1997

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us again as a guest blogger. We are in awe of her strength in surviving her abusive marriage and we are inspired by her bravery in sharing her story out loud. 

Story will inspire

This is a story that has lived within me for several years, actually for almost two decades. This is a story that few have ever told, but if you know it, the story must be told. It’s a true story, one meant to inspire others, not one meant to elicit pity. Pity is not what I needed; strength and inspiration – that’s what I was looking for.

It started a long time ago, when I was a young girl. I met my sweetheart. We were very young, 14 or 15. Circumstances would lead us to marry others, but circumstances would also bring us back together. It’s at that point that the real tale begins.

I believed, like so many young women, that the man I would marry would hold me dear in his heart. He would cherish me, guard me, and protect me. Never would he harm me. I believed that whatever faults I saw, things would be okay because of the underlying truth: he loved me. This was at a time when I believed that people would change for the better, or I could help them change.

My childhood sweetheart was raised in a Christian home, believing in God. His parents were blue-collar hard-workers. I remember his dad in particular. He worked shift work at the tire factory in Kitchener. He landed his job during a time when an education was not necessary to maintain a steady paycheque. At the end of a long day, he would come home to deal with a busy household comprising of five children and a sickly wife. His reward was a cigarette and a beer.

My husband grew up and followed in his dad’s footsteps. He was uneducated. Times had changed and as a result, my husband had difficulty holding down a job. As it turned out, the love of my life was plagued by demons. He believed that he was not worthy of any of life’s treasurers, certainly not love. Because of this, one beer became two, became six. Soon the motto was: “24 beers, 24 hours in a day, not a coincidence.”

I was a master at justifying anything. “He drinks because he worked hard, he drinks because life is so busy, he drinks because…” There were a thousand good reasons to drink, and there were no good reasons to drink. He drank copious amounts, but beer was his drink of choice. I discovered that if he drank spirits, he was more difficult to handle once he was drunk.

Now when I say, “more difficult to handle,” what I really mean is he became violent, physically abusive. As it turned out, he was more violent with spirits, but that didn’t stop his temper when he was drinking just beer. Remember, I was good at justifying anything. I would say things like, “He only drinks on the weekend “(lie), or, “If he drinks beer, he doesn’t get too violent” (another lie). I would console myself by saying, “He doesn’t hit the children,” something that eventually became another lie. I even tried telling myself that others didn’t know. Others knew. They knew and didn’t know what to do.

Friends and family would watch in horror as I sported new bruises. There were so many battles fought over the course of 12 years. So many times I wondered what I had gotten into, how could I change things, could I ever learn the rules of living with him? I knew this was a dangerous situation, ready to go off at any minute. If I said the wrong thing, said something with the wrong tone, served something for supper that wasn’t up to his liking, there would be hell to pay.

After one particularity disastrous birthday and Father’s Day, I went to church with bruises on my face, neck, arms and upper torso. Not cleverly-disguised bruises – these were big, purple, angry bruises. The next day at work, someone asked me what happened. I told them I ran into a door. Looking at me, you knew I would have to run into the door repeatedly to get these bruises. Bravely, I told the lie.

I remember this weekend clearly – it’s the weekend my babies watched as I was choked and beaten. All I could think of was getting away with my babies. I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t have money; I just needed to get away. It was also the weekend I made up my mind that things would change.

I started dreaming of schemes, trying to figure out how we could leave the home without bringing on another beating. I didn’t care about the things in the house, they were just things and I could earn money to get more things. I envisioned so many scenarios. Maybe he would go away for the weekend and come home to an empty house. Maybe he would be involved in an accident and I could become a grieving widow…problem solved.

One thing I wanted to keep sacred was my relationships – they were few and far between. I didn’t want other people burdened with the mess I had gotten myself into. I wouldn’t ask for help. I had been virtually cut off from family, so I couldn’t ask them. This is very typical of an abusive relationship, isolate the victim.

It was almost two years to the day before I finally had enough. With no plan in mind, with little cash resources, we left. We left and made a stand…NO MORE! I didn’t care if he kept everything in the house, he would never touch any of us again. Never again would we live in fear. There would be no more angry voices in my home.

It was the scariest day of my life…EVER. But, it was like being born, a new day with new hope. It was refreshing to get up in the morning and know that I was in control of all that was before me. If something went wrong, I would be responsible for making it right. I also knew that I wouldn’t depend on someone else; there would be no more disappointments.

If you are a victim, you will know when you’ve had enough. It takes a lot of courage to leave; it takes a lot of courage to stay. Make plans, but be prepared to move at a moment’s notice.

Your friends are watching you, they want to help but don’t know how. They can’t believe that you would stay where you are, but don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

If you know a victim, be their support. Don’t judge someone for remaining, you never know what you would do yourself. Be an ear. Protect the children; give them a reprieve in the chaos. Have a moving truck and plenty of strong, young men on standby.

Remember to protect yourself. Once you are free, never look back. You will second-guess yourself for a long time. Your memory will play tricks on you. You will think, “Was it really all that bad?” I have a crack in my jaw that hurts sometimes; this reminds me that yes, it was that bad.

The bible doesn’t say “reconcile and forget,” it simply says “forgive and forget.” Forgiveness does not mean the renewal of the relationship; it is the power to let go. Reconciliation is forgiveness with the expectation of a continued relationship. Don’t kid yourself – there is no expectation of a continued relationship.

Your ex-partner will be angry. They will plead. They will promise to never hurt you again. They will try to convince you that it never happened. Stay strong. Find your friends again. Cry, laugh and cry again. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Be reborn. Rejoice in the day.

