Thinking About Victims of Domestic Abuse

May 12, 2014

Today is Ed’s 49th birthday.  I have been pretty quiet lately.  Much going on in my life.  I finished grad school, participated in a major system go-live at work, trained for and raced a half marathon and am now in the interview process for an AMAZING new job.

A few weeks ago in Lincoln a woman was murdered by her husband.  She worked for the University of Nebraska Lincoln Foundation, graduated a few years ahead of me from Lincoln High School and was loved by an incredibly large number of people.  The couple had a disagreement after several weeks of arguing and several weeks of her working with his mother to get him some psychiatric help.  It sounds as though she was killed Sunday afternoon.  After she was dead he decapitated her body and then drove out to the lake to go fishing, he slept in his car and was found by authorities on Monday morning.

Many of the people in our community have wondered at the fact that he murdered his wife and then left the body and went fishing.  I strongly suspect this would have been my fate if I had stayed with Ed much longer.  His anger and violent behavior were escalating.  The addicted monster was in control of his brain.  He reacted to almost everything with violence.  And I’m pretty sure that if he had killed me he would have either hustled out-of-state, or done the same as Bettina’s husband, and headed out to the lake for a day of fishing…. like I was just another problem off his list.

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Being Amber

February 25, 2014

It’s no secret that I need a little bad tv from time to time.  I like the Real Housewives but only Atlanta and Orange County.  Over the weekend I watched some Teen Mom and then part of the new series with individual follow-ups.  I have always been somewhat annoyed by the Amber and Gary situation.  Gary is a crazy manipulator and he always reminds me of people who I don’t like.  And not just because he is a fat whiney slob.  The show on Sunday with Amber saying “You made me promises and strung me along” is on a loop in my brain.  It makes me think about Ed and his resistance to letting me get on with my life. 

When we first went to marriage counseling one of the things the counselor asked was about my past serious relationships.  Even though I had dated a lot, and had a kid when I was a teenager, Ed was the first person I lived with, the first person that I was “independent” with.  While it is obvious that divorce is final, many people can continue to be civil to one another.  That isn’t Ed and I.

Watching Gary when Amber was explaining her pain and frustration hit really close to home.  She gave up a lot for him, she put up with a lot from him, and he was TRULY enjoying having two women who were emotionally tied up in their interactions with him.  That smirk, that justification for bad behavior, saying that he would always love her.  That is the kind of business that Ed pulled.    That abusive pattern where people try to get what they want without caring for the other person makes me crazy.  I think that jail made a huge difference in Amber’s life and I hope that she can move on and live her dreams.  Hopefully her bad experiences with Gary will help her to quickly recognize predators in the future.

What a Nightmare

February 17, 2014

Last night I had a bad nightmare about Ed.  It’s been a long time since that happened and it left me a little shaken up this morning.  I had car trouble and ended up back at our old house in the historical district.  The last time I was there the house was in a shambles – rotting food, dirty dishes, clothes and personal things strewn out all over the place.  Ed had sold all the furniture and electronics and I helped our old landlord get rid of things. 

In my nightmare, the house was clean, but not much like it was when we lived there.  It had a beautiful china cabinet in the dining room full of antique glass, a bar, some furniture and some alcohol.  That’s kind of what was funny, there was dark beer (Ed drank MGD Lite) and a bottle of rum or whiskey on the floor in the living room (Ed drank tequilla).  I remember being shocked that there was anything just sitting out, since he was maintaining his sobriety in public there would have never been anything like that.  The other thing that was odd is that my son was a little boy again, probably about the age he was when we left.  He had anxiety about going back the same way I did.  I called my friend Susan and she sent her husband to pick me up.  While we waited Ed and I fought about his time with my son, how he hadn’t been an active part of his life and had walked away, just like he did from his own kids.  Then we got into a fist fight (I confess, it always feels AMAZING to punch him in my dreams) and then Susan’s husband arrived to take us away from all that.  Oddly he was in an old white and blue Rambler and on the drive home he said that Ed seemed like a nice guy and I broke down bawling and then woke up.

