Amazing Grace

Well, here I sit writing in the harsh light of day again. I could start to like this. Coffee, dogs, sunlight. What’s not to like? The Pumpkin Festival is happening in a couple of weeks! I’ve never been to one. I’ll let you all know if I win the pumpkin seed spitting contest.

For the past 48 hours the white noise of my life has been the hum of the grain dryer up the street. The first fire pit party of the season was last night, and we found the music getting louder as we tried to drown out the constant drone. This morning my daughter told me she thought she might die if she has to hear it for much longer. I find it comforting. Its a promise of plenty. How lucky we are to live in this land of hard work and promise of so much grain that it’s taking days to dry before it’s ready for the silos.

The kids and I traded the wail of sirens for the hum a grain dryer. With the exception of traveling to work, my life exists in a 2.5 mile radius. To some, this sounds hideous. I love it. I love being surrounded by the farms, and I love that when I go to our tiny downtown I’m not blending in with the crowd. There’s almost always someone that’s happy to run into me, and I them. I love that my retired neighbor quietly watches what’s going on, and that she gave the shy man around the corner a stern talking to about how she expected him to treat me when she noticed that he finally found the nerve to bring me flowers.

I came here with the intention of being lost, but instead I’ve been found. I never knew the sound of the grain drying could save a wretch like me.

 

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Monster in the Closet

I usually do my writing in the night. But not today. Today is a day to greet with pulling the monster out of the closet. It’s a monster too many of us have met, and it has a different face to all of us who’ve gone a round with him. The monster that causes shame, and can make a grown woman cower. It has one name to go with its many faces. Abuse. There. I said it.

Let’s get all the stereotypes out of the way. It doesn’t happen to one “type” of woman. It doesn’t care how much money you have. It doesn’t care if you went to college. Or if you go to church, or what race you are. It doesn’t care if you left after once, or if you’re still trying to figure out a way to safely get out while you wonder what might be next.

Too many of you have met the monster. The monster in my closet is charming. He has a good job. He’s well respected. He goes to church, and will help anyone that asks. He doesn’t realize he’s the monster in my closet, even though he had several days in jail to ponder the thought.

I have a child with him. This has made a complete lack of contact impossible. My child has been sent home with with gifts to give me. Carefully chosen gifts at uncanny times in the calendar. My child takes great pride in handing me the gifts. The monster in the closet knows I won’t throw a gift away that has passed through the hands of our child.

The monster in the closet has told me of the place I still hold in his heart, and how I am the only person he can trust. He does not consider that the place I hold for him is in my nightmares, rather than my heart, and that I have difficulty trusting anybody.

There are some who don’t understand why I am angered by the well chosen gifts and pretty words. Many of them feel these things are sad. They feel sorry for the monster in the closet. They feel that perhaps he would never do it again. They know he is sorry.

Can I tell you, dear reader, that I agree it is sad? But not for the reasons you may be thinking. It is sad because this is how abuse is perpetuated. By less vulgar displays of power that provoke sympathy. By people feeling sorry for the monster in the closet.

Statistics inform us that, on average, a woman will try to leave an abusive relationship seven times before she is successful. Please consider, she likely has well chosen gifts and pretty words stored in surplus by the the time she makes it out. She likely felt sorry for the monster in the closet too, and hung on to each pretty word with her life.

Dear ones, please, if you have a monster in your closet, don’t call yourself a victim. Call yourself a survivor. You’ve survived the social disease for which there is no cure. Please don’t claim the monster by calling him “my abuser.” He isn’t yours. He’s simply an abusive person. Don’t elevate his status by owning him and his behavior. And lastly, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

The Leader Passes The Torch

Today marked the day the woman who taught me the importance of having a tribe would have been 88 years old. She left this world on a rainy morning in February this year. She was remarkable. Both in sickness and in health.

In health, she was tough. Not mean, but I do mean tough. She was a trailblazer. She spent a short time in the Convent. I found the picture of her as a beautiful Novice when I was teenager.¬† She left the Convent and married. And no, not a fallen priest. A Methodist sailor. Can you imagine? I wish she’d have had the perfect love story. I’m sure that’s what she thought was going to ensue. It wasn’t. By all accounts, it was far from the greatest love story ever between her and the sailor. But her time with him before the divorce that was nearly unheard of during those times and his untimely death shortly after that divorce created years worth of a different type of love story.

She raised two kids, bought a home on her own during a time when women didn’t do that, and made a life. Not an easy one, or a perfect one. But one she made for herself and her kids. And by all accounts, that house was filled with love. By the time I came around, that house was well established as a welcoming place. I lived there with Grandma, Mom, and my uncle for the first few years of my life. I’m so glad I am fortunate enough to remember part of those years. Years that she would take me out to pick cherries from the tree out front before she took the bus to work. She didn’t have a car. But she made sure that never stopped her. As I got older, my Mom married, moved out with me, and the family grew. Grandma would spend her annual¬† two weeks of vacation taking my brothers and I on grand adventures through our city on the bus. And again, how fortunate I am to have those memories.

Skipping ahead several years, I recall when Grandma and I became real friends. She was one of my best friends. She never let me forget that I was her girl, even when she was a bit less than pleased with me. I’ve been told before that if I’d decided to steal the moon from the sky, she would have heard me out on my reasons for deciding to do so before telling me to put it back. Probably not far from the truth. She was my girl as much as I was hers.

This is the part of her life I want to share today. It is enough for now. Another day is a better day to speak of what she gave while sick. Today is a day to remember the good times.