Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Open Letter to My Abusers

To My Abusers:

This letter is addressed to some of you whom I once counted among my family, partners, and friends. As a child, I was raised by you from the day I was born; and as an adult, I was your wife, your lover, or your friend. For most of my life, I knew few close relationships with people who were not like you. Life with you was what I knew as "normal", and I had little chance for objective comparisons, so that I could fully understand or realize that your treatment of me was anything but normal or acceptable. But slowly, painfully, throughout many years of difficulty, I learned that all of my hope, faith and love for you was not sufficient for you to be willing to change or evolve into compassionate, caring human beings. I share these words knowing it is neither probable you will ever read this letter, nor likely you would own accountability, feel remorse or be compelled to make amends for the pain and devastation you've caused in my life, or in the lives of others, as a result of reading what I have chosen to write. Thus, while this letter is addressed to you, it is not meant for your benefit.

In fact, I write knowing that no attempt I make to communicate to you my struggles or pain, wrought by your behavior, will change what you have done ... or would do to me still, if I had allowed you to continue. I know this because I tried many times before to tell you how you hurt me, and why you needed to stop, but I failed as many times as I tried to get through to you. I tried because I loved you, and because you proclaimed love for me. I tried because I wanted to believe your words and trust in your promises; but your actions belied your claims over and over again, and my pleas went unheeded. Your words of love for me were lies, because your definition of "love" translated as physical, emotional or sexual abuse. You assaulted me. You used me. You lied to me, about me, or otherwise knowingly deceived me. You cheated me, and cheated on me. You criticized and humiliated me. You claimed my love and generosity as yours, without giving to me of yourselves in like kind. You stole from me that which you did not earn, and you asked from me what you weren't willing to give or do for me in return. For any or all of these reasons, I offer no gratitude to you within the context of this letter. Instead, write about what you have taught me, and what I have learned from you.

For there is a profound lesson to be learned, in realizing that those who would do the things you have done to hurt me did not respect my feelings or value my humanity, even while I continued to value yours. A psychologist might diagnose your behaviors with me as indicative of Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder (e.g. a "sociopath") ... or a combination of these two. But I am not a psychologist, and I cannot diagnose you; I can only speak from my experiences as your victim. I can only speak from my pain, and from my eventual recognition that, regardless of the underlying reasons for your victimization of me, you knew what you were doing ... even as you were doing it. In fact, I came to realize that you believe I, and countless others who you've victimized, are emotionally "weak" in some way that at first appealed to your predatory instincts, yet eventually caused you immense discomfort, irritation, anger, or rage. You even leveraged this belief to convince yourself and others that you were "my" victim, that I was somehow "overly-dramatic", "crazy" or abusive to "you" ... because of my responses to your behavior towards me. And you showed me how you could use this rationale to justify or otherwise dismiss your abusive, self-serving behaviors in such a way that you would think little if anything of the damage you wrought for me before I dismissed you from my life. Even afterwards, you taught me that you still considered me a possession, a tool for your use, or a child to be punished for daring to reject and walk away from the pain you caused me. You used and abused me without remorse, because you are human predators: lacking empathy or guilt for your actions.  Thus, I know this letter will not move you, nor is it intended to.

Having finally learned that my words and my pain could not and will never move you, I have moved myself away from you and out of your path of destruction. You are no longer a part of my life; because while I loved you, trusted you, cared for or supported you ... in some cases for many years ... I came to realize you cared for and served only your own selfish interests. With deep sadness, I have learned that I loved only the persons you wanted me to believe you were, and not the loveless strangers I discovered concealed beneath your elaborate facades. In truth, you are incomplete beings, whose only measure of self-worth depends upon the ability to usurp what you value in me and others you prey upon. Your "love" for me could only be defined in terms of "possession." While I understand now that your inability to feel love and empathy for others may have been a result of genetic heredity or previous abuse in your own life, I cannot now afford the luxury of sympathy for you, because you manipulated my sympathy to continue your abuse of me. And despite all of the pain and devastation you have caused for me, few of you have ever apologized to me. Those of you who have actually uttered to me the words, "I'm sorry", did so only after I dismissed you from my life for what you had done; only after you realized you had nothing left to grasp at. And yet, it is clear to me you were sorry only that you were caught in your acts of deceit and destruction; only sorry that you had lost your hold on a "possession" and were left trying to find a way to regain your perceived advantage over me. As such, I know that your words of apology were empty and utterly without concern or meaning, unaccompanied by any attempt to make amends. Therefore, you have not earned my forgiveness, and this letter is not meant to offer this to you.

