Kickass Women

So I have found in reconciling with abuse in a past relationship, my self-worth has been struggling. Lately, I have been remembering things he’d yell or say. My spirit has really been hurting. Even when you know the irrationality of things that happened or ways he’d demean me—I am still hurt and confused. I loved him so had put value in his words and opinions. So tonight, I turned to ladies who have inspired me. Ones I can look to and draw strength from their character. Perhaps you can add your own strong female characters be it from novels or real life.

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Eowyn, shieldmaiden of Rohan

Eowyn—she is a shieldmaiden of Rohan in Lord of the Rings. And she was inspiring to me in her strength as well as her vulnerability. Even when left behind from battle, and thwarted in love with Aragorn—she still amazes by not giving up and fighting for what she believes in. Protecting her uncle Theoden, the king, she hacks of the head of the Nazgul. When the witch-king of Angmar tells her no man can defeat him. She takes off her helmet, revealing her long blonde hair. “No living man am I! You look upon a woman! Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. Begone if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him!”

When she was practicing her swordsmanship in the castle, Aragorn asked her. “What do you fear, lady?”

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Lagertha from Vikings

“A cage,” [Éowyn] said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”

Lagertha—another shieldmaiden (what’s up with that?) from the show Vikings. She is tough and beautiful. She also loves her husband Ragnar Lodbrok more than anything. They grew up together and seem like a perfect match. Yet when he gets another woman pregnant and designs to bring her into their home—Lagertha is strong enough to leave. She leaves everything behind: her friends, the place where she grew up, the love of her life, and takes with her a broken heart and dignity I can only hope to have a sliver of someday. But it’s not the end of the story. She eventually becomes an earl, fights side by side in battle with her husband again, and… we know he still loves her. So for all the women where the husband cheats or abuses—remember Lagertha. Draw strength from her.

Amelia Peabody—nope this one isn’t a shieldmaiden, but an archaeologist in the late 1800s. It’s a book series by Elizabeth Peters, and in these books—Amelia is always doing what’s right, standing up for women, helping the poor, solving mysteries, and making great archaeological discoveries…all the while maintaining her colorful relationship with her fellow archaeologist husband Emerson. Strength of character and personality radiate from her presence in the books, and I adore her.

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Claire from Outlander

Claire—in the Outlander series. I have loved these books for a while, and I’m even more thrilled with the series. Claire has always been inspiring in her stubbornness, her medical abilities (you should see how she can set a bone), brilliant mind, and in her love for her husband (whether in England or Scotland).

Danae—she’s one of my best friends, and both her and her husband are doctors in Tchad, Africa. They have three children (which is tough in itself in a country filled with malaria and corruption), and Nae reminds me of everything a woman should be: strong enough to stand up for the bribery, fraud, and abuse she sees, gentle enough to give compassion when there’s death and heartbreak. And a kickass mom and surgeon.1900484_10152601334021331_1889197454944409830_o

Okay your turn. Share your inspirations.    

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All or None

If only abusive exes were 100% evil. But they’re not. I doubt even Lucifer was 100% evil or he wouldn’t have had (theoretically speaking) almost half of heaven’s angels’ follow him.

Sam Drevo and Mojo under the observatory in the gorge

It is okay to remember the good times. The times when he was gentle or loving. The times where he treated you like you were of some value and important to him. But now that you know him and know how he can be—you probably understand that it is not okay even if 10% of him is abusive. I would tell you to run even if he were 0.01% abusive. Abuse is not okay in any of its forms: emotional, verbal, or physical, and you are worthy of respect. No amount of abuse is okay, no matter the excuse.

I know I would have better closure myself if the ex were completely evil. I would somehow be able to categorize his treatment, make sense of it, but with narcissistic and abusive personalities—you will never have closure. They are a blackhole, and they will only suck the essence of who you are out. Maybe you see it already – your energy, your love, your beauty being pulled out – into his blackhole– by his treatment of you.

Do what you need to do to do to move past him and see there are still good people in the world. Find support in a group or Domestic Violence Center. Talk to your close friends or family. Travel or pick up a new hobby. Pamper yourself. Don’t get bummed if you can’t seem to get the same amount of things done as you used to, or if you need to just hide from the world. You are healing. You experienced a trauma. Do whatever it takes to feel good about yourself again. Stay safe and if you feel threatened don’t hesitate to report him or get a restraining order. Your life will never be able to move on unless you go No Contact as much as possible. Little by little you will get yourself back, and you will see that life without him is worth living after all.

