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I have read so many horrific stories about torture and abuse, injustice and impossibilities. Each reading makes me so proud to be a part of World Pulse and to know in this way many courageous, feisty and compassionate women are making a difference one step at at a time, never giving up, though sometimes discouraged. I know it is impossible for a person to beat someone at their own game. So, it does not improve conditions to fight back in the same way. Something more creative needs to be done to catch these people off guard. I also know if a person "re-acts" to an injustice it does not have a good effect. A woman, or anyone, needs to be able to step back, assess the situation, make a decision and then act. Acting is quite different from re-acting. Acting creates power. Re-acting creates more resistance and shows you are out of control.

With that in mind, I am taking the liberty of writing the last chapter of my book in the hopes that it will help some WP people find a way to develop inner power. For me, this has made all the difference.

But I'm Beginning To See the Light

During our first year of marriage my husband, Jack, worked long hours. On the weekend he would drink and watch television on the sofa, lying his head in my lap. Ancient black and white old 1940's science fiction re-runs every weekend night until the wee hours of the morning. I sat there dutifully not wanting to disturb him, just knowing that in his deep subconscious mind he knew and appreciated the love I felt to do this. How sick was I?

At around 3AM, he would stir and I would suggest bed. My new husband would pass out in bed as soon as his head hit the pillow. Pregnant, I would waddle to my side of the bed and lie down. It was uncomfortably freezing because Jack insisted in the middle of winter that all the bedroom windows be opened all night as far as they could be. Why? Because he like it that way.

Sunday morning we got up, he cleaned the house after I had just spent all week cleaning. Then we did the weekly grocery/food shopping. Dear WP reader, he had just spent 60 hours at work around food. Does this tell you something about him? All Sunday afternoon we were in the meat section, the produce or vegetable aisle. He explained things to me I never wanted to know. The difference between a private label can of green beans and a national brand of green beans. Why a can of fish/crab was a good item to put on the front page of the weekly flier even though upper management didn't think it would sell well or make them money. On and on about that fish can. Do I seem like the kind of person interested in this conversation or lifestyle? Then he had to go to bed very early Sunday night to be prepared for his five o'clock morning rise and subsequent important work week "Counting green bean cans" or whatever he did.

I was 25 years old. Often called uncommonly beautiful, a knock-out. But I didn't believe anyone because I wasn't the stereotypical tall, pencil thin, blue eyed, blond with long straight hair. I had olive skin, dark eyes and hair, was short, my weight was "just right" which meant not thin, not fat. Like it or not life is a comparison. I had nothing to compare myself with but a lot to compare myself to. No loving family as my brother and mother had abandoned me and no money of my own or jointly. Jack's management position as something in the food/grocery business might have made big talk before he married me, but we had nothing to show for it now. I was no longer a television star and there was no hope for my professional future I had dreamed of. We had moved to a new town, I knew no one. I was pregnant so there was no chance of local television employment. In those days A pregnant television weather girl doesn't have much allure or charm. Jack begged me to go to an employment agency and get a job right away. I told him I tried but I didn't. Have you ever notice that sometimes you feel more lonely when you are at home with a person than when you are physically alone? My counselor explained it as the incongruity of the situation. Some people call it crazy making. I call it mind-fucking.

My life with Jack can be summed up in a few words, one would be crazy making. Saying one thing and doing another. Hearing a verbal message but getting a different non-verbal message than the verbal message. Like "I love you" (verbal) while his face is in the newspaper reading (non-verbal). Or doing the opposite of what the sane expected action or comment would be. If I walked into the room, he automatically walked out. I was constantly invalidated. It was as if I was not there.Most won't agree, but it is worse than being slapped. At least if you are slapped the person knows you are there, are a living being. If I said something or asked a question he didn't answer.I lived it for 13 years with him and still feel a few of the ramifications now. It was worse than living with my mother. My mother, God rest her soul, was open, yelling, direct, goodhearted, evil, funny unpredictable, sly, action oriented, encouraging, discouraging, sick, alcoholic, But she told you loud and clear and you knew what to expect.

If she was nice one minute you knew the next minute was going to be Hell rolling over. If she brought a box of food to a poor person you knew it was only a matter of time before she tried to break up someone's marriage. If Sunday was predictable and simple, you knew that night and the next day would be bizarre. You knew if she was calm and polite watching you in your class comedy play that at the end of the evening there would be an embarrassing drama. You knew that if you dared bring a friend home after school to pretend to yourself that you had a normal family and a clean up-to-date house, she would be drinking a beer on her way to drunkhood and the house would smell of dirty nylon stockings which she would stick between the cushions of the sofa after work until the next morning when she put them on and then that night repeated the process until the house smelled dirty.

My new ex-husband, with an emphasis on the ex, was the worst kind of crazy maker. He was an insidious gas you cannot see or hear, that quietly crept into every inch of my being, destroying one cell at a time. A spirit cell, a logic cell, a nice woman cell, the good parent cell, a hygiene cell, a control cell, my hope cell. Eventually, like the black and white science fiction movies we watched at the beginning of our marriage, he destroyed most of my cells. Those huge science fiction juggernauts/monsters, plowing through the town, dumber than a rock, heartless, seeing people as objects to be annihilated or beaten or killed. Just like an insidious gas you cannot see, it doesn't matter where they put their feet, they demolish everything and everyone step by step. His gas almost destroyed everything in me just like those huge monsters in the movies. And after the destruction is done, the people and houses gone, you are leveled, flattened, nothing but ash, too weak and limbless to do anything but lay there. But just like in those science fiction movies something seems to always come out of nothing. Just like those black and white horrors, I began to grow something out of this DEATH OF SPIRIT.

It was my spine.

And I knew if I could look up I could get up. And if I could get up then straighten up I could move up the hill one step at a time to my greatness. My new chant and mantra became "I will leave the ash and the ass behind".

Then I had to live in this hellhole for 5 more years while I planned and executed my education and new life. It was hell. But I knew what I was doing. I had a focus and a plan. Jack may have been my gas chamber, he may have killed just about everything in me, but like those old black and white science fiction movies I watched over and over, I found something lying in the ruins. I found a piece of something foreign to me, almost like mold, which is a living breathing thing. And it kept growing and growing and taking over my being. It is called "ME" .

And that is why, ladies and gentlemen, I am such an amazing person no matter where you put me. I can grow anything. Been there. Done that. Piece of cake now.

Like my brother told me years ago, I can take a pile of dung/manure and find the sunshine in it any day. And I can pick that ray of sun out of you and help it grow until it over grows and over powers anything or anyone. It is called YOUR SPIRIT.

Spirit doesn't mean your world is all right. It means you are all right wherever in the world you are. And no one can ever take that away from you. Keep it coming, baby !

Gender-based Violence
Northern America
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