Archive for the ‘Surviving’ Category

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Drunk at 11

January 11, 2010

I got drunk for the first time when I was 11 years old.

Some slightly older friends took me to a corner bar in Heidelberg, Germany, and the bartender handed me a Bacardi and Coke.

Being drunk made me feel free.  Free from my anxiety and my pre-teen insecurities.  I laughed, I danced, I learned to shoot pool and throw darts.

But it also made me feel out of control.  As though I was watching myself from somewhere else in the room, with no say in how the evening would proceed.

I decided, then and there, that getting drunk wasn’t my thing, no matter how much fun it was.

Only a few short months later, at the age of 12, I was raped.

Not in a bar, not in an alley, not on a train or even in the dark of night.  It was in my friend’s bedroom, on a cold, crisp, winter day. 

I wasn’t dressed provocatively.  I wore a white turtle neck, black cotton dress pants, and black boots that went click-clack when I walked across tile.  Hung carefully on a chair was the grey Member’s Only jacket I borrowed from my Daddy.

After that, I learned how to drink just enough to numb the pain.  At the age of 12, I quickly found the line between buzzed enough to feel good and drunk.

Alcohol was my crutch, the thing I turned to when I didn’t feel like life was worth living.  With it coursing through my veins, I could be a different person, one who knew nothing of fear and rape and shame.

I gave it up, eventually.  Even in my extreme youth, I knew it wasn’t the answer to my problems.  

Instead, I put my pain in a box, built a brick wall around it and walked away, hoping that if I didn’t have to look at it, I’d forget it existed.

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Out of the Abyss

December 29, 2009
I walked through life upon a tight rope.

At times, it was 10 feet wide.  Others, it was mere millimeters. 

I fell, silently.  My voice was stolen at the age of 12.  I was unable to cry for help.

Below, an abyss.  A deep, dark, prickly place.

I was walking along, happier than I’d been for some time, when I stumbled.

The abyss was waiting for me, with its greedy claws outstretched.

*

This time, I clung to the rope above me.  I didn’t want to fall.  Not this time.  Please, not this time.

I clung.  Limp.  Barely holding on.  Invisible to those passing by.

But youYou.  You know who you are.  You noticed.  You stopped.  You grabbed onto what remained of my self, and you pulled with all your might.  You didn’t know why.  You didn’t know how, but you pulled against the abyss, anyway. 

I know you hear me say thank you.  But can you ever know what it means to me to be pulled, unscathed, from the abyss?  It almost swallowed me whole for the millionth time, and you saved me.  You helped me to find my voiceThank you will never be enough.

And Nic.  You changed my life with your story.  We are sisters, you and I.  Sisters of sorrow, of grief and of unimaginable pain, but also of survival.  Your strength gives me hope for the future.

Quieter than the squeak of a field mouse, I spoke.  Filled with anger, my voice rose.

You heard me.  You stopped.  You listened.  You gave me strength.  Every one of you.

Melissa and Duchess and Sautter and Cindy and Kendra and Neena and Issa and Stacey and Nic and Tracy and Meghan and Jenna and PB and Jazz and Megan and Habanero Gal and Marinka and Heather C. and Kellee and Krissy and Eileen and Samantha and Tricia and Vixen and Lora and Kathy and Greis and Maura and Heather and Katie and Kirsten and Al_Pal and Kari and Kate and Stoneskin and Susan.  And always, always, my husband.  My trapeze artist, trying to catch me.

The abyss is still there.  It will always be there.

For twenty years, it was a deep and lonely chasm I walked above, never knowing when I might fall. 

Always, I wondered when my happiness would be taken from me.

But now.  There is a safety net below me.

The abyss has lost its power.

Thank you.

