A history of “violence”

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You know people say that we are not only made by our parents, their choices, our choices in life, we are also the fruit of past generation history, pains, hopes, dreams and regrets. Yesterday, in bed, as I was about to let sleep takes me to a faraway land, something hit me. Even though I had a happy childhood, with loving parents and grandparents, who encouraged me, trusted me and did everything in their power to give me the best, violence was not far. Violence was on the dinner table, in my mother’s memories that she would share again and again, so she can heal – violence against her a child (physical and sexual violence) – violence against her mother (physical and emotional). Violence was everywhere.

My imagination created many images in my mind. Violence became part of me, as I tried to do everything to make my mum happy. I took a charge that wasn’t mine. Nobody realized it. I was such a happy and quiet child.

Life kept going and I kept moving with it without understanding why I found myself engaged in many relationships tainted by violence: I was harassed at primary school for 4 years – my first boyfriend was a battered child – I worked 3 years with a toxic and crazy fashion designer – I met my ex-husband and discovered violence is not only physical, it’s in the words, the threats, the silence too.

My grand-mother always stayed and keeps staying silent about the violence she was exposed to for many years. She says “it was not that bad”. I can’t hear this. Violence broke my mum. Violence took up power in our life. Violence made me a victim for years.

Somedays I feel that violence is inside me. I try my best to tame it. These days I need silence and peace, so I can let it go without hurting anyone around. Somedays I can’t, so I shout and bury my head in a soft cushion. It feels like violence is tattooed on my skin, like something I can’t get rid of. When my sweet boy turned 2 and started using his hands and fists when he did not get what he wanted, many memories rushed through me. The fact that young kids can’t express their emotions did not help me dealing with his outburst or anger and violence. It was like the story repeated itself.

That’s the reason why I am working a lot on me, asking for professional help when the charge is too heavy. I want to let violence behind. I don’t want violence to be part of the next chapter of our life. We learn together, celebrating victories, searching for peace, towards more light.

The wedding ring

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The flickering sound of a bird nearby told me to stop listening to old thoughts. It was time, to let go, time to erase the shot:  me and you buying the wedding ring.

Saturday afternoon, crowded place, tangled hair, no makeup, friends all around – your friends, spring is on the way. We are in May.

We haven’t talked to each other for 3 days now. I cry. You call me stupid. You threaten to leave, this place, me. We are engaged. The wedding is planned for July. A tear, just one, a need, simple one, a word, not the good one, could ignite a terrible rage within you. I know. I will smile. It’s better for me. You like it. You like when I shut up and smile. You think I want to please you. You love when I play the good wife. Shut up and listen to your man. you know best. I just want peace. I stand firm against the need to shout and tell the world how messy my life is with you, how crazy you are. Your smile is fake. Mine is a self-denial one.

I open my jewelry box, take out the ring. I am ready to let it go. I sold it for 20€. I don’t want it anymore. It’s the last thing that links us together as husband & wife. We are back being two strangers that will never meet again. The image – me and you buying the wedding ring – is fading away. It’s blurry. I can now say something like this, out loud: you are an asshole, a crazy bastard!

When life is messy…

Sometime life is pretty messy

Sometime life is crazy or sad

Sometime we feel like dropping on our knees

Sometime we feel like giving up

Sometime people are letting us down

Sometime people are showing us their dark side

Sometime life seems like a never ending struggle

Sometime nothing makes sense

Sometime we do feel like crap, not good enough

Sometime we only wish to stay all day in our pajamas cursing the entire world

Self-absorbed in the visualization on our worst future nightmare

Self-pity works miracles but does not serve us in the long run

Indulging in chocolate cookies or alcohol is not good either

At least we are trying something to feel better

Sometime life gives us sour lemons

And it’s up to us

To stand up

To show up

To decide between fear and love

To choose what we’d like to experience…

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Autumn is coming…

Summer is gone. We could not bear it anymore – too hot. We were looking for fresh air everywhere. Kids grew cranky and grow-ups tired, in the blazing heat of early September.

