Tag Archives: domestic violence

Part VI: A Devil In Disguise

For a time, as I finally chew through the gloom, I will admit that these posts become more and more difficult to write.

It also is not unexpected that writing about the reasons I still struggle with anxiety actually trigger anxiety?

I know that I am blessed with the ability to share this story, which is not necessarily an easy one, but that does not mean it is easy.  Some of you may already know bits and pieces of this story and while my posts are not inclusive of everything that occurred during that dark time in my life, I understand that they are a jumping point.


 

What follows may cause triggers for those who have experienced domestic violence in their life.  If you are concerned the descriptions, even mild ones, of my experiences could cause a trigger for you, I would like to encourage you to skip this post.


 

 

It wouldn’t be long before the Marine got into trouble with his unit.  I still don’t know what caused him to be restricted, only that he was in trouble.
It definitely made life easier and harder at the same time.
Everyday after work for the duration of his restriction go home, make dinner, and then drive it up to the barracks.
It wasn’t long before I began noticing that white car.  It seemed to be waiting for me when I left the back gate, after work, and always behind me.
Sure it was southern Calirfornia and a lot of people drove white cars, but this white car was everywhere.  They were always too close, always pushing me to go faster in the slow lane, and always weaving in and out of traffic to stay behind me every time I changed lanes.
That white car caused a few panic attacks on its own.
On more than one occasion I sped up into the rest stop between my work exit and the San Clemente Road Gate to pull into a crowded lot.
Soon the car was following me further.  All the way to the gate only to turn around when I pulled into the check in.  More than once the guard on duty would comment about the white car and ask if I needed the MPs.
Having mentioned my concerns about the white car to the Marine previously and having him strictly forbidding me from calling the cops or the MPs my answer was always no.
After the Marine was home from restriction, the calls started again and I was once again banned from internet and phone use.
He was excited, almost gleeful.  ‘She’ had gotten a new car.  Specifically a new, <em>white</em>, car.
At that point, I was paranoid about the white car.  It had been parking outside of my place of work for several weeks.  My hours were cut and I was asked to tell my friend to leave the property.
I never approached the car.
And after his response to mentioning the white car following me all the way to base to pick him up, he responded with his hands around my neck.  I was strictly forbidden to call the police.
He was so red and angry his face was burning red and when he let go I caught another backhand.  Screams, things being frozen again including a bottle of vodka, this time clipping me as it hit the wall by the door.
My neighbor, a family in our unit tried to get him out of the house and to leave.
That night, MPs were called.  By the time the arrived all was quiet and I was asleep in the bathroom trying to muffle the screams of the wife across our small patch of grass from our apartment.
My friend who lived next door would later tell me it was one of the most terrifying nights of her life.
I wish the deployment had been my wake up call.  It should have been my wake up and run like hell call.
Convinced I deserved every bit of grief and terror I had experienced I believed I was where I needed to be.
I had my head on strait as possible.  I was taking care of the wives in our unit and I blossomed without him present.
I finally spoke up about what had happened after the Marine was on his way home.  Read his rights in Germany, the world exploded into chaos.
While it was controlled chaos and I fell for him promising to never hurt me again.
Oh the lies I believed.

 


While you can never force someone to get help, you aren’t helpless to watch those you love be hurt over and over again.  Intervention can be frightening for you and a loved one you are confronting.

Don’t watch silently.  Encourage them to have a voice and reach out instead of hiding.

This series will continue in the next few days.  I just can’t dwell on this more today.

Thank you for your support!

 

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Part V: A Knight in Kevlar Plated Armor

What follows may cause triggers for those who have experienced domestic violence in their life.  If you are concerned the descriptions, even mild ones, of my experiences could cause a trigger for you, I would like to encourage you to skip this post.


To give you an idea of the time and place, I can tell you that it was the first January in a post 9/11 world and it dawned with a crisp newness that was washing away the darkness that had followed my heart, including a blanket of freshly fallen snow.