Originally Posted at The Sweet Life 8/11/2009 8:27 pm

Comments:

  • 8/11/2009 9:41 PM PrincessJenn wrote:
    You are stronger than you know. And more inspiring than you could ever imagine. Thank you for being brave enough to tell your story. (HUGS)
     
  • 8/12/2009 4:14 AM melissa wrote:
    Just know that you are getting stronger and more powerful with each word you write. xoxo
     
  • 8/12/2009 4:41 AM cat wrote:
    That was beautiful. I’m sure you have helped people out of their own abysses, as well.
     
  • 8/12/2009 6:52 AM cindy w wrote:
    Oh sweetie. I’m glad it helped, but seriously, don’t sell yourself short. You saved yourself. You are incredibly strong to have not only survived, but flourished. You kick ass. {big hugs}
     
  • 8/12/2009 7:15 AM AmazingGreis wrote:
    XOXO – I’m here anytime you need ANYTHING!!!
     
  • 8/12/2009 8:36 AM Headless Mom wrote:
    Your husband is there, we’re here. Always. To catch you, but YOU did the work. Continue to kick the abyss in the ass. We’ll celebrate all the successes together!
     
  • 8/12/2009 8:47 AM nic wrote:
    weeping tears of joy for you, my sister, my friend.
     
  • 8/12/2009 9:20 AM Neena wrote:
    bravo, my friend. bravo. If I could toast you right now I’d always wish for the existence of strong safety nets!
     
  • 8/12/2009 9:25 AM avasmommy wrote:
    You are filled with strength. You just didn’t know it. It takes courage to write about what happened to you. You found your voice, and you used it. I am proud of you.
     
  • 8/12/2009 9:49 AM Susan wrote:
    Cheers to nets of any shape, size and sort! Glad to be here for you, but YOU are the one who has done all the hard work. And you should be so proud of yourself for it.I am.
     
  • 8/12/2009 2:36 PM Issa wrote:
    Andrea, you are amazing. Sweet, funny, kind, awesome and just amazing. But this? You did this for yourself. You opened up and poured your words onto this page and you helped yourself. You never know who you could have helped with that post. Writing what you did is one of the bravest things you could have done. Truly.Still…we’re here for you whenever you need it. That’s what friends are for. To help you when you need it; pick you up when you need it and make fun of you when you get drunk at dinner.
     
  • 8/12/2009 5:22 PM jessica wrote:
    In my lifetime I don’t think I will ever write that eloquently.
     
  • 8/12/2009 9:23 PM Kathy wrote:
    You are a strong women and never alone. Blog world has saved me in many ways, you are always amongst friends.
     
  • 8/12/2009 11:26 PM Maura wrote:
    You humble me. Your strength is extraordinary. Love you.
     
  • 8/13/2009 10:55 AM Vixen wrote:
    I have no fear in being part of your safety net, because you won’t fall. Your power is within you, and has been, just waiting to be released. Much love to you. The abyss is powerless now.
  • 8/13/2009 8:06 PM anymommy wrote:
    I agree with everyone else, the strength is yours, my darling, but I’m happy to hold your hand while you muster it. Any time.
  • 8/17/2009 10:47 AM habanerogal wrote:
    I am so glad to be a part of the big human net that we can reach out to each other and hold on through the universe
     
  • 8/19/2009 7:45 PM Kari wrote:
    Thank you for sharing your voice with us.Love you!
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    Thief

    December 29, 2009
    I want him to know what he did to me.  Beyond raping me, what he did to my psyche.  To my self worth.
    I want him to know he’s the reason I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror.

    More than that, I want him to feel badly for what he did to me.  What he stole from me.

    I want him to hurt, deep inside, knowing that he, a grown man, changed the course of a 12 year old girl’s life and walked away as if nothing had happened.

    If he’s married, I want his wife to know every detail so that she can look at him and see the monster I saw in 10 years worth of nightmares.

    I hope he has a 12 year old daughter, so that he can look at her an imagine a man doing to her, what he did to me.  

    If his kids are little, I want him to lay awake at night, afraid of his daughters meeting a man like him.  A man who will stalk them like prey, who will weave a web and catch them in it so that he can suck the life right out of them and spit them out as though they are nothing but garbage.  I want him to take that fear right out of my head, so he can see what he did to me.