I look outside, it’s pouring rain. It feels so good – a relief. It smells like a sweet pie just out of the oven, ready to be savored. My whole body shivers – pure pleasure. It’s a blessing after these busy days. And the beginning of a new season too.

Autumn is my favorite. I like everything about it, its sounds, its colors, its warmth, the pleasure we get to be inside and enjoy the comfort of our own homes, that we tend to let down when the sun is high is the sky. I love being able to spend hours in the kitchen, playing with new recipes or just relax on the couch in front of a good movie. I love entire days reading books and building sacred spaces with a couple of chairs and a blanket, cuddling on cushions and playing games all together. I enjoy a lot being inside, dressed in one of my must-loved home-wear clothes; let the window open and the cold air of outside caressing the skin of my face with gentleness. I love testing new teas and hot-chocolates, baking scones or making jam. And meeting friends in our favorite coffee-shop, looking at Paris getting ready for the year-end festivities.

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I love scarves, boots and comfy coats, gloves and the touch of wool. Walking in nature and staring gracefully at the leaves falling down, changing colors, at the naked trees standing still.

Autumn. A time to breath and relax, to relax and let go, to let go and take care of ourselves, to take care of others and forgive ourselves, to forgive and move on, to move on and enjoy each second of the present, to enjoy life and remember that today is perfect and that we too are perfect, in the eyes of Creator. Nothing else should matter.

Autumn. A time to shine inside…

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Being a woman

I forgot what it meant

Being a woman

I forgot what it’s like

Being looked at

***

He said things

I did not want to hear

Lack of confidence

My body is a mess

Inside

I feel scared

Trusting again

***

He told me

It’s time to let go

To let love knock at the door

Of my heart

***

I am so good at listening to others

At helping them

I am so bad at letting someone take care of me

Telling me how fabulous I am

***

Images are rushing in front of my eyes

Being naked is scaring me

How to be myself when deep down

The scars are still bleeding?

***

I want to scream

How can I forgive myself?

How can I let go of something that is killing me?

How somebody will see behind

My broken femininity?

***

I forgot what it meant

Being a woman

I forgot what it’s like

Being looked at

***

I forgot I was loveable

I forgot I was beautiful

 

Airport Memories

I remember…

August 2006

Time to say goodbye. My life was about to change. For the best. And the worst. And the best again. You never know what Life is going to be. You only have to go with the flow. Wait and see. Then take action and do the best to be happy.

A sunny morning, at the airport (France). I had two bags, my family and my three best friends with me. I was about to make a step into an unknown world.

On the other side of the sea, two little girls were getting ready to welcome me.

I don’t have much left of this day, only memories, a photo, something inside my chest telling me “you’re crazy”. And many worries.

On the other side of the sea, the two girls were waiting, in a different airport, not sure whether they would like me.

I can still see myself, face against the airplane window, looking outside, at the tarmac, trying to relax and not understanding a word. I think I slept during the flight.

I did not know yet that I would do this trip many times; that I would go and come back to a place I would call mine.

My feet on the ground, in a stranger land. I could hear and feel my heartbeat. You would never know, till you experience it, how much two girls can be that scary!

And then the last line, past the luggage reclaims area, past customs. The rest of the world as you know it stays behind. You are playing with a range of new feelings and emotions.

I did not know that ten years later, I would do the same trip and meet two wonderful teenagers, waiting to welcome me.

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Crazy midnight

You were always calling

After midnight

Same old song

“Where are you tonight?”

