Death and Condolences

DEATH

Death and how we deal with it can be different for each of us.

The truth of my situation is that my parents were both suffering, so it was a relief when they left. Mother didn’t even know us any longer and dad lost his ability to communicate or walk, which for him, as independent as he was, was a fate worse than death. It doesn’t mean I don’t miss them, and interestingly enough even though we’d had a challenging childhood, I  remember mostly the good with the occasional bad along with their redeeming virtues, such as they were. I see their passing as their chance to be made whole again. For example, mother loved to garden, so I have visions of her ambling through a beautiful garden helping to prune and nurture it. I see her feeling privileged  and  fulfilled at God having given her hands something to do. Dad on the other hand, I picture challenging God, cracking his jokes and playing devil’s advocate for some of God’s questionable decisions over the millenniums and/or, he could very well be just picking his brain.  I can see God either dodging him,  maybe smiling at his questions or perhaps giving him to someone “else” to deal with. LOL You don’t know my dad.
I think how we mourn is personal and every individual does so differently and we should grant them consideration, without judgement.

I remember a woman I worked with, who lost her son in a horrible traffic accident while her mother in law was driving. She never cried or seemed sad and was her usual self the very next day! We were all shocked she would even come to work. We all thought differently of her from then on, most assuming she was a heartless you-know-what, like how could she do that?  We all knew the boy was adopted, but he was still their child. I would personally hate to lose my step siblings, of whom I am greatly fond of,  but we are all different. I heard from other sources that from that point onward she would not speak to her mother in law again. Her birth child had survived and the grandmother was unhurt. It made me question whether or not to drive my own grand kids around and I would always take extra precautions knowing I would not want the weight of that guilt.   Later this woman and I would talk about it years later and I learned that there were so many things she had to process. Hate, anger, grief and so much more.  It wasn’t that it didn’t weigh heavily on her, she just wasn’t ready to face it, much less deal with all of them. She segregated her emotions to another part of her psyche to work through later and yes, her relationship with her mother in law was never the same and she admitted that she couldn’t stand to even look at her. That’s a lot of anger.  Being a grandmother,  I couldn’t help but feel bad for the grandmother. For them both really.

Some people grieve passionately, wailing and carrying on for days, months and years sometimes. Some are quiet and private. Some never get over the death of a loved one. Some erect shrines and shut out everything and everyone around them, focusing only on those they lost.

movie funeral
Me, (black hat) as a wailing woman at a funeral,  waiting for my cue to  “Action”.

One of my sisters is a case in point.  When her daughter died, she created a shrine with pictures and candles all around and that was her entire focus.  Her other two daughters were being sorely neglected. It broke my heart.  Her infant daughter, born severely brain damaged, due to a delivery issue, having been without oxygen off and on for parts of an hour, was blind, deaf and had little sense of touch.  For two years she tube fed her and cared for her.  The child had not been expected to live beyond a week with all her issues.  When she did, the doctors told her it wasn’t likely the child would grow but instead remain an infant.  In part that was true.  Her features did mature but her body didn’t.  After faithfully caring for her and loving on her, the child began to respond to the resonance of her family’s voices and constant stroking.  The doctors were amazed. The long and short of it is that after two years and several surgeries, she caught pneumonia and expired. My sister was especially devastated.

She resented anyone that said her baby girl was “better off” or “in a better place”. She mourned her this way for over a year. I finally sat down with her and reasoned with her, pointing out that if she truly believed in God’s promises, then she will see her little girl again some day.  In the meantime, she needs to get back to being a mom to the two she still had.  I pointed out that continued neglect of her daughters like she had been doing could easily result in them resenting their sisters memory.  I said a whole lot more, but that was the gist.  I didn’t tell her she couldn’t mourn her or talk about her but she needed to get back to loving and caring for those still with her.  The wonderful thing is she did just that and to this day she and her girls are very close.

I have heard people deify family members that were horrid, or that they treated horribly while alive.  Especially widowed spouses or the remaining parent with children.  I understand it, but at some point in time an honest appraisal may be necessary.  My husband and I have had that talk since he was 8 or so when his father died and I think his mom elevated him to sainthood when he passed, so we sometimes speculate at what he may have been truly like. The reality being that no one is perfect and it’s okay to share that. How adults and children grieve is often different with elements of the same. Theirs can be more intense. Children can sometimes show their sadness through blaming, anger, alienating themselves from others, disinterest and sometimes resentment to the remaining parent and/or worse guilt.  One never knows how they will be.

