**I’m in a domestic abuse trauma support group at the local womens shelter.
I don’t belong here.
Maybe everyone feels like their trauma is an anomoly.
Maybe they all feel the same?
There are two groups here.
The lifers and the one timers….
We don’t see many people in the middle
That’s the nature of the monster:
You get out at the first sign, or the first relationship,
or you’re in until you claw your way through the other side
(….or you die. )
Trauma is trauma,
Mental, physical, or emotional ABUSE IS ABUSE
I will champion that until the day I die.
I am not here to diminish anyones story**
The girl in the corner sips her starbucks latte and throws around words: narcisism, gas lighting, abuse.
She tells stories of mean words and broken promises,
She cries and we all cry with her
Her wounds match some of our wounds, but they are not the same.
Even though she cries like I do, we are not the same.
No one wants to talk after she does.
Most of us share her story but where hers ends ours say “and then”
Her pain is just as real as ours.
No one wants to choke down the next “And then…”
We don’t want to invalidate her pain, we are not here to one up eachother.
We all just want the “I’ve been there’s” or “I undersatnd, I’m here’s”
The further we go down the “And then” path the colder the room gets
People begin to withdraw once this train wreck passes their jumping off point
Unlike real train wrecks no one wants to stop and look too closely
Don’t slow down. Don’t make eye contact
They might see themselves, here in our stories.
We all love the first girl, we are all comfortable there
We know that place intimately
It comes down to two of us and hers is not my story to tell
But we talk of running
wondering if anyone would find our body
how long will it take?
who will tell our family?
Will they forgive me for dying?
Neither of us cry at this point.
No one cries at this point
No one else can say “I know”, “I understand”, “I get it I’ve been there”
But I need that, so I find new meetings.
Combat Veterans I
“Why are you here?”
“What paper are you writing?”
“My fucking life”
Combat veterans II
Everyone asks why I kept going back to my abuser and I try to explain
Sometimes it was love, but more times it was fear
I have more faith in his ability to hurt me than I do in the system’s ability to keep me safe.
They say that makes no sense….
I say you keep letting him bail out.
They say but you have a restraining order
You’re safe now
Combat veterans get it
I tell my story and ask If you knew someone out there could be trying to hurt you;
You’re not sure– It depends on things much higher and more powerful than yourself,
the turning of political tides in the middle east,
Or how many drinks or what drugs he’s taken tonight.
But you know the possibility is out there.
Wouldn’t you want to be able to see the gun?
Don’t you want to know where the bullets are going to fly from?
How do you know your quickest escape route if you’re not watching the danger come at you?
When is it time to run if you never hear it coming?
Please feel free “Your Honor” to stand out in the middle of a field and wave that restraining order over your head like a white flag.
Make sure you hold real still while they dial in their scope so they can read the writing.
But don’t worry.
When the paper doesn’t do Its (fucking) job
Just call us if he comes back
We’ll be right here! (in 5 to 12 minutes)
Until then what?
Trust my little apartment door with the big window to keep me safe?
He’s not afraid of glass
He’s not afraid to turn wood into shrapnel
I have taught myself how to walk the minefield of his triggers
Slowly diffusing as I go
I am a freelance hostage negotiator, without any training
Learning with my own life on the line.
I throw “love” and “forgiveness” like they’re life lines
Praying he’ll pull me to safety
Once I can make that connection I can convince him:
Drop the weapon,
Running is my fail safe.
It has saved my life every time.
Knowing when to run is my greatest power in my own personal war
And you want to disarm me?
You have never saved me,
You’ve only helped clean up the mess
I save myself
You show up for the report
To cut myself off from this intimiate knowledge of him
Is to declare open season on myself.
If I leave you can offer me the “promise” of your protection
But it means giving up my own defenses
I have learned not to trust promises,
He has made sure of that, so I can’t give him up
If I don’t know when to run, I’ll be to late
Next time the mess you clean up will be me.
“Let me repeat that again for your report”
Next time the mess you clean up will be me.