I am a survivor of both sexual abuse and domestic violence. I’m now 63, and my pain and innermost, darkest secrets have festered inside of me for far too long. It’s time for them to come out, and hopefully, I will be able to help at least one of you find some peace. I have–almost.
I was molested twice as a child, then raped twice–then raped again by my third husband, then repeatedly raped again by an ex-boyfriend who beat, choked, strangled, smothered, slapped, and punched me daily for five grueling months. I had more black eyes and split lips than a street fighter. He made me a prisoner in my own home, and cut me off from my friends and the outside world because he was afraid that I or someone else would report him.
He enjoyed flinging insults at me, bullying me, throwing me into walls and breaking my furniture with my body. The final blow came the night he shoved my face down in the couch cushion breaking my glasses to smithereens, and held the biggest knife I owned at the back of my neck screaming over and over, “I’m gonna cut your f____ing head off!”
I finally escaped from him that night when he passed out drunk, and I had him arrested. He told the arresting officer that the threat was a joke. I wasn’t laughing. After spending three months in jail, he started harassing me, stalking me, and threatening me. I eventually moved to another state, found a measure of peace, and re-claimed my life–yet again.
I was 10 when I was first molested by a neighbor hired to babysit me. He touched me in my sacred places and made me touch his. He made me feel filthily uncomfortable and the nightmare lasted for a few agonizing weeks.
My mother didn’t want to hear about the violations and wouldn’t do anything to make him stop.
The second time, I was 12, and the assault involved another neighbor. My mother didn’t want to hear about that either.
Both of my molesters were suppose to be watching over me and protecting me. Studies show that most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
I thought the abuse was my fault–that I had done something wrong to provoke or deserve it. And my mother made me feel as though I had. If I tried to talk to her, she’d say, “Well, you asked for it!”
My spirit was broken.
I felt dirty, ashamed, and unworthy. I concluded that this treatment was just a part of life. Mom’s reaction confirmed my suspicion, which makes me wonder if she had been an abuse victim herself. I didn’t understand that we were both wrong about the acts forced on me.
I had a lot of living to do before I figured out that sexual abuse is neither normal nor OK.
As I grew older, I trusted no one and felt worthless–like rotten potatoes. Hope faded and I became a very depressed and depressing person. I was withdrawn, distraught, introspective, and suicidal. In my teens, I would spend two or three days at a time alone in bed, crying uncontrollably. I wouldn’t eat, comb my hair, or join my family in any activities.
There was simply no joy in my life.
I hadn’t recovered from the earlier molestations yet when I was raped at 16 by the boyfriend I had at the time. He stole my virginity and my desire to be sexy.
Again, my mother didn’t want to hear about it. I had been viciously violated again and had no one to comfort me.
I was raped the second time by a stranger when I was 21. He was black and I am white. I was in a desperate situation and I accepted a ride from the wrong person. He was a predator who destroyed my color blindness.
As the attack began, I jerked a folding knife from a handy spot in my purse, and pointed it in his direction while yelling “leave me alone.” I’ve never been very strong, and he easily grabbed the knife out of my hand. He pressed the knife against my neck and threatened to slit my throat if I didn’t do what he wanted.
I was in fear for my life, so I did.
He forced himself on me for hours at a house somewhere in the country, and then dragged me to the shower. He turned the cold water on while subduing me, tossed me in, and then left. I was abandoned in a strange place–dazed, shocked, devastated, and bewildered.
When I reported the incident to the police, I was treated like a prostitute–as if I asked for it. I don’t believe the police ever looked for my attacker.
That occurred in 1970 when help for sexual assault victims and empathetic ears were virtually non-existent. For years, I chastised myself for “letting” him rape me.
Three months later, I found out I was pregnant. I loathed the baby inside me and wanted nothing to do with him or her. The pregnancy had been forced upon me and this was in 1971 when having a mixed-race child was very much taboo. To make matters even worse, my stepfather was a violent racist who gave me a lot of grief for being pregnant with a black baby.
The pregnancy was too much for me to bear. I was being bombarded on every side and the whole world seemed against me. I had a mental breakdown and my doctor performed a Cesarean abortion when I was five months pregnant.
Abortions were not an accepted alternative, so my mother didn’t visit me in the hospital.