    Twenty years has passed.  I’ve never sought counseling.  I’ve never dealt with being a victim. 

    And I know now, why I haven’t. 

    I’m afraid.  Afraid to voice what I’ve thought all these years: that I deserve what he did to me.

    I’ve worked my ass off to be the best person I can be.  Trying to prove to myself that I’m worth something.  I’ve only just realized, that so much I’ve accomplished in my life has been because I was compensating for being raped.

    I didn’t deserve what he did to me.  No more than someone crossing the street deserves to be run over by a drunk driver.  I have to come to terms with that. 

    Who I am is more than what he made of me.  I deserve to move on with my life.

    I deserve to look in the mirror and see what other people see, for the first time in 20 years.

     
    Originally Posted at The Sweet Life 8/7/09 10:56 am
    Comments:
    8/7/2009 11:55 AM melissa wrote:
    I wish I had words. I don’t. I’m sorry. You are extremely brave. Hugs and love to you right now.
     

    I’m proud of you for speaking out. Big hugs, lady.
     

  • 8/7/2009 1:26 PM Headless Mom wrote:
    (((hugs)))
  • The first step is what you’ve just done. Beginning to talk about it. You are way more than what he did to you.

    You are a brave woman, and I love you immensely.
     

  • 8/7/2009 1:27 PM Neena wrote:
    Your courage is amazing. There is a special place in my heart for you :o)
     
  • 8/7/2009 1:45 PM Issa wrote:
    Andrea, you are so amazing. To write this, to share with the world; it’s nothing short of bravery. You didn’t deserve this, no child ever does.
  • I met you and you are a sweet, amazing, beautiful woman who I wished I could spend more time getting to know. Tons of hugs darlin.
     

  • 8/7/2009 2:03 PM anymommy wrote:
    You do win. You are a stunning woman, a true friend, a fabulous mom, so much more than what he stole from you. But, you deserve to grieve for the little girl he abused and you deserve all your fury against his evil. Love.
     
  • 8/7/2009 2:23 PM nic wrote:
    you are not a victim… you were… you are now a survivor.
     
  • 8/7/2009 2:26 PM Tracy wrote:
    I am so sorry that this happened to you. You are so brave. Thank you for sharing this with us.
  • * hugs *
     

  • 8/7/2009 2:59 PM AMomTwoBoys wrote:
    Wow.
  • I was thinking exactly what Nic said.

    SURVIVOR.

    That’s what you are. I’m here if you ever need to talk.

    xoxo
     

  • 8/7/2009 2:59 PM avasmommy wrote:
    Andrea, you were never to blame, or deserving of what happened to you.
    I hope you find some healing now.
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:00 PM PB and Jazz wrote:
    You are a brave beautiful person. I am so sorry you had to experience what you did and so young. Thank you for sharing.
  • 8/7/2009 3:01 PM Undomestic Diva wrote:
    Wow. You are so brave. And so right. You deserve to see what I see when I look/talk/read you… someone amazing.
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:06 PM habanerogal wrote:
    Amazing and so thought provoking.
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:09 PM Marinka wrote:
    You are an amazing survivor. I’m sorry that you’ve had such pain. I feel lucky to know you. xo
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:10 PM The Mother Tongue wrote:
    You are a strong, amazing, beautiful survivor. *hugs*
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:10 PM Kellee wrote:
    Andrea, we all think you are incredible. I know can also see how amazingly brave you are. You are beautiful and strong, and you deserve to see that in yourself. Thank you for sharing that with all of us. *hug*
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:12 PM Krissy wrote:
    You truly are amazing. ((Hugs))
     
  • 8/7/2009 3:31 PM Eileen wrote:
    You are so brave and strong…..
  • and just amazing for being able to share this.

    I cannot imagine how hard this was.
     

  • 8/7/2009 3:34 PM samantha wrote:
    Such powerful words from such a brave person.
     
