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Childhood Memories – Battered Women

I was thinking about the neighborhood I grew up in today. Specifically, about the two battered women who lived on our street.

The first was the mother of two small children, the two girls being my earliest friends.

They were hurting. I knew they were hurting. At four or five years old, I didn’t understand why. I couldn’t place the bruises. I didn’t know what it meant when my parents said that the older child was trying to help. I didn’t know that the black eye was because her father had punched her in the eye when she tried to use her tiny body to physically stand in front of her mother and protect her.

What I knew was that people were looking down on them. That my parents weren’t happy if I stayed overnight with that family. What I knew was that there was gossip. She’s an intelligent woman, why doesn’t she leave him? She should get her children away from this. I also knew that you could gossip but never talk to them directly about it. When you saw them, you were supposed to pretend that everything was okay.

So we did. In our games, we pretended that their father didn’t exist, that their mother was also their dad and that we were happy.

A few years later, their mother managed to get away from her abusive husband. She did it without help. Because there was no help to be found in this neighborhood.

The other woman did not get away. Her husband is a belligerent alcoholic, they have no children. This one just withered away. Where I was still allowed to play in the house of my friends, we were not allowed to go to that house to play. Not because the woman didn’t want us there, but because belligerent drunk husband was unpredictably violent (while charming sober wife-batterer predictably only hit his wife and children, being much too circumspect to risk being reported to the police).

This second woman has been married to her abuser for 35 years now, living in the same neighborhood for nearly as long. For 35 years she has moved about the street like a ghost, silent and almost invisible. Since her husband is intolerable, most people have stopped greeting them decades ago. Note how I say them. They’ve stopped greeting them both.

I don’t visit home often but it’s still a few times a year. The last time I saw her must be almost a decade ago. I talked to her then. Against my parents’ wishes because talking to this woman is inviting the wrath of her husband. A five minute conversation about the most superficial things. I wonder how often she even gets that.

I thought about these two battered women today. And I thought about my parents. It’s not our business. There’ll only be trouble if we try to interfere. We can’t help anyway. It’s the woman’s own fault if she doesn’t leave. That’s what I learned from my parents before I was even old enough to learn how to read or write. Is it any wonder that I didn’t feel like I could share with them when years later as a teenager I was the one being abused? That I didn’t think they would help?

I can’t tell whether they would have helped after all. We’ll never find out. What we found out, though, is, that their teachings didn’t take. I never accepted their bullshit. I’ve got anxiety and depression and every so often bouts of PTSD – but I’m fiercely protective of my friends. When that oldest child of the neighboring family needed to go to a shelter when we were 15, I made my mother drive us. When my parents tried to forbid me being friends with a girl who was being sexually abused because it would get them in trouble if I didn’t shut up, I didn’t listen.

Abusers want you to react like my parents. They want you to be scared. They want to silence you and they want to isolate their victims. Don’t do them that favor.

You don’t need to be loud and you don’t need to change the world. You can’t change the world. I can never help half as much as I want to. But I can do this much. I can not look away when I see signs of abuse. I can ask. I can believe. Not only believe the victims’ stories but also believe in them.

It isn’t much. It’s never enough. But it’s a start.

Birthday Blues

When I was 17, my friend’s ex-boyfriend sat in my room for an afternoon, held something sharp to his wrists (I think it was scissors), and threatened to kill himself if I didn’t tell my friend to get back together with him.

And all I could think was, “You’re threatening to cut but you want to cut in the wrong direction, that ain’t gonna work, dude.”

That’s how jaded I was.

By the way, my Mom was home when this happened. She didn’t interfere (with which I mean: she didn’t come to help). When I asked her afterwards not to tell anyone, she used it as gossip material anyway.

I don’t know why I’m thinking of this today. Maybe because it’s my birthday in a few days and this is now half a life-time ago. Maybe because I still know how much yew needles you need for a deadly dose. Or that aspirin will give you a nasty, painful, drawn out death if you OD on it. It’s the kind of stuff that my brain keeps around apparently, while it is intent on making me forget my friends’ birthdays.

Your priorities are screwed, brain.

A whiny post

I miss having a friend at work. I like my coworkers as well as the next person. They are smart, they do their work well, they respect me and I respect them. We have nothing much in common apart from work, but that’s okay. Has always had to be okay.

But when I started here, a decade ago now, I made a friend. We became good friends. The kind of friend that you trust with your personal life. The kind of friend who listens to your stories even if they aren’t interested in the same shit you’re interested in. The kind of friend you tell about having been abused. The kind of friend who notices the days when you’re feeling off. The kind of friend that you can tell about your PTSD and anxiety and depression.