CONDOLENCES

Some have no emotion whatsoever, others rejoice and for some, it brings peace. Because of that when it comes to condolences, one never knows the perfect thing to say.

My aunt, (my step fathers sister) came to my mothers funeral and said, at her graveside that she wanted to make sure the bitch was dead.  It, of course offended a great many people there.  She never got it that mother was mental, so whatever you do, don’t do that.

At my father’s funeral, people brought in newspaper clippings of all the amazing things my dad had done.  Never was there a mention in any of them that he had any children. (He’d left mother when I was 15 and never paid child support or acknowledged our existence)   Because we lived clear across the country, we were no longer a part of his life, not until we were adults and only because we sought him out. Until I moved back there to care for him, most people in the community were shocked he had other children besides my one sister who lived near him, because he never spoke of us. That was painful and added another level of sadness.

The reverse can also be true though, you may learn a side about someone you never knew before, like my step dad.  My step dad who was droll and generally humorless was a cut up at work.  I remember my step sisters being shocked that his coworkers were talking about their father.  He had once won an award for employee of the month.  Because he has such a sour countenance, we learned that someone had submitted his mug (picture) to some show, either Jay Leno’s or David Letterman’s, where they displayed unlikely winners of “employee of the month”. His was aired!!!  None the less, my siblings would have given anything to have known that person they were hearing about, yet overall they were glad to learn he wasn’t always a stick in the mud.

I think discernment and situational awareness is essential. Sometimes it pays to check out the tone and expressions of the bereaved before saying too much.

When it comes to condolences, choose your words wisely.  It is probably one of the hardest things to do tactfully and often, the less said, the better.  You can’t always know a family’s back story and you can add to a person’s grief by exposing something unnecessarily.  Unless of course, that is your intention.

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Accusations Are Flying.

Good grief!

Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Ben Affleck, Roy Moore, Conyers, Matt Lauer and the list, now up to 34, keeps growing etc. etc.

Let’s see now…  Did it start with, or was it further back than Bill Cosby being hung out to dry?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not validating or minimizing misconduct if it is indeed true and many may be. Neither am I giving credence to hype.

As more and more people “come out” with accusations and pseudo righteous indignation the more incredulous it becomes.  Some may be true, some not.

Consider Clinton.

Really, didn’t the public turning a blind eye to our “bad boy” president, not endorse this behavior? Because… at the time, not many people cared one whit when Bill Clinton did “his thing” in the White House, even though it is now currently being revisited. Perhaps it is about time.

It was those who stood behind him and rallied for him that bear the blame.  It was the proverbial you that gave men in general, permission to say and license to do what they do or have done.  If the president can do it, why can’t I? Come on now people, take responsibility for your part in this!!!

So to blatantly and unequivocally accept it all, how can you? Unless you were there and I’m sure you weren’t then how can you put so much credibility behind these accusations?  What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

THEN AND NOW

What the public fails to consider, is that social norms since forty years ago has changed dramatically.  Certain conduct or dialogue then is repulsive today, yet it was not uncommon and women had little recourse for it and men were expected (more by other men) to behave badly.  I’ve seen women do it too,  cajoling them and leaving some men with the idea of open invites, but I’ve also seen men take sincere friendliness the wrong way.  (like where in the hell did they get the wrong idea?)  I’ve seen women plot to snare men. ( Monica Lewinski holding on to her tainted skirt? Get real. Don’t you find that suspect?)

Many of the men that have crossed my path over the years have said and done things I thought totally inappropriate at times. I was an attractive model and flight attendant and I heard just about everything. I met famous and not so famous people and I can’t even begin to recall how often I was hit on, leveraging sex and/or seen men behaving badly, which was too often, but can I attach a name to all of them? No! True, I hated it, but I moved on, it’s what we did in those days. It was not a reflection of me or the sum of them and I went on with my life. It was how things were.

Quite frankly, I personally cannot remember with any detail who or what someone may have said that was out of bounds. I take that back. I encountered several that did  but only two that stand out.  One, was a coworker, a pilot (I don’t even remember his name however) who rudely grabbed me.  The other case was of a woman on one of my flights who deliberately groped me in an inappropriate manner, does that count? I refrained from creating a scene because I was totally embarrassed. I stayed clear of her for the remainder of the flight as she smirked at me lewdly and I was relieved when she was gone. It was quite disconcerting on many levels. Was she a lesbian or did she think I was?  What did I do that made her think it was okay?  Haven’t we all asked that?

