When She Was A Little Girl…

When

My 3rd Birthday

She

On A Ferry in the Puget Sound

Was

My 4th Birthday

A

My 5th Birthday

Little

First Day of 3rd Grade

Girl

Kristin and I on the First Day of 4th Grade

She

Family Vacation to California

Never

Junior High Cheerleading

Dreamed

Vacationing in Hawaii

It

High School Graduation

Could

Fixing Up My First Car With My Dad

Happen

Spa Night In The Dorms

To

My 19th Birthday

Her.

Home From College On Spring Break

She is the face of Domestic Violence.

She is your daughter.

With My Mom And Daughter At The Zoo

She is your sister.

Snuggling My First Born

She is your friend.

Picture Perfect Family Christmas Card

She is your neighbor.

A Birthday Party For Our Daughter

She is your coworker.

Christmas Morning

If it could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.  A woman in the US is assaulted or beaten approximately every 9 seconds.  Domestic Violence can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what race she is, what religion she is, what age she is, or what neighborhood she lives in, it happens everywhere.  Recognize it.  Get Support.  Make a plan.  Follow it.  Get out.

She did it and you can to.

 

 

My Girls And Me After I Left

 

If you are in danger, please use a safer computer, or call 911, your local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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Emotional Illiterate

I have been remembering a moment in the past a lot lately.  I know why.  It is because even 13 years later, I am still searching for the conclusion to the story.  It used to be that I was hopeful for a happy ending, but these days I am not, and I wonder if I will ever be able to just let him go.

It was the week of my 26th birthday and he had come to town.  Not to visit me, so much as to visit his father and that hurt a little bit.  We had taken a drive in a car he had borrowed from my aunt and he was doing his usual “memory lane” type of tour, driving by his old haunts, past the berry fields he worked in as a teen, the Catholic church where his family once attended, the newly renovated home where his family lived years before.  He seemed to be lost in the activity; I was just along for the ride.

Our visits were not very regular or frequent.  We hardly even spoke on the phone anymore and I was hoping for a change with all of that.  So much water under the bridge…  I had been in counseling for the previous few months attempting to sort it all out, with him, with my husband, with my future.  Ignoring the past and ignoring the pain was not an option anymore.   I was desperate to move on and trying to collect the courage to do it.

The sound of the rain and the windshield wipers filled the uncomfortable silence in the car as he drove the winding back roads of rural Clark County.  I stared out the window, watching the evergreen trees flash by, trying to gather my thoughts and summon my nerve. You can do this.  You are a grown woman with two babies of your own.  He has no power over you.  It’s not like it can get any worse. The intensity of the rain was unrelenting, it seemed as if even God was nudging me on.

“Dad,” I began.  I stared hard out the front windshield of the car and began again.

“Dad, I need to tell you something.  I know it’s been a long time coming and I need to make peace with it, with you.”  I continued to fix my gaze on the soaked pavement of the winding country road.  “I know for a long time I’ve held onto a lot of hurt over you not being around for my childhood.  I haven’t been fair.  I’ve taken my anger out on you by not letting you be a part of my life.  I was hurt really bad by you, and I’m sorry I’ve been so distant with you.”

Hot tears spilled down my cheeks and I continued on, “I wanted you to be my dad and pay attention to me.  It hurt when you didn’t call or you paid more attention to Dan than me.  It hurt when you said on the night when I graduated that we would start anew and then we didn’t…” I bowed my head and sobbed out all of the pain of the previous 19 years.  “I know you haven’t asked for it but I forgive you.”

The car slowed to a stop at the side of the road.  I looked through the raindrops on the window to see a little house on the side of the road and I felt the arm of my father come around the front of my shoulder.  My insides leapt for joy as I felt the brush of his arm coming around me.  A still calm came over me, and it felt like everything around me slowed down.  I wanted to savor every second of this moment.  A moment I had yearned for over so many years.  Maybe he too, would apologize for his part in all of this pain.  Since my childhood I had dreamed of this moment and it had finally arrived, complete with a compassionate hug!

And then he spoke, and I quickly realized that I was mistaken, as he pointed to the little house on the side of the road and said in an unemotional tone, “I think I had a girlfriend who lived in that house right there.”