  • 8/7/2009 5:11 PM Tricia irishsamom wrote:
    You are awesome and brave just the way you are. You have taken the first step just writing about it. And you should know that it was NEVER EVER anything to do with you. You were a victim then but you are now a wonderful, brave, amazing woman. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you how much I hurt for you. I think this will mean so much in your journey of healing. Be proud of yourself and hold your head high. *hugs and more hugs*
     
  • 8/7/2009 5:40 PM Vixen wrote:
    You are a survivor. I would welcome you to the club (I, too, am one), but I really wish I didn’t have to. This opening up is the first step on your road, bravo. And hugs and love too.
     
  • 8/7/2009 5:42 PM Lora wrote:
    Andrea, absolutely you did not deserve it. You are brave to post this, and you deserve to seek counseling, to be released from the pain of it. I wish you all the best in your journey.
     
  • 8/7/2009 8:52 PM Kathy wrote:
    Andrea you are brave and should be proud of the women, mother and wife you have become. You are not a victim but a survivor. My he rot in hell! Hugs!
     
  • 8/7/2009 9:00 PM AmazingGreis wrote:
    You have just won. Your courage and strength to speak out and share your story is amazing. This is the first step in healing yourself. You will likely never forget, but to be able to speak about it will help immensely.
  • You are a beautiful, smart, outgoing and amazing woman. I’m so lucky to have met you and to consider you a friend. I’m a phone call away if you EVER need anything.

    I love to listen and give really good virtual hugs.

    XOXO
     

  • 8/7/2009 11:20 PM Maura wrote:
    I am so indescribably proud of you. Now you just need to let your head listen to your heart so you will see the woman we see. Love you.
  • 8/8/2009 10:21 AM heather… wrote:
    I see you. Strong, ferocious, tenacious. An amazing wife, a fantastic mother, and a giving friend. I am so, so sorry that you had this happen to you, but I am so, so proud that you are speaking out and reclaiming YOU.
     
  • 8/8/2009 11:50 AM Overflowing Brain wrote:
    You and I had similar blogging weeks. Good for you, you’re not alone.
  • xo

  • 8/8/2009 7:10 PM Kirsten wrote:
    You are so brave to write this. So brave.
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    Coming

    December 29, 2009
    I can feel it coming.

    Like a storm cloud off in the distance.

    It rumbles and rolls, inside my head and my heart.

    I hate that it can still do this to me.

    I wish I could leave the past in the past.

    If there were a pill I could take that would wash it away, I would take a dozen.

    I can feel it coming.

    I have to say I’m sorry, in advance, for what may appear here in the coming days.  Weeks?

    I have to let it out.  It has stormed inside of me for far too long.

    Twenty years of letting it beat me down, and finally, I will conquer it. 

    I’m ready to fight.

    This time, I will win.

    I will win.

    Originally Posted at The Sweet Life 8/7/09 9:44 am

    Comments:

  • 8/7/2009 9:55 AM Maura wrote:
    You don’t have to say you’re sorry for letting your words out in your own space. Ever.
     
  • 8/7/2009 1:01 PM cindy w wrote:
    Everybody here is rooting for you, hon. Say/do whatever you need to say/do to take care of yourself. xoxo
     
  • 8/7/2009 1:48 PM Issa wrote:
    You don’t have to apologize for any of it. No matter what you need to say…and yes, I’m reading backwards…but still. This is your space, love. Write whatever you need too. Your words are beautiful and you are as well.
  • 8/7/2009 2:24 PM nic wrote:
    you are winning! you are! keep writing, unapologetically. 
  • 8/7/2009 8:49 PM AmazingGreis wrote:
    You WILL win! And you don’t have to apologize to me!!!Hope all is well, you know where to find me if you need anything.

    XOXO
     

  • 8/7/2009 8:53 PM Kathy wrote:
    You are winning and some day I hope the storm passes.
     
