November 20, 2011
When we become deeply betrothed with and by another, the last thing that we ever see ourselves as when all is said and done is a Fighter
We do not choose to be victims. We do not think for a moment that what lies ahead of us is a time filled with tumult and turmoil. No mother prepares her child to be victimized by anyone else, namely not a person who that child loves. I know that my mother raised me to be proper (yeah, that worked real well, right? LOL) and she raised me to think for myself, to be strong, to be independent, but I am sure that never in a million thoughts might she ever have thought that perhaps her eldest daughter would one day be sitting at a keyboard somewhere in the great big world writing about her own experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse.
I was raised to be able to scale fences, but I never thought that once upon a time I would use that skill to run up the freeway offramp through the busy streets of Covina, through two schoolyards, through my old neighborhood, through the backside of the water district and over the barbed wire fence which separated my childhood backyard and the district tanks. I was raised to throw a punch and raised to be able to throw “ninja stars” at the trees in the backyard, but I bet that neither my dad nor my brother ever thought they’d hear of the day that I also learned to throw large kitchen butcher knives at a man who weighed twice my weight and who got really angry, really, really well, for any reason. I was raised to run as fast any boy could, but I never thought I would eventually run like hell from the one person I thought would be, as the song says “be my real Prince Charmin’.” (Thank you Gwen Steffani)
The Prince who became toady
EVERY girl dreams of the day when her Prince…her Knight in shining armor will show up and take her away from all her little girl life and whisk her off in to the world of never when in fact that world should be instead called “Never Gonna Happen,” because the way that a lot of our own mothers made it seem when we were growing up was that we were to marry, get a house, get a sensible car, have some kids, get a dog, live your life until your old man dies and that the way you get there is the Happily Goddamned Fucking Ever After bullshit that we are fed by the Mouse, the Goof and the Duck. Someone needs to stop making it seem as though that is the reality of it all, because there are still a whole lot of little misguided girls whose mothers are still as misguided as are their mothers, and that is the bitch of it all. We are given to the idea that this is just how it happens because this is how we are told it happens, but what really happens is that we are instead kissing a person who becomes a toad because he was already a prince, so why should he stay that way when that is not the way that he really is?
And this is the lie that is the beginning of abuse. It is the lie of omission and is the lie that is never made right. It is the lie that we live and the one that we are expected to keep up appearances with. I lived through the toadiness, through the lies of omission, through having to explain myself and my actions to people who would never do the same for me, ever, and who still don’t, and the frank truth is that I really don’t care anymore that they never reciprocated because I apparently had to learn how to stand up for myself, on my own, without anyone there to tell me that I needed someone to do my fighting for me. Interestingly enough I just finished writing my daily piece for innergoddesstribe.com about being able to allow a man who is better able to, to do for me what I cannot do. Yet that was about heavy lifting and changing oil and not heavy topics like having gone through getting your ass chewed for being yourself, and then getting your ass kicked for not behaving as though you were not yourself. …sigh….
Through these last two decades I have had the best training, the best doctoral program in becoming a skilled fighter, not only in a physical sense, but absolutely in a sense that is intagible. I think one of the best ways to really describe the things that an abuse survivor goes through was sung by Christina Aguilera in her song “Fighter,” and the truth of it all is that yes, abusive people teach us things the hard way and they give to us things that we could not have had them the normal way. And make no mistake – people who have been abused, whether it is physically or emotionally are not normal in our abilities to make it through a thing. We end up being stronger than anyone else we know and we end up empathic with others because we know well the thing that makes people strong is not the thing that everyone can go through and deal with. There are women out there reading this now who are at that stage of denial that I was in so many years ago when it seemed that he was only being that way and doing the things that he’d done to me because he knew no other way.
There is nothing so untrue as that – they are well aware of the things that they are putting us through, and it is not now nor has it been nor will it ever be because of something that you did or did not do. It is because of them and their need to control, their need to be the only person who you give your attention to, their need to be the one to dictate for you what it is that they need out of you but is not ever for you. I can already see the rolling eyes of those who know this man well enough to have thought of him as their friend, even if that friendship was garnered through me. There is nothing quite so damaging than being lied to, than being told that you are not all you know you are, and then to, in a big fat way, like it did for me, find out the truth of your own self on your own through none other than the toady prince.
