Light at the End of the Tunnel

I am currently in a research study for my sciatica and had to go on Saturday to get an MRI. I was dreading it, let me tell you…

Nearly two years ago, I had to go for an MRI to check my brain and ended up freaking out. I had no idea that I was claustrophobic! The technician, who was also a friend of mine, said that victims of trauma often react that way and to get back with my doctor for medication and rescheduling.

I was SO embarrassed that I had lost my cool and freaked out in front of someone that knew me. When I say “freaked out,” I started hyperventilating, crying hysterically and screaming. She was incredibly awesome and understanding about it all, knowing what I’d been through, but then again she really didn’t (thank goodness!). She had no idea how many times I had been strangled, been punched, been hit from behind, locked in the bathroom or closet, or even locked out of my own home. No wonder I panicked! I had simply felt constriction and lost it!

My doctor ended up prescribing me Xanax for the procedure and to keep in case I ever have an anxiety attack/melt down. It took two Xanax for me to make it through the procedure. My boyfriend drove me to the hospital and led me to the imaging department, then lead me back to the truck and we went home. I don’t remember a lot about that experience, except that I didn’t panic and might have drooled on myself. I think my boyfriend might have had a lot of fun at my expense, but took me home and wrapped me in a blanket and put me to bed.

This time, I had to drive about and hour and 15 minutes away to do this, due to it being early morning and I HAD to do this on my own. I had to overcome my fears and complete what I had started! Plus, my boyfriend isn’t really an early morning person. I let him sleep, kissed him goodbye, and headed out to face my doom.

When I arrived, the staff was very kind and efficient. My technician, David, told me what to expect. I did end up telling him about my trauma and he was very calm and understanding about it. “I think we can get you through this, dear,” he assured me. Even though I was wearing a sports bra, he waved a security wand over me to point out any hidden metal and my sports bra had to metal hooks in it! Ooops! I had to lose the bra. Glad I wore a t-shirt and comfy pants and tennis shoes. I was also grateful I didn’t have to wear one of those exam gowns and literally show my ass.

The MRI machine was much newer and had a larger opening than the older one at my local hospital. He helped me onto the sliding tray and gave me squishy ear plugs to dampen the noise of the machine. The tray was heated, which was nice and there were arm rests that the technician added. He asked me what music I liked and we determined that I was going to be listening to classic rock. At what point did my music become “classic” rock??? I did NOT see that coming!

He put the headphones on my ears and they were noise cancelling ones that felt great! He put a wedge under my legs that elevated them, pushing my lower back down for imaging. Then he put a weighted cover over my chest that he assured me was NOT strapped down — to push my upper back down completely too. None of this I considered uncomfortable or constricting, thankfully.

Lastly he asked if I’d like my eyes covered. Yes, please! It was a lavender-scented mask with the beads inside of it. It was warm and smelled great! He also gave me a “panic button,” should I need out or need verbal reassurance. After I was totally outfitted, he asked if I was okay, I assured him I was, and then was slid into the machine, unaware of it all because I was sniffing lavender and warm and comfy. 30 seconds later, AC/DC came through my headphones singing “Back in Black,” and I was totally relaxed. No medication needed!

The battery of scans took 25 minutes and the machine would interrupt the music momentarily to tell me how long the current scan would take: “Please hold still. Current scan will take three minutes,” “…two minutes,” “…five minutes.” Nice. I was lost in a barrage of AC/DC, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, and Buckcherry. Most relaxed I’ve been in a long time!

Upon completion, I was given the lavender mask to keep, paid for this visit, and was sent on my way. Easy peasy! I stopped at a Goodwill and bought myself a “good job” present in the form of a picture of a mandala, one of my favorite symbols of peace. It was $7 and signed and numbered by the artist.

Healing and moving through life is weird and unexpected. However, I am moving forward and growing at my own pace. Praise God that I was allowed to live to experience it!

Love and light!

Mission Possible Funding

I am trying to find more ways to advocate, but trying to do it as cheaply as I can. I was given a second chance and helped by people. I am wanting to give back, as well as help to educate on domestic violence. Everyone has to have a purpose. I think this one is mine…

I’ve decided to start auctions on the Facebook inspirational group page. 2-3 per week. I will run them from Sunday 10 AM EST to the following Saturday 11:59 PM EST. I may transfer to eBay if I’m not successful on Facebook. I am NOT a 503(c), just a single Mom and DV survivor on a mission. Site fees get costly. Many trainings are free, but many are not. I am trying to provide educational materials and items that can help those in active abuse or just recently out of abuse — which all cost money to produce. I am not looking to make money, even though this does take up most of my spare time. I just want to cover costs and get help and information out there.

I am going to auction things that are unusual and appealing. If you have something you’d like to donate, definitely IM me!

