Saturday, August 31, 2013

Always Remember, Never Forget

Years ago, in one of his snarkier moments my ex smiled and said this.. Always Remember, Never Forget.. Now the reason he said this was not to offer enlightenment, or remember a poignant moment, nope it was to make a funny. A mean spirited funny that made you feel stupid.. That was the way he was.. He had a brilliant wit but if you didn't get it, he made sure you felt rather stupid.

I think one of the things he really hated about me, is I got it. Every single time. I knew when he was trying to be funny and I knew when he was being serious. I got his humor.. the good and the bad.. and yes sometimes he was just pee your pants funny. Sometimes his intellectual humor was so funny I couldn't help but role my eyes and start giggling. But it was his mean humor that destroyed me. The times he would say something awful and tack a joke to it. It was belittling, demeaning, demoralizing and soul destroying. It would flay me open and remove parts of my light. 

Over time, I started pulling my light ever inward. Protecting it.. until one day all of my light was hidden and I was in shadow. Constant shadow. Now the shadows are an interesting place. Not the darkness, but a place where you get glimpses of light. Where you understand that the light is there but you really can't touch it. It is diminished not destroyed. Enough time in the shadows and you slip into the darkness. 

Another thing about the shadows is you don't always realize the negative aspects of it. You live in it for so long and you begin to accept the grey areas.. that it's normal to live in semi darkness. That in itself can be soul destroying.. Constant vigilance.. 

This is the life of an abused spouse.. You know the light is there, you can see it. You figure if you do just the right thing you will get it back. You never do, because the right thing is walking away... 

Abuse is not what people think it is. You have to be an abuse victim to really understand it. Strong individuals can succumb to abuse.. and then pride takes over. You spend so much time pretending that life is ok, you lose not only yourself but your friends. There is no dignity when you are an abuse victim. There is constant despair. And it doesn't have to be physical abuse it can be the constant bombardment of verbal excuse.. 

The things I heard when I was married were insidious. I didn't start out an abuse victim. I didn't find this guy who abused me and said hey let's get married. Nope, I met this guy.. a handsome, charming, charismatic guy. A guy with strong family values, who believed in me *snort*. I also met a man who said he was a recovering alcoholic, he wasn't he was a dry drunk.. HUGE difference! Anyway, over time the constant, and I mean constant, constructive criticisms turned to just plain criticisms. An onslaught of digs, and verbal slaps. 

Then came the total control, I used to handle the money and I had a rather unorthodox way of doing it, sort of like the envelope system but I had separate bank accounts for everything.. Mortgage acct, utilities acct, grocery acct, fun acct, kids acct.. and each week each check would get divided and a certain amount would be put into the correct account. But that was too annoying for him so we put it all in one acct. Which he would then use that money whenever he needed, adding to my confusion, which then caused us to be short or bouncing checks.. which then made him sure it was me who couldn't handle money.. which them had him take control of the money.. which then had him remove me from all accounts.. which then left me in the dark, sometimes literally when he wouldn't pay the electric bill. By the time he left, I was not on anything financial and he had cleaned out all of our accts, hadn't paid rent in three months and the utilities.. yeah, that was a joke. 

How did I get there? Well, I just showed you.. and because I was in shadows, an abused wife, I never let anyone know just how dark it was getting. 

When Ron left (hallelujah) with some urging from me, I said something on the lines of "I would be better off on public aide than I am with you", I didn't have time to face the darkness. I was too busy living. Creating a world where my children were safe, happy and healthy. Oh sure, I made tons of mistakes. And financially, total loss. The state would keep my child support checks for up to 8 weeks at a time. I couldn't make ends meet without it.. I lost apartments.. at one point we were actually homeless.. Things just kept getting darker and darker.. 

Of course this led my kids to think I couldn't handle money.. what with their father constantly reinforcing that opinion (ok, constantly meaning whenever he deigned to show up and see them). No one can handle money if there isn't any there. But I worked hard at giving my kids a good life. Sometimes I think, I made being poor too easy on them. They had no idea what I sacrificed just so they could be "normal" or as normal as possible. 

And so, even with him gone, the shadows persisted. I was a constant failure. My family (mom) helped with school supplies, shoes, individual trips to California for the kids, occasionally (and I do mean occasionally) the rent. I was grateful.. and believe me everyone, the entire family knows how much my mom had to "help" me.. how do they know? She told them, over and over and over again... Yep, that whole Shauni is a loser thing just wouldn't go away. 

No matter how hard I struggled to survive, I didn't have what it took to get out of the shadows. I was a victim of abuse and along with the abuse comes the damage you do to yourself. I closed myself off.. Sure there was always that place where hope lived.. Hey, maybe if I call my mom she will want to talk.. put me first.. Hey, maybe when the family comes in for my kids graduation it won't be about my nieces and what they want. Hey maybe... yeah.. hope is not always a good thing. At least not  when it's false hope. I can never make myself important to those around me. Wanting to is what allowed me to become a victim in the first place. I can only be strong in who I am, to become me.. 

And because I need to remind myself of this daily, I often find myself murmuring.. 

Always Remember, Never Forget.. 


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