I fought my way through tears, through anger with myself, through so much bullshit that I am surprised that I am here and not somehow out of my mind from it all. Anyone who knows me will tell you that though I am crazy, it is fun, lampshade-at-the-party crazy and not oh-my-gawd-I-want-to-die crazy. It doesn’t always happen that way.
Sometimes, you come out the other side of it all changed in ways that you never thought were possible, at least not for yourself.
I know that I have. For real. For sure. For keeps. I can’t change back into that person I was the day before the prince who toaded out on me roared into my life in a shiny black Corvette.
I just can’t, won’t, will never. I can never go back. I will not back down.
I am a fighter now. I was made this way by all the men in my life…ok, many of them, that is. There are a few who have breezed into my life these last ten or so years who are the gems in the bracelet of my life. I Love Them like I Love breathing, and it is not for more than my seeing, through them, what a man is. A man is not someone who will lie to you, whether through omission or just through their teeth. The ones who have sauntered in have made my life a beautiful thing, not because of what they think of what I look like (although it helps lol) or because of the things that physically a woman can do for them. It is because of who I am, and they let me know this unequivocably. I am valued by them for whatever reason they may have, and they know who they are, and to them I have to say thank you all so, so much, because without you I might not have realized that the life I have lived thus far has been all on my own. I might not have known that I would not have to do very much to keep their attention, that I would not have to ask more than once to get their help. Truly you are the reason that I am a happy girl right now. Thank You, all of you. I Love You. You know who you are. My life would not be the same without you.
And it is with your unsaid and unspoken blessing, after all those phone calls when I just really needed someone to listen to me, to tell me that I would be ok as long as I just kept my head up, kept at it, that I would be fine, that I sit here now, teary eyed but not teary hearted, the fighter I am now. You all knew exactly the right things to say to me, right when I needed to hear them, and I would not change a thing about any of you, just like you would not change a thing about me.
You brought out in me by showing me what it is that he is not. You showed me the fighter that I can be, that I have been forced to be, that I have always been. And now here I am, ready for the fight of my life – the fight to be the best me I can be, regardless of what he has told me, has done to me, has shown me what he thinks a real woman is. I am sorry, but a porn star is not my idea of what a real woman is, and if that is the only thing that was ever seen in me, then you were all right – that truly is the only thing that I was to this guy and as soon as I opened my mouth and my mind, things went badly- really badly.
To the ones who choose to abuse without reason (because there is no good enough reason), the ones who think they can bully a person into changing themselves so that it suits you (and even after you have changed it doesn’t matter because they find a reason why you are still not good enough ), I have to thank you, on behalf of myself, on behalf of all those people who have been through and endured the bullshit that you people have given to us, I have this to offer you. Mind you and never forget that you created a mess I used to call “Me,” but now it is not a mess but a masterpiece in progress and one that will never be a showpiece for your own use and abuse. I always thought that you would keep me in the center of your heart, but the truth was that you expected me to keep you as the center of mine with no intention of ever returning the respect you demanded and demeaned out of me.
The vitriol that you gave to me I turned into power and strength, because the thing that you never expected out of me was the idea that perhaps, when I grew out of the need to please you, I would just continue to ignore myself and the things that I was promised by you but never got. And no one ever thinks that maybe you were just having a bad day, because there is no reason why a bad day should turn into a bad week, or a bad month, or a bad year and in this case you turned it all into a long, long bad day that just kept on getting longer and longer.
No more! Though you still scare the piss out of me, I have learned the truth of you, and the truth of you is that you might be able to scare me still, but you will not ever be able to change me. I cannot go back to that pliable me that I was, the one who allowed you to lie to me about life, the one who lied to me about the people who loved me the most, the ones who begged me to just please listen. And listen I did, and the more they talked, the louder and more ugly you got. It seemed to me then that you were looking out for me but I look at you now and I see you for what you have always been – broken, miserable and that you do not care that you wreck people. It is the one thing that you are phenomenal at. It is too bad that there is no market for wrecking people anymore. Lucky for me, though, there is a huge market for broken people who want to be better, who want to wake up in the morning knowing that all they have been through served them and served them well. There is a plethora of hurt souls, souls who are just aching to dance, to be seen for who and what they really are. You can’t dance.
