Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Why Did It Take So Long?

Sometimes I think back on decisions and choices I made in life and ask, What was wrong with me?

My internal dialogue goes something like this, If only I had----, How could I have not known----? Why did it take so long for me to make a change? 

I've worked hard over the years at applying knowledge and therapy to help answer these questions.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”                                   --Maya Angelou

Much of the time, my head knows and accepts that I did the best I knew how at the time, but old patterns of thinking emerge and I begin another cycle of turning those questions over in my mind.

***

My oldest son, Michael is 41 years-old. He called me several years ago and said he wanted to ask me something. First, he wanted me to know how much he respected me and how much he admired me for everything I did for him throughout his life. But he had one question.


"I remember the first time you kept the door locked and called for help. We were in the bedroom upstairs sitting on the floor under the window that faced the parking lot. Of all the things that had happened up to that point, why then? Why did it take so long?”           

 ***

I wanted to answer in a few sentences, summarize the internal changes he didn't see, that eventually led to the moment of change he witnessed.

But I couldn’t answer in a few words. It wasn’t an aha moment. 

It was a long letting go of a way of life, of giving up what I had always believed in, and finding hope again.

You see, I thought I had it all figured out. Actually, I was sure I had it all figured out. I was doing better than my mom. My kids had it better than I did growing up. Everything was going to work out.

After years of ups and downs, several events happened that shattered our world. I had to face reality. I had to ask myself how close I was willing to get to the point of no return.

***

A Long Battle with Myself

What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see?  Waiting, hoping, pretending isn’t helping. Tomorrow won’t be better. Do you hear me? There’s no one or no force outside yourself that will fix your life. It’s just you, miserable pathetic you. No magic waits around the corner, no happily ever after on the horizon, no one can do it for you. There’s only you.


Why Then?

So many things come into play. Therapy, the support of the teachers and friends in the family literacy program, and other people who, in one way or another, let me know I wasn’t alone.

***

His truck pulls in the parking lot, earlier than usual, but thankfully we are all inside. The doors are locked. Misty's on her way to open the door. I get to her in time and take everyone upstairs and sit them beneath the window facing the parking lot. We finally have a phone (I'm sure that affected the answer to, "Why then?") I plug it in upstairs and make the call. We're only minutes from the Sheriff's Department. I get under the blanket with the kids to wait. 

"Daddy's sorry. He won't hurt you, he promised." 

"Please let Daddy in." 


I wrap my arms around Misty just before she unlocked the door. She’s not sure if this happened on this particular night but, she remembers nights like this and many broken promises. We all do.

The deputy arrives. His car lights bounce around the room. I get on my knees and opened the window to listen.

“Go for a drive and give her time to cool off before you come back. You know how these women are.”

___________________________________________________________________________________

Anyone experiencing intimate partner violence, or know someone who is, are urged to call the 
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

If you go online, keep in mind that your devices and your computer use can be monitored and search history is impossible to completely clear.




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