Thursday, November 5, 2009

Survivor Thoughts Under the Early Morning Stars


I know it has been some time since I last poured my heart out. Lately, I must admit that it has been difficult to write and travel at the same time. But, I woke up this morning with plenty to say. So, I invite you on this brief journey.

Over the course of the past month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I engaged in dialogue about all of the violence that I have experienced. Many people do not know, but that is pretty hard. Reliving, recanting and sharing my experience of watching my mother and brother die is, to say the least, moving for me inside. For a good portion of the past 25 years, I tried to ignore the fact that it happened. It really wasn't until I had to speak about this incident publicly that I started to truly break the cycle of violence and poverty in my own life. It made me totally accountable to myself and society. For most of my life I perpetuated the cycle of violence and poverty by being ignorant. I wasn't conscious of a lot of the harmful things I was doing. These things hurt me along the way and a lot has to be reversed so that recovery can take place and restoration can return what fairness, dignity and respect was lost. These are the things that victims go through. Today, I am a survivor, but does it hurt? Sure. Sometimes, in my head, I revisit the room where they were killed. It was a horrible sight.

When I explain it to people, I see that they are very jolted by the description of what happened in that room. I am surprised sometimes as to what kind of courage it takes to talk about it. Because, sometimes I feel it a bit deeper as I talk about it. The feelings start to rush back and I think about a ten year old suffering at the hands of a killer and a cycle that rips and guts out the victims. Let me tell you what that meant for me.

That day, I lost everything, I thought. My life as I knew it ended. Although I begged and pleaded for my life to this man who ended up confusing me terribly by being merciful, I was ripped apart. One of my mentees described that after seeing his mother dead, he was in a zone, a cloud, not here on earth. I guess that's how I felt. I felt like my world had collapsed. It's so strange. As I watched my mother get shot, I thought, I am going to die. I have to prepare myself for this. Maybe it will be quick, I thought. After my mother was shot, her body was limp and non-responsive. The pure and strong leader that used to give me motherly beatings, correct me when I was wrong, yell at me for not doing chores, and the one that I dreamed about taking care of when she got old, just fell right before me and was silent. How was I supposed to go on? Why would I even want to go on? The little kid in me only had less than a minute to answer those questions before the gun was at my head.

I know it's hard to actualize. I know it's hard to fathom. For me, it is difficult to imagine this happening to someone and for years I put it on a shelf. In addition to being destroyed that day by my brother and mother's death, I continued to destroy myself. As a ten, eleven and twelve year old I felt pretty bad, but I can say that I was quite resilient. I masked my anger, my sadness, my depression, my hate, my loss, my grief, my feelings and everything that bothered me. No one really knew what was boiling inside of me. I realize with each passing day how devastating an effect this had on me growing up. I realized how much I ignored it. Today, the devastation has manifested itself in my strained relationships with old friends, the way I conduct business, the way I tie my shoes (interesting, have to explain), the way I go to sleep at night and many other ways. What do I mean? These things were all being developed by my mother. She was teaching me and grooming me. That day, it just completely ended. No one would ever touch me the way she touched me again. It's like, the one person who wasn't afraid to hug you and did not judge you based on the way you looked, smelled, acted, etc. She just loved me unconditionally. That's what I felt. Looking back, I realize how devastating it has been. I am still trying to fully restore.

When I travel around the country and to different parts of the world to discuss this experience I often wonder if people are really listening and capturing the true devastation of an experience like the one that I experienced? I know that when I hear these stories and look at the news, my heart drops because I know how real it is. When a soldier dies, I get this feeling inside of me that anguishes for their families. When a child loses a loved one, I know how that feels. It is a feeling that no one wants to feel, but it is very distinct. You can't miss it. It sneaks up on you sometimes and it also takes over and doesn't allow you to feel anything else. It's something that you have to be patient with. In due time, it will subside and you will find yourself moving along. But, for some, and this is rare, do not get to move along. They either are lost in a world of their own. Some turn to drugs and alcohol and some simply give up and kill themselves. These things are all things that happen when there is this kind of devastation. And, I wonder if people really hear it and grasp it. It's hard to measure when the audience does not give you feedback or evaluations. Sometimes I am lucky though. I get opportunities to hear others' stories. That's when I know I had a chance to help restore a life.

So, this month, I have dedicated at least a week to continue to write my book. I will leave away to Boston, MA to finish what I started years ago. When I was fifteen or sixteen, I started writing my book in the dining room of my grandmother's house. I knew this was something that she could not possibly read when I started it, but I knew there would be a day when I could write about these things without fear that it was too much for her. She often exclaimed that she did not want me to talk about it in public. She did not want to be surprised on the news or anywhere else as it related to the death of her daughter. But, now is the time. 25 years later and I feel a sense of absolute relief. I have the support of my family, friends and the public to once again, put pen to paper or at least finger to key to complete this project. I will not say that it is long overdue, but I will say that it is right on time and waiting any longer is unacceptable.

This book is about getting my story out of me. It has held me back for so long and I need to air what has been going on inside of me. It will be an honor for others to read it and support it once it is written, but writing it will finally help me come to grips with everything that has transpired. I warn you, I am not sparing graphics. I want to finally tell what happened in its entirety. I want to disclose the deepest and darkest secrets that still haunt me today. They are tragic, they have been life-changing. For years, I have held on to abuse, pain, hurt, misery and isolation because I thought that many would not care about my experience or story. So, it is time to write. It is time to put these stories down and be honest about what has held me back through the years and what has propelled me forward.