But I can. You tried to take that away from me, too, but you do not realize that you cannot take the contents of the soul away. You can hide it, you can keep it away from the rest of the world in hopes that its light won’t ever be seen, but if there is anything that movies and history teaches us, in the long run, the light always shines. The dark always stays miserably dark. You are a miserably dark person and one who will no longer try to hide my light. It is mine. You cannot touch it (or anything else, for that matter- you ruined that, too, for me, but know now that just like all else, I am sure that there is one man out there who will make it known that what you showed me in that area of my life was also a lie meant to keep me ignorant.)
You thought for a long time that my being a broken woman would make me believe the things that you told me.You told me that I am too fucked in the head for another to even bother with me, and though there is not yet another, whoever the new guy is will be lucky indeed because of who I have become. I am no longer unsure of myself, am no longer afraid to show my true self to another, and I will be damned if I am going to sit here for the rest of my life thinking that everything you said to me was from someone who knew what they were talking about. You made me pay for sins that I did not commit, sins that your stepmothers committed and you chose to put me in that same list of women who were only in it for themselves. You did not bother with the idea that even though my monetary contribution was not the same as yours that my contribution would somehow be somewhat priceless because you cannot have time back, you cannot undo the terrible things that were done to me, and thought it seems like I have lost, the truth is that I have won.
You did not give me back myself. I simply took it from you because of the two of us I am the one more inclined to turn a pile of rubble into a beautifully…mindlessly but not without a soul beautiful…reworked masterpiece called Me, and this Me does not agree with the bullshit that I went through on your behalf, not at all. This Me knows well the things needed for life and her life can do without someone telling her that she is not right, that she is not good enough, that no one will have her and that she cannot be by herself or be trusted to think on her own, by herself and without your fucking influence.
You gave me grief. You made me cry like a lost child because truly that is what I was – a little girl, and you took advantage of that little girl. You showed that little girl the monsters she shoved into the closet of her rememberances and let them wreak havoc on her. You let them try to consume her and instead of rescuing her, you jumped into the fray with the uglies, with the scary things, and you laughed while she cried, mocking her existence and making sure that you always remained the victor of the sick games you played that were surely childish but were no way meant for a child. You took the girl in me and turned her into a raving maniacal bitch, and for that there is no way to come back. It is like losing one’s virginity unwillingly, which I did, and you even used that against me as well, over and over again, until there was nothing left but the barest bareness of my very battered and bruised Self. You gave me pain and in kind the Universe gave you some of your own and it is the kind that no one can take away because Karma is a bitch like that. You treated me like a child, scared me like a child, beat me like an unruly parent beats a child simply for being a child. Life with you has been a nightmare, to say the very least. In your present frailty I still see the monster, I still know the child shakes with fear. I still hide her from you because she is vulnerable like a child roused from a bad dream. You kept me a child, a little girl for way too long…
…One day, the little girl woke up from that life long nightmare and took a long look at herself in the mirror, realized that she was not a useless waste of a person, that she was not pathetic, that she was not a whore, not an idiot, not stupid. She realized that you cannot make her, that you will not break her, and that most surely, truly, she is Loved, if not by you the way you were supposed to and never did, then by her very broken but surely not conquered self.
I guess you did do something for me. The problem for you is that you likely never thought that maybe one day I would get a clue…
…well, I did…I got a clue…
And it is still very good being Me. I like me.
I don’t care if you never do.
To those who have seen yourself in this writing, know that you are really the only person who can make or break you and that at the end of the day, even through bruised and blackened eyes, you are also the only one who can see You, the only one who can pick you up, dust you off, and make you go on to be the Fighter you have been called upon to be.
I Love You All …
“Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter”
(Rev. Roxanne Cottell is a Freelance Writer, Speaker and Spiritual Counselor residing in Southern California. For inquires regarding the Ka Wahine ‘Ui dance program for survivors of domestic abuse,or any other inquiries. please contact her by clicking here . Her latest book, “Goddesses, Priestesses and Queens” can be purchased at lulu.com and amazon.com