  • 8/8/2009 1:39 PM melissa wrote:
    This is how you will win and we are all on your team. Keep writing and DO NOT apologize.
  • h1

    Bad Boys

    December 29, 2009
    In my teens, I liked the Bad Boys.  I know I’m not alone – there’s a reason people say that nice guys finish last.  I was always drawn to them, not because I wanted to be bad myself, but because I wanted to fix them.  I would look for the good parts of their characters and try to draw that part of them out.  I was a champion of the underdog.

    One of my Bad Boys hung out with people who were much, much worse than him.  Dangerous People from his neighborhood.  He was a saint in comparison to these people, although, looking back, not all of them were bad all the way to the bone.  Knowing some of the things they’d done, I should have run away and never looked back.  But at the time, being young and stupid naive, I let myself be charmed by the good parts of these people.  Especially because, in front of me, they were never doing anything out of the ordinary. 

    One of them in particular grew attached to me in a way my Bad Boy found inappropriate.  But as he was always going on and on about his ex-girlfriend right in front of me, I decided to poke his jealousy into an open flame and see what happened.

    I never claimed to have common sense, people.  Forgive me my youth.

    Two things happened: one, my Bad Boy bowed out of the race in fear; and two, I found myself in quite a predicament.  You can’t USE people to make your Bad Boy jealous and not expect someone to get upset.  I stupidly allowed a Dangerous Person to become attached to me, and how the hell does a 16 year old tell someone like that, “Never mind, just kidding!  See ya later, ‘gator!”

    I tried to gently extract myself from the situation, and I must say: it could have been worse.  Far worse.  But it was bad enough, especially for someone as young and stupid naive as myself.  Instead of punishing me, he gave me a subtle warning before letting me walk out of his life.

    He asked me to do him a favor.  He wanted me to go to our local community college and remove one of the many fliers posted up there for a missing person, and bring it back to him.  When I did, he told me to look at the picture as he told me a story.  A story of a young man who owed another person, a Dangerous Person, some money.  How he didn’t pay, and the Dangerous Person was forced to take action, even though he’d known the young man from childhood and considered him a friend.  He said loyalty was everything, and those who were disloyal had to pay for their transgressions.

    He told me every last detail about how this young man’s face came to be posted on fliers all over our town.  Then he smiled, gave me a hug, and told me he’d miss my company.  Told me he’d be checking on me from time to time, making sure I was doing well.  Named my family members, one by one, and said he wished them nothing but the best.

    The day I graduated from High School, there was a message on my answering machine.  I heard his voice say, “Hey beautiful, I just wanted to say congratulations.  I know you’ll go far, but don’t forget where you came from.”

    Four years later, I opened the newspaper and saw his face on the front page.  He was being put on trial for murdering two people.  His eyes seemed to bore right through the page, warning me.  Reminding me of what he was capable of doing, even to people he cared about.

    He was behind bars, where he belonged, but would he stay there?  My heart was on fire, thinking about the people he killed – because there was no doubt in my mind that he was guilty as charged.  If I had been brave enough 5 years prior, would those people still be alive?  I couldn’t bear to live with that kind of guilt.

    So I met with an investigator from the police department.  I volunteered the information I had on that Cold Case, and they were able to fill in many of the blanks they’d had.  They told me that if the current trial didn’t result in a guilty verdict, they would arrest him for the old murder and I would be their star witness.  If nothing else, that young man’s mother would finally know what happened to her son.

    The investigator for the two murders he was on trial for interviewed me, as well.  He asked if I’d be willing to take the stand as a character witness, to refute the glowing testimonies of his family and friends. 

    Would I be willing to sit in a court room, with him staring at me with hatred, his family sitting in the rows behind him?  It was one thing to talk to an investigator, but talking about it in open court was a completely different matter. 

    I talked to my parents about the risk.  I talked to Jeremy, my boyfriend of one year at the time (now my husband of many years), about the danger.  I weighed my options.

    And then I did The Right Thing.  I said yes, without fear of the future, because I couldn’t live with myself if he ever killed another person.