I was burdened with guilt and shame for giving up the baby. But I knew that God still loved me because I am one of His own beloved children. He’d forgiven me, and I needed to forgive me if I was going to find peace.
But self-forgiveness was not easy. I fell into a deep pit of self-pity, anxiety, and paranoia. I tried to escape reality by drinking and smoking copious amounts of marijuana to dull the pain. I kept a journal and my tears drenched the pages. I felt like a slave to torment.
No one wanted to listen to me. No one wanted to comfort me. No one wanted to help me deal with my devastation. So I held it inside–and I almost exploded.
As a way to escape the pain, I went on the run. I changed my address over and over and over–106 times covering nine different states so far. I could never really get comfortable and when the slightest thing set me off, I felt an urge to move.
While on the move, I married four times and divorced four times. I had more boyfriends than I can count on my fingers and my toes. I was engaged more times than Liz Taylor, but I was never happy or satisfied, and I had a warped view of sex. I sabotaged my relationships–especially the one I wanted the most.
I finally found the love of my life, and then I pushed him away.
I wanted a man in my life, but men terrified me because I knew that they were capable of hurting me. I was drastically confused. After I walked away from my true love, I neglected my appearance and my hygiene, and consciously tried to make myself unattractive. My self-esteem had been ripped from me.
I grew increasingly suicidal. On July 4, 2002, I almost succeeded in ending my life when I took a goodly amount of Tylenol combined with a large portion of Advil. As I woke up gagging on thick, black charcoal, the attending physician in the emergency room asked me, “So you want to kill yourself do you?”
Of course I did.
Besides living through never-ending emotional torture, I was suffering from constant, unrelenting physical pain brought on by more than a dozen degenerative ailments such as osteoarthritis and scoliosis. I simply existed in a living hell.
I was angry with God and I asked Him repeatedly, “Why didn’t You help me?” I couldn’t understand why a loving God allowed me to go through so much torment. Then I read something that gave me a different perspective–I should be asking Him how he wants me to react to my trials, instead of asking why He allowed this to happen. Did He really want me to mope and sit around bawling and feeling sorry for myself?
I discerned that He was making me strong and giving me character through all these trials, and I started appreciating what a special gift my life is. But I still needed help to ease all the hurt–someone who would listen for a change.
I’ve heard it said that God helps those who help themselves, and I found an excellent Christian therapist who specialized in counseling abuse victims. Since I was affected by both sexual abuse and domestic violence, MacKenzie had her hands full with me, but the two of us sorted it out.
“Mac” guided me to realize that abusers are predators who prey on the weak and overtake the strong. She convinced me that I hadn’t “let” my abuse happen and stressed that it was not my fault. My abusers were adults and the shame is their cross to bear.
She comforted me and listened to me. She taught me that I had to find a way on my own to soothe my pain.
When she quoted a promise from the Bible that reads, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:5), I immediately felt a wave of calm engulf me. I’d “walked on eggshells” for most of my life–always afraid to take the next step. I suddenly felt confidence in my stride.
I also took comfort in my faith. I was taught the grace of Jesus when I was young and He would again become my ally. I latched onto Him like barnacles cling to a ship. I figured, “Well, He saved me once, maybe He’ll save me again!”
He did. He took me by the hand and lifted me out of my pit of despair.
And then I got mad.
I decided not to allow myself to be a slave to bad memories again and I vowed to force myself to heal. I had to put forth the effort and I had to do the work but I was tired of being miserable.
That determination sent me running to an abused women’s shelter in Tennessee after being sexually threatened by my daughter’s boyfriend. In a shelter group, we discussed how to make the right choices and I realized that far too many of the choices I’d made were nothing but wrong for me.
I desperately needed my “picker” fixed.
I had made questionable choices for most of my life and had paid dearly for some of those decisions–like taking the ride with that stranger. I was mostly attracted to “bad boys” and that’s what they usually turned out to be. I promised myself that I would start weighing my options a little more closely and I started making better, clearer resolutions based on what I have learned to combat abusive relationships.
If you are going through abuse, don’t risk further injury by confronting your abuser. First and foremost, report your abuser to law enforcement authorities, even if the abuser is a parent. Remember that NO ONE has the right to abuse you. Always have an escape plan so that you can safely get up, get out, and get help.
Once out of an abusive situation, don’t let despair fester like a boil inside you until you’re ready to burst. You need to rid yourself of emotional pain, and there are plenty of resources you can count on for help in taking your emotional life back.