How many women have grabbed a guy between his legs, rubbed up against him, flaunted her cleavage suggestively or kissed an earlobe teasing a man, not to mention giving him the “come hither” look (that’s what it was called in the olden days) and how many men found this uncomfortable or a violation of their space?  Will these men please come forward?

Does it excuse bad behavior? Certainly not!   In my day, it was always up to me to set the boundaries and my choice to nip it in the bud. As a girl, I was not given guidelines as to what was appropriate or inappropriate behavior and some times I let things fly, not knowing what I should have done or stupefied that I hadn’t reacted indignantly, but that was more out of embarrassment.  Many young men were less so taught and I think that in part is why some are stating their apologies rather than denying their guilt. Now don’t be fooled, the more that do it, the more suspect they become. Some of those can be genuine but it could also be a sham… like “Ooops!, I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar!”  “I was a bad boy, I admit it, now get over it”

I recall too, that men targeted certain women.  If she looked like a “good girl”, they left her alone.  I remember specifically the “Coffee, Tea or Me” cracks, thanks to the Helen Gurly Brown book that came out during that period. It brought a great deal of uncalled for comments for flight attendants.  Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for this exposure if not simply to raise public awareness that any untoward conduct is unacceptable.

TEACH 

It was only an insightful parent that could/would teach these guys otherwise, which was rare then, and then to have it undone by their peers who influence them otherwise.  It is only recently that a progressive mother, who did not appreciate being treated like trash (and some men who had the foresight to see it as demeaning), began teaching their sons and daughters a little more about respect for self and others. It’s up to us.

In fact, for men of past generations, it was encouraged for them to be cads. It was a sign of their virility, their manliness. Even more so if you were in a position of power. It came with the job and everyone knew it, so why act so surprised?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t be indignant, but everyone knows this has been going on since time immemorial.

PEOPLE CHANGE

Also, consider this. I’m not the same person I was forty or fifty years ago. I don’t know about you, but I did some pretty stupid things in the 60’s. To hold me accountable for these is ludicrous because although I may have known I did stupid things, I certainly couldn’t tell you what they all were, nor do I want to,  much less be reminded of them.  (That’s why I’d never consider running for politics. I’m sure there’s been a toe or two I may have stepped on in my past and… that was not forgotten by someone and bound to bite me in my present.) Frowny face here.

If they really did it and they are recent infractions then yes, by golly, hang them from the rafters. They should be held accountable.

But… Consider this:

If we are so quick to be judge and jury to everyone that is accused then what about our own sins?  Are we the same person today we were ten, twenty, thirty or even forty years ago?  How many of us do NOT have regrets?  How many of us took those and resolved to do better, right?

To say they are not better today than yesterday is to say there is no hope for the countless of people in prison waiting for a parole or who will some day be released. What about the prisoner who reforms whether by accepting Christ or by whatever means and becomes a new person?

Yet, even they have advocates who campaign for them to be given a chance. Doesn’t everyone deserve that?

FEEDING OUR MINDS

There’s also the issue of what we are feeding our brains.  Look at the shows on TV, books, movies and media we follow,  that are being produced because it’s what people absolutely love.  They are sexual, conniving and violent and suddenly the same people that love these are incensed?  I see a double standard that was and is still, only different. (It’s no wonder I like Hallmark, but even they hug now and then.)

If nothing else this is bringing the issue to the fore.  Granted, it is terrifying to some men altogether.  A gentle pat on the shoulders or back will no longer be tolerated or looked at the same way or so I’ve heard said. My husband was sad because he was hesitant and afraid to hug our great grand daughter because of all that’s been going on.  Will an accidental brush be considered deliberate?  Who hasn’t grabbed someone accidentally thinking they had their spouse or partner?  To what degree are people going to take this?

I greet people with a hug and sometimes a peck on the cheek. I like hugs. Are my associates going to be afraid to hug me now?  Is everything going to be suspect?

I just bet the people in Europe, who tend to be touchy-feely, are having a field day with this. Those Americans, what will they think up next?

Awareness and change is the key NOT overreaction. Think and be considerate of others.

It boils down to the old adage “Do unto others as you would have done to you”.

 

 

For the Love of Me.

WARNING!  This post is not for the feint of heart. It is disturbing and unpleasant.

As I mentioned early on when I first started posting, there were some things I would eventually include in my posts that were cathartic for me but that I hope might help others as well.  This is one of them.

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I have heard from the proverbial “they” that you must first love yourself before you can love others. I have also heard that those who stay in an abusive environment are ones in search of love. They equate abuse with love.  I disagree and perhaps agree a little with that.  In fact, there are countless reasons that come into play. More than you realize. (See footnotes)

My parents were both abusive.

