November 22, 2011
Healing your Spirit: How I raised my Self from being Spiritually dead
Just as it took time to become a statistic, it will also take time for you to heal
Those who live their lives in a constant state of fear know very well that the beginning of the end of their safety and more, their sanity, is the moment that something seems amiss in their closest relationships. In many cases, the closest relationships are not our marriages, as I found out quite on my own and with my own marriage. It took me twenty years to accept that my closest relationships were those built because of my crappy marriage.
No matter what they tell you, you totally need the support of your family and friends
When my story started twenty years ago my husband blocked me from seeing my friends, at first, and then eventually he stopped me from seeing my family. I am Hawaiian. Hawaiians and family are synonymous with each other. You cannot be one and not also be part of the other. It just does not happen that way. The first thing to be taken from you is your support group. When I met my old man it never occurred to me that he was systematically excluding people who I loved from my life for a selfish purpose, and that selfish purpose was because he felt, as most abusers do feel and believe, that he was all that I would need to make it in life. Many of them assume that if they take care of us that we have no needs for anyone else in our lives. This was what I was told, and at the time I was a very young woman – barely 21 – and I, like any young and impressionable young woman has the propensity to – believed him.
I believed that when I married him, because he said so, that I would not really need the majority of my friends anymore, and this was wrong, at least partially wrong, because sometimes we do not need certain friends in our lives. However, it is not the truth of all of our friends. Our friends are normally in our lives prior to the creep we let in to tell us how to live and who we are allowed to hang out with.
It was not until I moved to the high desert that I met with the group of friends I now also consider my family. None of them knew what was happening until I told them what was going on. I told them that this sort of thing was happening for years, that I didn’t tell anyone what was going on because I was afraid to let people know that this is what John has been doing to me for as long as we had been a couple. I told them that all my friends from the place where I grew up – friends whom I had for years and some who are still part of my life – no longer wanted to be around me as long as he was around. This was something that just dug into my soul and crushed my spirit. I so loved being with my social group, with my pals, and when John came into my life he shuttered them out. He did the same thing with my family.
Friends are one thing, but family?
My mother, as “churchy” as she can be, is a beautiful soul. There is nothing that this woman could do that would deter me from that truth. John has always adored her. However, when it comes to my father, John hates him. He also hates any male cousins that I have, cannot stand any of my female cousins unless they are easy on the eyes, and do not get me started on the spouses and significant others of any of my female cousins, because according to him they all want to do me, all of them.
I mentioned that Hawaiian is synonymous with the word “family” and because of this whenever it was that there was a family gathering, the longer that I was married to him, the less I saw of my cousins, and this really tore me apart. It is said that our cousins are our first friends, and in my case this was the very epitome of my childhood. I spent a whole lot of time with my cousins, namely the ones on my dad’s side of the family, which is a group that John despises for whatever reason it is that he has. I was used to them being with me, and when he decided that he did not like them because they did not rank high enough on his level of what he felt was good enough for him and not me was the moment that I was no longer allowed to see them as much as I had in the past, and eventually, I never saw them at all.
They were hurt and angry with me, but there was no way that I could tell them about what was going on without also giving caution to the wind and hoping upon hope that he would not figure out that I had spoken to them at all, ever. He hated them for his own reasons, and none of them were valid. Most abusers will tell you that the people who you love are stupid, are not worth his time and that you have to choose between your friends and your man. I tried choosing my freedom, but somehow he was always able to come back into my life, and it was through his systematically crushing my spirit so that he could eventually control me and my life.
Without your support system healing the crushed spirit is almost impossible
A truth that I was exposed to was something that I never saw coming. This man made it impossible for me to have a social group to return to. I was bullied constantly about them, told that I was just as stupid as they were but that my saving grace was that I was beautiful and that apparently “saved” me. He said a lot of terrible things about them all, and I eventually agreed with him and it was for no other reason than that I could no longer bear the pain of being told that I was just as stupid as they were and that if I wanted to be with them I could go with them.
The bitch of it all was that I bought into it. I thought that if I just agreed with him about his thoughts about me and the people who I still loved that it would bring us closer, but it didn’t. What it did do was reinforce for him the assumptions that he’d made about me, about anyone who knew me before he did. I still think about it all and am sad at the idea that I allowed him to do this and to have that much control of me. He did what he did because without anyone else in my life my attention would be all his, and just like anything else that happens to be there constantly in your face it becomes something that you want nothing to do with. I wanted nothing to do with him anymore, but he was always right there, in my face, telling me that I loved him and that no one else would love me like he did. What that really meant was that, according to him, I needed no one else because all I needed was him. I needed no girlfriends to talk to (because they were all “worthless cunt whores”). I needed no guy friends (because all they wanted to do was have sex with me). I needed no contact with my family (because he and I were married and now he was all the family I needed). To him he was more than enough, but that is not the truth.
Having too much of one thing is never a good thing. Eventually you get tired of that one thing. This is something that does not hold credence for those with abusive tendencies because to them anyone else in your life is there to make them no longer be in your life. And they are right – if anyone who loves me knew what he was doing when he started doing it he would not have been around for the beatings to start, which, in most instances they normally do. Abusers want to keep you to themselves so that they can force you to be someone you are not. I never thought of myself as being anyone’s trophy, as being property, but in the eyes of some men once you take on their last name they somehow own you. This is what he’d told me.