There are also a number of things you can do for yourself to ease the misery. These things helped me. I hope that they will help you too:
- Call a trusted friend or family member when you are feeling frightened, overwhelmed, or alone.
- Make positive goals for yourself, work on them feverishly and praise yourself when you achieve them.
- Get involved in something– anything– as proof to yourself that the abuser didn’t steal your will to live. Take up playing the guitar, playing golf, playing ping pong–whatever keeps your mind occupied and shows the world your tenacity.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, keep up your hygiene and grooming ritual, eat healthy foods, and re-establish a normal routine as soon as possible.
- Listen to your favorite music and write out your feelings in your journal.
Throw yourself into church activities. Have some fun, go on church outings, or volunteer.
Above all, don’t give up hope. Recovery is a slow process. You’ll never be OK with what happened, but you’ll grow stronger for having survived the experience. My hope is that you will find a way to heal yourself and step toward achieving a prosperous and happy life. Please, be safe.
Here are a few numbers you can call to reach caring people who can provide information that will allow you to take back control of your life (used with permission):
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
Gift from Within (Survivors of Trauma and Victimization) 1-207-236-8858
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 1-886-331-9474
or text “love is” to 77054
Copyright 2013. Margarett Meyers
All rights reserved
It was spring of 1982 and I was married to Jason. He and I and our two children, Brian and Zoey–both barely teenagers–were living in an old, small 3-bedroom house across the creek deep in the country on the edge of an apricot orchard. We had already lived through a number of adventures while living at this house and we were soon to experience another.
It was a warm day and Jason and the kids were busy outside while I stayed inside to clean up after lunch and work on a pair of jeans I was making Brian. I finished washing the dishes when “the urge” hit me so I headed for the bathroom. I walked nonchalantly into the bathroom not paying enough attention and as I pulled my pants down and sat on the toilet, I looked down and there it was–a brownish-green snake about one foot long at the base of the toilet and too close to my feet!
Now snakes and I don’t get along. They usually give me plenty of space and I reciprocate. But here I was in an uncompromising situation as the damn thing slithered toward me, seeming to tease me as I screamed my lungs sore.
Jason and the kids came running. Jason entered the house, armed with a sturdy tree limb, not knowing what to expect. The kids stood at the back door as instructed by my husband and peered inside curiously. Jason, upon discovering that the house wasn’t on fire, but noticing the snake on the floor and finding me crying, screaming, and standing on the toilet, couldn’t contain himself. He was almost in hysterics–laughing so hard and infectiously that the kids started laughing too–not even knowing what they were laughing about. I had pulled up my unzipped pants by then, and stood on the toilet, my feet on the seat straddling the bowl while the poor snake slithered to and fro, probably as frightened as I was. My knees were knocking, my hands were shaking, and I was gripped with fear.
Jason yelled to the kids, “Aw. It’s just a snake!”
Jason, still laughing, picked up the snake, took it to the back door, opened it, and deposited it into Brian’s waiting hands. Brian teased Zoey with the reptile for a few minutes before turning it loose into the grass and the snake seemed relieved to be set free. My husband chucked loudly as he told my children how brave I had been, straddling the toilet seat screaming as the snake tried to find the nearest exit. Still shaking, I joined them and my only reaction was to hang my head as my tear-stained face turned red. They got a good laugh out of my embarrassment and teased me unmercifully and I had to join in with them.
The commotion died down and we continued on with what we were doing before the unexpected interruption. The story spread throughout the large family as we entertained that evening, but that snake was one guest that never came back to visit!
Many years have passed since that warm spring day in 1982 and my children are grown now with kids of their own. But we will never forget the slithering visitor who spent a few memorable moments in the bathroom of our house on the edge of the apricot orchard, and I will never live the story down!
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I’ve not posted in a while because of surgery on my foot and the loss of my best friend and niece, Linda, to cancer. She was two years older than I am and we were just like sisters and very close. I take comfort in knowing that she’s in a better place and free from pain, but I’ll miss her forever.
I would like to wish you all a wonderful and prosperous 2013. May each day bring you new and treasured blessings.
“May the most that you wish for be the least you receive.”