The DV Walking Wounded Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dvwalkingwounded

Dirty Laundry

After making a “Frosty” run one evening, for my boyfriend and I, I had the distinct pleasure of viewing something that made my heart happy. In front of our local Wendy’s (TM), there was a Domestic Violence Awareness month display. However, I couldn’t fully appreciate it, because it was awry and needed some attention. I vowed to go back the next day to fix it and photograph it.

It was meant to look like a clothes line of clothes drying, but on each “garment” there were DV statistics. It took me about 20 minutes to separate everything back out, as being displayed outside had allowed the wind to bunch everything up and render it unreadable. I spread out the pseudo garments and photographed each one and videoed it as well. I plan on going over there every few days to check to see if it needs to be “unwound” so it is once again readable. People cannot be educated about DV statistics and how rampant it is, if they cannot read or even understand the display!

I hope this blesses you as much as it did me. If only we could be this expressive in other months, like we are about DV in October!

Declaration of Freedom

I woke up to and received the best news on Saturday morning. I had a DV victim IM message me and tell me that she heard my story, my first (and currently only) video on my YouTube channel, and left. She got out! She is free!!! Not only that but she was traveling over 1000 miles to get away! WOW! BLOWN AWAY!!!

I cannot begin to describe how elated I was to hear that. But as it sunk in, I found tears streaming down my face. What on Earth was wrong with me? I’m happy for her! I was still happy for her, but I realized that what I am doing with my advocacy was ACTUALLY making a difference! What I said mattered. My words had power!

I will admit that I cried for about 10 minutes, before my boyfriend woke up and saw me.

“You okay, babe???”

I nodded.

“What’s wrong then?”

“I received the highest complement. Someone watched my Youtube channel and was inspired by what I said. She got out!”

He smiled. “You do good work, babe. You’re making a difference.” I will admit, his comment made me cry harder. Damned emotions!!!

I will admit, this is WAY better than money! I had no idea that it would affect me as much as it did. All my pain and experiences had a purpose: of course to get me out of abuse and to move forward, but to also helped someone realize that they were not alone in their suffering and that that treatment was by no means “normal” or “acceptable.” I feel heard, I feel empowered to carry on, and I feel as though my work is not in vain! Despite what my abuser told me, I mattered and did have purpose! VICTORY FOR HER AND I!!!

I do not know how many people I have silently helped, as not everyone would reach out like that (although I wish they would!). I am SO glad she has declared her freedom and I will continue to check in with her and on her. God bless her on her journey and keep her safe!

Love and light! <3

Netflix’s DV Saga Show

Brilliant. Captivating. Triggering. True-to-life. Scary-real. Heart-wrenching… What am I talking about? It’s Netflix’s new limited series, called Maid.

***[PREVIEW] TRIGGER WARNING!***

I started watching this, because of reviews that I had seen in other DV survivor groups and because it was in the Netflix “Top 10 in the US”…let me just say, I have never seen anything so realistically done!

I did place the trigger warning because there are VERY triggering parts in the trailer, as well as through out the show. I can identify with the main character, Alex, as her boyfriend punches a hole in the wall next to her, as he throws dishes at her head (for not being done right away), and her covering her ears and rocking back and forth while crying — I have been her and rocked. I see my abuser in her boyfriend, especially the part where he is an alcoholic. It was real. It happened. I could feel my heart lurching, then ache out of sympathy, as I continued to watch.

My suggestion is, if you want to watch, watch only one episode at a time in order to digest it and recover from triggers that it might evoke. I personally cannot help but want to watch the next episode to see what happens to Alex further, but I’ve had to make myself pause and take a moment. This is intense. It’s deep and will make victims and survivors flash back a bit. I have even cried, because I know where that character was mentally — because I was there before and it takes me back. You cannot help but identify with her fully: not only through the abuse experiences but all of the challenges and set backs experienced upon leaving. Leaving an abuser is not for the faint of heart. If you’re in, you have to be ALL IN.

Well done, Netflix! I still have 3 of the 10 episodes to go, but I am invested now. I don’t see this being continued, because they call it a “limited series,” but now I need to read the book that it’s based on by Stephanie Land. This was her life and chose to be the “working poor,” than to be bullied and abused any more by her significant other. Another relation point…I am SO there…

Watch this series with caution: it will make you feel, and not necessarily good things…

Silent Rage

Is “grocery store rage” a thing??? It’s kind of like “road rage,” only on a smaller scale with smaller, less lethal buggies…

I am really not enraged at the grocery store, per say. I am old enough to get simply and massively annoyed when they rearrange the store. AND for having to wear a mask for over an hour while I shop. I am willing to wear a mask for public health and personal safety reasons, so that’s not the cause of my discontent…

The reason I am easily annoyed and nearly have a panic attack is because of my unresolved trauma. I realized that in my past I had to stay so tense for so damned long, never knowing if I had to fight or flee, that I am easily annoyed and over stimulated. In my married relationship, I was the rock, the provider, the patient one, the fixer. I was the one that kept everything together…and I am SO weary of being vigilant. I was also strangled by him on the regular, to the point of blacking out. That same stifling feeling, in a mask, gives me a panic attack…currently, at the grocery store checkout…I sweat profusely and get annoyed at the smallest things…all to feed my loved ones…

Still being the provider…I’m triggered beyond, but my being the care taker is larger than all that…so, I carry on…

Adulting as a damaged girl is hard. Rant over.

