Right off the bat: will you take a moment to click vote 10 times for my poem and essay in a contest?
Now, here’s the story…
Earlier this year I asked for your help. I asked you to donate so that my family could pay off our last month of rent in Seattle, and get to Florida in order to stay with my husband’s parents. If you follow my blog, you probably know my relationship with my in-laws has a…history. One that, looking back through the lens of the past few months, very much resembles the abuse cycle typically associated with intimate partner violence. There would be periods of unexpected, unwarranted gifts, intense generosity, and inclusion in family dinners and outings. Always followed by the inevitable gutpunch. Demands that I leave their home. Below-the-belt insults that prey on the vulnerabilities I was naive enough to express during times of peace. Shouting fits that ignored my children crying in the same room. Cruel gossip tearing me down to every other member of the family, ensuring that if my in-laws don’t like me, no one else will either. It was because of this that I wrote shortly after arriving, “I don’t know what the future will hold, but for now I’m going swimming.” Continue reading →
I have not been very happy this past year. Just over a year ago, on an innocuous evening in June, someone knocked on my door while I was in the bathroom. My husband answered, and accepted a packet that an unfamiliar layman was delivering for me. My world changed while I was taking a piss.
The packet was a lawsuit; a motion for genetic testing to establish paternity. Had I answered the door, I would have been able to identify the layman who’d delivered it to my home address as the father of the man who physically and sexually abused me for four years when I was a teenager. The paternity suit in the packet was legitimate; my abuser fathered my eldest child, though he had been uninvolved in my son’s life for almost as long as my son had been alive.
The parentage suit, which was quickly followed by a custody suit, threw my world into a darkness almost as deep and suffocating as the four years of our relationship. I had to recount, and then defend, the worst instances of my abuse. My abuser submitted intimate letters and photographs, which he had apparently kept in his possession for ten years, with the seeming sole purpose of humiliating me. I was obsessively fearful for my son’s safety, especially because he is a non-verbal autistic. My PTSD was aggressively aggravated, and my lowest shames were paraded before my abuser for his amusement and use. On top of that, my beloved Abuelita (grandmother) had died just a month earlier, and I was struggling to recover from my PTSD related suicide attempt. The past year has been a hell.
But this isn’t a post about hell. This isn’t a post about the custody case. This post is about the little pricks of light that shone through the darkness of the past year, sometimes impossibly so; those fervent, stubborn moments of happiness and joy that kept me dragging onward through the fight. This is a post about happiness that chose to exist beyond all odds. Dissident happiness.