I hope that you enjoy “The Snake in the John” and will leave a comment. Stay tuned, too, for the next installment. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to post to this site on the 1st of each month. Hold me accountable. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of this WordPress thing, but I’m working on it! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Take care and God bless,
It was 1965, and I was fifteen and a sophomore at Calaveras High School in San Andreas, California. I was living with my sister and brother-in-law in Burson at the time when my niece, Patty, and I decided to try out the new craze making its way around the school. It seemed that all the girls with long enough hair were doing it–rolling their hair with orange juice cans open at both ends and secured with bobby pins.
Our family filled up on orange juice for a couple of weeks until finally, we had enough cans to roll our hair. Patty rolled my mid-length hair and I rolled her long red hair. It seemed that we’d waited forever to have enough cans to try this crazy fad, and we went to bed that night excited and anticipating how gorgeous our hair was going to look in the morning, but we were so miserable–trying to lay our heads on pillows, tossing and turning, and fighting to get comfortable and get some sleep–that we were up half the night.
It was a torture that neither of us had ever experienced.
We finally gave up, trudged into the kitchen around midnight, and started unrolling our hair and tossing the cans away. The cans clanging together as we threw them into the trash woke my sister, and she came into the kitchen in a sleepy daze. When she saw us throwing the cans away, all she could do was burst out laughing and exclaim, “Well, now I guess I can’t do my hair!”
We all had a good laugh and Patty and I went back to bed very relieved. We were so exhausted, we didn’t care very much about how our hair looked in the morning. That was one fad we didn’t care to follow. We both woke up in the morning with stiff necks and sore hair. We had certainly learned a valuable lesson that night–following the crowd isn’t always the most comfortable way to go!
It was Mother’s Day 1986 and snowing and blowing profusely. It had been at least ten years since I’d lived in the snow and I had no idea of what I was in for. But the memory of that day will remain with me for the rest of my life.
My third husband, Jason, and I were still acclimatizing to living almost 7,000 feet up the side of Wineglass Mountain overlooking Livingston, Montana–what would be our first location on the mountain where we would stay for a month and a half. Livingston was only about three miles down from us “as the crow flies,” but it took us about an hour to navigate the winding and treacherous dirt mountain road some ten miles and 3,300 feet down to the paved road leading to town.
We were currently living between a small 7′ x 8′ overhead camper that fit on the back of our small Toyota pickup a 20′ utility trailer–our “covered wagon.” We had converted the utility trailer by using four lengths of one inch conduit fashioned into A-shaped frames and attached with heavy-duty brackets to the inside of the trailer. The frame was then covered with a 40′ x 50′ heavy green coated canvas tarp and secured all around and to the camper with what seemed like miles of rope and bungee cords. The tarp also covered about four feet of the top of the back-end of the camper.
In the approximately four feet of space and bare earth between the camper and the trailer sat a sheep herder’s stove that provided both heat for each unit, and a surface on which to cook or keep a pot of water hot for cooking, cleaning up, and such. I was in charge of gathering wood to feed the stove. In addition to the sheep herder’s stove, the camper was equipped with a four burner propane stove and an oven that we’d use occasionally when we had money for propane–which was rarely.
Our life was tough, but I loved it. But one thing we didn’t realize before we moved to Livingston was that it was one of the windiest areas in Montana.
I was adjusting to having no phone, electricity, running water, and plumbing–and the life of a mountain woman 6,800 feet up a mountain on the edge of a national wilderness. I also was getting use to staying home alone quite a lot of the time with bear, elk, bald eagles, deer, moose, rattlesnakes, and “rock chucks” as my nearest neighbors. I was home alone a lot–many times until way after dark–while Jason was in town scraping up work or scouting for supplies and water.
And, naturally, this day, I was home alone.
It was snowing heavily and the winds were unusually forceful. Visibility was zero and it was downright bitter cold. We had no clue that Livingston’s gusts alone can get to around 80 miles per hour or more when we moved there. The winds got so strong that they had moved a 14′ x 70′ mobile home on wheels over four feet while it was sitting down in the flats. Many times, I felt like the camper and trailer were going to go rolling down the mountainside. The winds came over and down the ridge above me, whistling and shaking the camper–with me in it!
I didn’t like that much!
Our pets and I were sitting inside the camper with the door shut and one burner of our stove in the camper on for warmth. The sheep herder’s stove had the day off for some reason, so I had our cat and three large dogs inside the camper with me. Normally, the dogs stayed in the trailer, guarding our 13 inch black and white TV, our clothes–neatly hung from the conduit–our waster jugs, a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on top, our supplies, and most of our few earthly possessions.