Instead, this letter is meant for me, for my children, and for all of my sisters and brothers of Humanity who, like me, have suffered at your hands, or at the hands of others like you. This is a letter of healing and forgiveness for myself, for having been blind, needy and vulnerable to your abuse; for believing your lies for too long, even after realizing your words belied your actions towards me; for loving and trusting you even while seeking the reasons for your relative disregard, and even deep-seated contempt, for me. It serves as my bridge to hope over the stagnant waters of despair; to heal my injured spine, broken heart, depression, fear-borne anxiety, and damaged self-esteem ... all resulting from giving far more of myself to you than you ever had a right to take. Nothing I could write would change the fact that your lies and abuse created deep wounds in my heart, leaving jagged scars upon my psyche. And nothing I could write would change the fact that you are incapable of truly loving or caring for me, or for anyone else. Without a reason to hope for you to change, this letter offers nothing to you that you would understand or value.

But for me, this letter represents my proclamation of freedom from you. I am no longer your victim. I am a survivor who now brandishes my words as weapons to slay your dragons of destruction; dousing the flames of fire they once breathed upon my soul, searing it with pain. These are words of recognition that, while you may be doomed to unfulfilled lives of dissatisfaction, anger, and distorted perceptions, I no longer have to accept your realities as my own sentence of pain and fear. While you remain trapped and struggling in your own webs of deceit, I have cut myself loose from your snares with the sword of truth. While you are unlikely to ever feel or share true love or joy with another human being, I am free to seek anew the peace and happiness I know I am able to claim. While you have lost your hearts and souls to a lifetime of following dark paths to bitter ends, I have gained clarity of vision, and I am moving forward with a renewed sense of hope. And finally, although I can no longer afford sympathy for you, perhaps I can one day achieve forgiveness for you, in your inability to escape the darkness of your unconsciousness and share in the great gifts of compassion and human connectedness.

Hope springs eternal,
Aurora Renata

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Building a New Life

Greetings to all as we look forward to new experiences and adventures in the New Year of 2012. For me, it is time to begin moving forward from some very difficult lessons I learned during 2010 and 2011.

My blog pen name, Aurora Renata, is derived from Latin, meaning "the dawn of my re-birth". I have chosen this pseudonym to reflect my recognition of the opportunity I have taken for healing from a lifetime of painful experiences and memories, forgiving and burying the ghosts of my old life, and building a new life that truly embraces all that I hold dear. This opportunity came to me, of course, by way of a personal crisis: the most challenging crisis I have ever faced as an adult. During the past year-and-a-half of my life, these events have caused me to re-evaluate every facet of my life, from childhood to present.

In July of 2010, I was assaulted by my husband of 13 years, after intervening to stop him from viciously bullying my 12-year-old son. He was very intoxicated at the time of his assault; a culmination of years of progressive alcoholism and negative controlling behaviors which he repeatedly refused to seek help for, and which made life increasingly difficult and unhappy for my sons and myself. His assault sent both physical and emotional shock waves through me, and my vision went black for a few moments after he struck me in the face. As soon as I could see again, I felt as though I had temporarily floated outside of my body as I watched myself turn and walk silently toward my cell phone on the kitchen table, then pick it up to dial 911.

I was kept on the phone by the emergency center dispatcher for approximately 12 minutes, at which point 3 police officers arrived at my home. My husband was immediately removed from my presence and arrested, while I filed a detailed crime report with one of the officers. My oldest son remained in his bedroom crying out hysterically, while my youngest stood quietly by my side the entire time the police were in my home. After I filed my report, the police handcuffed my husband and took him away, with my very upset sons watching from their bedroom windows. The entire scene was very surreal for me.

My husband's assault upon me, that evening, finally awakened me to the realization that I needed to take a strong stand against all further alcoholism and abusive behavior in my home and my life, if I was to ensure a promising future for my sons and I. Unfortunately, the strong stand I took against my husband's violence, alcohol abuse, and years of emotional abuse and controlling behaviors, resulted in vitriolic personal attacks against me by numerous family members. Within a few brief months after his assault, he had manipulated the situation to his advantage by turning against me not only members of his family, but also my own mother, father and only sister. Within a year afterwards, due to the impact of his manipulative behaviors, I had also lost the support of two close female friends.