I’ve survived. My children have survived. It was 1997, so long ago, but only yesterday. Scars will heal. We will be okay.

~ Dianne

If you are someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is hope and there is help. You are stronger than your story, braver than you know, and a survivor through and through.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

In Ontario, call 1-866-863-0511 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

Call 1-800-799-7233 in the US 24/7.

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Advertisements

Breaking tradition…well, sorta

My family has always said that I ask too many questions, some of which may be comical or the answer may not be what I want to hear, but still I continue to ask them. How else will I learn? Or have pointless knowledge of everything under the sun!?

Have you ever asked where some traditions come from, like for instance why do you blow out candles on your birthday? Or why does every Portuguese household almost always have a rooster in it? Well, I sit here searching through endless pictures of bouquets, hair styles, veils, decor, budget-friendly-anything-at-all to get ideas for the upcoming nuptials, and I find myself asking, why? Why and where did so many of wedding traditions come from?

Why does the bride hold flowers? There are two thoughts on this tradition. The first, according to some, is that brides held flowers in order to cover up their odor (clearly this was B.D. (Before Deodorant)). Every bride wants to look their best on the day, so why not add a little pizzazz with lilac or rose scent? Nothing says “Marry me!” like a freshly flowered bride! The other thought states that brides would hold flowers or bouquets which were made with garlic or other extreme-scented herbs to ward off evil spirits and bad omens. Again, starting off on the right foot with this marriage – smelling good and bad-omen-free. For our nuptials, my decision to hold flowers was neither of these – it should be known that I will shower on the morning of the wedding and that there won’t be garlic or thyme in my bouquet. I will, however, be holding a bouquet on the day because they are beautiful and because that is what you are supposed to do. My sister did it, my mother did it, my grandmother did it and I am going to follow THAT tradition.

Everyone knows that the bride and groom are not supposed to see each other before the ceremony, but why? I’ll let you in on a little secret…I tried to convince Cody to see each other the day of the wedding. That we could sleep in our bed together the night before and then go our separate ways the morning of our nuptials after having a yummy breakfast together. You would have thought I was suggesting to sell our firstborn. The origins of this now tradition came from superstitions when arranged marriages were more common than meet-cute ones. The families of the betrothed were worried that seeing one another before their binding of ties would cause them to make a break for it! For our day, our avoidance is based on surprise. I want to see Cody’s face when he sees me all dressed in white for our day. The groom’s look of love always makes the best pictures.

In all of the planning, I have not yet decided on the old saying of “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” Not many know why these requirements are in place, but this is a tradition I can get behind. Something old is for the connection and ties to remain with the families of the bride and groom once the couple are married. Something new is for the new union being created and something borrowed is from the bride’s family to show their love for her, and to show they are walking with her as she marries her prince.

We are coming near the four-month mark ’til the big day (122 days to be exact (according to all of the wedding apps, gadgets and gizmos I have)). There are so many things to do and events coming up that my head is swimming with questions, answers and dates I can’t keep straight. I have to-do lists coming out of my wazoo to try and stay organized and on top of everything, with everything swirling around me, I can’t help but think onto this time next year and what that will look like.

This is, after all, just the beginning.

Party on!

Party on!

~ Jacqui

I just don’t understand

With the approaching Friday being celebrated as Halloween, it’s no wonder I find myself shielding my eyes and gasping in horror at an increased rate of gory and demonic movie previews, advertisements for terrifying haunted hayrides and even crazier haunted houses.

I just don’t understand.

Michael often tries to chide me into going to see the latest scary movie in a theater full of people where I cannot nonchalantly remove myself (multiple times) if I can’t handle it, or drag me to Canada’s Wonderland to voluntarily put myself in an uncomfortable state of panic by having strangers chase me around in a dimly – if at all – lit, scary-ass house/structure. It doesn’t fly. Ever.

It’s because I just don’t understand.

And don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal of being a little on edge and have yourself feel a little vulnerable…a LITTLE. I have even attempted to watch my fair share of scary movies. I either end up seeking refuge in a pillow or burrowing my head behind Michael. I have even left the room and refused to come back until the movie was turned off. I have requested multiple lights to be turned back on in the house. I especially cannot handle movies involving possession, demons or spirits. Just no.

Can’t do it. Nu-uh. No way. Because WHY?!

And I won't finish it.

And I won’t finish it.

I have even attempted and COMPLETED a haunted hay ride and maze. At night.

It turned out for me just about the same way it did for Andy and Amy when Ellen sent them through their first haunted house together:

I swore a little bit more. Okay, a lot more. And I may have been slightly impaired, but just a teensy bit. For real, just a teensy bit.

I feel the same way about these activities and this time of year in general, as I do about roller coasters.

I have completed what I feel is a good sample set of them and have determined I do not enjoy the feeling of anxiety and increased level of stress due to holding on, literally, for my life that is accompanied with the ride. Add in the long lines, usually in the sweltering heat, and the adrenaline crash I without fail will endure at the end of said rides – after any high stress altercation, really – and it just doesn’t seem enjoyable or worth it to me. What is the point?

I just don’t understand.

Maybe my feelings about the eerie, chilling things of this season stem back to the sisterhood’s upbringing – where things of this nature were not really present or welcome in our home. A home where Halloween was not celebrated or noted – it was just another day. It could be because we were raised to understand and respect the worlds beyond the physical, to not egg them on, tease or tempt them. These things I do understand.

It could be all of these things and more.

Or it could be that I just don’t understand.

~ Toni