My mother who was later diagnosed schizophrenic was more verbal than physical, although she wasn’t above taking a wooden coat-hanger to us, yanking us by the hair in the middle of the night because we left a spoon in the sink. It didn’t matter who did it, we all got it. It was worse, when she and dad got divorced and she remarried and took on her second husbands children. Those poor babes were taken out of foster homes where they’d been molested to a home where they would get beaten, and they were there because they’d been abandoned as children while my step-father was serving his country. Hard to imagine that kind of stuff exists, but it does.

Oh, did I have my hands full!  My sisters and brothers (now six girls and three boys), made a grand total of nine, with me being the oldest. They tell me they pretty much regard me as the momma they look up to. Hard to imagine. I was 16.

Daddy was both physically and sexually abusive. The sexual he reserved for me. It had never occurred to me at the time to ask or wonder why the other girls were never touched. Later, as an adult, I was to learn his why. It was simple really. He told me he really never thought I was his daughter. Apparently early on in their marriage, when mother had escaped from him after one of his beatings she had returned to Mexico. He thought perhaps she’d reunited with an old boyfriend because when she returned, she was pregnant. She was aghast at the idea and told me, yes she left but had gone to her mothers and upon learning she was pregnant,  returned to her husband as so it was expected in those days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But, the question remained. Was he punishing her through me?  I don’t know.

Once I became an adult, he no longer believed that. In part because after I moved to the small town he’d grown up in, he had taken me to a store to meet a cousin. Later, a woman walks in and says you must be a —–, giving our family name.  She hadn’t seen my dad standing nearby but the family resemblance was apparently unmistakable. He laughed proudly.

The sad thing about abuse is, there is often times no rhyme or reason for it.  Abuse is not punishment.  It wasn’t always discipline for misbehaving.  If mother had crossed him, he’d had a bad day at work or was just in a foul mood, he’d take it out on us. His physical abuse against me and my siblings I remember, that against my mother, I don’t, whereas my siblings do. If it wasn’t an outright beating, then he’d hit us on the back of the head with one of his famous backhanded slaps.  (I wince every time Gibbs does that to his people on NCIS even though I’ve noticed he does it less now, so someone may have complained) The sexual part was in a cloud-like dream. I couldn’t remember anything beyond a certain point. In some cases I thought the perpetrator had been someone else.  Over the years I’ve seen several (three) therapists and through them, learned a lot about myself and my ability to cope. I call it “shelving” the ugly. The therapist said that it is how I survived and remained sane.

I came face to face with “ugly” several years ago when my daughter encouraged me to see her therapist and thought maybe it would help me as well. I was in one state and she in another, “out west”. She was having some things she wanted to work through and some of it was in relation to her feelings for me. Being the eldest, she always felt responsible for me emotionally and didn’t understand why.  I too, am the eldest and it was my job to protect my siblings, which I often did, stepping in or deflecting blows, so I understood.

My little sister and I were caring for my father at the time which by comparison was relatively easy to that of caring for mother. I was having a hard time though. I’d been doing it since 2005.  She joined me in 2008. I was already drained from the energy it took to care for mother who had Alzheimer’s and who had recently died. (I had all the paperwork  to do which was daunting since I had a battle with VA constantly and then shared the physical care with my sister.)

Earlier on, there had been an incident with Dad when I found out he was friends with an old neighbor of ours. I had always believed that this neighbor had been part of a group of boys who had molested me. I told him I remembered the blood on my panties and my little friend running for help and his mom coming. I remembered her cradling me in her arms and I presume taking me home. I remember my little sister coming home from the hospital soon after. I remember little else. I was five. My dad blew me off!

He never once said, “poor baby”. “It’s not true.” Nothing. No comment and that seemed odd. He also continued to be friends with this guy, he just talked less of him. I thought, why no paternal indignation or anger?

So when my daughter, who is not generally the most tactful person on the earth made her request gently, I accepted her offer to come out and give it a try. I had questions. Besides, I thought a vacation sure would be nice. Hah!

My daughter had already learned about a phenomenon called “transference”, where the roles are flipped.  It made perfect sense to me. As a child I had been abused in every sense imaginable. I craved love. I was needy. When I was pregnant with her out of wedlock, I recall with definite clarity thinking and saying, “Now I will have someone to love and who’ll love me back and never leave me”.  Oh my! It is a known fact that children in the womb absorb so much more information than before realized and here I am loading her up with this stuff. I was so relying on this child to take the place of all the love I’d ever wanted and never got. So, yes, I wanted to be there for her to work this crap out. I didn’t do this to her knowingly, but I still did it.

