The new normal of life after domestic abuse and violence

Yesterday, my favorite student and I celebrated Independence day with having our regularly scheduled (though often spontaneous) very much needed "good cry." In between her heaves for air as I helped her to "remember to breathe," she said, "I just want our life to be normal. I just wish life could be normal. Why can't our life just be normal?" and then she cried a bit more while I told her the following...
  • It's ok to cry.
  • It's ok to feel angry.
  • It makes sense if you are disappointed.
  • If you feel hurt, then you should be.
  • All of this is absolutely normal even if it doesn't seem like it is. 
  • Normal sometimes isn't what we might have thought it actually is when it happens.

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One of the reasons why she was crying was because she just had to do a video chat when she actually really didn't want to have one. It's not always like this but in the past few months, it's become like this because of all she has had to witness. She has also more quickly been developing both the maturity and aptitude to fully understand completely what her life really is and how it came to be.

To say it's been a long process to get to this point would be a ridiculous understatement. 

Ultimately, she doesn't even know the half of why our life is the way it is.

Still, no matter what she can/would ever be able to figure out on her own (and it's a lot that she already has figured out), there's plenty more that I have absorbed and shielded her from already...
  • The real fear because of the real threats of what would physically happen to me if/when I would finally fall asleep
  • The real fear because of the real threats made if/when I was just trying to come home from work like I wanted
  • The real fear and shame that was repeatedly put upon me for talking about, bringing up (even a mention) of the actual abuse (of all kinds) that I was enduring because the person doing it to me couldn't "bear" hearing how much they hurt me and "it" caused them so much hurt and pain that they couldn't deal with it themselves -- yet, they still did "it" to me for years on end
There's more, but... all of the previous communicates the basis of most of it.

And by "it," I mean the actual domestic violence and abuse that both my daughter and I have been able to move on from to be where we are now. 



What's been harder than all of the previous is that, through it all, people we always thought would be "there" for us even if just to be compassionate let alone empathetic were anything but. 

People we thought were friends - and even some who were actually family - treated us like pariahs. People were completely dismissive and they victim shamed us for how/what we were going through.  Additionally, it is expected that if/when there might be a get together of any sort, we are told "can't we all just get along" and "smile" and "be happy" because that's "easiest for everyone, ok?" 

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I'm not sorry that I cannot and will not conveniently "forget" and call things "water under the bridge" to help make others feel "better."

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I get that "it" is all hard to have to confront as "it" is the truth of what my life is as much as what my daughter's life is. 

I get that "it" is unsavory

I get that "it" is something nobody should wish on anybody let alone their worst enemies. 

I get that "it" is a lot easier to deny and ignore rather than confront

I get all of the parts of "it" because "it" was a real life that I had to call my own for more than half a decade. 

Additionally, it's something I had to call a "life" with a child in the mix. 

And just as much? When I speak up about it - whether it's in written form or directly to the individuals who didn't have the guts to say things directly to me - the immediate "pain" and discomfort they experience when it's time for them to confront their own lack of humanity won't come even close to the pain, added torture, and anguish I have had to endure (still) for the way they metaphorically kicked, shoved, and pushed me when I was down. 

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Something that has really helped my daughter and me (a lot) are two songs from Rachel Platten. This one in particular has been incredible in helping us to go beyond any "good cry" we have and just keep moving on and further away into the "new normal" of life that thankfully, keeps expanding for us to walk into together. 


I don't ever expect my daughter to be fearless, or not to be angry, or not to be hurt or disappointed, confused, etc. etc. etc. etc.

This is because negating what was real and did happen helps nobody.

Negating things actually perpetuates a cycle of abuse that only gains momentum and ensures damage that never should have been done to start. It doesn't make it easier to deal with but it and it also doesn't make any of it go away (ever).

Seriously.

Not talking about things or dignifying their existence is maybe the most destructive thing in the world and is completely counterproductive to actually recovering from and thriving despite being a victim of abuse (of any kind, for that matter). 



And me sharing all of this? 

What my daughter and I have to regularly deal with and what we are doing to endure the pain of healing (so we can keep moving on) is because there needs to be a new normal and not just for us but for others just as much. Starting the conversation and continuing it is how a new normal can and will happen and not just for myself and my daughter but also for everyone else. 

Change is a beautiful and magical thing.


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