So, What Can I Do?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. What can you do? Here are my suggestions, so feel free to do other positive things too:

  • Post your support on social media. I have been posting statistics and things that people who have never experienced it may have never realized.
  • Believe people when they say they are in abuse. Listen. Ask if they are safe, how you can help them, and what they currently need.
  • Donate much needed goods to your local DV shelter, such as: cleaning supplies, personal supplies like deodorant, feminine products, toothpaste. Call them and see what they specifically need.
  • Check in on your “okay” friends. You never know what goes on behind closed doors! Especially if you notice dark posts, no postings for a while (if they’re regular posters), or are telling you they’re having a tough time.
  • Volunteer for a DV shelter or advocacy group. Become informed.
  • Through corporate donations – many corporations match employees’ donations, especially to the United Way. Our local United Way is one of our local advocacy’s sponsors. These donations can be small regular amounts directly out of your paycheck. Please donate only what you can truly afford!
  • Participate in a DV walk/5K.
  • Check into “trauma informed care” and “domestic violence in the workplace” classes/webinars. Many employers offer these already. Many online are free.
  • Take a free class in “bystander intervention.” I found a free class here: https://www.traliant.com/. Even if you’ve never experienced it, if you see it going on, this course tells you how you can help as a bystander.

Love Thy [Unknown] Neighbor

The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ answer: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (22:37-39).

Today, we were having a leisurely, lazy day sitting on my honey’s porch, while drinking coffee and both of us looking at social media. He lives on a busy state road, so I didn’t hear the car alarm at first. I have partial hearing loss, so I didn’t hear it until there was a brief pause in traffic on the normally busy road. Then, once I heard it, I looked around, annoyed. “What the heck?”

My ever-calm boyfriend says, “It’s a car alarm that has been going off for about 5 to 10 minutes now.”

“Well, I wish that person would hear it and take care of it. It’s annoying.”

He looked at me, very seriously, “…OR, maybe its a signal for help?”

I paused. I hadn’t thought of that! How perceptive of him! I remember seeing a Rescue 9-1-1 episode where an elderly lady had fallen and used her key fob to turn on her car alarm for attention. He’s SO perceptive! I stood up and started looking across the street from neighbor’s house to neighbor’s house. I located it down the side street, across the street from his home. A Cadillac, parked in its carport, had its trunk open and the alarm was going off with its lights flashing.

“Wow,” I said. “Good thinking, babe! Maybe I ought to go and check it out?” My boyfriend stated that he thought an elderly lady lived there, as we’d both seen her leave her house occasionally to get her mail out of her mailbox.

“Okay, but be careful,” he said, hesitantly. He knows that if I put my mind to it, I’ll definitely go and do it.

I put my rain jacket on, with the hood up as it had started sprinkling, as I walked down the driveway. As I was about to cross the street, the car alarm stopped.

“Come back, babe,” he said. I spun around to do so, but then the car alarm started going off again. I turned back around to see another neighbor knocking on the carport side-door, then going to the front door to knock and look in the windows. After that, the neighbor walked back to her side of the street. The car alarm stopped, then started again about 10 seconds later.

I looked back at my boyfriend. “I’m still going to go over and check it out.” He nodded, seeming just as confused as I was.

I walked down the street, seeing other across-the-street neighbors standing outside their own houses, just looking at the house where the car alarm is coming from. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Do you know the lady that lives there?”

A very nice older man stated that another neighbor had just looked in windows and knocked on the doors without anyone answering, and that she just didn’t know. “Maybe we should just shut the trunk?” he asked. “I bet that would shut the alarm off?”

I nodded, but had this impending feeling that my unknown elderly neighbor came back from the grocery store, was taking in her groceries, and fell and hurt herself badly. “Maybe,” I said. “But maybe we should call the police to come and do a welfare check instead?”

He nodded in agreement. “Good idea, young lady.”

I called the local sheriff department’s dispatch, giving my name, requesting a welfare check, giving the lady’s address and re-confirmed my phone number and name, also stating my boyfriend’s address. The dispatcher stated that she’d send an officer right out.

After I hung up, I turned to the older man I had been speaking to, to let him know they were sending an officer right out. “Good job, young lady!”