I gave permission for her to be present. It was there we learned the extent of the damage. I was functioning as an adult and I was a good parent, but certain triggers would cause me to respond as a child. Trauma, it turns out can prevent you from moving beyond a certain point. (* A form of child PTSD.)  The therapist we saw, tapped into my inner self and found the details of the rest.  So much ugly!

It did turn out there were five teens (as I had remembered) that had raped me, but the man dad was friends with was not one of them. But there was more. Dad was also a perpetrator. Not with the boys, but later.  All I knew was by age 6 it had started. The man I was always trying to please was hurting me in ways I didn’t understand and I had blocked it out! The therapist asked me if I wanted the details. I said, “No way! I can’t go there.”

Oh, I didn’t disbelieve the doctor, because the cloudy dream like memories I had lived with were now coming back to life. Memories of Daddy coming to me in the night, lowering my panties, staring at me and stroking me. I remember him coming  to their friends house where I was staying in LA. They had been in entrusted with taking me to auditions and make Hollywood connections for me to get in show biz, because I could sing and dance “a little”.  I would hear him tell them he’d beaten mom to a pulp because of another man she’d fallen in love with, and how later that night, he came to me and held me in his arms and tells me how he wishes I was mother and then kisses me passionately. I recall wiping away the nasty kiss and not falling asleep, afraid he might do more.  A more I thought I was unfamiliar with. While at the same time he was telling me my Hollywood dream was over, I had to go back home and protect my siblings from my mom?

No, I didn’t want to know details.  I already had more than my fill of memories that suddenly took on a life of their own. What I had begun to think were the musings of an over active imagination were solidified.

A flashback of me confronting him as an adult and him not denying it but making the excuse that he’d grown up with all boys and never had a little sister so was only “fascinated and marveling” at my changing body. (My earliest memory of him was when I was 10 years old so it made sense) He apologized and cried and said he never meant to hurt or confuse me. I forgave him then. Was that all bullshit, or was he just relieved that that was all I remembered? Now the therapist is telling me there was way more than that? My mind was in a whirl. It was too much and I knew I could never handle more. As it was, I was gasping for air and my daughter for one last time, took her mommy role and held me in her arms as if I were her child.

For hours I sobbed uncontrollably. I would see her little girl sitting on the couch, confused and probably wondering why her grandma couldn’t stop crying and me thinking I was no bigger than her. Why? How could anyone do that to a child?  Mother and daughter cried together.

Dear God, how was I going to go back home and continue caring for him?

I couldn’t. More than anything I wanted to run far, far away, but I didn’t.  Did it cross my mind to exact vengeance?  You bet. I didn’t know what or how, but I thought it.

Instead, because I am who I am I didn’t.  I talked to my sisters and we agreed on specifics on how to handle his care, especially when he became totally bedridden. Up until then, it was just me and my baby sister.  The other sis had never stepped up to the plate, but now I was forced to engage her help.  She was out of work and her forte’ was senior care-giving. I would not wash or take care of any of that. I hated to do that to her but she said she was fine. To her, he was just another patient and she needed the money. I strictly handled his financial business, his medical and hospital transport and later hospice care. He had made me legal guardian years ago so that’s what I did. I took extra care to never overstep my bounds of guardianship and I refused to physically touch him.

I had accepted the beatings as how things were in those days and that they (my parents) didn’t know any better and had forgiven them both for that. Mom because of her mental incapacity and dad for his upbringing. His dad beat him and his dad beat him and so on, but this?

When I began caring for my parents, my baby sister had moved from Florida to help me care for mother since my caregiver sister would not.  My parents had been especially cruel to my caregiver sister because they thought she was retarded. Daddy and her locked horns regularly and at the time, he was still very coherent and although he fluctuated between giving her the “farm” and nothing, he could still hurt her by his words. And, she came through in the end. So, in comes baby sister.

I had to find a way to protect us all and still do our jobs. Mom had passed away the year before and we would now be alone with him.

My dad was very well liked in our little southern town. He was highly regarded for his intellect. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. If you’ve read my other blogs, you will also know there were many admirable qualities about him as well. He was charming and smart. So, it’s no wonder I was conflicted. There was also this need to hide what had happened. We were related to so many people here, so there was also this sense of embarrassment and shame for the family. My revealing this old stuff or explaining why we would no longer care for him would bring all this out if we just walked out. Maybe we wouldn’t have to explain, but I liked my other family members and being God fearing Christians that they are, I just couldn’t do that to them. They would be so disappointed and maybe even angry. Most of them are elderly.  No,  I couldn’t tell. Walking away would not be that easy.

