Archives for posts with tag: domestic violence

Couldn’t we all do better? A bit? Give that some thought. Are you really the person you most want to be? Every day?

I am feeling frustrated with humanity, generally, and it pivots on competing memes, the willful stupidity of human beings defending pet ideologies, and the unavoidable truth that every damned one of us has some pretty fucking hateful moments, and lugs around some pretty vile baggage. I’m mostly quite done with every damned body pointing at the other guy with criticism about hate, seemingly unaware that they, themselves, have some similarly hateful moments.

Fuck, people, look in the god damned mirror.

I’m not making this point unaware that I am, myself, quite human. On the contrary, I am frustrated and puzzled by some basic confounds in my own thinking. I am concerned about implicit biases I am likely wandering around with, that may inform my decision-making in a fairly stupid way. I worry that things I think I “know” are not well-grounded in fact, to the point that I am regularly seeking proof that I am wrong. (Because, frankly, finding out I am wrong is the only shot at correcting poor quality reasoning – I don’t give fuck-all for being right, and it isn’t helpful to “know” that I am, when it comes up.)

What’s specifically giving me metaphysical indigestion this morning is the head-on conflict between posts/memes/commentary suggesting that “gun control is not the answer –  be kind to lonely kids!” is The One True Way, and the other batch retorting “don’t suggest anyone else is responsible for violence except the sociopaths committing it – you could be encouraging vulnerable kids to become entangled with sociopaths!” because setting good boundaries is The One True Way. Fucking hell – are we all really that stupid? Is it not 100% entirely obvious that this is a false dichotomy? That the jigsaw puzzle of American violence is a tad more nuanced than that? Fuck your overly simplistic idiocy. So done with that kind of simple-minded horse-shit.

It matters how we treat people. It matters what we accept, as a culture, with regard to how people treat each other. It matters when we frame the discussion in terms of the value of one group of lives or another, or the worth of one individual or another. It matters how we talk about – and how we prosecute – violence. Yes, when we let domestic violence crimes go unnoticed, undiscussed, and unprosecuted, we build a culture in which some children grow up thinking their anger (an emotion, nothing more) has more value than the actual lives of others. We created that scenario as a culture, as a society. We deepen it when we devalue women, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. When we foster rape culture, and suggest in our institutions and laws, that how women dress or behave is somehow righteous justification for another human being’s lack of self-control over their use of sexual behaviors, we defend violence over “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. We are at fault for the culture that exists.

Does that mean we are also accountable, individually, for the individual acts of violence of other individuals? Nope. We are each responsible for our own actions… including those actions that foster a culture of violence. So. Yeah. It’s not us vs. them. It’s not as simple as a single choice between two clear options. It’s about actually fucking being aware of the consequences of our actions, and of our institutions and laws, and we are responsible for the society we create. We built this. Stop acting fucking surprised. Fucking fix it.

Fuck, I am so angry about this. Just do better, damn. How fucking hard is that?

What are you going to do to make this a better country to live in for everyone who lives in it? (Yes, including people who are incarcerated, people who are poor, people who are undocumented – have you read some of what they are put through? Every.Damned.Day. “Inhumane” doesn’t begin to describe it, and that’s really not okay.)

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do better. Just that. Something. Each day, today too, I am going to put my will and my actions toward being a somewhat better human being than I was yesterday. And again tomorrow. Then again the day after that. I will spend a lifetime working towards being the woman I most want to be, building the world I most want to live in. Tearing down the bullshit and baggage I learned growing up, or later on, or built myself. No excuses. I can do better.

It’s time to begin again.

