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“The Wind Blows Hard, the climb is slow, shadows are dark, I stumble on these stones” Walk On 4HIM
We had made it to Thanksgiving of 2009, and while we began work on the business in May, I still found it very difficult to get out of bed in the morning. So much had happened in 3 years. I was facing another surgery, but that was not until April, so all the medicines that were serving a dual purpose were gone.
And I felt the pain, in some ways like I had never before. Crissy and I decided to move to Citrus County to move closer to her family and to headquarter the business. Looking back on the decision now, I don’t remember even praying about it; and maybe somewhere in the back of my mind maybe I wanted to fade into oblivion—a place where nobody knew the story. Maybe I was looking for somewhere that I could be invisible.
I hate moving, and I seriously HATE packing. But, it was time as Crissy’s house was sold and another already purchased in Citrus County. I stood in front of my closet and let the reality of another move sink in; I looked around the room, painted in yellow with furniture from my guest room when I was married. I stood at the closet, sort of paralyzed not knowing how I could begin to pack. I did not have the physical strength or the emotional capacity to face some of the things I would need to pack—like wedding pictures, for example.
We traveled a lot so my closet and drawers were filled with t-shirts from those vacations and trips. One of the t-shirts caught my eye, a white one from Hawaii, and I noticed something on the bottom of the t-shirt that I had never noticed before. It was faint, but not hard to distinguish, it was a bloodstain, and I knew exactly from whence it came– because that event had been (and sometimes still is) one of the flashbacks I have in the middle of the night.
The flashbacks, in my opinion, are the worst part of the whole thing. I think it is important for you to understand what a PTSD flashback is. It is not a faded memory, it is not intentional and it is, in a word, torture. Mine almost always come in the middle of the night, or when there is a familiar smell or if I go to parts of the country where we were together. They are worse than reality because when you are conscious your mind has a check valve—sort of God’s design to protect us from the pain, I think. I don’t know, all I do know is that I remember way more about events during a flashback then when I am awake practicing mindfulness.
So, I stood there in front of that closet, and before I knew it I found myself back in the kitchen slammed against the refrigerator in St. Augustine, Florida.
I can’t remember what started it this time. I think it had something to do with coffee. It might have been because I had forgotten to set the timer on the coffee maker the night before. I had not been awake very long—and I am not a morning person—so it could have that I snapped back at him about something, again, I don’t remember what started it. The only reason I know it had something to do with coffee is because I still had the coffee pot in my hand when he slammed me against the refrigerator. It smashed into a million pieces when I dropped it in an attempt to protect myself. He had his forearm pressed against my neck.
Our agreement was when he lost his temper—that I would either leave or lock myself in another room. I think, like anything else, people negotiate and parlay painful events; relenting whatever you need to do to create a solution that might mean it will never happen again. This was how we got to that agreement. Maybe that is common in domestic abuse situations, I am sure we didn’t make it up.
I felt him pull his forearm off my throat and realized that I had been unable to breathe. I was dizzy and a little confused, but I did remember the rule, so I literally ran to another room in the house and locked the door. Just seconds later, though, he began banging at the door telling me if I let him in we could talk about it. I did not open the door, but he did, after a running start and all 240lbs of him came flying through the now broken door. When I realized what was going on, I kept backing up as if at some point there was going to be a magical opening in the wall and I could escape. When my back finally touched the wall, he was 2 inches from my face screaming at me. There was no time to move, duct or avoid this fist that landed squarely in the middle of my face. Blood went everywhere.
I had never been punched in the face and I don’t even remember it hurting, there was just, so much blood. The next thing I remember was standing in Publix with 4 full size cans of carpet stain remover to get the blood out of the white carpet in that room. I got home, went back into that room and got on my hands and knees and started cleaning my blood of the carpet. He stood at the door and watched me and then asked me if I would look at his hand to see if he had broken it when he slammed through the door. There were no tears, they would not come—and certainly there was no logic. So, not only did I clean my blood up off the floor, I looked at his hand, told him to put ice on it and finished cleaning by getting the splatters of blood off the wall.
Logic would have told me to go to the police station instead of Publix, logic would have told me to break his swollen hand when he put it in mine to see if he was going to be “okay”. By the way, believing I had value would have told me those things too. But, my brain was in fight or flight—very common in these situations—so before you judge me or anyone else in a domestic violence situation, remember that. Also remember what I try to write in every BLOG, value is worth more than any amount of money in the world. If you or somebody you know is in a situation like this or was in one; the healing starts when you help her realize she deserves better. Like a deep laceration, healing comes from the inside first.
“No end in view, at times I feel alone and the signs are few, but at least they all say home…I chose to take this road called faith…”
I pulled that t-shirt out of the closet that day and starred at it for what felt like hours. By that time I remember Crissy popping her head in my room—I don’t think she knew I saw her. I wasn’t crying, just kind of stunned. I think a person is given a tear budget, and mine had long been used, even back on that day in St. Augustine, the tears would not come.
Crissy had worn out the floor in that hallway by my door, with each flashback in the middle of the night she was holding vigil either outside my room or calming me down until I could go back to sleep. I would learn later that she would stand outside my door until she was confident that I stayed asleep—to this day I really don’t have words for that kind of love for another person. The loss for words only matched by a failed effort to describe my gratitude.
I wondered then, as I often do now, “when will it be too much?” One thing I knew for sure though is Someone had walked a much more difficult road for me; and was beaten and killed so that I could be healed by His stripes. And because of that, I knew my only choice was to walk on.
“Because of Love there was an awful hill You climbed and because of Love I will live my faith one step at a time. The course is set, life is hard but yet, I will walk on. Around each bend until the end I will walk on.”