It was at that moment that I could feel the effects of my soul being stolen, of my spirit being crushed by the weight of his assumptions and abuse.
It was at that moment that I had lost my zeal for life. I felt as though I no longer had a soul.
How I came back from the dead, so to speak
It took losing everything we materially owned and his having had a massive two sided heart attack for me to have been forced into looking at me with my eyes wide open. I thought about everything that led to the point of his heart attack and thought to myself that he deserved this happening to him because of all the things he’d done to break my heart, to crush my soul and to try to change me. There was nothing that I could have done to make him stop being who he was, and who I had become was someone I knew I was not happy with being. I knew at that time that things occurred as they had for a myriad of reasons, but because I am highly spiritual, I also knew that it was my turn to return to who I am. These losses and his ailment were my ticket back to being me. And yes, he completely hates that I no longer am willing to take his shit. He hates that I am strong. He hates that one of my very best friends is a successful business man who is not hard to gawk at. He hates that my best friend is someone who can totally relate to my life. He hates that I am healing nicely, thank you very much.
It took a heart attack for me to realize that all those years that he ‘d picked on me. beat on me, threatened me, called me names, and the like, were meant for me to finally, one day, return to who I really am. Who I really am is not someone my husband much cares for because who I really am is not this shut-her-mouth-or-get-her-ass-beat woman and in fact I am the very opposite of what he wanted me to be. I found out that through spiritual practice, through my own choice to return to My Self that I never went anywhere and that I was simply hiding and waiting to Be again. All the things that I loved doing and all the people who I loved being with suddenly showed themselves as my having a second chance at loving and doing all over again. Never again would I allow my fear of this person be what ruled me, and I am not sure if it was because I knew that his heart attack was it – it was the beginning of the end for him because he is a slave to his habits.
I enjoyed dancing and teaching dance, and I enjoyed writing my books. But I enjoyed taking the time to see my friends, and I enjoyed hanging out with my cousins, and most of all, I began to enjoy being me again – loud, boisterous, outrageous, and yes, beautiful Me. It was like the rebirth of Ms. Roxanne…in fact, I know it was. I know that his heart attack was from Spirit, was a gift from the angels, as sick as that sounds. I’d always vowed to him that I would be the Reaper in that I would walk him to his grave, and that is exactly what I am doing now.
A long look…
I took a long look at myself in the mirror one day, about a week after his heart attack while he was not yet released from the hospital, and looked deep into my own eyes in the mirror and started crying like a child. Sometimes we need to cry like a lost child, or like we are in mourning, in order for us to reboot and start where we left off many months or years ago. We have to come back to the heartache, to the thing that made us the way we ended up, and we have to allow the tears to flow because the tears tell us that we have come so far and in so short a time that we had no idea that the pain for another is the healing for ourselves, and not in the ah-HA!You-Deserve-this-you-fuck kind of way. The pain for the other is that we are still very much alive in our spirit, that our spirit never died but went to sleep and the Love within us was covered up so that no one could get to it or hurt it.
The way that we start the journey back to ourselves is simply to take a good look in the mirror and see there what is missing, and we find out that not only is our support system gone by his hand, but he was trying to take us away from our selves as well. This is the epiphany that survivors of domestic abuse and violence in the home all end up knowing – that he was trying to kill my soul so that he could own me. He was able to cripple my soul but kill it he could not because he does not have that kind of power. No one has that kind of power.
You return to your self and you heal your soul through knowing that they were not ever dead, that no one can kill the soul because the soul is eternal. He killed the ego in you so that his could be fed. I loathed being paraded around like a show pony, later to be treated like a whore and then the next day put through it again until there was nothing but me and my big bottle of Patron Silver. This is how my three kids were conceived, and this was how I made it through being the show pony trophy wife living in the private country club community, and this is the way that I was able to rationalize and make “ok” the things that he’d said and done to me over the years.
Yet the booze was not the thing that healed me. I knew then what I know now, and that is that I am not an alcoholic, that I am not weak, that I do not defer to acts of self hatred and self mutilation. I still enjoy the occasional evening filled with knocking back shots and beers, but these days it is because I want to party with my pal Wendy or because my best friend just so happens to be tending bar the night that I am visiting the place where I am returning to the moment that I am widowed…
We return to who we are and become healed through self truths and NOT through our forcing ourselves to believe the things that our abusers tell us are the truth. While the things that we are told by them may in fact be their truth, even as sordid and sick as it all may seem, it is never our own truth. We are the ones who Know for sure what our own truth is.
My own truth is that I am beautiful, not only on the outside but more so, on the inside, and that the people who I draw to my life are as beautiful. We only draw to us what we are, which is really great. It also explains the reason why he is so repelled by me and me by him…
Take the time to look at you in the mirror and know the truths that are held by that stranger who is staring back at you. I promise you that she is the one with all the answers…
I Love You All !!
(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)