You were always ringing

At the door

In the middle of the night

“Open to me Babe

I want to hold you tight”

Stop sleeping

Wake up darling

Make me some tea

Let’s watch TV

You could not stop calling

After midnight

Asking me why

“You’re already asleep? “

You could not stop ringing

At the door

“I crossed the town

To hold you in my arms”

Stand up love

Welcome me

With a smile

And a hot meal

To keep me warm

You kept on calling

After midnight

Telling me

“I’m sorry

I didn’t want to make you cry”

You kept on ringing

At the door

“Let me get in,

You’re the love of my life”

I want you

I need you

Don’t let me down

Don’t say goodbye

I will call before midnight

Without asking you to make the bed right

I will come home before midnight

Making love to you till the morning light

Give me a chance

Before midnight

I beg you…

No more calling

After midnight

I hated

The story you made up

Every time

No more ringing

At the door

No more smoking inside

And your wishes to please

Before mine

I don’t care

Where you’ll go

I don’t want

To be around you anymore

It’s midnight

I am ready

For a brand new Life

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You can’t change others (pretty hard to accept it and let go)

Sometime the only thing that you can do is step back for a while. And look at things from a certain distance.

It’s not easy. It may be tricky. You may want to jump in the mess and try to change things.

But a little voice inside you tells you that you can’t change people.

It’s so hard when it’s somebody you love. It’s very hard when it’s a closed one, a family member. It’s terrible when you know that whatever you do, whatever you may say to this person, she will stay the same, with her past trauma and her lack of confidence.

You may want to do something but you are left doing nothing. Just looking and waiting. Because there is nothing you can do really.

You can hope and pray.

And let go.

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I’ve been seeing my mum sad for the past 34 years. She felt better till she felt bad again. Depression. Cancer. Nothing seems to cheer her up more than 5 minutes. She says she’s ok till she confesses she can’t make it till the next day. She is waiting for some people to acknowledge her worth – the wrong people, the ones who will never tell her how great she is.

I have to say that some days I am not patient with her. I am a bit rude. I’d like to shake her and show her how lovely the world is around, how you can rise, how you can find like-minded people to cheer you up, instead of focusing on darkness and pain. She says that nobody can understand, that what she experienced as a child can’t be repaired and that it’s not about her – she simply can’t move past the trauma. She is stuck in it. She wants to understand things that can’t be understood.

I don’t have the keys to make her feel better. I have my own doubts and painful moments. But I don’t want to dwell on them. I am making my way up and I can’t stand anymore talking hours about the crazy people of our lives. There are so many good ones who deserve our attention.

She is feeling more alone than ever these days. I am feeling a bit guilty. Till I remember my life is important. I am important. And I can’t stay down the hole because it feels better for somebody else.

I know I can’t do anything. Only accepting her, her pain, her lack of confidence, her messed up thoughts. And it’s the hardest part of our relationship, as I am choosing happiness and a better life for me and Mister Pop.

What would you have done?

If you mum would have come to you saying

“your dad better not find you there reading a book, when he comes home”

Would you have just said “ok”?

Would you have just asked “why? what’s wrong with reading a book”?

Would you have said “I don’t agree with this. What’s his problem? I can’t do what I want in my own home”?

Would you have said “no more of this bullshit. A man will never ever say to me what I should or should not do”?

Or would you have said “this is not my battle”?

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If you mum had started crying and talking once again about her life, abused childhood, about her messed up married life, about how she is trying everything but no one sees it

Would you have taken her in your arms and say you’re sorry for creating such a mess around a single book?

Would you have told her “maybe you should leave dad”?

Would you have said “please stop with your childhood memories. I am fed up. I can’t take this anymore. We’ve been living with all this craziness since we’re kids. I can’t hear about it anymore”?

Would you have just stayed there and listen. And think “when all this will stop”?

What would you have done?

Would you have felt helpless?

Would you have asked yourself “how to set boundaries with all this mess coming around again and again and again”?

Do you know how to set boundaries, how to deal with this, without hurting yourself?

We are the change

But how to change? Where to start?

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Face to Face

End of the day. They are stopping there every night for a milkshake after work, a good way to unwind and talk a bit. They don’t have much time during the day. Lucy just left. She went back home.

Home. Emma does not want to think about home. Where is home? Can we call home a place where you are not safe in? Some days she feels that the coffee shop is her home. She knows Breda, the owner, very well. Breda is kind and always has a nice word for her. Breda is like a mum. Emma’s mum is too old now. She is sick, her head does not answer anymore. Emma’s mum is losing track of time, she does not even recognize her when she comes to visit. Emma talks, until it’s time for her to leave.