I was back in Potsdam and I was making a lot of decisions even though my head was not exactly clear.

I had been talking to a friend of mine, a marine that at that time who had been stationed in Okinawa for several months.  During his post deployment leave he would be coming to New York and it was ‘love’ at first sight for me and obsession at first sight for him.

At this point in my life, with all of my ups and downs and self sabotage, I wanted to simply belong to someone.  That’s right, the girl that ran away from two healthy relationships in a handful of up and down craziness just wanted to belong to someone.  It sounded like a good idea at the time especially in my irrational state.  Belonging to someone meant that I couldn’t run and no matter how I tried to sabotage myself that I would not be able to actually get away.

This time, I wouldn’t be the one doing the sabotaging.  This time, I was in way too deep and way too far gone to know what was happening.  This match made in dysfunctional heaven nearly cost me my life.

It all came down to her.  In the end he married me to get back at her.  I would never be good enough for him because I couldn’t be her.  My identity in our fledgling marriage was dictated by a girl he was in love with and had left behind before joining the marines, a girl that until that point I had never met.

He had no control over her and how she interacted with him in her life.  Instead, he took control of mine.

Still trying to finish the school year, he began to slowly unravel my life from several thousands of miles away.

When I wasn’t in class or working, I was at my computer talking to him or talking to him on the phone.  At first it was great because here I was belonging to someone, but I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

If he called early and I was not back to my dorm yet, he would get angry.  If I was out of my dorm room doing anything but talking to him, he would get angry.

‘She’ would never miss any of his calls.

‘She’ would never talk back to him.

‘She’ would have left school and came home to him.

So I did.

Originally the trip was just for spring break, but I knew before I got on the plane that I wasn’t coming back.

And I didn’t.

Our housing was available.  There was no reason to go back.  Even through I wanted to finish school and thanks to my newly married to the Marine Corps status was eligible for grants and subsidized loans with grades higher than I had seen since my first semester in school, I stayed.

‘She’ wouldn’t risk loosing time with him in a post 9/11 world where he was preparing to deploy for the Middle East knowing it was possible that he wouldn’t come home.

I didn’t necessarily have to leave.  I could go to school in California once my residency came through and there was no reason to pay higher tuition costs plus campus residential expenses.

So I got a job.  I worked hard at my first real outside of school and retail job.  Things were okay for a time and I was looking at the world in newly wed rose color glasses.

And then he wanted to spend more time with me and there was less talk about ‘her’.  Relieved that he actually wanted time with me without being brought up in conversation was a boon to my confidence.  I believed he chose me!

I still didn’t believe I deserved for anyone to pick me and I didn’t see it coming.

At first it was simple.  “Hey, can you take me up for call and then drive to work? Because of all the training we haven’t been spending a lot of time together.”

I thought it was sweet.

Then it was, “hey, let’s get groceries together and I can help you cook dinner.  No need to waste the extra gas.”

I thought it was nice to have him helping me out around our little apartment.  I readily agreed.  I thought I was blessed to have a thoughtful husband!  Who wouldn’t want a husband that helps with the shopping and cooking?  It was thoughtful and things were going great even though the threat of imminent deployment hung over our heads.

It wasn’t long before the phone calls started and the don’t’s began.

Don’t call home and talk to your family.

Don’t talk to your friends back east.

Don’t talk to the neighbors unless I’m there.

Don’t talk to anyone online unless I’m home.

Don’t use the internet when I’m not home.

And then, “I’m talking to her, go to bed.”

It didn’t matter that it was early afternoon on the weekend when said we needed to spend time together.

And then the yelling because I wasn’t five and didn’t need to take naps or go to bed before dinner.

I hated when he yelled.

Soon he began to drink.  The first bottle of Vodka he through at my head barely missed.  That bottle wasn’t the only thing he threw.  His family crest on a shield, the sword he purchased, a folding chair, dishes, a keyboard, the phone.