Domestic Violence Center/He Won’t Change

Abuse happens more often than you think. It may feel like you won’t be able to recover or make it through, but you can. You are strong enough and worthy to be loved. Do not let his treatment of you reflect your worth. (I am guilty there and still struggling with this.)

I know what it feels like to be betrayed with cheating and emotional, verbal, and physical abuse. It’s hard when you still care about and love the person. You value their opinion. You remember when they were gentle or the times they put you first. You grasp on to any kindness leaking out from them. You are human after all.

They are clever, and they’ll never show the world their true colors or nature. But you know. You’ve seen it. You’ve experienced their apologies, the way it feels to be loved by them, but you’ve also experienced their abuse: their devaluing, their yelling, their disrespect with other women. And I know you realize deep inside that they will not change. Not for good. The book “Why Does He Do That” helped me realize this.

They are a blackhole. Please get out before they destroy your spirit completely. And because I need to hear it again myself—I will tell you that He Will Not Change.

For me—I didn’t want to be a silent woman or leave his next victim without any backup. There is more than just an option of filing charges. (Though I think pressing charges is appropriate for some women-I had no idea there was any other option than that.) You have the option of placing an information report. I did, as it seemed the best way to wipe my hands and still feel like I did something. I went through a Women’s Domestic Violence organization. (Big cities usually have a DV center.) There I worked with a detective in the Sheriff’s department. Usually DV centers have a detective who is supportive and can tell you your options. This was the case for me. I never felt support until I went here. Finally, what I was going through was understood. I wasn’t judged or told I was an idiot for staying with an abuser for so long. They just wanted to help.

The police have on file the photos of my bruises (time stamped if you can), the texts and emails talking of abuse. Even the emails his Dad sent me speaking of when the ex was violent against his own Dad two years prior. Give the detective/police anything that will build a case. Even if you’re not the one bringing the case against him, and it’s years down the road by his next victim—your filing will help her case. The positive about an information report is the abuser has no idea it is there. He will not be contacted. He will not get revenge because he doesn’t know about it. He will be listed as a suspect only, and his name will be tagged if he abuses again the future.

I am sorry this has happened to you, but there are people who understand and can help.

Women don’t have to live in fear:

Male victims of abuse can call:

Aten’s Night

So recently I was reading through an old novel I had written years ago. It’s one of those cheesy romance novels – set in Egypt. A mix of Indiana Jones, the Mummy, and Tomb Raider…with nursing and romance sprinkled throughout. I decided to throw it up on Amazon kindle to self-publish it under a psuedonym. I’m not going to do anything with it otherwise. But reading back through it, after having experienced abuse by my ex-boyfriend, things bothered me I had written. It now bothered me when the male character I once had admired in my novel grew jealous or angry. It bothered me when he would grab my heroine’s shoulders tightly. I now got pissed off – seeing it as the beginning of abusive tendencies which would only escalate further – the deeper they moved in their relationship. Arg. Did I really write this and think it okay? A good cheesy romance ruined for me because of my recent experience with my Blackhole. I will never ever be the same or see romance the same. I don’t want an angry man or someone who could lash out easily. I don’t want my shoulders to ever be grabbed tightly. I don’t want to ever be touched in anger – even if it doesn’t hurt me. I want a man who is strong enough to love me the right way, and touches me the right way. Who doesn’t mind my stubbornness and always treats me gently. I resolve in my next book to do better. Please check out “Aten’s Night” published under my pseudonym Skye Armstrong. I know I didn’t talk it up much, but really – check me out and enjoy the read. It is a great adventure even with my naive view of romance then. Thanks for your support! You can buy my book on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Atens-Night-Skye-Armstrong-ebook/dp/B00T0W4V4K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422890144&sr=8-1&keywords=Aten%27s+Night

Why Does He Do That?

