March 13, 2015

Peeling Back the Layers ... Abuse

Posted by meli on Friday, March 13, 2015 in , , , | 6 comments

This recent instagram photo led me to write ...

"I've been ashamed of pieces of my story for far too long. A story that includes enduring abuse and infidelity and abandonment. Feelings of shame, of embarrassment, of misplaced guilt & self blame left me feeling powerless and alone. I am slowly peeling back the layers and exposing these dark, hidden, scared places within. I am strong. I am brave. I am opening. "

I had plans to write a blog post that day and link to it in the instagram photo, but that short little exert into my heart proved to be enough. In fact, it felt like too much. I unraveled after releasing it, and spent the next two days in a haze. Going through the daily motions of Mama-hood. And also crying. There was so much crying. And yelling at trees. And throwing rocks and lettuce ends, with all of my might, into oblivion. And being full of so so SO much anger. More then I knew I was capable of. I tapped into some really deep, raw, vulnerable pieces inside of me, and I was feeling the effects in every cell of my body. And even though it felt like "too much", there was also a sense of calm within, telling me I was okay. I was ready. I was ready to dig into the darkest of the dark, the scariest of the scary, and find my way through it. I cursed that calm. And argued with it. And insulted it. And when I found myself late last night sitting in a dirt pit down the trail from my home, sobbing into the tall grass, and nearly dislocating my shoulder from the force with which I was chucking rocks, I decided to lean into that calm within; and ... it caught me in such a soft embrace. The anger I was feeling immediately dissipated. And the recurring vision that had been haunting my daytime suddenly had more depth, more softness, more ... love.

And so today, as the last bruise from our latest encounter fades, and the sun is shining bright and warm, and the sounds of woodpeckers and morning doves fill my spirit, I am feeling the air around me begin to thin. Lighten. I am breathing easier, again. My heart feeling more open, again. Options, rather then "have to's", are becoming clearer, again. And I find myself stepping into my center and wanting to peel back a few more layers. I am safe and I am ready.

Abuse is not a word I throw around carelessly or dramatically. I grew up in an environment where abuse was prevalent. Abuse perpetuated on me from numerous adults in my life, but today I'm talking about the abuse I witnessed my Mama enduring from the men in her life. So much pain, on every level, to include the big, scary, nearly killing her (often) kind of physical abuse that you see in Lifetime movies. And I was the one calling the police. And screaming for him to stop. And trying to pull him off of her. And getting thrown into the wall. Sex, and Drugs, and extreme Domestic Abuse made up much of my childhood.

When physical abuse entered my own marriage; I knew immediately what it was. I knew immediately that it was wrong. I knew immediately how to defend and protect myself... and boy did I, with gusto. But I also had such a strong point of reference when it came to physical abuse, and the contrast between what I grew up witnessing, and what I myself had just endured, was so stark. So, so very different. I eventually convinced myself that while it WAS abuse, it was a different kind of abuse, and it would be okay. I could help him work through the fear that drives him to see me as the enemy. The enemy from which he must escape, by any means necessary, even when those means were literally bulldozing & trampling over me on his way out. He wasn't evil. He wasn't out to hurt me. HE was hurting. I could feel his hurt. I could relate to his hurt. I wanted to help him. I wanted to take his hurt away. I wanted to make him feel okay, and loved, and safe. And in turn, that would make US okay and loved and safe. I was convinced I could do it. And it was all going to be okay.

And then it happened again. The same bulldoze & trample kind of abuse. Police were involved this time. And my children blurry witnesses. And my whole body shook with rage and fear and sadness over what my children had just endured. The difference between my own childhood and now theirs was seeming less and less stark. In fact, it was looking identical in that heightened adrenaline moment, and with that vision, something in me snapped. My guilt grew to an unbearable size. How I could I have let this happen. How could I have given them the exact environment I was still healing from. How could I do this to them. And then ... how could I have let him down like this. I told him I would help him. I told him I would be here for him, I told him it was going to be okay, and I failed. How could I let myself fail. No! No! I would NOT let his fear win. Or the military win. Or the goddamned fucking war win. No! I would just work harder!

