he was there and stood by you. Love you.

Mommy Mo said...

I read this yesterday but came back today to comment. I hate that this horrible thing happened to you, but I am so happy that you found THE ONE in Shane. Much love to both of you. And an even bigger hug for you Erin as you return to work : (.

ZDub said...

Much love to you, sweet face.

I know it took major guts to write this. And I heart Shane.

XO-Z

Chrystal said...

Amazing. You, Erin, are amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Cameron said...

Bawling all over again. Love you. xoxo

Kaycee said...

This one made me cry again. What a wonderful man you have. What an encouragement to anyone who reads this post and has suffered violence to know there are those like him out there. I am so glad you had him. I am so glad he loved you. I am so glad you are able to not be the person you were anymore and to love yourself. You are amazing.