(Reblog) I Loved The Man Who Abused Me

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The memory that haunts me most is not being strangled until my body gave way to seizure. Nor is it the three days I spent being beaten in a motel by my lover. It’s not the day he raped me on the bed next to our three-month-old son, or the time he punched my head again and again into the cement floor of a garage until I had to prop myself against him, his arms wrapped around my waist, just to get home. These memories hold their share of terror, but the one that haunts me most begins with a bicycle.

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How Do We Cope With The Monsters Among Us?

Learn more about mental illness monsters on bettysbattleground.com

As Halloween approaches, monsters, cobwebs, and black crepe streamers line our streets and stores. We stock up on horror films and scary stories, and ready ourselves for a night of fun and fright. It is my favorite holiday–the single one that still leaves me with a glimmer of excitement, even though as a low-income mother I don’t have the means to wear an extravagant costume or celebrate among adults. Even if I can’t go to a dance party or flamboyant costume party, I still get to dress weirdly without being judged for it, and watch all the kiddos run around in their silly costumes while traipsing my kids from creepy house to creepy house.

Among the fun and excitement of Halloween, however, I can’t help but think about the real monsters that walk among us all throughout the year. Monsters who, by their very existence, make this world a sadder and more fearsome place. These monsters come in all types and shapes. Some of them are sociopaths, like my ex, who care only about themselves. Some of them are narcissists, like Donald Trump–even my daughters call him “bad scary monster”–who are so infatuated with themselves they can’t see past the length of their own shadow. Monsters can be bullies, or rapists. They can be wanton cheaters or jealous manipulators. Or, they can be a “mental illness monster,” and walk alongside us within our community.

I was a mental illness monster for years. I still have some lingering attitudes and habits. When someone hurts me, I became enraged. I don’t take kindly to being abused (who does?) and I lash out. I am working on these things, if slowly. For that reason, I don’t consider myself a “mental illness monster” anymore. Because I am working toward change–but there are those among us who refuse to even try to change. And that is what makes a monster.

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Rape, Trauma, Money: The Economics of my Mental Illness

www.bettysbattleground.com-I will not be silenced anymore.

How surviving rape and developing PTSD has kept me poor-bettysbattleground.com

Even if I don’t exactly remember the day, my mother has told the story enough times to imprint what looks like a memory into my mind. We’re at my elementary school playground. It’s a mild, overcast day, because it’s Seattle, and yet everything seems to glow, as if drenched in sunlight, because it’s a memory of my childhood. I am seven…no: eight years old. My hair is still blonde, my eyes a grey-blue that will turn hazel brown within a year or two. In my story-memory, I am wearing a frilly white dress; pleated skirt, pink and yellow tulips stitched across my chest. In reality, I was probably wearing something more like pink sweat pants and a green sweatshirt with some kind of smiling cartoonish animal printed across it.

I run over to my mom from the playground, cheeks ruddy from play, eyes glittering. I have something to tell her, something important. I wait a moment, pause to catch my breath, then lean toward her, voice low and conspiratorial, and confess, “Mom, I think I’m going to be famous.”

Kids are notorious wild fantasizers. Hearing a child declare her future fame is not uncommon or particularly noteworthy, but when I said it, I really meant it. I believed in my future fame. It wasn’t completely unfounded. I had my first poem published when I was eight, in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Reviewa magazine to which established poets aspire for publication. I made my first $100 off writing that same year, and for several years I was the chronic first place winner at the Mercer Island Books youth poetry contest. I’m not telling you all this just to brag. I’m telling you this because I was not born a failure. I had every reason to believe that I would grow to be, if not actually famous, a successful writer. Or at the very least, not poor.

My mother, who once loved to recollect the story of my self-predicted fame, has stopped telling it. Last week, I missed therapy because I had to go to the Department of Human and Health Services to apply for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Otherwise known as Food Stamps. I hold two writing degrees, and still receive compliments and offers for publication, but I am also unemployed, my credit is an abyss I will never crawl out of in this lifetime, and I struggle to maintain tenancy in a roach-infested rundown apartment owned by Seattle’s most notorious slumlord.

Why? Why does someone who once held so much promise, whose claims to future fame were believed not only by herself but everyone else too, who could incite middle school kids to forgo recess to rehearse in the plays she had written; why is she living chronically poor on the brink of homelessness?

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