As he and I were having this interaction, an older lady came out of her house right next to the man’s. She started shouting at me, gesturing. I had a hard time making out what she was saying, due to the car alarm and part of my hearing loss, but she did NOT look happy with me. She had her hands balled into fits and was pointing at me agressively.

I finally was able to make out what she was saying, although she seemed to be getting more aggravated with me. “I’ve called that lady’s daughter. She’s on her way. Now, go home! We’re taking care of it!”

I looked at the man I’d been conversing with and he just shrugged. I told him I was not calling the Sheriff’s department back, that the welfare check wouldn’t hurt anything. He agreed and thanked me for what I did. I did my best customer service smile and nodded at the angry woman. The car alarm had started back up, and the angry lady was STILL yelling at me — not realizing that the alarm was censoring her rantings. I decided to walk back to my boyfriend’s house, where he was watching me from his porch, the entire time.

As I was crossing the state road, I saw the mystery lady’s relative [daughter?] pull up into the lady’s driveway and run into the house. Immediately after that, the police officer pulled onto the road, up alongside the house. The police officer approached slowly and then the car alarm went off. He went inside. 20 minutes later, another officer pulled up and checked with the initial officer, then left.

The initial officer stayed inside for about 45 minutes, before leaving the residence and driving away. The relative left soon after. We watched in concern, to see if everything was okay or if a ambulance was needed, but thankfully no ambulance showed up. All is now quiet there.

I will most likely go and check on her tomorrow or Monday, and introduce myself, but I’m relieved it looks as though nothing traumatic occurred. The one angry lady’s behavior puzzled me. I am not sure why she was quite so angry, but I wasn’t willing to risk it. I didn’t know her and I wouldn’t be intimidated by her. I was also encouraged that the officer stayed for so long, ensuring that the woman was indeed safe and okay. Even if Adult Protective Services comes and looks in on her, to follow up, I feel secure that I did the right thing. Elderly people can go downhill so quickly, especially when they live alone.

I take classes to help trauma victims and to thwart suicide. I work as a public servant, in my day job. I just could NOT sit idly by and not check. I love my neighbors, even if I’ve never met them. People can hate for no reason, so I can love for no reason.

Safely Text Me

I recently heard that 9-1-1 can be reachable via text message. This made me curious, as if this was available when I experienced the final DV incident I would have used it FOR SURE.

I started investigating and my area has that availability. If you’re interested in knowing if your area has the texting availability for 9-1-1, here’s the site to look it up: https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/what-you-need-know-about-text-911. There is a list on this sight of service availability, so you can look up your specific area by law enforcement jurisdiction. If there is a true emergency, calls are always better, but if you cannot call, TEXT. This is Godsend to DV victims, especially during these times of pandemic issues. If a victim has to hide from their abuser, this still allows them to contact help. It’s also helpful for people with hearing loss/deafness, for people who cannot speak, and places with spotty cell phone service — texts usually are smaller and can squeak through silently!

The above graphic outlines how to text 9-1-1. Please state location, when you start messaging, specifically with an address / location, if you can. Texts take a little more time than voice calls, but are still pretty fast!

Thought this was worth mentioning. Hope this blesses someone! Be safe everyone!

Freedom Fighter

September 17th it was 4 years since I got away from my abusive husband, who is now thankfully my EX…God gets the glory on that rescue, for sure!

I think I have a psychological block on that day, to where I don’t reflect on it until the day or two after. It was one year from this date that I thought about becoming an advocate and starting this blog and inspirational page. I’m thankful for that block…it’s a protection mechanism, I am sure it!

I’ve noticed that military veterans have, what I like to call, a “look” to them…this look is from seeing more in their lifetimes than they rightfully should have, but continuing on to defend our awesome country and just be incredible people, in general. They’ve witnessed hunger, genocide, death, and violence. I adore veterans and their sacrifices! #muchloveandrespect. My Honey is a veteran sailor and he’s one of the best! <3

I coined the name “walking wounded” to my advocacy because we as survivors have experienced combat on the home front. We’ve fought domestic terrorism behind our own closed-doors and donned our smiling faces and our helpful attitudes and carried on, simply because we couldn’t possibly relate what was going on or we’d lose it and possibly compromise our family’s safety — so we portray that everything is “fine, just fine.” I did add DV in front of it for “domestic violence,” out of respect for our military veterans. I don’t want to undermine their sacrifice in ANY way!

I know this is rambling, but I had to acknowledge how proud I am of my advocacy and how far I’ve come. I had to opportunity to write a love letter to my Honey on that day, that will be published in a book about brain disorders. I think that is completely apropo to the day that it occurred on, even though I didn’t realize it. I proclaimed how grateful I am for the love and care that he extends to me, that I didn’t even realize was possible. I think he recognizes the survivor and veteran in me, and I love and honor the one in him. Heroes come from all walks of life, despite what battles they may fight.

Love and light!