I also find that this book will be a tool for so many out there who were ignorant like me. Of course, I still do not know everything, but I want to learn. I am open to the possibilities. There are some of our fellow human beings who are not in that position. I met them. I talked to them. I interact with them sometimes daily. They are ignorant of inspiration, motivation, determination -- hope. They are trying to find it everywhere and they find themselves fighting a losing battle. Well, I want to leave them with a gift. This book will explain my escape or should I say, release, from near death. It will explain how I almost was killed to how I wanted to kill myself to actually simply being self-destructive. It will journey tthrough my world of narcissism and guilt. You will journey to some places with me that will have you asking whether or not you should travel with me. It is going to be hard. It is hard to write. Just recently, about a month or so ago, I was rereading the first chapter and I had to stop. I put the book down and just caught the tears streaming down my face with the palms of my hands. I had to find anything that would catch the downpour of everything that summed me up that day. I thought about me being ten and having to watch my own mother and brother get shot in their faces. It was demeaning. It was demoralizing. And for one moment, I collapsed. It was simply devastating once again.

Hey, things may change, but we are human. We have emotions. I will never forget this. The killer made sure of that. I know he had intentions on killing me. But, in a human's soul when he or she is ruthless, is an area with compassion. I had to learn this. I had to find that compassion in me. After it happened, I was angry. I was humiliated. I was embarrassed. I lied about it in school. I did not want people to know that I lost my mom and brother that way. I saw parents picking their children up from school. I saw how loving mothers were and I could not express how much I wanted to feel that love too. It didn't help that I was totally sensitive. I could cry on the drop of a dime when my mother was alive. She could yell at me and I would melt. So, just imagine her getting killed in front of me. I not only cried for years, but today, I still cry. I still feel that pain, but I have tools now that help me to cope. I have tools that help me to get through these tough times. Part of the coping mechanism is to be productive. For instance, I got up and started to write this blog. That helped me this morning because I felt a little sad this morning. I felt that void that is there for my moms. I miss her.

I was asked by a student in Fitchburg High School in Fitchburg, MA, just outside of Boston, "Would you go back and change it if you had a chance?" I didn't want to say to the teen, "Yes." because I have accepted their deaths. I have come to terms with their deaths. I am proud to be coping, finally. I am happy standing up for myself now. I am happy about making a difference in someone else's life. I did not have any idea how much people were hurting. The hurt and pain from these tragedies are immense. Of course I would give anything to just touch my mom again. But, I know that is wishful thinking and I have to put it in perspective and move forward to live as if she was still here. I have to do the things that she pushed me to do. However, my answer was definitely YES as a lost teen and younger adult. That was when I lived in the past. I tried to stay in my childhood. I did't want to grow up. Now, I am excited about the next day. Things have changed. But, what about the other abuse? It was compiled. It was compounding.

Being violently raped at six taught me a huge lesson and many other memorable ones. The huge lesson was that if something happens to you and you feel uncomfortable and oppressed, say something to somebody and quick. I held my rape in until I was fourteen, but by then, I had already exploded. But, at thirteen, I ended up with a black eye and in a mental institution for my behaviour. I finally lost control and ended up fighting my great aunt because she hit me in my face for cursing. Luckily, I saw the Color Purple, the movie and I watched as Oprah's character stood up for herself. I hadn't stood up for myself. I had been opressed since my mother died. That's what I felt like. My childhood was riddled with abuse. It was so ingrained in me. I was so scared growing up. But, no one ever knew. However, as I mentioned, at fourteen I finally broke the silence. My grandmother was devastated. She could not hear the news. To me, I felt good dropping the bomb shell. I am so glad I did. It was a relief. I would go on to tell about the other sexual abuse too. That is being saved for the book though. You would be amazed and disgusted all at the same time. I am eager to tell you. Most importantly, I am eager to tell you what I did to continually destroy myself and then tell you how I turned things around.

I want to leave you with a few words of experience. Some people can be so heinous in their actions. I know, because I was once one of those people. I was so upset and angry with the man who killed my mother and brother that I wanted people like him to die or either rot in prison. I often thought about killing. I often thought of killing myself. I was able to work these things out in therapy. When the doctors told me that if I was a threat to myself or others they would keep me longer in the hospital. So, I had to work on my attitude. We have to break this cycle of violence by impressing upon each other the importance of peace and the gift of love. People have become hardened because things have been hard. Look at the conditions of this country. Look at how exploited all of our stories are and then the folks that exploit them hardly use the story to help others. This does not pertain to everyone, but there are those folks who will use you for their gain. I have to be careful everyday not to do this, but when there is a cycle of violence and poverty that permeates your culture and your training, it is difficult. So, simply telling your story by writing it out for yourself is the key. That's when you can own up to the truth about what holds you back, what moves you forward.

This is probably my longest post, but I felt the need to get these things out. I am not perfect, will never be and do not plan on being. I make mistakes today, have made them yesterday and will make them tomorrow. I look forward to some mistakes because they teach me good lessons on how not to repeat them. My heart was heavy this morning and now, I feel much better.

Thanks to my eleven followers. I remember when I had just one follower. Thanks for joining.

Let's work on restoration for those who have difficulty in restoring their own lives. Start with you. I will start with me.

Til next time...

1 comment:

~x said...

Thank you for your suffering so others may be free. Love & Light, Christine