I suddenly had to go out to the “bucket” and made my way through the sleeping animals to the door. When I opened the camper door and looked across at the inside of the trailer, I was absolutely stupefied! All I could see was white covering EVERYTHING! I simply could not believe my eyeballs.
Our TV, clothes, and everything else inside the trailer was covered in about one foot of snow. The snow had blown in through a 1/4 inch gap between the tarp and the back of the camper and into the trailer. I took our broom and swept off the snow as best I could and lit a fire in the sheep herder’s stove to “thaw” our belongings.
By the time Jason got home, the snow and wind had died down, and the sun blazed brightly over the Montana landscape. Things were pretty much back to normal–or as normal as they could be–and the snow in the trailer was gone. When I recanted my story, I’m really not sure that Jason believed me, but my proof was in the wet clothes.
I may be the only person on earth who really knows what happened that Mother’s Day in 1986 on the side of Wineglass Mountain, but I’m certain I’ll never forget it!
I know that we’ve never met, but I believe that I’m your daughter. I’m not sure whether you know I’m alive or have looked for me, but I have looked for you.
After you left us on the day I was born in January of 1950, my mother took a job driving a truck in Paso Robles. Nine months later, Mom married an eighty-three-year-old nurseryman, we moved to Hollister, and Bill became my “Daddy.” Daddy was very good to me–he treated me as his own. He filled your shoes very well and I really did love him–even though I was teased by all the kids at school because he was so old.
When I was around seven, Mom told me that Daddy wasn’t my real father. She told me that you and she were married and divorced before my birth. I believed that story until I was seventeen, five months pregnant, and was in court being taken away from my mother and third stepfather–a violent, belligerent drunk.
Daddy died when I was eleven–he was ninety-four–and Mom married again. My second stepfather almost killed Mom and I with his homicidal driving, and I wondered where you were. Mom married four times in all and I followed in her shoe prints. I’ve had four failed marriages, too, but you can’t say that I didn’t try!
For so long, I felt that if you didn’t care enough to find me, why should I care enough to look for you? Although I realize that, in all likelihood, you have moved on to your final resting place, I feel compelled to at least search for the other side of my family.
What traits have I inherited from you? What infirmities? Do I have any brothers and sisters? Do we have the same color hair? Do I look like you? I have so may questions for you that may never be answered, but I have the need to know.
Even though I’ve never known you, you’ve had a profound impact on my life. My mother took your abandonment of us out on me, blaming me for your leaving. Over and over she would scream, “I hate you!” ”I wish I’d given you up for adoption!” or “If it weren’t for you, I’d still be with your father!” Did you leave because of me?
Being close with my mother was nearly impossible. She died in 1993 and I almost felt relieved.
From what I’ve been told, you came to see me with your new girlfriend–Mom’s best friend–on the day I was born, never to be seen again. (Mom said her name was Sue.)
Why did you leave me the way that you did? Did you ever marry Sue? Did she become my stepmother?
Mom always told me that, much to your chagrin, your middle name is Elizabeth–the same as hers. So, it shouldn’t be hard to find you. She also told me that you were offered a role as Gary Cooper’s double in movies because you looked so much like him. I once had a photo of you, but I got pissed off at you and I ripped it up.
You do look like Gary Cooper.
I guess I will never get the chance to meet you and will be forced to wonder the rest of my life how different things might have been had you been in my life.
Why weren’t you there for me when I broke my arm while standing on my hands for ballet lessons? Why weren’t you at my piano recital when I played my way through it by ear? Did you know that I was molested twice as a child and raped twice later?
Where were you when I really needed you?
Do you know that you’re a grandpa? A great-grandpa? A great-great grandpa?
Where were you when my mother died? My sister? My brother? Why didn’t you hold me in your arms and comfort me when my fiancée of four days was killed in a car wreck and my whole world fell apart?
Including you, I have lost four fathers. That’s more than one should bear.
Where were you when my lung collapsed when I was eight months pregnant with your youngest granddaughter? Where were you when I had to learn to walk all over again after major surgery on both feet?
Where were you when I learned to walk the first time?
