A Bruised Fairy Tale

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

There are typically events in a person’s life that define them.  They are things that make or break their character and shapes who they become.  Regretfully, these are some of my defining moments. 

No one ever “wants” to be in an abusive relationship.  No one ever “plans” on it. I mean, come on, I had a prince charming waiting to sweep me off my feet. I didn’t sit around as a little girl or even a teenager saying to my friends, “When I grow up, I hope that someone will beat the shit out of me.”  These words are extremely painful to write and even harder to see right now as tears roll down my face. This is such a painful memory to relive and if my kids are reading, I beg you to stop here and pick up at the next blog.  I absolutely hate this part of my life. This chapter closed 19 years ago.  You would think this would be so easy to bury and forget, but the scars are those deep ones that never really heal.  A simple word or situation can hurl me back in time and plunge a knife so deep into my heart, that it makes me gasp for air. 

I am and have always been a tough girl on the outside.  I can go nose to nose with the bitchiest of people and I am the queen of the one liner insult that can knock someone over…” It’s so disappointing you are mean” I said to someone once, “Usually god makes the ugly girls nice.” BAZINGA!  Ugh, not a proud moment, but it gives you some insight on how I can fire back.  I was the master of the verbal lash back.  However, I was a coward when it came to physical violence.  I think it’s important to point out that it’s not like I never had a fight.  I do have 9 siblings and we were always smacking the shit out of each other for something, but I never threw a punch.  I pulled hair!  That was my specialty. I can recall someone offered me out in grade school.  For those who don’t know, this is where you meet at a place and time and start beating each other up.  It was the most barbaric and asinine thing I ever heard of.  I still have no idea what I did to piss this person off.  I was so scared.  My friend told me to accept and not worry about it.  We showed up at the scheduled time behind the shopping center, and as the girl walked up, much to my surprise…MY FRIEND BEAT HER UP!  Honest to god, if my parents weren’t so strict with being home on time for dinner, I may still be standing there with my mouth wide open. I did not see THAT coming.  I sort of thought I accepted, and we were going to talk things out! NOPE!

My next experience with violence came in high school. I went to a party with a guy I was dating.  A friend from a different crowd showed up and I talked to him for all of a few minutes until he left.  The guy I was dating drug me outside by my arm screaming at me for talking to this person.  He threw me up against a car, hauled off and threw a punch right at my head.  It never totally connected because the guy that I was talking to earlier had seen this unfolding, pulled him off me, and proceeded to beat him up.  Ok, so apparently I knew a lot of people who were fighters, lol, but I was not one of them.

When I first started dating my first husband, I was a single mom. We were only a few months into the relationship when we had an argument at a bar. On the way home, he grabbed my hand and twisted it while he drove with the other.  It hurt so bad that I literally had to lean forward to offset the movement and my face was touching the dashboard.  As we arrived at my apartment, I jumped out of the car and told him to lose my number.  I cried for hours.  The next few days were filled with phone calls and heartfelt apologies on my answering machine.  I couldn’t bare to pick up the phone.  A few days later he showed up at my door with flowers and in tears apologizing and begging for forgiveness.  Being so young, so naive, so stupid, I accepted his apology and we continued to date.    

Sadly, abuse never digresses or stays at the same level.  In order to gain control, the abuser ups the ante.  Whether in the form of physical or verbal abuse, it gets worse and literally obliterates all traces of who you used to be.  I was so embarrassed.  I couldn’t really tell anyone what was going on and even more pathetic, I somehow started to believe that I was to blame.  Since we didn’t ALWAYS have bad times, I started to think that maybe I was crazy and overreacting.  This is the sickness associated with abuse, you actually become detached from reality. There were so many days I thought he would kill me, but not as many as I wished he would so that it would finally be over.

In looking back, I can remember and still feel in my heart the day he broke me.  I felt like such a loser, so undesirable, so useless.  After a big argument, he drug me into the bathroom and threw me on the floor. Being a baseball player, he did what he knew how to do best…he started throwing things at me.  Whatever was not attached to something in the bathroom was being fired at me at a high speed and precision. Each time something hit me physically an insult crushed my soul emotionally.  “You’re a fucking loser” as the toothpaste hit me in the face, “a whore” as the toothbrush bounced off my head, “Ugly piece of shit” as the razor hit my legs.  You get the picture. I had no idea we had so many things in the bathroom! I shit you not, I think he hit me with a spoon.  What the fuck was a spoon doing in the bathroom?!?  It felt like it went on for hours.   I could get over the physical stuff after days like this, those bruises healed quickly…but I began to believe I was a ‘worthless piece of shit who was lucky to have someone like him love me’, so I decided I needed to work harder to fix this.  To add insult to injury after this incident, I had found out I was pregnant.

