Badge of Honor, Badge of Pride Part II

Badge of Honor, Badge of Pride Part II

Here is the amazing KillboX made for me by Leonard Ikeda & Derrick Obatake at Steel Flame, imprinted with the letters P for pain, F for fear, S for shame and A for anger. These are the four stages I went through as a victim of abuse. The letters are imprinted on sterling silver and then the square was shot through with a .45, symbolically killing the abuse; a badge reflecting my growth from victim to survivor.

Thank you, Leonard and Derrick and everyone at Steel Flame for this amazing reminder of my strength and courage.

ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

 

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There is a saying, erroneously attributed to Albert Einstein, that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. That was me for years and years and years.  Now I’m finally starting to change.  It has been a few weeks since I posted, and I am seeing myself making some small changes, yet in many ways I continue to do the same things again and again.

I have become stronger, mentally.  I no longer have so many fears, especially as surround my parents.  While I have neither seen nor heard from my abusive stepfather since the wedding that kicked all of this off and forced me out of the shell I had safely occupied for years, I have since resumed cautious, cordial email exchanges with my mother. We even spoke briefly on the phone the other night.  I was actually supposed to see her today, but a change in my schedule made that impossible.  I know she is disappointed, and I am as well.  I just celebrated a birthday, and it is the first time I have celebrated without a visit with her.

I have remembered a deeper, darker side to my abuse, one I never thought was there but one my therapist believed all along would surface.  It is unspeakable, and it shakes me to the core, but it explains a lot about my behavior during high school and college.  I am getting to know myself and my deep, dark corners much better.  I’m trying to embrace it all, my inner beauty and the ugly places, every bit of me.

I have begun to stand up for myself more often.  This does not always mean that those around me are comfortable with that.  When for years someone you’ve known has apologized for every little mishap, her fault or not, has reacted with unending sympathy and patience and never questioned or opposed hurtful speech or attitudes and suddenly this new person does just that, it is unsettling for those around her.  It can be like your old, faithful dog, no matter how many times you spoke harshly to her, she wagged her tail and came for a pat, but today she barked and bared her teeth.

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I used to apologize for EVERYTHING, anytime someone was unhappy, discontent, bored, you name it.  Truly, it was rarely if ever something I had done, or even something I had any control over, but I somehow felt guilty for the displeasure or unhappiness of others.  Husband has a bad day at work?  “I’m sorry.”  Daughter can’t find something?  “I’m sorry.”  Brother in law slept poorly?  “I’m sorry.”  My life was an endless litany of “I’m sorry”.  I was a pleaser, trying to keep the peace for everyone, because in my youth, if someone was displeased, I might get hurt.  When tissue damage is involved, your desire to keep everyone around you happy and content is ingrained in your psyche, entwined into your soul, so deeply.  You feel as though “I’m sorry” is tattooed over your heart or on your forehead.  

No more.  I am now only sorry for the things I actually cause.  If I neglected to do something I had committed to doing, yes, I am and can be legitimately sorry.  My apologies are only for things I have done or things I have failed to do.  My apologies are never for me and who I am.  I refuse to be sorry for who I am any more.  I was a victim, and that was not my fault.  Nothing I did could justify what happened to me.  This is a huge leap for survivors of abuse.  Many times, as it did with me, this realization takes decades to come to fruition.  It can take forever for the survivor to really believe this in his or her heart; for so long we were told it was our fault and we caused it.  Not just no, but HELL NO!

This is not always a comfortable thing, I do not wear this new “it’s-not-my-fault” face easily yet.  In many ways it is like learning a new makeup technique.  I’ve viewed the video on You Tube a gazillion times, and I’ve put the makeup on this way for a little while, but the technique is not yet natural.  And that’s okay.  Change is never easy, even when for the better.

Badge of Honor, Badge of Pride

My husband is a big fan of a jewelry company out of California called Steel Flame.  Much of their jewelry is quite masculine and massive, such as the 2″ long dagger inscribed “VIRTUS” [Virtus was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, “man”). It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors, and was personified as a deity. (Wikipedia)] that my husband wears daily, or the massive Archangel Michael shield pendant our son wore while on tour in the Middle East.  but they also make some feminine pieces, like the clover shaped “key to his heart” pendant my husband had made for me some years ago.  But now for me, they are making a different piece, a piece that uses their trademarked KillboX design, but inscribed with the words that define the cycle of abuse for me:  pain, fear, shame and anger.  This pendant design features a .45 caliber bullet literally shot through the piece after it’s been made.  In my case, the piece will be inscribed with the letters P-F-S-A before it is shot.  This is the letter I wrote to its creator at Steel Flame, Leonard Ikeda.