Why am I missing from your family photos? Did you miss me at Christmas dinner? Do I ever cross your mind as you carve the turkey on Thanksgiving Day?
Where were you during my myriad of tests, injections, and surgeries. I needed you to hold my hand, hug me, and tell me that I’d be okay.
Do you ever regret leaving me? Do you ever think of me? Are you a good guy or just a jerk?
I don’t want to take up your precious time or intrude upon your life, but I can’t help but wonder if you ever mention me to your other family. Do you have an “other” family?
Do you have a guilty conscience? Do you even know my name? What could I have done to make you want me? Wasn’t I cute enough?
Did I inherit my strength from you? Do we have the same color eyes?
I’m sure you had your reasons for leaving like you did, but I feel like I deserve an explanation. I’m no longer angry–I’m just curious. Is it too late to connect with you?
I finally opted for my heavenly Father–the one who’s never left me–and Jesus has held my hand in your place through all of my trials.
You lost out on knowing me,
Perhaps I should just let you go, but you mean something to me. I’m not sure what, but you do mean something to me. Your seed created me and I’m pretty special. I’m strong and gifted and a hell of a person. Perhaps you will never know that, but I have the need to tell you.
I’ve been miserable for most of my life–abandoned more than once and hurt too many times–I wish I could have talked to you when my ex-boyfriend was beating me to a pulp. I wish I could have talked to you when I became an alcoholic and an addict, feeling alone and unloved.
Where were you?
I have so many questions that may remain unanswered, and I’m sorry if I’ve bothered you. I just wanted to tell you hello and that I’m thinking of you.
As I drifted out of my self-induced haze and near-death experience, choking and vomiting up charcoal, the doctor asked me unsympathetically, “So you want to commit suicide, do you?” I never saw him again, or I would have gladly answered his question.
That was July 4, 2002.
I had taken a partial bottle of Tylenol plus a partial bottle of Advil, just trying to ease the pain; not caring that it might be permanent relief.
Stumbling into consciousness, I learned new appreciation for the word, “Life.” Now, I thank God for every morning. I choose to see the pain I endure as a reminder from God that I’m still alive, and I have work yet to do.
According to the American Pain Foundation (www.painfoundation.org), “Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined…The annual cost of chronic pain in the United States, including healthcare expenses, lost income and lost productivity is estimated to be $100 billion.”
The prestigious Ohio State University Medical Center located at the website, medicalcenter.osu.edu, states that “chronic pain has been said to be the most costly health problem in the U.S.”
The American Journal of Public Health in their September 1996 issue, (Volume 86, No. 9), tells us that “There now is relatively strong evidence that pain patients are indeed at greater risk for completed suicide than patients without pain.” the article goes on to say, “Patients with various medical conditions who complain of pain appear to be at increased risk for the presence of suicide ideation, suicide attemps, and completed suicide.”
I have personally been on “suicide watch” six times now. I don’t intend to ever be there again, but I wish I could remember what it’s like to live without pain.
There are two different kinds of pain, acute pain, and chronic pain. Acute pain is of short duration–it goes away. Chronic pain persists for weeks, months, years, or even a lifetime.
My pain started in early 1998. It began with diagnoses of tendinitis, osteoarthritis, trigger-fingers, and carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, forearms, and wrists, resulting from being a bookkeeper for twenty years. Later that same year, I started having muscle spasms in my back that have never gone away. I have since been diagnosed with severe sciatica in my right leg, degenerative disk disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, osteopenia, a bulging disc, lumbar facet joint syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, lumbar spondylosis, and now, most recently, osteoporosis. I also developed arthritis in both feet resulting from major surgery on both.
My injuries weren’t occupational. I suffered two serious falls, both under slippery conditions, and both with my feet flying out from under me. both times I landed full force on my tailbone–once in an intersection, and once on a large, pointed rock. (Please note: Rocks are HARD!)
I have gone through physical therapy several times, taken many medications that didn’t work or did little, had several injections in my lower back, and seen so many doctors I’ve lost count.
I spend every day and night feeling as though a 2×4 has been shoved up my behind, I am wearing concrete shoes, lightning bolts are shooting up and down my leg, and bees are buzzing in my foot, ankle, or knee. My hands, wrist and forearms feel like a cross between a root canal and an abscessed tooth. My thumbs, after surgery on both, feel like over-inflated basketballs ready to burst.