I still feel odd about the dream this morning!  Somewhat angry, somewhat frightened.  Weird that my brain can go back to those emotions after all these years.  I know that I am safe now.  And loved.  That Ed isn’t a nice guy and that I don’t have to deal with him ever again!

Why I Avoid Valentine’s

February 14, 2014

Ed and I were married the day after Valentine’s.  If we were still together this would be our 17th wedding anniversary.  For those who are interested – the gifts for the 17th wedding anniversary are shells or furniture.  That seems like SUCH a long time.  We split up for a while after 3 years of marriage, but I was afraid and in pain, and in a terrible place in my life so I went back.  After 5 years of marriage I knew it was over but the divorce waited until the 11th year. 

Because of our anniversary and that painful, destructive, emotional time in my life it is almost as though I shut down during Valentine’s.  I don’t really want to celebrate.  The “romantic” part is absent because so many of those years were spent in fear or frustration. 

This definitely isn’t fair to my husband, but I seem unable to pull away from that part of my life.  I keep thinking each year that I will want to celebrate.  I know that I’m safe, that I’m loved, that I have a support system, but those old days still sit in the back of my mind.  While I feel that I have moved forward and am able to enjoy life, that abused girl still lives in my soul, reminding me of the mistakes of my past.

Brunch in the Cities

February 13, 2014

Sunday morning my husband and I went to brunch at Jax in Minneapolis.  He proposed to me in the same place five years ago, after bawling my eyes out, I accepted the most gorgeous diamond I have ever seen. 

Sunday morning we sat next to two women discussing what makes you an alcoholic.  One had a black out two nights before after combining Jagermeister with Benadryl.  Her husband found her passed out at her desk and the next morning she awoke with a black eye.  She readily confessed that she does a shot every night to help her sleep and said that she doesn’t feel like an alcoholic and doesn’t drink socially.  Her friend said that during the two years that she was an alcoholic she didn’t always drink socially but often had problems with binge drinking.

The first woman talked about her  father (an alcoholic), her ex-husband (an alcoholic), her sister (an alcoholic) and their dependency.  While she was convinced that couldn’t sleep without the booze at night, she wasn’t convinced that she was an addict the way that they were.  It was interesting to hear this and to think about what I learned about alcoholism when I was married to Ed.  The mantra from most 12 step programs is that you are always an addict or alcoholic, it doesn’t go away, it can be dependent on whether you are “practicing”.  In addition to this, I always felt like if you were having problems in your life related to your substance use/abuse that it fell into the same pot.  I’m not sure how others define it, and since I don’t live in that world anymore I’m not sure how much it matters….

Fatal Addiction

February 4, 2014

Phillip Seymour Hoffman died this week.  An article this morning explains that the brain is re-programmed by addiction so severely that even after YEARS in recovery, the addict can return to similar levels of use almost immediately.  Scary.  Terrifying.  Sad. 

Addiction is a sad and terrible disease.  I didn’t always love Hoffman’s acting.  He threw himself into roles and I will admit his portrayal of people was sometimes frightening to me.  I was supremely creeped out by his character in Boogie Nights, but loved him in Twister. 

Today I feel sad for the loss of a talented man, a loving father and an addict, who got high one last time.

Chronic Pain and Inactivity

January 27, 2014

Friday afternoon while putting away laundry I watched a few minutes of Dr. Oz and two guests who were from New Jersey.  He wanted to talk about the fascia (the sheath around the muscles all over the body) and chronic pain.  It was SO interesting I actually just laid everything down and waited until the end of the segment.  New research suggests that when people have chronic pain that cannot be resolved it may be from tightness in the fascia.  While this was previously described as “musculoskeletal” pain, it could truly be the fascia which tightens from inactivity since humans were meant to be mobile. 

