Well, I'm sure by the title you're probably thinking I've either lost my mind or I just don't know the date. Truth is, I know this date all too well. May 8, 1999, I made a decision that would change my life forever. I left an incredibly abusive situation to save the lives of my daughter and myself.
Yep, the strong woman that I am, was not always that way. I have been beaten, raped and abused. I have been put down, knocked down, knocked out, and attacked. I have been made to feel that I had no worth and my life meant nothing. I've been bruised and battered, gagged and bound. I have felt the wrath of a miniature baseball bat and glass bottles come down upon my head repeatedly. I've been beaten with samurai swords, metal hangers, and thrown across the room half-conscious only to have my head greeted by the metal corner of a steamer trunk. I learned to create a perfectly time-stamped paper trail to account for my whereabouts to avoid further abuse. I have been poked & prodded, had my clothes ripped off of me, and been humiliated. I have been enslaved.
Yet, here I stand today to tell the tale.
By now you may be wondering who the hell had me held hostage and kept me in such a place that I would have suffered such. My captor was none other than a man that I once called "husband." You got it! I was one of those battered women that you hear about on the news and read about in the papers. No one knew my story (or at least I thought). I learned to hide behind fake smiles. If ever there was a "glamour" spell that was utilized, I used it daily. Never one to admit defeat, and an insanely stubborn refusal to be "just another divorce statistic," I continued on living that life. I was not only physically beaten down, but mentally and emotionally as well. The chains that bound up my spirit were so heavy that I felt I could never leave as there would never be anyone better. He was the best I was going to get.
I had left him once. He had been arrested when he showed up where I was working, threatening to kill me. That was dumb. My employers had me well-protected. We separated and I filed for divorce. A few months later I went back, convinced we could make it work. I got pregnant. My pregnancy was the most peaceful and happy time of that entire relationship. Not once was a hand laid on me. I was treated so well. I thought things were truly on the mend. Wrong thought. Time went on and everything resumed. I remember being at work one day when the repairman turned to me and said, "You know, one day you're going to run away from all of this (meaning my husband; he knew him as we worked in the same place) and end up running into the arms of someone who really loves you." Had I really become so transparent? Even a glamour can wear off if the person has been beaten down enough I guess.
I was miserable, knew I was miserable, but just kept going. The turning point came when all of that anger, all of that rage my former husband had turned to our daughter. I watched in horror as he got up in her little 2 year-old face and screamed at her. She had moved his precious $5,000 watch and he was pissed off. Personally, I never understood the need for that expensive a watch, and he owned several. But, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. He could abuse me all he wanted, but there was no way I would allow for him to turn that on MY daughter.
We left on Mother's Day that year, May 8, 1999, and I have never looked back. That beautiful little girl I took with me will be 16 later this year and I am so happy to be here to say the gorgeous woman she is turning into.
I celebrate this day every year. It was only a few years ago, that my daughter asked me why I silently celebrate that day. She wanted to know what it meant. So I sat her down and explained. Unless you have been in my shoes, you could never understand the "victory" of leaving that type of situation. Now, she & I celebrate each year. While I still like to celebrate silently, I share in the way that she chooses to celebrate as well. After 13 years, I decided to type this up.
Yesterday, I walked into my living room to have my 8 year-old daughter tell me I couldn't see what she was doing. This morning, she gave me a kiss and said, "Happy Independence Day, Mommy" and gave me this card.
Last year, Celia Farran ran a contest called "The Everyday Goddess Contest." The winner would be chosen on Mother's Day, which happened to be May 8th. I entered in my daughter's name. While I didn't "win," my daughter absolutely loved the video I put together. If you would like to view it, here it is:
In the last 13 years, there have been countless hugs, kisses, tears, triumph, joy & love shared. A mother's love is an incredible thing.
So, that's my story. Believe when I say that's the short version. So forgive me while I linger a little longer while enjoying things with my kids, cartwheel through wildflowers, dance barefoot in the rain and live my carefree life as only an "extreme free spirit" can. I've earned it, and now you know why.
*** IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, PLEASE SEEK ASSISTANCE. CALL A FRIEND, FAMILY MEMBER OR THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC ABUSE HOTLINE AT 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) OR TTY 1-800-787-3224. THERE IS HELP AND YOU ARE SO VERY WORTH IT. ***