The first time he hit me, he put a phone in my hand and dared me to call 911 and ruin his career.  I grew up with a father who was a Marine.  He may not have been a Marine when I was born, but one thing I knew is that you don’t ruin a Marine or tarnish their unit.

His company was the most decorated in the history of the core.

You do not tarnish the most decorated unit in the core.

I didn’t call 911.

I locked myself in the bathroom sobbing as I cleaned up.  The next day I called into work reporting that I had an ear infection and that I would be back on Monday which if my memory serves me was five days away.

With him on a hike and unable to keep me home, I sought medical care at the base hospital.  I fell.  In all honesty I’m as coordinated as a baby giraffe on roller skates so it was believable.

My x-rays were taken at the base hospital.  One broken rib, a couple bruised, and the associated rainbow on my chest caused trouble, but no one asked any questions.

I was a writer then, just like I am now.  I originally started writing about my tumble down the stairs and in a moment of defiance, I wrote the truth.  The next day comments came in from back east.

I was “making it up” and “seeking attention” because I got myself into a mess and married the wrong man.  I should “stop with the lies” and just “deal with it”.

In a rage I asked if they wanted to see the x-rays and then not only deleted the post, but my online journal as well.

I never felt so alone in my life.  When he came home from the hike, things were better again.  He was sorry I made him scare me and it would never happen again.  No one else could love me like he did and no one else would.

Wouldn’t you know it, I believed him.


While you can never force someone to get help, you aren’t helpless to watch those you love be hurt over and over again.  Intervention can be frightening for you and a loved one you are confronting.

Don’t watch silently.  Encourage them to have a voice and reach out instead of hiding.

This series will continue in the next few days.  I just can’t dwell on this more today.

Thank you for your support!

 

Part IV: Setting the Stage, An Interlude of Sorts

Before I start the next part of this series that delves into why I have anxiety, I need to express my gratitude and love for our armed forces.

The actions of this particular Marine in no way reflect upon the Marine Corps as a whole.  My father was and always will be a Marine and I believe in the Corps and am honored to be a daughter of a Marine.

Despite what went on behind closed doors, my time spent married to the Corps offered blessings for myself and the families that I came to love.  That reminds me, I need to write about the positive things swimming in my brain from that time in the future.

All of that aside, I mentioned that I was primed for some horrible things to happen in my life.  The effects of my combined live experiences to that point had me in a horrible place.

I’ll be the first person to point out that I wasn’t mentally or emotionally unhealthy and defined my sense of self worth or how others felt about me.  When I found myself feeling uncomfortable because things were going too good, I simply freaked out!

I have regrets, but now they’re the healthy kind.  I may have missed out on a different kind of life.  In the long run, without what came next, I never would have been in a place or situation where I would have to face the past and actually live with it.

Am I sorry that I hurt people that I honestly loved?  Yes, but I know I wouldn’t have what I have now if I hadn’t gone through all of the crazy.

Will I ever have a chance to make amends for what happened in the past?  Probably not, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that amends is for me, and not necessarily for the people that got caught up in it all along the way because it could hurt them.

Am I grateful that I survived and have an amazing life now? Honestly, words could not even begin to describe.

When it Rains… so my Conversion Story

Today is one of those days.  A “when it rains” kind of day.  Being married and having a home takes work!  I love my husband, I love our little house, I love our menagerie consisting of two dogs, two cats, and occasionally guest appearances by a mob of emu.  Yes, I said emu as my husbands family raises them.

So, why is it raining?  Congratulations, our mortgage was re-evaluated.  They want more money, a lot more than we can afford.  We know in the long run that today’s hysterics (mine, complete with sobbing in the shower and asking for guidance, resulting in a migraine and then some) and my husband’s sense of reality collided.  While we can make it work, things will be incredibly tight.  Important things like tithing may no longer be an option for us as eating becomes a priority.

