Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, July 09, 2005
NOW AND THEN
I was a mother and wife at the age of eighteen years old. Not too long into the relationship, verbal and mental abuse became a lifestyle that I lived with for over ten years. It was physical in a sense that everything but the kitchen sink was thrown at me.
My ex was in and out of work in which forced me to work full-time as a waitress. Being on my feet seven days a week, holding heavy trays, working until one o’clock am, raising three kids, and dealing with an abusive relationship left me with Epstein Barr and depression.
Fortunately, I didn’t turn to alcohol or food. Instead, I went bonkers. I would find myself crying in closets and I had no positive outlook towards anything. I was angry, bitter, and depressed.
After ten years of abuse, I left the relationship. I forgive my ex and have moved on. I don’t think about it, talk about it unless there is a legit reason for talking about it, and I haven’t seen or spoken to my ex in over seven years.
I graduated college, moved out of state, remarried, wrote and self-published a book, and became very spiritual. I went through a healing process through writing. I have written several stories about my past as a way to gain closure.
I have a wonderful family, great friends, a good marriage, a beautiful home, and live nearly half a mile from the ocean. I live in warm climate, design handmade crafts, own my own website, and work for my husband three days a week.
I have no complaints and my past to me was as if it never happened. It was so long ago that sometimes I don’t even remember what went on. I now, write for a Women Abuse column at Suite101.com and instruct a workshop on “How To Survive An Abusive Relationship.” We can survive abuse and move on.
When I moved to a new state and started a new life, I worked full-time at my local Humane Society. I worked for 40-60 hours a week. My job consisted of cleaning cages every day in which was very physical. I gave animals shots, and unfortunately I had to euthanize animals. This job was very stressful, but I did it with no complaints and no pain. I came home after an 8-10 hour workday and cooked for my family, and my weekends consisted of food shopping and cleaning my house.
My energy was on fire. I was exercising, walking with friends, going to writing workshops in the evenings, and feeling wonderful.
I had my fourth child (second marriage) and left my job at the Humane Society. I had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom. This was how I finished my book and published it. How cool is that?
A year after my son was born I started to experience pain. Not major pain at first, but pain in my legs. After a month the pain went to my arms, chest, and then chronic headaches.
Now it has reached a point where my physical illness has become a life challenge. At times, I cannot lift my arms and I have experienced a point in my life where I couldn’t walk. Now that was scary.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but the doctor was still unsure about this diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is a common condition associated with muscular pain and fatigue. The cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown. Studies have suggested that people with Fibro have abnormal levels of several of the different chemicals that help transmit and amplify pain signals to and from the brain.
Some studies believe that Fibromyalgia stems from stress, trauma, physical trauma, and abuse.
One would think that all this physical pain would have occurred during my abuse, but for me, this didn’t occur until ten years after the divorce. I could honestly say that my life today is wonderful. We all have our downfalls and problems, but I am living my life as a writer: a life that I have always dreamed of, so why now?
Why after fulfilling my dreams, achieving my goals, and doing what I love to do the most, do I now feel horrible?
Back then was when I felt my worst. I was clinically depressed, being abused, and down right exhausted. Then was when I slept until twelve-noon, had food thrown at me, and cried until my eyes became swollen.
Back then I worked my booty off, took care of three kids no problem, and worked full-time. Now, I am lucky to have one good day ahead of me.
When I compare Now and Then, I see a sad change in my energy and quality of life. I use to exercise like it was going out of style, now it is like pulling tooth and nail just to get me up and walking around my block.
Then I worked day and night and loved the tiredness of hard work, now I have to drag myself just to work three days a week and a measly nine hours a week.
Then I had to focus on giving an animal a shot and even euthanize and handle acupuncture, now I cannot even focus on putting a money balance in Quicken.
But yet, people might say, “just keep moving,” “get over it" and "the past is in the past,” as if I could keep my body from feeling physical pain. Granted, some of us may have abused alcohol and food, but we also have the choice to stop. We could see a therapist if we are feeling depressed or the blues, but how can we “stop” feeling physical pain? How does one prevent ever feeling or experiencing a “chronic illness?”
I truly believe that abuse has a lot to do with how we feel physically and mentally. Our soul and spirit are fragile and when someone shatters our soul; our spirit becomes scarred.
I don’t think that we can “control” fibromyalgia or prevent it from happening. One never knows when an illness is going to creep up on them.