My pregnancy with my second child was a nightmare.  The fighting and stress were unbearable. Once I survived the hand twists, the shoving, grabbing and dragging, the throwing of things, the squeezing of my face until my teeth cut the inside of my cheeks and the insults, then more force was needed to control me.  The day I came home from the hospital was the day the abuse moved to a new and more dangerous level.  My baby had colic.  She was crying nonstop.  It was the 3rd time she had woke up and I was so sore from stitches from an episiotomy that I could not physically get up to get another bottle.  I gently tapped his arm and asked him to get the bottle that time.  I was sitting up in bed, holding my screaming baby in the dark when suddenly I experienced a massive and violent blow right in the nose.  I can recall holding the baby so tight so not to drop her as I scrambled to feel if my nose was bleeding.  I literally saw stars and could barely breath between the sobs.  A few minutes later, the bottle was tossed at me and he returned to bed.  This was the day I knew I had to work even harder…not to make him happy any longer, but to GET THE FUCK OUT.!

It was not as easy as it seemed.  It was very hard to just get up and go. I was a college student, had 2 jobs and now 2 kids. I tried on so many occasions.  I saved money, tried to avoid all occasions that I thought could end up in an argument, I even left once. I let him visit with the kids a few hours and when I returned to get them and he would not give them back. I called the police and they let him keep the kids (my ex was in law enforcement and the police took his side) . I all of a sudden did not have my children.   This was the very second I became the smarter one in the relationship, or so I thought.  I did whatever it took to get him to let me move back in.  I moved back in to protect my children, earned my degree, got a great job, and planned my escape. 

Over that last year of our marriage, I avoided most eye contact and all physical contact after learning about his multiple affairs.  He worked nights and I worked days and for a short period of time, I had some peace.  I started to go to counseling since I now had health insurance.  I grew stronger and bolder every day.  The final day of our marriage was a typical day.  I dropped the kids at daycare and then he picked them up later and started dinner.  He was not working at this time as he was out on a disability after a significant car accident.  As I walked in, there was my now 5-year-old sitting at the table crying.  She had cut her bangs for the second time and he was belittling her…” You are bad and now you are ugly!”  It was like she was an eggshell and I was watching her crack.  He was doing to her what he did to me! It infuriated me.   I put my things down and yelled,” God gave you a second chance at life and you don’t even….”   I never got a chance to finish, he finished it and said “Deserve it?  Deserve it?”  With that he smashed a plate of food into my face so hard that I was convinced my nose broke this time.  He drug me out of the kitchen into the bathroom, smashing my head onto the glass shower door.  I have no idea how long that lasted or how I even got away, but I ran as fast as I could back to the kitchen and scrambled to grab a knife from my block of them sitting on the counter.  I found myself pulling the biggest one. I could feel him right behind me.  I closed my eyes and I jabbed my arm backwards with the knife in hand in an effort to hold him back.  I had no idea he was so close and before I knew it, the very top of the knife entered his neck.  I was horrified.  He was shocked.  I am not sure if it was because I fought back or that I just stuck him in the neck with a knife but in my horror that this was actually happening, I almost started laughing.   I finally fight back, and I just stabbed him in the neck with a knife?  What the fuck?  I most certainly did not intend on that.  My three kids were sitting at the table eating, completely unphased and never moved.  It hit me at this very moment that they thought this was NORMAL and it sickened me to think that they would allow someone to do this to them.  I held that knife as still as I could, told my oldest who was 8 years old to grab my pocketbook, get everyone seat belted into the car, and hold down the horn until I got into the car.  I had no idea if once I let that knife go whether he would bleed to death or finally kill me.  Once I heard the horn, I backed him into the corner of the kitchen, let go of the knife and ran. I never looked back.  In case your wondering, I didn’t killed him, it was a simple poke in the skin!   Also, please note that although I was elated that I fought back and got out of there, this could have ended very differently. So differently that you could have been watching this story on SNAPPED instead of reading it.

I try each day to remember I am not that person he said I was.  But it is not automatic.  I have to work at believing it. It is not easy. I have very simple advice when it comes to abuse.  NO ONE EVER, EVER IS TO PUT THEIR HANDS ON YOU IN ANGER and the same goes for you.  Abuse in an insecure person’s way to feel bigger and better about themselves.  They need to step on you, squash you in order to find their importance and significance in life.  No matter what you do in life, no matter how much you may be at fault for something, you do not deserve to be physically or verbally assaulted.  Repeat that to yourself over and over again.  You did not cause this. It took me almost 10 years to learn this lesson and break free.  If someone does this to you once, RUN! Do not stay like I did. Love yourself enough to walk away. I do not recommend fighting back either.  The Grace of God was with me that day. It could have ended so much differently. You will survive, I did… Persevere Bitches!

