I spent the past week in North Dakota, meeting up with lots of old and new friends.
I also met a lot of people and heard a lot of their stories about overcoming (or not) everything from alcoholism to domestic violence to methamphetamine addiction. Different people, in different cities in different situations said pretty much the same thing :
It comes down to this: you have to rescue yourself.
It IS terrible and wrong that your husband beats you, but he probably is not going to stop, as harsh as that is to say. The police can arrest him, your friends can offer you a place to stay but YOU need to decide that you are better than this, take your children and leave.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence 10 times, been sent to treatment four times and have just been released from jail, your family may be willing to help you, there may be an open bed at a treatment facility, but YOU need to decide to go.
Sometimes when I say things like this, people object and say,
You don't understand, it's not as easy as it sounds.
Actually, THEY don't understand, because I don't think it sounds easy at all. Listening to someone talk about leaving her husband, being homeless with three children while she looked for a job - that didn't sound easy to me at all. What an amazing amount of strength and courage that she did it, though!
I know a lot of people who have been alcoholics and the hardest thing they have to do, as far as I can see, is honestly admitting they have fucked up. One man told me,
At AA meeting they have you say that you are an alcoholic and you have no control over your life. I said it but I didn't mean it. Not me! I was (a professional athlete)! I had a nice house, nice cars, women! There was nothing wrong with me!
Ever hear the phrase "painfully honest"? It takes a painful amount of honesty to look in the mirror and admit that you are wrong, what you have been doing is wrong and bad and (if you are an addict) it has been bad and wrong for a long time.
I heard a lot of stories by and about parents this week who gave their adult children money for drugs so they would not have to go through the pain of withdrawal, so they wouldn't steal the money for drugs and go to jail, who didn't turn them in when they DID steal the money, family members who denied being beaten by a relative.
Even if it is not that extreme, though, I think we all end up sometimes in situations where we are waiting for someone else to rescue us or trying to protect someone. That is fine if your four years old but not when you're forty.
Since I'm in the airport and have a few minutes to blog, let me give you some advice: Rescue yourself.
If you had a really good friend, a child, someone you loved, here is how I think you would treat them:
- You'd be honest with them, even when they didn't want to hear what you had to say. If they were in a bad situation, you would tell them.
- You'd have the courage to face up to other people, even to that person him or herself, and help them make a change, whether it is moving with them to a new city, changing schools or filing charges against an abuser.
- You'd have the strength to continue on, even when people around you questioned your commitment, your motives, even when it was hard and you were tired and the road ahead to get a degree to get a job so you could support yourself, or to finish treatment or pay off your bills seemed so long.
Plane boarding. Gotta go.