Since she left, I don’t have that anymore. My coworkers are friends with each other. They have the same hobbies. They have the same status. I lead the department and I’m doing a good job at it. But I’d love to have one friend. Someone to confide in on the bad days. Someone to share the good days with. Just one person I trust. That would make daily life so much better.

Fangirling & Social Media

I am and always have been a fangirl. Yes. You heard right. Out of my own free will, I admit to it. I am a fangirl.

It brightens my days to get lost in a story, especially on those very dark days, when it seems that all hope is forsaken. So anyone who can make me feel that, anyone who’s stories can touch my heart when nothing else can, will be adored. (Adored, not stalked! Just to make that clear.)

So, when I finally could afford tickets to a wrestling event in my country (expensive as all shit), I was just in awe that I was breathing the same air as the Undertaker.

When my husband and I went to the Dr Who 50th Anniversary Celebration in London it was the most surreal experience to touch the costumes David Tennant had worn. (And no I didn’t steal any ties!)

David Tennant's costumes
he is unbelievably thin, too

I wrote my first fanfiction story when I was 16 and I’m still writing one every so often because it’s fun and I love the community over on fanfiction.net. I’m an avid crafter and have a whole collection of knitted, crocheted and sewn garments for my different fandoms. (On an average winter day, I’m an assortment of at least the following fandoms: Death-necklace (Sandman), Kaylee-bag (Firefly), 8th Doctor or Gallifreyan scarf (Dr. Who) and Captain Marvel gloves (Captain Marvel, obviously). Oh, and my 8-bit bowtie hairslide (non-specific nerdiness))

All of this is very fun Web 1.0 fangirling. But as awesome as it is, it is not as mind-boggling as Web 2.0 fangirling.

Web 2.0 fangirling rules! Examples?

A short while ago, Kelly Sue DeConnick re-blogged a picture of the Captain Marvel gloves and my mind was about blown (Carol Corps forever!).

Carol Corps!
Captain Sparklefists

And today, Neil Gaiman answered a question of mine on Twitter and I had to jump up and down the room a few times just to calm myself down (also, it is now a priority in our budgeting to get tickets to his show since he said he’ll be coming in travelable range this year). I also really had to write this blog.

I know the excitement makes no logical sense whatsoever. But the joy, oh the joy!

There’s nothing that quite compares in terms of little happy surprises on random days.

We live in a truly marvelous age.

That said, I’ll now go back to my corner to be a bit embarrassed that I shared all of this with y’all.

Introduction

I’m guessing it is customary to introduce yourself first. You already know that my Beagle is not me (that really cleared things up, huh?). But there’s more to me than not being a Beagle (I hope, anyway).

I am a geek girl, a scientist, a writer, a wife, a survivor and quite a few other labels probably. Did that help? Well, I can explain it a little.

Being a geek girl (1): I have more comic book subscriptions than my husband (even though he still wins, having drawn comics professionally for a while). I adore the Whedonverse (minus Dollhouse). It will always be too soon for Wash-at-you-know -that-moment cosplay. You don’t know which moment? Spoilers, Sweetie! The Doctor gets me through many dark moments and days when nothing but my couch works for me. And Pizza Dog of course. Pizza Dog and Team Hawkguy.

Being a geek girl (2): Also defines things I’m not. I’m not outgoing. You will not find me in a night-club. Like ever. But you’ll find me unfazed by giving a presentation in front of a few hundred people. I’m not sportsy. I will refrain from telling you details about the hell that was PE in school. But I would most likely be able to save you should you be drowning. Or ride you down with a horse if necessary. And if you have little experience in sword fighting I might win that brawl.

Being a scientist: I save the world one algorithm at a time. Or possibly I don’t make a difference at all. But I like to pretend that my day-job has at least some positive influence on the world. Also, no, we’re neither Stark Industries nor did/will we accidentally create the Hulk.

Being a writer: I don’t know how not to be a writer. It doesn’t even matter whether I’m a good writer or a bad writer, I just cannot stop writing. It is my whole soul and purpose of existence (and I know how cheesy that sounds). My native language is not English, though, so it’s unlikely I’ll post any stories on here.

Being a wife: Marriage sounds like such a grown-up thing. Hahahaha. Nope. Sorry. Marriage didn’t help. Still just me.

Being a survivor: I wear an Ankh necklace at all times. A symbol for both life and death. Or Death, actually (you remember that lovely little girl, Dream’s sister?). Because yes, I survived. But ever since I carry death with me. And I’m not particularly brave. Carrying death with me is a heavy burden. Carrying Death’s symbol around my neck lightens the load.

I won’t say you know all that there is to know about me now but at least you have more of an idea than before you read this. That’s something, right?