It’s a major lesson learned for us since we’re new to this home ownership thing.  But we’re learning, it’s a big lesson, but we can make it work and it will work out.  Sticker shock, we’ll survive. 

So with all this craziness today, complete with a horrific case of nervous tummy, we’re home from work, putting our heads together and coming up with a plan. 

First step in that plan, have faith.  I know it’ll work out but we can’t do this on our own and we don’t have to.  So, as a reminder, I thought I would take the time to share my conversion story.  I posted it on an old blog, but it’s a reminder to stay focused and true, and keep moving forward.


From  My So Called Yuppie Life, November 11, 2011

As a child I called [Mormon] temples little plastic castles, never being close enough to see them for what they are. As an adult, I had traveled past one while commuting from Los Angeles to San Diego on a regular basis but was never able to grasp what they were or their importance, only that I wasn’t permitted to venture inside.

Over the last three years, the walk of my life would redefine who I am through education, tragedy, relationships and the moving of the Holy Spirit in my heart. Over the next few pages, I’ll be sharing with you that journey which is the testimony I wish to bare to you. It is also the story of my life and the story of my heart.

My life has never been an easy one. Some people will talk about bad days, bad weeks, bad months, bad years or bad decades. Until a few months ago, I would stand firmly on the grounds that I have had up until this point a “bad life”.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents are amazing people and I have a wonderful family and we all did the best we could with what we have and were given, but the circumstances that would befall me through my most influential years could be considered nothing more than a series of unfortunate events. These losses, some more tragic and devastating than others, from loved ones to innocence, as well as poor life choices that resulted in domestic violence are ones of the past. Some so grievous that there are those who know me as a person and have watched me grow over the past few years and can’t help but to ask, “How is it you stayed sane?” (I personally argue sanity as a point of view of the beholder and that when it comes to my own mental capacity, that I am neither sane or insane, but unsane which is the art of being both and neither at the same time.)

To skip through some of the most gruesome details that are not fit for polite conversation, and ones that after years of personal study through Celebrate Recovery and working my steps and processing these events, have finally been healed through is a blessing not just for me, but for you. Recent changes in my life have also washed these events away and I stand firm in this belief.

The most important parts of this story began around my birthday on in March of 2008. I didn’t necessarily want to go home and see my family. We’re the kind of family that loves each other dearly, but also gets along much better when there are a few thousand miles between us and our time together spent well and for less than a few weeks at a time. In the back of my head, I felt a push toward going home and found myself looking at air fare which would take me from Austin, TX to Syracuse, NY. Deciding I couldn’t afford the tickets, the thought was pushed aside.

Over the next few weeks I wouldn’t just feel an insisting pull toward home, but I would hear a voice that insisted that I go home. After weeks of fighting the urge and promptings, I finally looked at my work schedule and purchased tickets that would take me home at the end of May. The fare was affordable, much more so than the week before, so despite the urging of that voice which told me I should go home sooner, I was content with the thought that I would soon be on my way home.

This brings us to May 12, 2008, only six days before I would fly home. Just thinking about this day brings tears to my eyes and causes my heart to jump into my throat. It’s one of those days, a moment really that threatens to define you. One where you either give in to the enemy and are lost forever or one where you truly begin listening to the promptings of spirit.

My mother called late in the evening on May 12. Working overnights, I hadn’t quite woken up yet, nor did I answer my phone. Rarely, if ever does she leave a message and I was definitely surprised that my phone ‘dinged’ after downloading voice mail.

“Ker – as soon as you get this call me.”

My mother has only said that twice since. Once in November of 2010 had been to tell me that my grandfather had taken his life and the other was a false alarm. This time, she would tell me that my oldest nephew, Zachary John had a brain tumor. My mother, being a nurse for longer than I have been alive also told me it wouldn’t be operable and that there would be little that anyone could do.

