Beauty from ashes daughter

Words of hope from an abuse survivor

My paternal grandmother October 18, 2012

Filed under: Death,Overwhelmed,Purpose — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:23 am
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My paternal grandmother died on Monday 10/08. I had no reaction when my father called to tell me the news that morning. I was getting ready for a job interview. I proceeded with my day as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened until I spoke with my sister who expressed guilt over not getting to know her before she passed away.

It was then that I began to feel badly over the fact that I felt nothing. The reality is, I’ve never been told a single positive thing about my grandmother in my life. I’ve been told about her drinking and her physical abusiveness. I’ve been told about the fact that she abandoned an entire family of four children before marrying my grandfather and having my father and his siblings. I’ve been told about how she manipulates and alienates people. I usually only saw her for the holidays and even then our relating was distant and cold. She was never loving and certainly not interested in my life.

Nevertheless, death causes people to pause and ponder the meaning of life. I certainly did this. I reflected mostly on how much harder its going to be when any one of my remaining grandparents passes as I am much closer to all of them than I ever was to her and all of them are still living at this point. The thought of losing them is so sad and it makes me want to spend more time with them. But, as noted, I am already overwhelmed with all of my current responsibilities. This makes me feel guilty. Guilt – there is something about that emotion that keeps creeping into my life lately. Why can’t life just be simpler, slower, and easier to manage?¬† When did this pace become the norm?

Anyway, I had been hoping that at the wake for my grandmother, I might learn something positive about her to hold onto. No such luck. Instead, I’m left with sadness that this women who is a part of my ancestry lived such a miserable existence. I hope I leave a greater legacy. Here’s to making that a part of my life’s purpose.

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The Love of my Life September 22, 2012

Filed under: Healing,Hope — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:29 am
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Today is my husband’s birthday and I have to take a moment to tell you how special he is to me. Phil and I met when I was 17, just a few short weeks after Tara’s death actually. I was a new person – drug free, focused on Jesus, and planning for my future.

I had been away visiting college campuses with my father. I had taken some time off of work at the movie theater to do so. It was my first day back and I walked in to the theater for my shift and saw him standing behind the concession stand. I said hello to my coworker who was chatting with a man I had never seen (I assumed he was the new manager I had heard about). He said, “You must be Rachel.” I found this odd and said, “How do you know that?” and he replied, “You’re the only one that I haven’t met yet.” We made small talk for a few short minutes and I made my way back to the break room to change into my uniform. I immediately had this strange feeling that I was going to know this man for a very long time. I couldn’t explain it. I just felt certain that he would be an integral part of my future. So I told a coworker in the break room that I thought I was going to marry him some day – 5 minutes after meeting him. Crazy, right?

But it wasn’t really all that crazy because it came to be. We were good friends, laughing and flirting for the next 6 months. A fellow coworker convinced us to go on our first date in April of my senior year of high school (I was still 17, he was 26). I graduated high school in May, turned 18 in June, and we were engaged in August. We got married the following summer and have been married for 13 years.

We have certainly had our share of ups and downs, but no one has taught me more about love than him. Because of him, I know there are trustworthy people in the world. He restored so much of my faith in humanity. I am forever grateful for him. He in many ways redeemed me from my childhood. He has supported me through every step of my healing journey. He loves me unconditionally. He is compassionate, gentle, honest, and reliable – all of the things I never experienced growing up. I love him with everything that I am. This one is for you, babe.

 

I LOVE YOU MOST

I love you short or tall

I love you slim or fat

I love you young or old

I love you grumpy or sweet

I love you asleep or awake

I love you tan or pale

I love you blind or deaf

I love you sad or happy

I love you rich or poor

I love you black or white

I love you forever

No matter what you are

But when you are you

I love you most

RKB

 

And a song that perfectly captures my connection to Phil:

 

Penny September 5, 2012

Filed under: Domestic Violence — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 12:06 am
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Most adults have pets as a part of their childhood memories. Unfortunately for me, each of my pets came with a traumatic experience. Our first dog, a collie named Dolly, was sent to a kennel while we went on a family vacation to Disney World. When we returned, my dad went to pick her up and came back claiming that she had run away from the kennel and was never found. At the age of 3, I was devastated. I still remember how hard I cried – burying my face in the couch as if the world had come to an end. I didn’t find out until I was in my 20s that Dolly had actually been put to sleep because she had bitten my sister. When it came up at dinner and this truth was revealed, my sister and father were both shocked that I had not figured that out by then. At the time, I thought to myself¬† “How many other lies have I been told in my life that I have foolishly believed?” Apparently, I take other people’s statements at face value, which I’m learning isn’t always a good attribute.

When I was older, approximately age 8, we had a toy poodle named Peaches. It was early in the morning on the day after Halloween and we were getting ready for school. My mom had let the dog outside to go to the bathroom and I heard her whining at the door. I let her inside and immediately realized that she was bleeding pretty severely. Turns out she had literally been bitten in half by a German Shepherd that lived in the home behind ours. She was rushed to the animal clinic where they barely saved her life. They had to remove a large portion of her intestines that had been damaged and suture her stomach back together, but she survived. She lived another 10 or 12 years after that, but those traumatic images of her bleeding profusely were forever lodged in my brain. Even seeing her with stitches after the fact was pretty traumatizing. Outside of this one incident, however, Peaches was the best dog I have ever had. She was present for all my growing up years and was the epitome of man’s best friend.

Between Dollie and Peaches we had Penny for a short time, who definitely carries the worst pet-related story of my childhood. That’s her in the picture above and its the only one that I have of her. We got her as a six week old puppy and only had her for two weeks. We had been keeping her in the laundry room because she was still being potty trained. I was playing in the playroom in the dormer upstairs and heard my father screaming. This was not out of the ordinary so I continued to play. It was only later when the police had arrived that I realized what had happened. Apparently, Penny nipped at my father (as puppies sometimes do) and drew blood. This enraged him and her threw Penny out the back door so hard that her neck snapped when she hit the cement. She died instantly. Yes, that’s right. My father killed my pet when I was just 4 years old. I have two lasting memories from that night. The first is of the police cars parked outside my home on the street. With this image of the police cars – lights glowing brightly – I came to the realization that my father’s fits of rage were not normal. The second memory is an image that is strongly imprinted in my brain. Its a single drip of blood running down the side of our 70s green clothes dryer. At the time, I thought it was Penny’s blood but learned as I got older and the incident was discussed with my mother that the blood belonged to my father. It was from the bite Penny made that caused my father to become so angry. To this day, those colors – that green and blood red – when together cause an anxious reaction in me. It helps that today as an adult I understand that she did not suffer.

The positive result of this incident was that my father was forced to enter a program for batterers. He successfully completed the program and even anonymously endorsed it in the local newspaper a few years later. He was quoted in that article stating that he realized when he killed Penny that he had a serious problem with his anger. And because of the treatment he received, things got better in my family for a long time after that – about six years actually.

Its interesting that with all my pet related trauma, I ended up marrying a lover of animals, a man who works in the veterinary field.

RKB

 

Family Tree August 28, 2012

Filed under: Survivor — Beauty from ashes daughter @ 1:00 am
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Its always helpful for me to have reminders that I do not have to become like my parents and I can choose to stop the cycle of violence. I thank Jesus for giving me the freedom from my past in order to make that choice. Here is a song that illustrates that freedom in a beautiful way.

Family Tree
You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

No, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
No, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

~ Matthew West

 

 
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