For me, and many other sufferers of chronic pain, there is no comfort. Drugs mask the symptoms, but do not provide true relief.
I am never comfortable. I cannot sit, stand, lie down, walk, or move without pain.
Chronic pain is all encompassing and misunderstood. It is an invisible thief that steals your independence, self esteem, enthusiasm, strength, and energy. I feel alienated from the life I use to know. It has cost me the best job I ever had, my first home of my own, friends, relationships, goals, dreams, and intimacy. Now my independence depends on my power chair–and I thank God for it!
I force fake smiles, and laugh phony laughter. I am a captive to anguish.
Chronic pain is a vicious circle. Preoccupation with the pain leads to depression, irritability, weariness, sleeplessness, and unspeakable suffering that effects mental health and well-being. Powerlessness, hopelessness, and erosion of quality of life can lead to deep depression and the loss of the will to live–as it did with me. Otherwise sane people contemplate suicide or seek euthanasia. Chronic pain touches every part of a person’s daily life.
People have asked me, “What do you have to be depressed about?” But they rarely want to hear the answer. I just keep quiet and mostly to myself. Everyone has aches and pains. That’s a street we all travel. But no one is interested in hearing about unrelenting, excruciating pain that won’t go away. And why should they be? It’s depressing.
Just ask me. I know.
Who wants to hear that I feel like I have a volcano erupting in my body? Pain is a constant and faithful companion, but I can’t call it my friend. It abuses my body like a prize fighter on steroids, ending up in a wrestling match between me and rest.
Sometimes I want to scream in agony, yet I suffer alone in silence. On a scale of one to ten, my pain usually feels like a fifteen.
People who don’t recognize or understand invisible illnesses need to be educated. Doctors who think I need psychotherapy because I’m not crippled or missing a limb need to understand the reason I am depressed.
Fix the pain. You’ll automatically fix the head.
I’m sick of people telling me, “It’s all in your head.” My head is about the only part of me that doesn’t hurt!
Chronic pain is a blight and a stain on the human condition. I have gained a new appreciation–and jealousy–for those who can effortlessly do the things that I struggle through. Comfort seems an unreachable and impossible dream.
I cannot sit on wooden chairs or lawn furniture. I can’t stand a crease in the blanket on my bed which is my “office,” I can’t open a can, use a stapler, or write a check without pain.
Constant pain is the most personal of home invasions. It tries to steal my will to live–I can’t get comfortable in my own skin. but, I won’t let this demon drive me to suicide. Suicide is not the answer.
People who care to listen have asked me, “How do you deal with it?” My answer is my faith in God and my belief that the pain is only affecting the temporary shell that I call my body.
I will no longer allow the pain to steal my soul. This article is a result of that decision.
I self-medicated with alcohol and marijuana. That is not the answer either. the alcohol was deadly on top of my other medications and only left me with a hangover. Marijuana, no matter what anyone things, is the only drug that did work for me. But it is illegal and not an option for me
God has work for me to do, and I will never again try to take my life because of this demon that has taken over my body. I know that there is hope out there. I just have to find it, lasso it, handcuff it, and hold on tight.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I rode in the back of a police cruiser late New Year’s Eve, en-route to the Holland Rescue Mission. Having never had this experience before, I imagined a bleak, dank, dimly lit dungeon with rows of cots filling large musty rooms.
I arrived at the mission early New Year’s morning to find caring, loving staff waiting to greet me with the hugs I so desperately needed and tissues to dry my eyes.
I was very pleasantly surprised as I was escorted to my room. The halls were bright and cheery, and the white walls appeared as though they’d just been painted and displayed beautiful artwork and handmade quilts.
I quietly entered the room I would share with three other women. There were no cots, but four twin beds; each with its own handmade quilt–giving the room a homey feeling.
I had no idea of the adventure on which I was about to embark.
As I came out of the shell I had been living in for over four and a half years, I met people who had been living in their cars, in tents, or “wherever.” I got to know addicts and felons, outgoing people, and women who hid their bruises, black eyes, and broken ribs.
I can than God that I came only from a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship. But no one wants to be homeless, and we were all in the same situation.
Living at the mission can be difficult, yet very rewarding. Most of those who come there are led to a closer relationship with God, the Supreme Provider. The mission gives the hopeless hope and the depressed something to smile about, and the residents get in touch with the community and with God.