While his illness brought our family blessings beyond any we could have imagined (nearly half a year of paid vacation time donated by the members of the local fire and police departments, treatment at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis by the most amazing care team, a community outpouring of generosity through an amazing fund raiser, a pug pup which Zak would name Burrito and so many more), ultimately there would be nothing anyone could do. Zak suffered from a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DipG). While it was possible to beat back the cancer into brief remission, only 4% of the children with his condition survived their first round of chemotherapy. There was a 2% statistic for those who made it through their second round into remission as the disease returned more furiously and more resistant after the first round. There still is no statistic for children making it past their second remission.

I wanted to move my tickets and go home immediately, but my mother would plead with me to wait to come home because we didn’t want to scare him. After several days of testing, at the urging of my Uncle Buddy, my sister and my nephew’s doctors reached out to St. Jude’s Childrens Hospital, the next morning, the one before I would fly home, St. Jude’s reached out to them. They would have a 9 AM flight and they raced to catch it, escorted by the local police department.

I learned quickly not to ignore that prompting that I hadn’t felt in years.

In August, Zak would return from St. Jude’s healthier than he had been when he left to on his Mission as a Cancer Warrior. Despite this general improvement, he tired easily, and had begun swelling as a result of the steroids and chemotherapy treatments.

A week later I would come home for two weeks on FMLA to relieve my sister, spend time with my niece Victoria, and her older brother Joshua, the middle child as well as get my fill of Zak attacks and his humor, his smile, his laughter, and help him combat his depression now that he knew what he was up against.

While I was home, Zak asked me if I’d see him in heaven.

At the time, I was anything but a believer. But I couldn’t help but reassure him that I would. I prayed with him to ask Jesus into my heart, but at the time I was so heart broken that I didn’t feel anything, only the need to make sure that my nephew who had been ministering to our family through his illness and doing his best to make sure we believed he wasn’t in pain, even though he was, had as few worries as possible.

Zak would be swept up by Heavenly Father on December 26, 2008 while in the arms of his mother and father, and surrounded by his family. As per his wishes, University Hospital would remove the baseball-sized tumor from his brain and send it to St. Jude’s for study.

I myself would return home defeated. At the time I didn’t understand that making Zak ill was the only way that the enemy could effect him and that the miracle wasn’t in Zak’s healing, but was in the release from the bonds of his illness. My life was in turmoil and I was in a state of frustrated, pain filled anxiety.

Having given my life to Christ I would go through the motions of dealing with my grief through my first encounters with Celebrate Recovery and by attending Grace Covenant Church. Though the hardest part of this journey was that I still didn’t believe. Despite baptism, and the progress I had made so quickly, it was superficial.

I finally turned to God and demanded that he prove to me that there was a Star of Bethlehem. This proof needed to be based in science, historical and astronomical fact and as far as I had known, no one had discovered the Star or been able to explain it’s origins.

If I could prove that there was no star then there would be no Wise Men leaving the tribe of Daniel to follow it to Bethlehem, no baby in a manger and no Christ because he would turn instantly into a fairy tale. Then I wouldn’t need to worry about God, Jesus or any of the religious “nonsense”.

I researched, coming to understand the characteristics of the star and based on the information I had was not able to locate it, I’d even failed to do the obvious and search for the Bethlehem Star on Google. (That in and of itself would have been to easy…) As such, I felt I had my justification to denounce the belief of Jesus as the Christ in every way shape and form.

The Sunday School class I had been attending was having a gathering after church one Sunday afternoon. The same day I demanded God show me proof of the star or that this was it. No star, no Jesus, no God, no Kit following them because they didn’t exist, end of story.