I would like [my KillboX inscribed with]  the letters in this order P, F, S, A.  Pain comes first, as the physical blow shatters your body. Then comes fear: when will it happen again? This is followed by shame–the abuser convinces you it is your fault. And finally, finally, when you are stronger, when you can fight back, you feel anger. White hot, all consuming anger. Purifying, saving anger. The kind of anger that saves your life.

 

Many say, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” For me, this is true. My abuse tempered me like a fine steel blade. I am the stronger for it; I will not shatter due to a hard blow. My ductility is greater than the average person’s–I perform even better under stress. My resistance to outside factors is greater. I can handle more than anyone I know. Nothing, literally nothing, can make me crack. The anger that tempered me was literally white hot–a flame too hot to actually see but one that can still be felt to this day.

 

I am ready for my KillboX.  It is ready for me.  I want it forged in the hottest heat you can and infused with anger and hatred.  I want whomever makes this to be filled with rage at the man who abused me for ten years. His name is [  ].  I need the KillboX created full of rage and anger at him.  I will send a picture if it can help keep the maker focused on the rage. Then, when shot, I want it shot with love, kindness, humility, thankfulness and caring. The shooter needs to understand that he or she is acting on my behalf, is an 11 year old defenseless girl who was hit, a 15 year old who was touched inappropriately, a 21 year old who finally snapped and beat her abuser’s head into the floor, scramming “YOU WILL NEVER TOUCH ME AGAIN.” For in the love of the shot, the shooter will undo the hate of the abuse, the anger infused in the box. The shot, through the pain, the fear, the shame and the anger, will complete the cycle and allow my soul and my heart to rest peacefully. The shooter is symbolically saving the life of that abused child.

 

In this KillboX, the power of the woman  I have become will protect and save the child that I was. And in doing so, I will move on faster. This will be my badge of pride, my sterling proof of my value, my strength, my resiliency and my courage. Nothing can harm me. Nothing can make me weaker. My husband  makes me stronger, but I have in my own self become stronger than I ever thought possible.

 

And this, my friend, is the story I want told in my KillboX. I am happy and proud to share it with others.  I am not alone. [This KillboX will serve] to honor and uplift the abused child and to celebrate the strong adult.

 

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once upon a time

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When I was little, I loved to play “pretend”.  Fairy tales have always enraptured me.  At night when I was supposed to be asleep, I would stand on my bed with the sleeves of my bathrobe tied around my waist to make a long, flowing gown.  I was always the princess in my pretend stories.

For many years, I was the princess in real life, too.  Although my parents divorced in 1970, a time when no one divorced, they remained friendly and I was impacted very little by the change.  We had little money, but we always had food and a nice home.  I never really knew how poor we were until many years later when I remembered my mom cashing her paycheck and putting the money into envelopes, one for food, one for the babysitter, one for rent, etc.  The food money often ended up in the babysitter or rent envelope, but I never went to bed hungry.  To this day frozen macaroni and cheese or a pot pie is a special treat for me.

I remember one year my mom & dad together took me to buy a new winter coat.  Mom picked out a practical fiber filled coat with a hood, not stylish, but very serviceable.  But I spotted The Most Beautiful Coat Ever.  It was red crushed velvet with white fur trim around the hood, the wrists and the bottom.  It was double breasted and had black frogs with gold buttons marching down the front.  It was amazing.  My heart ached for it, but it wasn’t practical.  I needed something for the playground, not something for a princess.

To this day, I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but somehow my dad convinced my mom that I should have that amazing coat.  My grandma gave me a little white rabbit fur muff to go with it and Nanny contributed a hat of white fake fur with pom poms on the ends of the strings that tied it under my chin.  I looked and felt like a little princess in that coat.  I was perhaps 7 or 8 when I got that, and I believe I had it until I was at least 13, though I had long outgrown it.

I don’t have many memories of getting something I really, really wanted when I was little, so this is one I treasure.   As far as I know there are no pictures of me in that lovely coat.  I wish there were.  I bet I looked really happy in them.