When I decided to leave an unhappy marriage over a year ago, I never thought I would feel so free. I was overwhelmed by the sense that I would never again have to do or not do what my ex told me. I finally talked to friends I had been forcibly separated from, repaired things in the house, bought myself something new to wear, and laughed out loud with the enemy. At first, my ex took responsibility for everything. He smiled and said he was sorry after every story I re-told to him; ways he hurt or controlled me. I ended each recounting with the same phrase, “Does that sound like something nice to do to your wife?” He would shake his head no. I had stories for days and it seemed like he wanted to listen. I knew it was over for me but later I realized he only was trying to appease me. In fact, he had no intention of moving out or leaving the house to give me space. When I asked him to move out he replied that he would move out only when a judge ordered him to. The summer of 2015 was filled with rage and torment, threats and screaming. What initially began as an assertion of my rights to a happy life culminated in calling 911. My girls and I have never been so scared and I knew I had a long road ahead. Now, more than a year later, I have moved on in so many ways but he still has his grip around me. I feel like his venom is in my blood stream and I cannot remove the stinger of a dying insect still writhing, still fighting. Never wanting this fight, I tried to offer him a home and money to settle the divorce. But his behavior has been like a rabid animal who knows he will be tased upon approach but cannot stop himself to spare the pain.
After my last post, I had many women reach out to me with sympathy or stories of their own domestic violence or abuse. I’ve always known this issue was much larger than me. I’ve always known that others have suffered much worse abuse than I have and it made me think of how to address this in my art. I am working on collaborations with two of these women to share their stories and make beautiful the ugly ways of bullies.
On a positive note, I have several works on paper headed up to the Seattle Art Fair this month:
Cliff Distortion, 16-22, 2016, 15″ x 18″ea
This month my girls and I spent a week in the country at my father’s house visiting with siblings, their wives and children. Every morning I would sit out on the deck listening to the cicadas buzzing and watch the birds feeding. These moments alone were at once peaceful and tear-filled. I admired my sister-in-law tending to her three month old son and remembered my own girls being that age. The sleepless nights and constant care an infant requires was daunting but I remember rising to the occasion. We do what we have to do to and we don’t think it is above and beyond. We love unconditionally and that’s why we wake up to feed that infant during the night and change diapers with equal frequency. My health and weight have suffered under the strain of divorce and personal strife. The blisters (I recently found out are called a pressure ulcers) and bruises from being underweight hurt during the day and during the night. My sleep is interrupted by financial woes, maternal angst, and now a broken heart. But I try to put my life in perspective as I listen to the stories of the women who have suffered with even greater intensity and my friends suffering present pain. I sobbed with one friend on the phone at the news that his friend had killed himself. My heart broke when another friend told me through tears that she spent the entire day in the hospital as life support was removed to her friend’s week-old baby. We rise to the occasion because we have to. I will eat more and cry less because I am not the only one suffering. I will rise to the occasion.
This month’s music: Snakehips