If anyone is reading this and is in this situation, please go to the following site for help. My love and prayers are with you

I’m beyond burnt out, I am charbroiled!

I have had the good fortune the past few years to have off 12 weeks every summer. Each summer break, I start off with a list of the things I am going to do: Exercise, meditate, cook healthy food, organize things, learn Italian, get to bed early so I can get up in the morning to do it all over again. I write my list down, take pictures, make a schedule…all to hold myself accountable.

From Fall to Spring, I set an alarm for 5 am each day so that I can get up early to stretch (because I am approaching 50 quickly and I feel like the Tinman before Dorothy oiled him when I get out of bed). I then plan on getting on the treadmill each morning for 30-45 minutes, have a nice healthy breakfast and preparing an equally healthy lunch, take 10 minutes to meditate and breath, take my shower, get my son up and ready in order to drop him off at school at 740 am. In the evening, I wind down from all electronics by 9 pm, head up to the bedroom to do my bedtime routine of washing my face and moisturizing to ward off wrinkles, taking 10 minutes to write in my gratitude book, and get into bed before 10 to get a full 7 hours of sleep.

I am so impressed by this schedule and routine that I just had to re-read it because it is quite remarkable if I do say so myself. I set this schedule up at the time I sold my business because I was coming down from a horribly stressful process of selling one business and closing another. Would you be shocked to learn that I set these goals day after day and have maybe accomplished them all once or twice in 4 years? What the fuck, right?

So, let me tell you what my days actually turn out to be. In the summer, I have a shore house, a large family, and lots of friends. The shore house is such a gift and a blessing that we made it big enough to have many, many guests. For those of you not from the Philly area, shore house = beach house. If I don’t have guests, tons and tons of people we know vacation in this town so each time someone is in town (which is every week), I find myself going out to or hosting No Shower Happy Hours, dinners, and brunches, or just a late night drink fest. This leads to getting to bed late, over sleeping, overeating, over imbibing (Is that a real term? Fuck it, it is today). I have so much fun, make tons of memories, and feel like shit on a regular basis. But life is short right? I am determined to live it to the fullest.

From Fall to late Spring, my alarm goes off at 5 am. I stretch, check my emails (several) and Facebook. I don’t just scroll through Facebook quickly to catch up, but I find myself engrossed in videos…sad videos that make me cry. I watch food videos. I save them in a folder called “Food” so I can make them the next summer…I HAVE 100’S OF THEM….I shit you not! I have made zero of them…”0″! I am like a private investigator on Facebook. I see someone change their couple profile picture to one of just themselves and I think “uh oh…trouble in paradise.” Or I see a post of someone pledging their love to their someone special and I immediately check the comments to see if that someone special liked it or commented back. If not, I jumped to that other person’s Facebook page to see the last time they were on Facebook and whether it was after the pledge of love was posted. If it was, I label the someone special a “Non-acknowledger” and predict the relationship will be ending soon. You have no idea how fucking scarily accurate I am with this little formula I created. I scroll further to make sure no one died over night, I wish people I haven’t seen in 30 years a happy birthday. Some of them I am not exactly sure I even know. Why????? Because, God forbid I miss out on anything. I then check email again, just in case someone sent me an important email while I was Facebooking.

I get that this is fucking insane…but wait…I am not done. It is now almost 6 am so I quickly get dressed and make a cup of coffee so I can get on the treadmill. I snuggle into the sofa to drink my coffee and turn on CSI. I find myself so engrossed in how someone could be so stupid to leave their lipstick stain on the wine glass (why would you not wear LipSense the day you were going to kill your boss’ husband’s boyfriend?), why do they not burn the clothes they committed the crime in or how did they found the condom of the killer in the dumpster 4 blocks away under all of that trash. At this point, I have officially lost track of time…it’s now 635 am. UGH! I jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes, scream up to my son at 705 am to get up before we are late. I inhale eggs and toast and make another cup of coffee while I throw his breakfast together. In the next 30 minutes I manage to take the world’s fastest shower and get dressed for work…the whole time yelling to my son…”Are you eating? Did you brush your teeth? Are your shoes on?” It’s now 745 am, I frantically run down the steps, throwing shit in my work bag, and saying non-stop…”Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go.” He runs down to let the dog out, while I grab our things and start the car. I pull up to school at 752 am and finding myself yelling to my son out the car window…”Run Forrest, run?” so he gets in the door before 755 am and the bell rings and he has to get a late slip. My forehead literally hits the steering wheel when I see the door shut and I think to myself…WHAT….THE…. FUCK! I take a gasp of air to recoups and sip my now cold coffee. I solemnly swear to not do this tomorrow, but I do…DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY…because I am a glutton for punishment. I did warn you about this earlier. And forget the nighttime routine. I crawl into bed at 1130 pm exhausted with make up on, not giving a flying fuck that it is turning me into Cruella Deville and, when I remember, I thank God quickly for another day and pass out.

