Monday, March 29, 2010

Freedom and my dragon

Please be aware that this text may contain triggers

   Every night I dreamt of escaping...of getting away from my self-made prison.
It wasn't always the same, but I always made it out... It was... so sweet... freedom. I seemed to have traded it away so easily while awake and I yearned for it in my sleep. This was my own double life. It made it easier to deal with the reality I had chosen. 

  Sometimes I fashioned my own escape. I won the lottery- I wrote a great screenplay or book. Then I waited, said nothing, patiently, quietly, until he was out.   I would take every trace of me from that house. EVERYTHING of ME and I DISAPPEARed!   GOD, I loved that dream best! I fantasized  about where I would go, where I would live, how I would take care of the people I loved and how they would love me back. I played the lottery sometimes, but I have never won more than $50.00, which would not get me very far. I told myself whomever won needed it more. I tried not to think about it too much or cry. Do you think you can run out of tears? Trust me you can't. I read somewhere that tears are toxins leaving your body. So, it was actually good to cry. I must have had a lot of toxins.  Making up for lost time, growing up we weren't allowed to cry. Someone should have told my father that little factoid about tears. He would have smacked you though. So yeah, you would have had to duck or send him a note or something. Really, I don't think he would have given a damn about toxins. He had a very rigid, narrow view of children and their place in life. It is painful to admit that I married someone who is a lot like my father. It's tragically predictable, really.

   That bit difficult for me to read and it was excruciating to live, but I found my freedom. I had it the whole time. I just didn't know I had the power to change my life. I thought I had to be rescued. Well, in the end I guess I was. It was the best gift I ever gave myself.  Now how I got into that mess is really no mystery. I read a long time ago that an abused person will find a way to abuse themselves long after their abuser is gone. That is the STONE COLD TRUTH.

  I never caught the cues. The little red flags, I was oblivious to them, the ones that said, "this man doesn't really love you". To be honest I never thought I could be loved. I had no tools to discern what a good or bad relationship was. I grew up with no relationships to speak of. Alone was all I knew. Saying "I do" was just a way of not being lonely anymore. I didn't realize how much more there was to it. Life has a way of teaching us the things we need to know most. It has made me wise in so many ways and yet there is so much I still don't know. How to trust, how to let people in. But, I will show up EVERYDAY and I will be friendly and OPEN. I will be open, I will be friendly... I will not push people away... I will I will I will! That is my new mantra.
  Which sure beats the hell out of the ones I was raised on.

    As children, we were raised in isolation. Our family slogan was "nobody in, nobody out" and "you are not a person, you are property."  My father wanted no one to know what went on in our home. He created an insular existence for us. As a result, aside from the emotional damage of his actions, came the collateral damage, the mistrust, the inability to let others in. This is the dragon I  battle now, TODAY... I must be brave and try. As a side note, I envy people who know everyone and make friends like dogs get fleas. I loathe them and am in awe all at once. How the hell do they do that?
It is beyond me. 

 Anyone who grows up in an abusive family knows the counting game. You count down the days until you can get out. Not unlike a jailbird doing a stint upstate. You mark it in your inner calendar: three years,  42 days and I am outta here! Those sad, painful days were the beginning of the dreams of my freedom. But what I didn't know, what I might not have been able to cope with then, was the reality that I was never out. I carry my past with me like some ugly scar. Every time I think I have finally healed it, it gets torn wide open. And I realize how far I have yet to go. Every time I push people away and hide I am reminded. I have done more years in counseling then I care to think of and still go. I believe in it. I have done the work and put the time in, but I have come to realize how much our childhoods mark us. It is a battle. I fight mine everyday. Sometimes I win, sometimes not. Usually the day ends in a draw. As long as the topic of my father doesn't not come up or some well meaning stranger doesn't try to get to know me by asking nosey questions that they don't want the answers to anyway. They really don't.  I am fine. I try to remember that they're just making small talk...trying to find a common ground on which to build a relationship. They have no idea the pain their well meaning inquirers can cause. The way it makes that puckered skin itch and burn. I try to skirt the truth to save them the uncomfortable reality. Because I will NOT lie. Some people sense it and move on to other topics. There are others seem to get a perverse pleasure out of trying to pull out details from me. As if I am a puzzle set down in front of them to solve. A game. I don't like those people. The ones who don't acknowledge boundaries. Who think that their desire to know trumps my pain. I am just out here trying to survive, to fit in, and most of all I am trying to make peace. Peace with memories, with myself. To accept that I am damaged, that we all are. To live in this moment- this life. To enjoy my existence, instead of mourning what was, what I never had. These are my goals.... I will show up, I will be open, I WILL TRY.