Let me first preface this entry with this: I am feeling really fucking angry today.
There it is. I've named it. Now I'm going to try to work through it in this post. It has only been a month since the start of sabbatical from my day-to-day life — my nine to five, full-time job — in order to devote the time and energy necessary to undertake this enormous task of writing a novel that sheds light on the realities of growing up with domestic violence. And I'm already connecting so many dots...
In my prologue, I've tried to accurately capture the sentiment which I've carried with me my whole life, which is, 'Victims of abuse do not simply get over it; rather, it is something we forever survive.' How do you portray this to someone if they have never experienced it themselves?
As I'm dredging up these memories in order to detail them in my story, many of them are vivid and violent, and I'm realizing that I've buried much of the details deep in my subconscious. Frankly, I had to. If I had allowed them to haunt me through all of these adult years, I would be a much different adult sitting right here, unrecognizable to myself, and I would have a much different story to tell. In many ways, I imagine I would be stuck, stagnant on my path to healing.
That is not to say that I haven't carried the memories with me everywhere — I have. Just not the details. The details are something entirely different. They make you see the events, hear the language and sounds, and feel the power of the moments, in essence reliving them. They make you feel the feelings you felt when you originally experienced them. Fear? Check. Despair? Check. Sense of self? Erased.
In many ways, this describes my mother. I think she has carried these details with her for most of her life, trapping her for many, many years in a place of non-healing.
During a recent conversation with her, while I explained the motivation and desire for writing my story, she expressed concern. "Do you think anyone will come after me for what you're doing?" And with that one question, my heart broke for her all over again. I was filled with that familiar childlike helplessness.
This is where my anger now comes flooding back with a power that's difficult to explain. A giant FUCK YOU to the monster which is domestic violence, that perpetuates this eternal anxiety and fear that lasts well beyond the time that you escape, because you never really escape, do you? You've been groomed to stay in your place, to not show even a twitch of emotion on your face, to live your life stoically for fear that you will draw attention to yourself. Attention is bad. Attention is elevating. Attention is dangerous — life threateningly so. It awakens the rage monster of abuse.
I want so badly to protect my mom from those fears, but I can't. That is her own very personal battle now, and forever. And it fills me with righteous anger and immense sadness that I can't do anything about it.
This is why people stay in the closet, so to speak, regarding domestic violence. It is out of a genuine fear for their lives. Many victims do not call the police. Many victims do not tell a soul about what they are experiencing. And many victims do not get out alive. But for those who do, what do their lives look like afterward?
Shame on the abuser that would create lifetime prisoners of his victims.