I can’t be the only person who does this, am I? It makes no sense to me that I keep this schedule. It is literally stressing me out, contributing to my weight gain, and aging me at an accelerated rate. And you would think that it would be wearing on my poor son, but it doesn’t at all, because he doesn’t know any better!! Why is it that I, or we prioritize the way we do? Clearly, the mother duck quacking at the sewer to get her babies who fell in or Grissom, Sara and their team solving the murder mystery does not take priority over my life. And is this the way I want my son to live his life…running in for a meeting or an interview the second it is scheduled to begin? Not at all, so how do I fix it?

Let’s start with the danger of Social Media. Social Media has created this very real disease called FOMO…Fear of Missing Out. We, and I am a big offender, feel the need to not only tell everyone everything we are doing, but then find out what everyone else is doing. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, and whatever new sources are out there, people are becoming less and less present in their own life. I am trying to tackle this dilemma more and more. I am now starting to take pictures only once at the beginning of my night for a memory and then putting the phone down so I can actually participate in whatever is going on. It is hard, as my FOMO forces me to peek here and there…but I am becoming less glued to it all. Tonight, I watched I couple I know in a restaurant, they said almost nothing to each other the entire meal. They spent their time, and I mean entire time on their phones. I have watched teens do this all the time, but now my generation is doing it. What if one of them suddenly dies (I know I am being dramatic, just go with it)? Their final meal together, in which they could have laughed together, looked into each other’s eyes, told each other what was on the minds just slipped away. We must find a way to disconnect from our electronics and reconnect with the humans in our life. As I typed this, I took a break. I have 5 email accounts. One is an old one that was hacked so I changed it but still check it. The other is the new one. I have one for my son, one for my business, and one for a school I contract with. I just deleted 2 from my phone. The one that is old I no longer need. I also deleted the school one. I am a contractor and do not get paid outside of work…so why am I checking and responding to emails outside of work. Done! 40% of my data checking gone! I am also vowing to only check Facebook between the hours of 6 and 7 pm each night. That should, I reiterate should, help me to get my early mornings back on track.

Now, let’s look at my other issue…being the life of the party, ha-ha! This will be harder for me. I must learn to say no. No, I can’t make it. No, I am focusing on my health and can’t go out drinking. No, I have a gluten and dairy intolerance and cannot eat that pizza. Here is my issue with this. I had a friend, a very good friend for most of my life. I bumped into him in the parking lot of a shopping center one day and he told me that our old crowd was going out at a bar literally minutes from my house and asked me to come out. I was tired and said I would try. Instead, I went to bed early. 6 months later, another friend from that crowd called me to tell me that my friend had died of a drug overdose. I was sick. I sobbed. It broke my heart for several reasons. My good friend was gone, and I didn’t even know he had a drug problem. I had an opportunity to go out with him. Maybe I would have seen he was having problems. Maybe I could have helped him. Maybe he would still be here if that happened. Maybe I could have had a better memory than standing in the parking lot in the middle of the winter. MAYBE!? But for the first time in a long time, I said no. And it bit me in the ass. I now am horrified to let another opportunity like that slip through my fingers. However, I am now losing myself in the chaos. I am going to try to set limits. Maybe I put out to my friends that I can only do Sunday Fundays down the shore and try to connect with everyone on vacation that week the same day. Or perhaps I do a No Shower Happy Hour with one set of friends and a dinner with other. Wait, I can’t go to dinner hammered. So maybe I do a brunch with one set and a happy hour with another. It’s doable and worth a try.

The short of it is this, I am burnt out. I need a change. If I don’t change something, my next 50 years of creating memories is going to be cut very short. Growing up Catholic makes you feel guilty and selfish if you do things for yourself, but being a realist is helping me to see that I will be no good to anyone if I continue to push myself to the limit.

So, here is my commitment. I vow to love me first. I vow to solve murder mysteries less and care less about Dogs who eat Bees pictures on Facebook. I vow to disconnect from the business world when not in work. I am not a brain surgeon. There is nothing that cannot wait until later. I vow to be present with the family and friends more. I vow to speak Italian one day and master meditation. I vow to find me again. I challenge you to do the same.

