My mind is a little slow this morning, and still catching up to my body. I’m awake, but my routine is thrown a bit off by challenges with falling asleep last night; it ended up a short night, and I’m groggy this morning. I’ve made a quad espresso which I’ve rather unceremoniously dumped over a tall glass of ice.

After meditation, and yoga, and before I got to this point here, sitting in front of the keyboard, I took time to give myself a manicure. It was necessary because it is Monday and my hands were just…awful. Paint still under my fingernails and one of my nails broken at a jagged angle – how did I not notice that? I couldn’t go to work with my hands looking like that, it would have eventually launched old nail-biting habits. I find doing my nails very relaxing, and it requires a certain mindfulness to do well. I don’t mind going to work bearing evidence of being an artist…but the colors didn’t go with my sweater. 😉

What follows are some words about domestic violence, which are relevant to my own history. It’s not graphic, but it only seems fair to mention this is the direction my words have gone this morning.

"The Tracks of My Tears" 12" x 20" acrylic on canvas w/glow and googly eyes.

“The Tracks of My Tears” 12″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas w/glow and googly eyes. 2014

When I was much younger, welcoming my partner home was fraught with terror, anxiety, panic and dread; I spent every moment I could combing our residence for any evidence of ‘wrong doing’ that might get my violent partner’s attention, and cleaning frantically right up until I heard footsteps approaching the door.  All these years later, I still find some urge lurking in the background to check everywhere/everything looking for stuff to ‘fix’ before my partners return home.  I am a survivor of domestic violence. I wept reading so many recent #whyIstayed tweets online, and news articles as the nation finally seems to wake up to what a big issue domestic violence actually is. Healthy tears. I survived. I got out. I waited ‘too long’ and my psyche bears the scars for that choice.  Although some portion of my PTSD is military in nature, by far the vast majority of it is related to relationship violence, and sexual trauma; domestic living with other human beings, for me, is a veritable minefield of triggers.

There’s no substitute for getting out of a dangerous or toxic relationship. There is more often than not no resolution for domestic violence other than getting the hell away from the violent person. Human beings can change, and they do, but the stark and frightening truth is that it isn’t likely to happen in the context of the already violent relationship that exists. Having said all that, I have found that mindfulness practices make healing and getting from surviving to thriving much more likely. It hasn’t been an easy journey, and I’m not across the finish line yet; I may spend a lifetime repairing the damage domestic violence has done to my heart, my spirit, my cognition, my comfort with others, my feeling of safety in my home and my relationships, and my willingness to tolerate specific words, phrases, gestures, or circumstances. It can’t be easy on people who choose to live with me.

If you are struggling with domestic violence and reading these words, please, take care of you. Whatever that takes. You matter. Don’t tolerate poor treatment, you deserve better. It is safer to walk away than to stay.

If you are violent, and acting out physically on a partner (or really, any other human being) because you feel ‘provoked’ or ‘entitled to’ or ‘because they…’ – the world is sick of your bullshit. Please stop. It’s not okay and you have no right to lash out at another human being in anger with physical force. Ever. At all. No provocation justifies domestic violence. Not anything. Not ever. Not at all. Please get help; you are the bad guy. Please stop hurting people. You have no right. It’s not okay. (Strangely, I find it hard to imagine anyone who is violent being a regular reader…but…there’s a lot in the world I just don’t know, or cannot fathom.)

I got out. I survived. I moved on to other not-so-bad relationships, and eventually to a really good one. I made choices. We have choices. There are always choices. Making them isn’t easy, but making choices matters. Choice is where our power lies.

"Awareness" 8" x 10" acrylic on canvas w/glow. 2014

“Awareness” 8″ x 10″ acrylic on canvas w/glow. 2014

Today is a good day to choose change. Today is a good day to respect ones self. Today is a good day to take care of me. Today is a good day to change the world.