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.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Separation Anxiety

Here it is. The post I hoped and prayed that I somehow wouldn't have to write, but the part-time job didn't materialize and no one came through with a $20,000 check. I'm not a jealous person, but in my heart of hearts, I'm jealous of anyone who has never had to leave her children, who has never sensed the ticking clock from the moment her baby is born, never counted down the months, then days, until the end of a maternity leave. Please know that I'm not jealous in a hateful way. I just wish I had what you have, yet I know that we ALL have our struggles. That there are women who stay home with their children, yet some of those children live in Heaven. And so, I know those women would probably work six days a week, just to have that other day with their babies who left too soon. I know this, and so I remind myself that I'm really jealous. I just wish it was different. Then there's all this devastation in Haiti, and I think WHO AM I to sit on my couch and whine about having to go make money, because I have it so good. I know I do.

I wish I didn't have to make that list. I wish I didn't have to write out a feeding schedule for my baby that since day one, has been fed when he's hungry. Period. I wish I didn't face the task of using a cold, plastic machine to make milk for him, when I want nothing more than to feel the warmth of him, to wrestle his fingers out of my mouth over and over.

Truthfully, I don't know how I'm going to keep from falling apart on Tuesday. See, I can't even type this without big fat tears rolling down my face. My first day back after Luke was born was a day of meetings. I cried for two straight hours through our first meeting. This time, though, I will be facing a room full of 8th graders at 7:15, and if they see me cry, it'll be ugly.

I want to fall on the ground and scream, I CAN'T DO THIS. I have no choice. There's no escape plan, no "let's see how it goes" scenario. There's just this. Just me being so scared, wondering how I'm going to leave my babies again, wondering if maybe I'll never have another baby, just so I never have to go through this again. I know the boys will be okay. It's not them I'm worried about.

Also, I know this is a public forum, and perhaps I'm putting myself out there with this--and I hate that I even have to say it--but please don't leave comment sharing with me how you made it work on one paycheck. We've looked into that. It doesn't work for us. The state of Indiana pays teachers so little that we'd qualify for welfare if I quit my job. So, please. Just don't go there today. It doesn't help.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

You Capture: Winter

Let me put this out here: If you are someone whose winter involves palm trees, warm weather, and sandy beaches, tell me not to go to your blog. Seriously. I will weep and throw things and tell you that I hate you. I don't hate you. Promise. It's just that I hate winter.
Because my winter looks like this...
Otherwise known as STUPID COLD. So cold that we make sure to give the birds extra food, so much that our backyard is always filled with birds...
I have to look extra hard to find color...
And make sure that babies are bundled up and hidden under coats when I go out to shovel...
But even I have to admit that sometimes? The snow is kind of fun.

You Capture: Winter

I just learned that today is Blog Delurking day... so if you read but never comment, COMMENT!