    They ended up not calling me as a witness since he didn’t take the stand in his own defense, so I got to sit in on the last week of the trial.  That first day, my stomach was in knots as I walked in and sat on the prosecution’s side next to the investigator.  I waited with baited breath for him to look back and notice me.

    Fortunately, I wasn’t looking when that happened, but the investigator was.  Apparently, he did a double take and then leaned over to his attorney, looking worried.  Once he found out I wasn’t on the witness list, though, he seemed to relax.

    At the next court recess, as they led him out in shackles, he looked at me and smiled.  I couldn’t even look away, because my blood had run cold, and I was frozen solid.  He winked at me, and walked out of the court room.

    I am happy to say, I sat through the rest of the trial, which ended in a guilty verdict, with my head held high.  He may have been able to intimidate a 16 year old girl, but not this woman. 

    Not this woman who has made it a point in her life to Do What’s Right.  In his attempt to silence me, to teach me about fear and loyalty at all costs, he taught me to look inside myself and find my own strength. 

    I crushed his wicked smile beneath my shoe, and walked away a better person.

    Originally Posted at The Sweet Life 2/27/2009 12:38 pm

    Comments:

  • 2/27/2009 2:28 PM natalie wrote:
    good for you! i think it was good for him to know you were there. he might not have been sweating on the outside, but i bet he was on the inside!
     
  • 2/27/2009 9:24 PM Kirsten/Mama Ginger Tree wrote:
    Wow. That’s quite a story. I was scared for you while reading it. Good for you for doing the right thing.
     
  • 2/27/2009 9:45 PM anymommy wrote:
    What an awful, frightening story. You are a brave woman. He sounds like a true sociopath, I’m so glad he’s behind bars and so glad that you found out that you are stronger than he imagined.
     
  • 2/27/2009 9:50 PM Sophie, Inzaburbs wrote:
    I don’t know that I could have been that brave. You really asserted yourself there. That’s something to be very proud of.
     
  • 2/28/2009 11:38 AM Jill Watkins wrote:
    Way to go! I have some bad boys and dangerous boys in my past and I don’t know if I would be brave enough to do that right thing like you did. I am really impressed with you and proud to consider you a friend ( even tho we have never met!)jill.watkins@gmail.com
     
  • 2/28/2009 3:25 PM feener wrote:
    wow, wow, wow, good for you
  • 3/1/2009 12:57 PM LiteralDan wrote:
    I just wanted to write that this was a very well written story, in addition to the subject matter being impressive. Great job on both counts!
     
  • 3/2/2009 8:03 AM Headless Mom wrote:
    Wow! What a story. Good for you.
     
  • 3/3/2009 6:31 AM Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah wrote:
    I always had a thing for bad boys too. I guess I got lucky because I never ended up in a situation anything like yours.Mine always turned out to be nice guys.

    It was always the clean cut boys I dated that turned out to be real sleaze bags.

    Go figure.

  • 3/5/2009 4:30 PM kia wrote:
    Wow. This reads like an episode of 48 Hours or Dateline. Scary stuff. I’m so glad he’s where he belongs and you’re safe. Wow.
  • h1

    Hands

    September 21, 2009

    I remember now when I started washing my hands.

    It’s as if keeping that monster to myself all this time made it hard to remember the things that changed.  The way I changed. 

    I’m remembering, now.

    Somehow I came to think that the cleanliness of my hands was a reflection on the purity of my soul.

    The palms would start to prickle first.  Soon after, I could feel the germs crawling over my fingertips.  I wondered if anyone could see them.

    I could never get the water hot enough.  There never seemed to be enough soap.  But when they were stinging and red, and finally clean, Good God it felt good.

    I look at them now, and they are the hands of a much older woman.  They are heavily lined from having cracked and bled, the fingerprints have been scrubbed away.

    I’ve washed them nearly a million times over the past 20 years.  Since they got dirty that day, when he raped me.

    Why can’t I get them clean?