Dreams of the Past III

I meant to follow up last week with a third and final post about Michael. Obviously, I didn’t, but I do want to round out those posts. If you didn’t stop by last week, you can find posts one and two here.

I want to expand upon something I mentioned in the second post:

I don’t belong here, I thought, this site is here to help real abuse victims.”

This is exactly why I’m writing my story and why it should be part of the discussion on domestic abuse. I truly thought that what I had gone through didn’t count. When I thought of “domestic abuse,” I saw bright-line definitions (a punch or slap or shove) and stereotypes (the man as the abuser, a weak-willed woman as the abused). Abuse can happen to or be perpetuated by anyone. Michael has since graduated from law school. I have a master’s degree and a CPA license. We’re smart, successful people. And yet, it happened. I have a loving family and several close friends – in other words, a strong support system. And yet, it happened. I am a strong woman and always thought I’d stand up for myself. And yet, it happened.

It sounds trite, but the first part of helping yourself out of a toxic relationship is realizing that it’s toxic to begin with. I didn’t think it was abusive until I got out of it, partly because I didn’t know what it meant to be emotionally abused. Had I thought about it, I probably wouldn’t have even labeled our relationship abusive at the time because I might have thought that it needed to be more severe.

Because that’s the thing, our relationship did not involve me sobbing in a corner for five years. We truly did have some good times. Most of the abuse was part of the fabric of our relationship, but it didn’t necessarily affect each and every day. Michael was selfish and manipulative, but I knew that and most of the time it didn’t bother me. I knew that had I been stranded on the side of the road, I could not have counted on him to come pick me up (unless there was something in it for him) and I was mostly ok with that. I knew that it would be a struggle to get him to support something I loved (getting him to go to my annual dance recital was like pulling teeth) and while it frustrated me, I thought it was something I could live with and just a nuance of our relationship.

But abuse doesn’t have to be “severe” to warrant action.

I’m in a much better place than I was then. My mental health, confidence, and self-esteem are leaps and bounds from where they were. Part of that is just growing up some, but part of it is my own doing. Meeting Luffy and seeing what real, healthy love was like helped a lot too. He helped me realize my own self-worth and helped me sever ties with Michael once and for all (Michael was still somewhat abusing me through email).

It feels good to write about Michael, to give a nod to my not-so-bright past and to recognize how far I’ve come. And if anyone out there reads this and recognizes a few things, I urge you to re-evaluate. You’re worth so much more than your partner tells you.

If you need help or want to know how you can contribute, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline at thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).


Favorite Memories

I’m back home now; I’ve been in West Texas all week. I flew out there Tuesday morning to care for my mom and keep her company. It was a rough week but we got through it. My mom’s friends were so sweet, bringing by flowers and food. I made up large dishes of food for my dad and brother to eat this weekend. We cleared out my grandma’s things from her room at the care facility.

The worst part was seeing my dear granddad, so proud and silent. My heart hurts for him. I’m glad we could be there for him, but I fear that the hardest part will be the coming weeks. After everyone goes home, my granddad will be left in a quiet home without his wife.

I don’t have much to say this week. I miss her and if it’s all right with you, I’d like to memorialize a few of my favorite memories:


My grandma was Italian, full-blooded Italian, with all that entails. Everything needed to be done exactly as she wanted, or so help you. She was stubborn. She was passionate. She loved us with every fiber of her being and cared for us as best she could. She made the best cherry pie you would ever eat (and I don’t even like cherries). My mom once came home late in the evening to find grandma making her pie. When my mom asked, grandma said that my brother had told her that he desperately needed her pie because my mom’s just didn’t cut it.


My grandma loved to play cards and was always up for a game. Although she had a standing Sunday game with friends, she always made time to play poker with her grandkids. The only problem was that, with us, she was never suspicious. My brother and cousin used to con their way through hands and win the entire pot with single cards while my grandma would fold with pairs or triples. They used to think they were so cunning, but maybe my grandma just enjoyed playing their little game.


As I’ve mentioned, I danced all through grade school and college. My grandma never missed a single recital. Even when she had difficulty getting around and could hardly sit for more than ten minutes, she still made it. She used to love to watch me dance and I loved having her there. Some of her favorite pieces were the liturgical pieces we did every year. She would have tears in her eyes when I’d come out after the performance. She was so proud and she made me feel so beautiful. Her favorite was a routine to Josh Groban’s rendition of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” We played the song at her memorial, but I wish I could have danced for her one last time.


When I was young, we had three mini schnauzers. My grandma insisted that she did not like the dogs. We would tease her that she could have one – she could have all three! But no, she didn’t like the pups. However, I’ll give you one guess as to who they followed around the house every time she came over. We think she gave them treats when no one else was home.


I truly believe my grandma is in a better place. She was in so much pain; her mind slipping away without her consent. I hope that, wherever she is, she’s watching over us. I hope she gets to see her great-grandchildren. I hope she’s happy and I hope we make her proud.