I am writing a book. It’s why I rarely blog or play with social media. With a minute here and a half an hour there, I write and edit and research and fact check and investigate. I write this book every day. Both painful and healing to write, I hope it will help someone, if not several people. Any writing is a journey of self discovery, including the known truths about oneself and the dark spaces I’ve never visited before. I see it as necessary. There’s no way around the pain in order to write through the events of the last 7 years. Looking through medical records, police files, interviews, files and reports I am stunned. The most important trait next to love I found lacking within myself. I see it every time I look into the face of my husband. Forgiveness. Sincere forgiveness for genuine wrongdoing. Not superficial forgiveness for perceived wrongs. That’s an area I’m not referring to here. I lacked forgiveness in my heart though my mind had told me it was there. My mind was wrong and my heart was in need.
Here is what forgiveness is NOT:
Admitting I was wrong.
Forgetting or ignoring ongoing harmful behaviors.
Letting people continue to hurt me.
Saying that what was done was okay.
Here is what forgiveness IS:
Remembering that we are all broken, hurting people.
Everyone does things that are wrong.
No more keeping score.
The medicine to keep me from growing a bitter heart.
What I see lived out in my husband.
If you are called a name or some hurting soul tells you just how worthless you are doesn’t mean you must listen. People worth pouring into will love you. People who love you will not hurt you over and over again. Love is not jealous, rather it is happy when you succeed. If someone is hurting you, be honest with yourself and with the other person. Cut toxic ties before you find yourself poisoned. Boundaries crossed turn into serious abusive relationships. I have learned the difference between love and manipulation through simple wisdom. And experience.
I look back through the last 15 years or so at the events in which violence raged and drugs and alcohol flowed freely. Funny thing, I was always sober. For every one of them. But because I used heroin for a few years as a kid people who knew me back then remember these events differently. I was still looked at as the screw up who ruined everything. I was 14 when I was an addict. What was I running from? What pain was I trying to escape from that I chose heroin? I chose it. I wanted to live with it because the alternative was living with myself. I hated myself and I had no faith in anything to tell me differently. I didn’t play sports. I liked to read and diet and write and I liked fashion. I loved music. But deep down I knew I was trash. I was called a whore at home. It was scribbled into my diary and shoved into my face by my adopted father. What 13 year old girl finds love for the first time with a boy who finally gets her and understands her? Me. Did that make me a whore at 13? Maybe, but I’ll take love anywhere I can get it. I loved and I was loved. I don’t regret it for a moment. We all need to be loved. I was a child. As a parent it is absolutely disgusting that a forgiven, cheating, lying grown man would call a kid a whore. When his teenage son had a competition with his buddy to sleep with as many young girls as possible, was he a whore? No, he was told to “be safe.”
How about when my brother offered me, a recovering drug addict, pills and cocaine from his top dresser drawer while I nursed my baby. Was I a bad influence then? Because less than a year earlier I was visited in the dead of night and threatened by this man as I was told to leave his sons alone. I was to stop giving them drugs. Never happened. Never gave or sold them drugs. It sure was convenient to have me around to blame. And until recently I hated myself and couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until these events surfaced in my writing that I discovered why I hated myself so much. This man, who was given the job of loving and caring for me needed me to be these awful people. And because I loved him so much I let myself be this awful person for him. I forgive him, but I gotta’ tell you, it really, really hurts. More than makes me angry, it simply hurts. That’s not love. Love doesn’t do that to other people.
Chris, my husband lay alone in a hotel room, too drunk to even speak. Downstairs a room key was illegally obtained and used to enter his room so that my brothers could beat him senseless. I could hear the screaming from down the hall as I nursed my baby near the elevators. I got to his room and heard what I assumed to be crying from Chris. A last dying breathe and the sound of crying make the same gurgling sound. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “Don’t check on him, he’s a little bitch,” is what the bigger one said. I started to cry. I couldn’t believe what they did. I went over to Chris and started checking his vitals and it was when I lifted his eyelids and saw no response I screamed “he’s dead.” The big one crumbled to the floor and began to cry apologize to me. “I’m sorry Jackie, I’m so sorry.” Then he ran over to help the other brother practice cpr until the paramedics arrived.
This was not a beating. Our Mayo Clinic brain surgeon told me that this was attempted murder. This was a beating that was so vicious and violent that Dr. Miller was shocked to find out it was done with a fist and not a brick. It was not a beating, it was attempted murder. And had I (his wife) not checked on him, had I listened to my brother, it would be murder. He would be dead. People who have had what my husband had done to him, live 1% of the time. My current next door neighbor has a brother in the Mayo Clinic with the same diagnosis. His was from a dirt bike that came crashing down on his head. He has been in the ICU about 30 days and has still not waken up. He’s 27 years old and every day that passes they realize he is most likely part of the 99% that will die.
Are my brothers in jail? Did the DA need my husband’s permission to prosecute? The answer to both questions is “no.” My husband fought to keep them out of jail because of his love for me. He knew what my family would heap onto me had “the brothers” been punished for this. Due to the sensitive nature of this case the DA left it completely in the hands of Chris. He didn’t press charges. He didn’t even ask for restitution. Sure, some of the medical bills got paid at first. But in the years to come they would be forgotten. Not a penny was paid towards the thousand and a half we lost each month while he was out of work for 7 months. If the shoe were on the other foot do you think charges would have been pressed against him? I’m guessing yes. Hell, if someone beat me to a pulp I don’t think I could let that go, family or not.
After that night we got as far away as possible from that lifestyle. My husband dropped all his old friends. We put major distance between myself and my family. And we flourished, but every time I let a piece of them back in something horrible would happen. I would hate myself all over again. I believed what they would tell me about myself.
The last time I saw my family it was the same old, same old. And I realized that I couldn’t have that around my children anymore. I wanted my kids to know more of my husband and his value and moral code. My parents sent my son texts saying bad things about me. It just went to prove that we made the right choice. And in the spirit of forgiveness I was able to calm my little boy’s anger by reminding him that one day he will need forgiveness too. Isn’t it better to learn forgiveness at an early age? I don’t want my kids hating anyone. That’s no way to live our lives.
I have a wonderful therapist who works with me about twice monthly. He is so supportive in the writing of my book. I spend about a page on the actual assault. And the rest on the healing, love and health that has continued to grow out of the horrific ordeal.
The day after it happened I retreated within myself and repeated the mantra that I will never be the same again. I will never be okay again. Only half of that is true. I am more than okay, but I will never be the same after watching my husband crawl through that nightmare and come out with forgiveness in his heart rather than a bitter taste for revenge. I am so lucky to be married to this man. And I have the most wonderful role model and protector I could ask for, not only for my kids, but for me too. It’s been a long time since I’ve known I was beautiful and valuable and worth love. He lets me know every day. And because of this I feel free to forgive any arrows hurled my direction.