On his deathbed, I would tell him what had been revealed and why I had distanced myself. I told him too that I forgave him. He had never been a God fearing person but had explored all faiths, but he had accepted Christ and I trusted God would take care of the rest. By then, he had had a stroke and could only listen and not offer up any excuses like he always did before. I went on to thank him, because it was my history with him that made me a stronger person and a better parent. (the girls still tell me I did a good job and we are closer because of it). Early on, I always knew what kind of parent I would be and nurtured my children the best I knew how.  And, I also thanked him for having been able to care for him.

I had to tell him this way, because before his stroke he had inadvertently slipped up and told me about a time he and his pals had violated their little sister, so his excuse about never seeing a little girl’s genitalia was hogwash – he also didn’t see it as violating her. He had said, it was just a child’s natural curiosity.  I get that, but it wasn’t right. What amazed me further is they surprisingly remained fast friends until they died – had she blocked it from her memory as well?

My siblings all say they couldn’t have done it. For either parent.
The younger sister I refer to is the one that was born after the first incident and because of our age difference I never really knew her well. She was also ten when our parents divorced, so our memories are not the same, neither our experiences.

Through it all, I don’t regret it because the bond between my sister and I could never have developed and grown like it did had we not shared those trials the last days of their lives. In so having this experience, I got resolution. The two of us got resolution. We shared our perceptions, our feelings and we are now closer than I can imagine we would have been had we not shared that time together.

We noticed too that my brother who didn’t share this experience with us still has that baggage to unload. I hope he can.

My caregiver sister was my Irish twin and although we wished we could have a relationship with her, it didn’t happen. She escaped back into her own little world again when it was over. Her son would later get arrested for supposedly molesting their sons. I had shared my experience with him and his wife and a year later in the middle of a nasty divorce she accused him. I don’t think he did it. But how does anyone know for sure? The last I heard he was acquitted. Psychiatrists examined the children and there was no evidence to support her claim, but the damage was done.

What’s interesting is, during a bitter period, when a dear friend of mine who also knew dad and liked him, was singing his praise, I retorted “he wasn’t all that he seemed.” Her response was, “we know”.  I didn’t ask what she knew, it didn’t matter.

The family and friends I made during that time are irreplaceable and had it not been my decision to go there and explore my roots and meet family I would never otherwise have met them nor had the experience that was so worthwhile.

And even though they are several time zones away now, I love all my friends there and think of them often.

As painful as it was, it explained a great deal. My daughter now gets to have her mommy back and the “ugly” no longer haunts me. When it comes out it is when I feel it safe to share and perhaps help someone.

I have come to the conclusion that I have great survival instincts. When my first husband threatened to strike me, I stood up like a cobra and got in his face and snarled, “Don’t you dare! Don’t even think about it!”  He stood over 6 feet to my five foot 2″ little self (and I was little then) and he quickly backed off and apologized.  I know I frequently irritated the hell out of him in those days because if he raised his voice or was angry I would duck. I was still young and the wounds fresh back then.

Once when my dad hit his wife while I was visiting, she ran and hid behind me and I immediately got in his face then too and told him, “NEVER, never do that again!  You don’t hit women or kids!” He backed off instantly.  (I had already heard from the neighbors that she would sometimes run to their house to get away.) This woman who didn’t like me for most of the years they were married couldn’t do enough for me from then on out.

Why did these men back down when I stood up to them?

What was different now than from me as a child?  Size?  Not likely. I’m not much bigger now than I was then. Then I remember I did stand up to dad, when I stuck up for my siblings and/or myself and only got more beatings because of it.

The same for my brother. I think he and I got the most beatings. So what was different?   Did it come from the fact that I had nothing to lose or to gain? I don’t know.

No matter.  Tenaciously hold onto life and choose joy and happiness. I do.

The following links shed some light and understanding of the psyche of an abused child and adult.  I hope my blog wasn’t totally depressing.

NOTE: When I added the above picture of me when I was little, I didn’t realize how tying it to this blog would affect me. I suddenly became overwhelmed with the urge to hold that little girl in my arms and comfort her and tell her, “it’ll be all right”.

http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay/

*  http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/res/brain.html

http://www.practicenotes.org/v17n2/brain.htm