During our outing, after our potluck, we watched the Bethlehem Star where a lawyer would locate the Star itself, based on the nine characteristics of the star, a mistranslation of a work by Kapernicus and Starry Night Backyard Edition located the star itself. In the documentary Larson himself even mentioned that his website was the most trusted search result. I had a ginormous “duh” moment, but when it comes down to it, I know that I needed to do the research to identify the Star’s characteristics before I would have accepted Larson’s documentary and research for fact. (www.bethlehemstar.net for details)

So, I have to admit, God got me there. I was on my way and even decided I wanted to continue to work with women through recovery because at the time it felt like it was all I was doing. During this course of study, I had to write a paper based on the works I had studied regarding the Evangelical view of the Mormon Church and the basis of it’s theology.

While finishing the paper itself I began to date my now boyfriend Jeremy and began to get to know the members of his Mormon family. The problems I had with what I had finished in my paper verse what I was seeing, was a completely contradictory to what I had written for school. These were no cultists, they in no way resembled the Fundamentalists who made bad press for the church itself.

I turned to a friend at work who was a returned missionary and recently married and sealed in the Temple and asked Steven what I should do and what should I expect. Jeremy’s presence in my life was definitely different than the presence any man had ever brought into my life.

Steven, knowing my thoughts about science and how they interact with my spiritual beliefs told me to start with the Book of Mormon where Christ appears in the “New World” and work backwards and compare the stories to the Incan, Aztec and Mayan histories.

Here, working backwards in the Book of Mormon, were the stories of a people that hadn’t been fully vetted by scholarly journals as told by a man with very little education, one that could barely read let alone write.

With these thoughts in mind I took a semester off, during which the university I was studying at did not renew it’s nation accreditation and I ended up withdrawing from my combined Bachelors, Masters and Doctor of Ministry program in order to pursue study of the Book of Mormon.

On September 24, 2011 I was baptized, having done most of the work for our Missionaries.

This week, while on vacation, I had the opportunity to see several Temples. We’d visited Rexberg and Idaho Falls in Idaho, saw the Ogden and Bountiful Temples from the road and wandered Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Needless to say, I finally got to see those little plastic castles up close. They were anything but little. Walking around the Salt Lake City Temple, Jeremy laughed as I sat there and cried while looking into the reflection pools, fell in love with the organs in the Tabernacle and in the Conference Center.

During our walk on the grounds we made our way up to the top of the South Visitor’s Center and found the statue of the Christ surrounded by a painting of the universe. While Jeremy took pictures, I couldn’t help but cry.

While meditating over the painting of Joseph Smith meeting Christ and Heavenly Father in the grove for the first time, I felt a stirring in my heart, but this stirring was much more powerful and very different.

I was filled with overwhelming joy. I know now in my heart soul what I knew scientifically and historically only a few weeks before this day knew and it is my testimony to bare to you.

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of Heavenly Father in flesh, the child foretold of by Old Testament Prophets who left the tribe of Daniel and journeyed to Bethlehem to find. The same man would go on to heal the sick and minister to those who were spiritually poor, share the word of His Father with common man and would ultimately atone for the sins of man and reunite man with Heavenly Father.

The Holy Bible is the Word of God.

The Book of Mormon is the Word of God translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith who would restore the Church of Christ based on this work and his vision.

I also testify that Thomas S. Monson is a living Prophet who speaks from the Heart of our Heavenly Father and is guiding us during trying times where we have begun to see the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

I am thankful and blessed to have the Elders and friends who guided me forward on this journey and also for the welcome I have received by the Church and the Relief Society as a whole. I’ll even admit that for a moment when the ward voted to welcome me that part of me in that split second pondered what would happen if they had voted no, even though I knew that they would welcome me with open arms.

With these things in mind, I can testify that not only based on scientific fact, but spiritually, that through my education, my research and my time walking in this life which ultimately brought me to be who I am today, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the one true church.

I leave this testimony for my children and any who will come after me in either investigation of my faith or in need of renewal of their spirit in the name of Jesus Christ.


 

Just reading through this testimony has brought up my spirits, who knows, maybe it can help to bring up yours.