About Me!

I consider myself a normal person. I am a good wife and mom, in my opinion. I mean, I get gifts on special occasions and Mother’s Day, so I guess my family thinks I am ok too. I try hard to be a good person and a good friend, but I have a low tolerance for bullshit, and I can leave a relationship in a second if it is bad for me…this is a newly acquired skill.

I have a long history of being the unfortunate lover and mate. I can honestly make a statement that most relationships I have been in have been based on lies and deceit. I have spent tons of money in counseling and self-help books trying to figure out why. Why did he cheat or me? Why did he lie? Why did he beat me? Why did the unthinkable happen? What is broken in me that makes men treat me like this? Why do I choose this type of person over and over again? Is it a deep seeded betrayal by my father at a young age??? Nope. Could it be that I was not loved enough as a child?? Hmmm. Maybe, I mean, I am number 7 of 10 children…how much love was really left over for me? Could it be I am a glutton for punishment and perhaps a slow learner? Definitely a yes on that one. But the short of it is this…I have spent most of my life in that state which is a bit depressing when you think of it. It has broken parts of me so bad that I fear I may never heal.

But do not cry me a river yet because I am one who gets right back on the bike once I fall off. I finally have reconnected with the love of my life!!! My high school sweetheart and I finally reunited after a 25-year hiatus. Yeah me! And life has been a fairy tale. Right up to the second he was diagnosed with cancer last Thanksgiving. So I finally get an amazing man who loves me and I am slowly (closing in on an 8 year recovery) building my self-esteem again and now the universe wants to fuck with me. Oh, did I mention I curse a lot?? We will get into why I do that another day. But yes, this amazing man strolls back into my life, stealing my heart, and then gets sick. His cancer has been in remission for one year now and counting. So, suffice it to say, I have not and will not give up on that love story so stay tuned for more about him!

As a mom, I have definitely fucked up more than most. Although, I can say that I have done many things right too. I got pregnant at 18 which put a damper on dorm living in college, but I worked like a crazy person to earn my master’s degree and push my kids to be successful. What better way to shove it up the asses of all those people who judged me for that, right? I am averaging 75% on the task of raising successful children as my kids are 30, 27, 25 and 12. No typo there…12! Why? Because God has a sense of humor. So, I have about 10 years to go before I can achieve that 100% but I am working on it. However, the things I have done wrong, I have mastered at doing wrong.

Addiction did not discriminate when it came to my family: Grandparents, siblings and even one of my children. It is a cruel and insidious parasite. It knows no boundaries and does not discriminate…but we are fortunate to be winning in that department as well…one day at a time.

In terms of my physique, I am an average looking girl. Not ugly but not gorgeous. I was an ugly duckling for most, if not all of my teenage years…chipped front tooth, braces, big bump in my nose. Talk about things that damage a kid. I never was a skinny girl and most likely never will be…as one of my first boyfriends pointed out. And no matter how much weight I lose, I will always have a fucked-up body as my first husband felt the need to remind me. So somewhere along the line, my body aligned with the mean words of others…but I do work at it. I would love to have a rock hard, lean body…but I would like to have pizza and wine too. I am trying to figure out how to have both.

In terms of my profession, I am excellent!!!! I have given 100% and have seen the rewards in hundreds of my patients in my over 25 year and counting career. Because this is an area that all is well, I will rarely ever talk about my work, unless it’s to talk about how to work hard in business or survive being bitten or peed on in the workplace!

So why blog? I am a storyteller by nature. Being bit of a Gladys Kravitz has helped to fuel my story telling skills. Did I just give away my age with that Gladys statement??? But I am constantly torn by events in my life. I am a Libra so when things are out of balance in one area, they are out of balance everywhere. I have found since my husband’s illness, that I worry incessantly which is caused by these horrible scenarios that I create in the Cerebral Cortex of my brain which in turn activates my Amygdala therefore causing physical symptoms like stomach pains and sleepless nights. I guess I should also mention again that I read lots of self-help books to self-diagnose in which I typically misinterpret to make things in my life a bit crazier. In any event, I thought that if I blogged, if I could formulate my experiences and stories into this blog, that perhaps I could see them for what they are, just things that have happened in my life and not who I am. I also thought that in doing this, I could come to terms with the bad ones to let them go, reminisce about the good ones, and perhaps help someone else along the way.

My life has not been easy, but I have found the good in most situations. So let’s get this started. Strap on your seatbelt’s bitches, the ride will sometimes be bumpy!