[Oh hey, I’m talking about emotion and domestic violence in this one. No surprises. Please take care of you. <3]

Think about this carefully; anger doesn’t solve very many relationship problems. It’s not that anger is “powerless” – it isn’t. It’s a dangerous force for change, particularly in the context of lost self-control, lost perspective, and a righteous sense of entitlement, possession, or justification. Tragedies happen by way of uncontrolled rage. Clearly, anger can be quite powerful. “Violence never solved anything” is both true and false – and very much dependent on what we mean by “solved”. If we end an argument with violence, we’ve ended the argument certainly, but whether that counts as a solution depends on whether everyone walks away undamaged.

There was a time I didn’t understand emotional violence as violence – primarily because I lived in a messy tangle of both physical and emotional violence, served up with a hearty helping of military life, as well as gas-lighting. Emotional violence was the least of my worries. I didn’t understand my experience. I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand that I had options – and choices. It’s hard to look back comfortably on the choices I did make. Like a barefooted journey across hot asphalt and broken glass, every step did more damage. I lived with continuous fear and anxiety. I rarely slept. The emotional violence in my relationship was the least of my worries; I just wanted to survive the physical violence. I eventually got out of there, safely away, and sadly still unaware of the worst of the damage that had been done, because that wasn’t physical at all.

Physical injuries heal in a physical way. Bones mend. Scars fade. My arthritis follows me everywhere, but as a consequence of earning my freedom from fear it is a reminder that I live…still…it fucking hurts. I never forget how I got here. Tomorrow is 22 years since a nightmare ended. I ended it. I walked on.

…I took the chaos and damage with me…

The worst of the damage was emotional. I didn’t understand that for a long time. I understood “symptoms” – complex PTSD has many – diagnosis in hand, I recognized that I seemed to have no ability to manage my emotional volatility, as a symptom – as something that happened to me. I didn’t understand how accountable I actually was for my actions, though. I didn’t really “get” that like it or not, when my feelings become choices that become actions that affect other people, I am responsible for my actions. There’s no argument there, so just don’t. “Hormones”, “PTSD”, “a terrible headache” “a tough day” – none of these things actually make it okay to be emotionally violent with someone (most especially and particularly someone I say I love). I didn’t understand that I could – no, seriously, I totally mean this – I could choose to behave differently. My experience is my own. My emotions are entirely mine to feel. My choices are mine to make. I am responsible for my actions. Not one moment of personal misery really excuses treating someone else badly.  I was slow to learn this lesson. I carried the violence forward into my future with me, woven into the damage I’d survived, and expressed it as uncontrollable impotent rage, meltdowns, tantrums and frequent loss of rationality. I’m done making excuses for emotional violence – few people die in a literal way from emotional violence, but the life they are left with is changed. It’s really not okay to behave that way. (Nope, PMS, PMDD, they don’t excuse it either. Get help. Make amends. Say you’re sorry, for fucks sake. Do better over time.)

I’m glad to be moving. Escalating domestic violence next door is uncomfortable to live around. It fucks with my head when I hear the yelling through the walls, the slams and bangs, vague and undefined. There are no good guys. Only human beings unwilling to choose differently and calling it “love” (it isn’t).

Look around. There’s a lot of that going on. We can choose differently. All of us can do better. I can. You can. That person pulling out a gun on the highway to shoot a teenager can choose differently, too; they chose their actions. Think about what that means. Feel your feelings. Behave well. Treat others well. Recognize the subjective nature of your emotional life, and don’t inflict weaponized emotions on other human beings. Fuck your hormones. Fuck your PTSD. Fuck your anger. Care. Care enough to choose better behavior. Care enough to be the person you most want to be. Care enough to seek help if you need help. Care enough to take care of you – well. Care enough to take a step back from a difficult situation. Care enough to understand that each of us is having our own experience – and it’s ours, not to be taken from us. None of us belongs to another.

I say that, then sadly spend minutes contemplating the very real continued existence of slavery and violence around the world. I don’t really know what to say. I am saddened by the constant awareness that there is so much violence loosed on the world. That we wear the face of our own destruction, as a species.

We can all do so much better to treat people well than we actually do. What will you do today to become the person you most want to be? We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

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.