This made SO much sense to me.  I have never been a big believer in fibromyalgia and there is a very large number of people on disability for chronic pain who are pretty immobile.  Continued immobility makes the fascia tighter and movement improves the pain and eventually their overall health.  Even more interesting – people with the most complaints of pain and discomfort had “back pain” that was resolved with activities including walking, swimming, water aerobics and yoga.  Loosening the fascia takes pressure off the muscles and reduces or eliminates pain. 

Hopefully physicians will latch onto this research and get people back to a reasonable quality of life and off prescription narcotics.  Ed’s back pain was always hard to diagnose and only responded to very specific forms of treatment.  I always thought he didn’t want to get better, after all, it is VERY easy to lay around, watch tv, play on the computer and talk on the phone.  This knowledge about the fascia also explains how patients will improve during therapy or massage and then have problems once they return to a sedentary lifestyle.

Cold Justice

January 21, 2014

This weekend I watched too much television.  I am REALLY struggling to finish the last 6 weeks of my graduate program.  I don’t think it is because of fear, more that I am just tired of working on it.  I am VERY excited to have a new job, learn more about the future of healthcare and computers and make more money (there is a chance my income will DOUBLE!).  

Friday at work my boss told me about a show called “Cold Justice”.  That night while I was flipping through trying to find something to watch (and pretending that my laptop wasn’t waiting for me to finish my homework) I saw an episode in Oklahoma that looked interesting.  In that case, the husband and wife had been fighting, and this man had been in prison for domestic abuse in the past.  His wife had been missing for 12 years and the sheriff believed that the husband was responsible.  For those who haven’t seen an episode, the show is about a prosecutor and forensic scientist who travel around working cold cases.  The prosecutor never lost a capital murder case and has a passion for families with unsolved crimes. 

When the cold team arrived they sifted through old evidence and found a recording from the couples little girl.  She was 3 when her mother disappeared and during an interview when she was 5 reported that her mom was rolled up in a carpet and left in a ditch.  This helped them to lean on the suspect, re-interview him and catch him in his lies.  He eventually confessed and took the sheriff to his wife’s burial site.  

Throughout the case I saw flashes of my marriage to Ed.  The manipulation, the trickery, the showering of love, the recognition and ownership of mistakes and then, nearly in the next breath, the violence, browbeating and tearing down.  While I sometimes think that my experience was unique, it is things like this that make me realize how many men follow this same pattern to trick their victims.

I’m Not Afraid of Myself Anymore

January 15, 2014

That sounds really funny I know.  When I turned 30 a good friend told me that she was happy to turn 30 and she really learned about who she was while she was in her 30’s.  Now that I am coming to the end of my 30’s I understand that.  I’m completely in love with my best friend.  We can talk about anything and I trust him completely.  First time in my life I’ve been able to say that.  Earlier this month I posted about abusers.  One of these kinds of abuse is using private and very personal information against a person to shame them.  Ed did this whenever he got a chance.  I was never truly forgiven for any sin, and I never knew when a past transgression would come out of the clear blue sky requiring me to be punished.

I turned 37 almost 2 weeks ago.  I am thriving and happy.  I am not afraid to push myself.  I’m not afraid to achieve.  And I’m not afraid the share the person I really am.  I have stopped trying to be something for someone else, and I couldn’t be happier.  It is a powerful thing to live without fear!

Old Friends, New Friends, Friends Who Know All About Me

January 13, 2014

Saturday night we had a going away party at our house for a friend who is packing up to leave for Arizona this week.  She and I have known each other for 12 years, she was in my wedding and has boys who are close in age to my son.  I can’t imagine just packing up and heading out, but I’m a planner, and all people make different choices.

With our houseful of guests I thought about all the football parties at our old house and how much fun we had entertaining.  I thought about Ed’s friend Bob, how I wouldn’t have my friend Vicki if I hadn’t endured that miserable marriage and how much people know about what I have been through.  It’s funny to think about where we are now, how things were back then and imagining what my future will look like!  I miss some of those friends and wonder what is new in their lives….