Had I been able to anticipate how my stand against my husband's abuse would lead to divisiveness and loss of support for my sons and I from family and friends on both sides of the fence, I may have hesitated in fear of the consequences; because upon finalization of my divorce, I found myself utterly without any close outside support to help with my sons. I felt devastated, isolated and alone. In the many months since my husband's assault, I have struggled to come to terms with broken relationships and isolation from people I had loved and cared about throughout my life.

However, a year-and-a-half after my (now) ex-husband's assault, I also find myself free ... finally and truly free! ... from the pain and anxiety of constantly worrying about what kind of atmosphere I will find at home at the end of the day. I no longer have to worry about his drinking, or his reckless spending habits that sunk us deep into debt. I no longer have to tip-toe around his stormy moods, mitigate his emotionally abusive behaviors that made morning routines before school anxiety-ridden and sometimes tearful for my sons, or soften the blows of his criticism of every error of etiquette with my sons at the dinner table. I no longer have to share my bed with a man who stinks of stale alcohol and sleeps through the crying of a sick child. And I no longer have to seek solace, self-esteem, or emotional refuge for myself and my children in extra-curricular activities or in the company of friends.

Followers of various world religions believe in a Hell that exists in a nether world of the afterlife, filled with fire and lost souls writhing in agony. I, however, know of a real and present Hell that existed here on Earth for my sons and I, for 13 long years. But I found redemption, rescued my sons, and claimed for us a new life filled with far greater promise for our future ... and a real chance for happiness and peace!

With love,
Aurora Renata

If you find yourself living through the Hell of Domestic Violence, know that you do not need to await a crisis to change your life, for your crisis is already at hand!

For help or information, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224,
or visit their website:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Turning Crisis into Opportunity

Namast'e! With this, my first blog, I welcome you to join me as I share with you some experiences from my life's journey, in my quest for healing, happiness and inner peace.

Many years ago, I learned that according to Chinese astrology, 1962, the year of my birth, was the Year of the Tiger. Characteristics of this Chinese zodiac sign include: courage, fearlessness, honesty, altruism, and warm-heartedness. Whether or not all of these characteristics are completely true of my personality, I have always disliked dishonesty immensely, and I've been determined to face and overcome my fears throughout my life with the hope that this will help me to heal and become whole. I am also a fierce protector of my children! For these reasons, I readily identify with the tigress as a symbol for key characteristics that guide my instincts, intuition and determination; thus also serving as the inspiration for my blog title.

In addition to inspiration from the Chinese zodiac, I also recall the pinyin (Romanized Chinese) term for crisis,  wei ji, often popularly cited in motivational speeches as meaning "danger and opportunity". The two symbols for wei ji are:
While both Chinese and Western linguists and philologists have claimed "danger and opportunity" to be a misinterpretation of these symbols for crisis, the importance of recognizing opportunity in the face of adversity has never been lost on me.

As a survivor of both family violence and domestic violence, I have certainly encountered my fair share of personal crises in my life. As a result, I have faced many inner struggles and a great deal of turmoil in both my personal and professional relationships. I can't tell you how many times I felt completely overwhelmed and was tempted to succumb to defeat during these times of crisis. Yet for reasons I can only attribute to the existence of an Awareness greater than my own (some call this God), I have an "inner guidance" that pushes me to persevere; to keep searching for answers to my difficulties and never give up hope in finding greater happiness and peace. For this reason, I choose to turn my crises into opportunities for growth.

Over the years, a number of friends and colleagues have encouraged me to write a book about my experiences. While I love to write, the thought of writing and publishing a book is an effort that seems too daunting for this single, full-time working mother of two adolescent boys. However, a friend of mine recently shared a blog written by one of his acquaintances, in which the author shares stories of her very intriguing life experiences and the wisdom she has gained from these. My friend encouraged me to follow this simpler and more direct path to sharing my own stories with others; I owe my inspiration to begin this new journey of writing to him!

I've found that my greatest catharsis and personal salvation comes from reaching out to help others overcome adversity. I have seen over and over again in my life that there truly is a universal balance in which we must be willing to give of ourselves in order to receive ... and vice-versa! This is the spirit in which I will share my thoughts and experiences, with the hope that something I share can serve as inspiration for others to seek their own paths toward healing and greater happiness. Perhaps you can inspire me, too!

I look forward to walking beside you on the path of your seeking, if only for a few moments in time.

With love,
Aurora Renata