Every abused woman should read the book “Why Does He Do That” by Bancroft. It’s helping me more than any other thing (and I’ve tried and read a plethera of things) come to terms with the abuse and what to look for as signs before you get deeply in another abusive relationship. If anyone else out there has experienced abuse by someone you love, then you probably feel like not only your heart, but your spirit was broken. Maybe you now question your judgment on men and are wondering where you went wrong in picking an abusive lover. It is not you. You did not deserve abuse no matter what. Maybe now that you’re out of it- you can slap your forehead as you saw signs of abuse early on. But please read the book. It’s not you. I am just now getting it myself as my life has been a wad of emotions.

“Confusion has been part of the experience of almost every one of the hundreds of abused women I have spoken with. Whether because of the abuser’s manipulativeness, his popularity, or simply the mind-bending contrast between his professions of love and his vicious psychological or physical assaults, every abused woman finds herself fighting to make sense out of what is happening.” From “Why Does He Do That.”

Right now – I am a bundle of confusion, and I can’t seem to separate the gentle sweet moments of what I felt were utter love and the times when he was emotionally, verbally, and physically abusive.

The author helped me understand the different abusive personalities (there are ten listed in the book, but there could be of course others not included).

For me the categories laid out which my ex-partner fell under were:

  • Mr Sensitive. “Mr Sensitive has the potential to turn physically frightening, as any style of abuser can, no matter how much he may preach nonviolene. After an aggressive incident, he will speak of his actions as “anger” rather than “abuse,” as though there were no difference between the two. He blames his assaultive behavior on you or on his emotional “issues” saying that his feelings were so deeply wounded that he had no other choice. Many people reject the possibility that Mr Sensitive could be an abuser…” Just because he is just that. Sensitive. And his feelings get hurt extraordinarily easily. He even cried more than me at movies and would be extra sensitive to anything he took as a slight from another person. Sometimes holding grudges for the smallest offense.
  • The Player. I should bold this one. I was never going to fall for another player, but seriously—he preached monogamy and had a sob story of being cheated on. I trusted, missed signs, and fell in love. With a player. He was the one who pushed commitment, the talk of kids, the first to move his toothbrush to my place, etc. “He knows how to make each woman feel that she’s the special one and yet at the same time keep her off balance, so that she never feels quite sure of where she stands with him…He tells each one stories about how other women have mistreated him, or shares other bits of information—largely invented—to make previous, or current, women in his life sound conniving, vindictive, or addicted to substances.”

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Man. I think it hurts just as much as his abuse. His cheating. I noticed my ex-partner in the texts to his women using the exact same wording and phrases to line up his next supply during my devalue stage. The author though made a great point that even if he were loyal, and promised to never cheat again, you would just be married to a faithful abuser then.

“Chronic infidelity is abusive in itself but the Player doesn’t stop there. He is irresponsible, callous in dealing with his partner’s feelings, and periodically verbally abusive. As the relationship progresses, he may start to go for long periods giving his partner next to no attention and barely speaking to her, so she feels shelved.” The book also goes on to say that “The Player’s constant flirting and cheating help him to get away with other forms of mistreatment. His partner is is likely to focus on her hurt feelings about his infidelities and our effort into stopping him from straying, and in the process, lose sight of his pattern of abuse.”

  • The Victim. “Life has been hard and unfair to the Victim. To hear him tell it, his intelligence has been chronically underestimated; he has been burned by people he trusted; and his good intentions have been misunderstood. The Victim appeals to a woman’s compassion and desire to feel that she can make a difference in his life. He often tells persuasive and heart-rending stories.” Yes, yes, and yes. I was totally blinded by this and my need to help. For the other women out there who were as naïve as me—know that it is a big red flag if your current man is very negative about his ex. Listen for disrespect or contempt which is very different from just being angry. The book lists ways to ask questions where you can decide for yourself if the person you were dating was abusive or not in a prior relationship.

Healing will take time. It will take no contact and building back up your self-esteem. Find support. I know my brothers and a couple good friends have heard me over and over try and make sense of everything. Find a friend who will be there and let you vent when you need it. Cry. Let your soul feel the betrayal so you can move on. And abuse doesn’t have to be just physical. It is emotional and verbal as well. If you are wondering if his abuse will ever turn physical- trust your instincts. Your instincts are better than you give yourself credit for. I should have trusted mine!

It is hard when the abusive partner feels like family and you care about them more than anything. But they will not change and you must be strong and break away. Please read the book if you want closure (which you will never get from your partner.) And live a beautiful life. You deserve to be loved. You are worthy of respect. You are beautiful. You are strong.