Breda is about to close the coffee shop. It’s late. Nobody’s left but Emma. Emma looks quite sad today. Or maybe she is just tired, wishing to get home, but having no energy to stand and walk. Breda thinks it might be fine to sit down for a chat. She does not do this often. She does not have time during the day. She likes Emma. She reminds her of her daughter, who left home long time ago, without a word. Breda does not know where she is or what she’s doing. She does not know why she left, what was so wrong with her life. She tried for many years to recall memories, to question herself on what she may have done the wrong way. It’s not easy to raise kids. Maybe her daughter would have liked a brother or a sister to play with. Maybe her daughter did not really cope with her dad accident, maybe Breda did not talk enough about it, reassuring her enough at a time she felt the need for it.

Breda and Emma are now facing each other. In the space between them, there is a secret nobody really wants to share. Emma does not know whether she wishes to talk to her. Maybe Breda will judge her. Maybe she’ll tell her words she does not want to hear. Like the doctor the other day. She knows him well enough, for years. He is like a friend.

  • Three broken bones and an infinite number of scars. Look. Do you still think this guy is good for you?
  • He does not know what he is doing. He is just a bit jealous.
  • He is crazy Emma. He is killing you every single day. You know this?
  • He just does not know how to deal with me.
  • Deal with what?
  • Deal with my crazy side. You know, sometimes I am a bit pushy. I don’t know what I want. I want more.
  • This is bullshit Emma.
  • You don’t understand. He does not want to hurt me.
  • Really?
  • I mean he always says sorry after it. You get it? He is a bit sick too. We are both sick. So we get on well. And he does not do this every day. It just happened. These things happen.
  • You’re joking Emma, right. You must be joking. We had this conversation many time already. You are not safe with this guy.
  • He’ll change. He promised me he’ll change.
  • He won’t Emma. You know it. These guys don’t change. He is telling you this for the past 6 years. Six years of violence. Do you get it?
  • What can I do? What I am supposed to do? An idea to share? You’ll keep me here? You’ll forbid me to leave this place? What you’ll do about this?

Same old story. People don’t have a clue what they are talking about. Emma is alone. She knows something is going wrong but when he is nice, life is so special. No more insults, threats or punches in the face. He is all tender and sweet. He brings her flowers and takes her on trips around the country. She believes it’s all good, life will change, they’ll be happy then. Lucy does not like him. But what Lucy knows about him? She thinks something is wrong with him. Too nice to be true. Lucy is a friend but she never shared anything with her on this. It’s none of her business. And surely she would come with her own set of perfect advices, that won’t fit Emma’s life.

Emma is alone. Who can understand anyway? Who can even believe that she is staying? She tried to contact a women group a year ago, to see if she could talk about all this, to get a clear figure, to see whether what she was living was crap or whether everybody was dealing with the same kind of issue. Over the years she learnt to anticipate the crisis, to stay calm when he started screaming, to cope with the beating without complaining or crying. But last minute she got scared. If he ever heard about it…

She is now looking at Breda. She is realizing she does not know much about her life. Is she married? Does she have kids? What is she doing the rest of the time, when she is not stuck in this coffee shop? Does she know anything about violence, about pain, about coping with disaster, about recurrent nightmares? Does she know anything about self-hatred, guilt, lack of confidence? She is older. She looks wiser. It’s what age gives you, wisdom and some sense of peace, of accomplishment; even if life did not go the way you wanted.

Emma put her head inside her arms, set her head on the table in front of her. She can’t carry on like this. Something is wrong with her life. She feels like she is dying. Each day seems to take her to death too fast for her young age. She is not even 30 years old and she is a mess. Breda is still looking at her. She seems to be willing to say something. Will she say something? Emma wants to believe that she will. If she does, Emma will empty her heart, will let the words flow outside of her, let the pain go away, let her tears draft a pool on the table, let the scars burn under the sun till they disappear into the night.

  • Emma…