And then it happened again. Bulldoze & Trample, again. And it involved police, again. And my children were witness, again. And this time ... it put me in the hospital. I knew I couldn't help him alone. I knew it was bigger then me. Or him. He needed so much more then I was capable of. I didn't want to be his support anymore. But reinforcements weren't coming. He pushed everyone else out of his life; and they went. And then cancer came. He had cancer. And he had noone. I felt a sense of obligation. Of responsibility. My husband, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, the thought of leaving him when he was so desperately in need of support made me sick. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to help. I didn't know where to turn. I grieved for Tony. My sweet Tony. After my Mama left her string of abusive husbands and boyfriends, she started dating Tony. A man with his own set of demons, but oh so gentle and loving and kind. He was so special to me. So important in my life and so so loved. He killed himself after my Mama left him. I was mad at him at the time; wasn't even speaking to him. So mad that he and my Mama were fighting again. So mad that he wasn't getting help for his demons. So mad that he may have just ruined his last chance with her, and I'd never see him again. I figured I'd stay mad for a while. Not speak to him so he would REALLY understand just how mad I was. Fully feel the absence. And then I would reach out. Only it was too late. He was all alone; and then he was gone. And it was too late for me to reach out. To remind him of my love. To lend support and help. It was just ... too late.

No! I wouldn't let that happen again. It wasn't too late for Nick. I wouldn't make that same mistake. Not to Nick. Not to myself. Not to my children. This cancer, thyroid, likely played a huge role in his lack of self control and emotional turmoil. It gave me answers to the Whys. And comfort to the guilt. It was cancer. I could blame cancer. And it was tangible. It was something that we could see. And feel. And FIGHT! And so I rallied. Again. And spun myself inside out looking for different resources and support for him. Staying up until the wee hours of every night researching new techniques. Booking appointments, and making calendars, and setting alarms, and driving to and from drs, and therapists, and acupuncturists, and, and, and. Going toe to toe with the military big wigs when they tried and tried again to kick Nick out, dishonorable, with no financial compensation. All the while having a deep fear of him. Scared to be alone with him. Scared to talk with him. And he felt that fear, causing him pain, and then anger. Which caused me to be more afraid, with more walls. Round and Round.

Those 3 incidents all happened within a year or so; it's been almost 6 years since that 3rd one. And then it happened again. Just over a week ago. We'd already been separated a month. We thought maybe we could work together on this separation with the goal of reconciliation at some point. Him seeking some serious alternative healing options; and me lighting up the home front while he was away focusing on him. A happy reunion at some point in our future. But he couldn't figure out the steps to take to get there. And I was no longer in a place to want to map that out for him. So then; fear won.

I still see the love inside of him. The light. The kindness.
And I still see the fear, not evil, that drives him to act out of a war based mentality.

But ... Abuse IS abuse, different as it may look, or seem, or feel.
And abuse is bigger then me.
It's bigger then any of us alone.

I can still see the love inside of me. The light. The kindness.
And I now see the fear and guilt that drove me to fall into a very unhealthy codependent role.

I can't see what our future holds;
but I am seeing our past more clearly,
and that, I know, is my salvation.
My light.
And I'm going to keep leaning into it.
Open and Safe.


  1. You just really make me want to hold you...I think you are amazing, you'll make it through and triumph, because your mind is linked with your heart. ♡♡

  2. You just really make me want to hold you...I think you are amazing, you'll make it through and triumph, because your mind is linked with your heart. ♡♡

  3. You are a strong beautiful smart woman. Sending you love and healing hugs.
    Yoga has my heart too. It is so healing and powerful, keep exploring it xoxoxo

  4. This is a really insightful post. It is very easy to make reasons and excuses, to say "it's different". Much easier than facing the truth. Coming to that realization is huge, really huge, a first step. This is the nature of abuse, it gets under your skin and distorts the way you see things to make it acceptable. It is like a drug in that way.This way of thinking becomes so ingrained you don't even know it till you can stand outside of it. I think you have opened the door and have stepped over the threshold and are looking in. From sunshine into darkness. Hard to make it out but you know it is dark. I have great faith that you will continue down the lighted path.

  5. There's so much hurt and pain in this - but I see you Meli, finding your way back to yourself. I love you.

  6. I am so touched. Honesty is the first step to finding freedom. You are free from being God to him; you can let God be God to each of you. Jesus said, my yoke is easy and my burden is light; may you find the way to hand over your heavy burdens. love and blessings. Renda