After the Discard: The Other Woman

This post has really helped me as I can relate to every single word. Every woman (or man) dealing with a narcissistic ex should follow Kim Saeed. Recovering from abuse seems to be a daily trial for me, and as I lapsed today – I turned to her blog for support. Be reassured that it’s not you, and the new supply he cheated on you with – will not last.

Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed

Snake Cake North Star Cakes

Being discarded by a Narcissist is one of the most painful experiences victims endure…well, after the heart-wrenching devalue phase.  It’s like icing on an insidious, poisonous cake for which only Narcissists hold the recipe.

The Discard

After being discarded, you believe it’s your fault.  You obsess over whether you could have done things differently.  You languish over your abuser, brooding over whether there’s a chance to win him back and prove your worth.

That’s precisely what he wants.

You see, while he was preening the new supply behind your back, he was busy telling you (and everyone within a 50-mile radius) everything that’s wrong with you and your place in the demise of the relationship.  He wants you to believe you are the one who drove him into the arms of another woman.  And that’s what victims believe.  Every time.

Narcissists need you to think the problems…

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My Blackhole

 

Haines, Oregon

Haines, OR. By Becky Jarnes

Mt Helens, Oregon

Mt St Helens, Oregon by Becky Jarnes

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Stars on Mt Hood, By Becky Jarnes

I have always been fascinated with the night sky. Taking my camera with me to remote locations, usually by myself, and trying to capture the sparkling pin lights hundreds to thousands of light-years away. And it seems whether in good times or bad—the sky has always been a reminder of my insignificance or the insignificance of my problems. But recently I haven’t been doing a great job on perspective. I’ve been really grateful to close friends and family lately who have been there and who continually have to tell me the same things over and over. I have been a broken record for the past few months, and my emotions are a mess.

I encountered my first blackhole this year. I fell in love with an abusive boyfriend. Of course he didn’t start out that way. He was charming, successful, outdoorsy, and won my trust. Actually—he worked really hard to earn my trust and he has many great attributes I love about him, but little by little his anger and bossiness turned to yelling, his yelling turned into verbal abuse and name calling. And finally—he got violent with me one night giving me bruises and physically hurting me. Can’t stubbornness be a good thing? I know some people close to me blame me for the physical abuse because I was being stubborn and not getting out of his car. The reason behind my redheaded stubbornness was because I was trying to talk about the girls he cheated on me with. Can anyone else out there relate to the pain of silent treatment? Especially when it pertains to the relationship? It hurts sometimes just as much as his yelling. I messed up by not moving out of his car and trying to make him talk about his indiscretions, but I didn’t deserve violence. I did not deserve to be hurt.

To all the people out there that knows what it feels like to be cheated on or abused: how did you make it through and recover? Do you ever stop crying? Especially when you still love the person? Do you ever understand what happened? Does your stomach stop feeling sick?
I fell into his blackhole.

And I feel like my spirit has been destroyed. My reactions to all of this have been embarrassing and would make someone who hasn’t ever been abused cringe. My self-respect is low. I have even begged for any scrap of friendship thrown my way from him. This is not me. How did I get so utterly debased?

What the world sees outside of his blackhole: he is a wonderful and talented kayaker. He helps war veterans and the disabled enjoy outdoor sports, he is a hard worker and is building his kayak business, he is on nonprofit boards, OR tourism board, and city councils, and I’m sure the list could go on. But they don’t know about what happens behind closed doors. About his dark nights with no stars or moon or hope of morning. And what makes it worse is I believe in him still and love him. It is just easier for him to move on to the next girl he cheated on me with rather than change. And they never change right? I’m told this, but really—do they?

I am going to counseling and trying to keep busy and involved in activities. But I still need a miracle where my blackhole is concerned and catch myself daydreaming about one often. But like my friend Jason said, “Sometimes we get the miracles we need even if it is not the miracle we want.”
Perhaps…my miracle is still being able to see the nightsky and hopefully the Northern Lights in 2015. In the meantime the only advice I can give is stay away from blackholes. Not only will you never fully understand them. You will never survive. Or at least be the same person once you get out. This is my recovery blog and hoping to get wisdom and support from others as well as be a refuge to anyone going through the same thing.

Sam Drevo by our tent on the Rogue river, Oregon.