Saturday, February 25, 2012

Be strong

Hello, everybody! It's been hard to keep my blog running lately. A new working-at-home job started last year keeps me busy enough, and I ended up posting bits at Facebook and my page was left to a corner, and I'm sorry for that, because while I love FB for the immediate interaction, I miss longer blog posts where I can keep everything together: words (typos and all, lol), photos, videos.

Today I shared at FB a link on the actor Patrick Stewart's touching statement about his life when a kid:

"Our house was small, and when you grow up with domestic violence in a confined space you learn to gauge, very precisely, the temperature of situations. I knew exactly when the shouting was done and a hand was about to be raised – I also knew exactly when to insert a small body between the fist and her face, a skill no child should ever have to learn. Curiously, I never felt fear for myself and he never struck me, an odd moral imposition that would not allow him to strike a child. The situation was barely tolerable: I witnessed terrible things, which I knew were wrong, but there was nowhere to go for help. Worse, there were those who condoned the abuse. I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, “She must have provoked him,” or, “Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight.” They had no idea. The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it.”

His words made me withdraw and reflect about myself.

I was raised into a very stable, loving house. My parents were married for 46 years, loving each other with intensity, until my father's death in 2001, of prostate cancer. They did argued sometimes, but never on a scary level, just arguments that sometimes happen between a couple, arguments that would quickly be fixed with a hug and an "I'm sorry" from both sides. 99% of their time together was full of love and an awesome sense of humor that taught us, their six kids, to take life seriously, but not that much. And we learned to be respected and to respect everyone for the simple reason that people should be respected - unless they step on our callus harder than necessary.

I have never been rudely treated by any of my boyfriends before. They have always been kind to me while the relationship lasted. That's what makes absurd that I was informally married for ten years to a man who never physically abused me, but who often did it on the verbal side.

I can't even imagine how hard it must be to live a relationship where your partner finds it's okay to hit you. I know that I would be in a huge trouble and very damaged, because I would react with the same violence if any man ever hit me.

But I do know how painful is to be in a relationship where the partner thinks that it's okay to constantly hit you with words. They hurt almost just the same. I have no excuses for staying for such a long time into this obviously wrong relationship. I know that I wanted so hard that it worked, because I always wanted to have a beautiful love story, not a perfect one, but a beautiful story, so I created my own one from this dysfunctional marriage, ignoring to myself, to my family and to the world everything that was not okay. I simply swept the bad stuff under the rug, and only showed the "bright" side. For instance, if I had a migraine or got a cold on a Saturday, I would only talk about how sweet my ex was by cooking for me and taking care of me while I was lying on bed in a dark room. I wouldn't talk about his impatient, harsh voice (pissed because he couldn't hang out with his friends), when entering the room, turning on the light, to ask me if I needed anything. So everything seemed perfect, and he sounded as the perfect hubby in front of our friends and family.

I got used to this pattern, and that was the scary thing. Whenever he wasn't pleased with what I did at home, or when I had to stay till later at work (to pay our bills, since he "couldn't" work due to his herniated disk - condition proved wrong when we moved to his family's village), he would yell at me, and I had to learn to yell back, to defend myself. Anyway. Things got worse after Lucas was born, because I would do anything to avoid arguing in front of my little son. I always had to take my ex to another room so we could verbally fight out of his sight. And all this time, only my ex-mother-in-law knew about this all, because he would tell her and get support from her. And she would always tell me that this was fine, all marriages were like that (because hes was like that), that my parents' was an exception.

So, absurdly enough, even though smart as I was supposed to be, I kind of accept it, and started thinking that I would never get anything better than that, that was the pattern I should get used to. As I didn't have anywhere to go, didn't want to worry my own family, and most of all, didn't want to let my son to be traumatized by a separation, thinking he needed his father (he was a very good father before the separation, I have to be honest) more than I needed a loving husband, I carried on, sweeping the floor and making the rug get full of dirt under it.

Until the day Lucas decided to defend me against Rodrigo's last wild tantrum, running out of his bedroom with his little fists raised and hitting him with all strength on his father's belly. It astonished us both, my ex looked at me with a furious look yelling that that attitude was my fault, and left the house "to breathe". Only then I really woke up, while I hugged my little boy and calmed him down. Only then I realized I was doing everything wrong and that I wouldn't let my son grow up witnessing any other tantrum, ant other fight. I knew it already, but until then I haven't had the strength to take the right decision - I was coward for far too long. But when it comes to see your only six-year-old child trying to defend his mom with his own tiny fists, it becomes a huge Stop signal that even the cowardly me had to see. So I left everything behind and moved in with my little witch, two days later, to my mother's house.

It was the best thing I did, almost three years ago. My son is growing up in a healthy environment, feeling loved and safe, his body became stronger like never before, and I can feel he's confident about himself. Life became challenging, as everybody who knows me have been following, but I feel relieved to wake up every morning without the fear of not knowing which move I would inadvertly make to start my ex's rage again. I feel free.

You must be wondering why this long (and kinda boring, lol) post now, after all this time, about a story well known by many of you? It's just to remind all friends who might be reading this and who might be into an abusive relationship of any kind, that when you decide to get out of this boat, things WILL be better. Don not be afraid of taking this step. Do not be afraid of feeling alone or powerless. You're stronger than you think, as well as your kids are, if you have them. There will be hard times, long lonely nights, I won't deny that. But you'll see that, after taking this decision, your value is higher than you believe or was taken to believe. Don't use any lame excuse to stay into a bad relationship, just take a deep breathe, and jump out of it. A day at a time, slowly, and you'll be okay. I know it first-hand. My only regret is not having done this much earlier. But I know that the best is yet to come.