I left the mission on March 22, thinking I was going to an acceptable living situation that suddenly turned into a nightmare. I moved three times in less than two months. I moved back to the mission on May 20, and was glad to be there. In all, I lived at the mission for the better part of 2006. I met even more new friends, all of us taking one day at a time, discovered my purpose in life, joined a wonderful church, and was baptized.
I am not pious or a “Bible thumper,” but I firmly believe in a saying that I saw hanging on one wall of the mission: ”When you have nothing left but God, then for the first time, you become aware that God is enough.”
Copyright 2012, Margarett Meyers. All Rights Reserved.
October 5, 2008 started out as a peaceful Sunday evening, which would turn into one of the most terrifying of our lives. Amid the financial crises and the stock market crashes, we would endure a crash of our own.
It was about 5:15 p.m. when our world exploded. My roommate, Jade, was just waking up from a nap and sitting up in bed. I’d gone into her room and was sitting at the foot of the bed. I asked her if she was ready for me to cook supper and before she could answer me, the room exploded, there was brick and glass flying everywhere, and a gold compact car backed into the bedroom and crashed into the bed, breaking the frame.
Since Jade suffers from a form of Multiple Sclerosis, my immediate concern was for her safety, but I must admit that my own survival instincts took first priority. I am also disabled, and you have never seen two disabled women jump as fast as we did away from that bed!
We stood at the bedroom door, horrified and terrified, staring blankly into a room filled with debris, as the young man who had backed his girlfriend’s car through the window tried to drive the car out of the window, only to get more stuck in the mess. He gave up and exited the car and took off, leaving his girlfriend to explain to the police what had happened.
Three police cars and an ambulance had responded. The girl told police that a mechanic neighbor had been working on the girl’s brakes at the other side of the parking lot, and her boyfriend decided to test the brakes.
Her boyfriend backed up across from the other side of the parking lot, the brakes allegedly failed, and he backed the car into Jade’s bedroom window. He backed in so hard that it had moved the bed, demolished her wheelchair, crunched into her heirloom armoire, and broke her VCR. Luckily, Jade had most of her belongings packed up as we waited for approval to move into a larger apartment, and most everything we owned was in boxes in the dining room.
The police didn’t think that the girl was telling the whole story and thought that her boyfriend was going faster than alleged. The boyfriend was located and arrested on the spot, apparently for several outstanding warrants and being intoxicated while driving her car without a license.
Our two cats were cringing and huddling on the shelves below the living room end tables as the neighborhood gathered on our front sidewalk, staring in disbelief.
The EMTs checked Jade and I out and made sure that we were alright. The ambulance left followed by the police, and a tow truck pulled the car out of the mangled and shattered window. It creaked and groaned as it inched its way forward, and we were left shuddering in fear with a large hole in the wall and brick and glass and pieces of window all over the apartment.
The car had fit perfectly into the window frame.
Inside the apartment, bricks and glass covered the bed and floor. The impact was so hard that bricks had been tossed about fifteen feet out into the hallway.
It was a mess we will never forget.
Ben, the maintenance man, helped to clean up the mess and Carol, the apartment complex manager stopped by to survey the damage. Since it was Sunday, no one was sure how to proceed. Home Depot wasn’t open, and we had quite a large gaping hole where Jade’s bedroom use to be. Jade and I were in such a state that we didn’t know up from down–we were in shock.
Someone went and found some sheets of plywood and boarded up the side of the building. The next day, after waiting for final approval until around 5:30 p.m., we started moving to the new apartment and trying to leave the memory behind.
The cats are still frightened by loud noises, and we jump every time the garbage truck comes to empty the dumpster. That is an experience that we will never forget and not one we’d like to re-live, but we can thank the Lord above that our nerves were all that were injured on that eventful October evening.
Daddy was born in 1867 somewhere in Scotland and only two years after President Lincoln was assassinated. My mother married him when I was nine months old and he was eighty-three.
Daddy stood about five foot eight, was slightly stocky but very spry, always wore long-sleeved shirts with suspenders, and had twinkling blue eyes and a bit of a Scottish brogue. I didn’t understand just how old he was or that my two stepsisters and one stepbrother were old enough to be my grandparents.
I was a kid, Bill was my daddy, and I loved him dearly.
Copyright 2012, Margarett Meyers. All Rights Reserved.