I wish that I could say I pulled myself together and quickly realized that I was dealing with someone who was incapable of giving me what I need, that I was able to easily move on from that day, but I cannot.  I continued to languish in those feelings of inadequacy and abandonment for longer that I would like to admit.  Eventually I have come to realize that I am worth more than he has shown me and I have come to understand that I need to let my father go, but sometimes my thoughts turn to him and I wonder if there is any hope that he will ever be anything more than that man in the car on that old country road or if he will always be an emotional illiterate.

Damn-it-Danny

It’s Retro Week on Facebook this week, so time for me to scan a few baby pictures for the cause.  For those of you who haven’t caved to the masses and are not on Facebook, here’s a little explanation.  On my profile page, I have a small thumbnail photo, usually of yours truly, and mostly recent.  For Retro Week the unofficial mandate asked Facebookers to post a profile picture from the old days.  I had a cute one posted of my husband and I from our earliest days as a couple (and can you believe that picture is almost 20 years old !?),  but everyone had seen that one, so for the fun of joining in the Retro Week hula-hoop-la,  I found myself this morning with photo album in lap, sitting in front of the scanner.

I have very few photos of myself from before 1980.  All of the photos that encompass my first 7 years line just 35 magnetic photo album pages.  I know… Another project!  Hey, started scanning it today!   But anyway… Maybe today with the 5 year anniversary looming just 2 days away, I should have skipped looking and scanning which eventually led to crying.

It’s not that I look back at those years as particularly painful.  Truthfully, I don’t really remember most of them.  It’s not that I resent the life after those days either.  For the most part I had a very happy childhood, surrounded by so many people who loved and cared for me.  I had siblings, friends, family vacations, Easter Egg hunts and over flowing Christmas Stockings.  My memories are that it was as happy if not happier than the life depicted in those 35 pages.  Each picture that flashed up on my computer screen brought back some kind of memory, some from way back and some much newer.

An innocent picture of my brother and I standing in front of Medical Lake in Spokane, WA reminded me of a particularly funny story.  My little brother, whom I called Danny in the old days, was an exuberant and rascally kind of boy.  He had tons of energy, was very curious and never really could leave well enough alone.   I often thought his round blond head was cartoonish.  He reminded me of Dennis the Menace and his antics certainly lived up to that stereotype!

Vicki and Danny, circa 1977

Our family owned a small Chrysler sailboat and most of our family time in those days was spent sailing on the lakes around Spokane.  I loved that little pale yellow boat.  At 6 years old I was becoming quite a little sailor and could navigate all 15 feet of it through calm water with little help from my father.  I was learning the proper sailing terminology and I could see my father straighten with pride when I referred to the tiller and dagger board or called out, “Jib!”   He was thrilled when the boat would heel to one side and I wasn’t afraid, but instead peals of laughter poured out of me.  Looking at that picture I also remembered how annoyed my father would get with my younger brother Danny.  I don’t really remember any specific incident that Danny did, just that he was always into everything!

I remember one particular day my brother and I sat in the boat as my dad was cranking the boat back onto the trailer at the boat launch.   It was a warm sunny day, and we were leaving early.  Another boater, a woman, was standing waist deep in the water next to us as her boat was easing into the lake.  She was young and beautiful.  To me, with her Farrah Fawcett hair and orange macramé bikini top, she looked like she belonged in the movies.  Maybe it was my stare that prompted her to turn and talk to us.

“Well aren’t you cute!” she said as she turned toward our boat.  She looked at me with the smile of a Charlie’s Angel and asked, “What’s your name, honey?”

“Vicki,” I said as I studied every move she made.  She may as well have been life size Malibu Suntan Barbie and I wanted to be just like her.

“Vicki,” my name rolled over her Lip Smacker-glossed lips as she repeated it and somehow it sounded prettier.  She turned to my brother, who had become slightly bashful and said, “And how ‘bout you, what’s your name?”

This was my brother’s spirited reply: “It’s Damn-it-Danny!”

Laughter sparkled from her like it had just bubbled out of a can of TAB, and with that she turned back to her boat.

Damn-it-Danny…

Lately that nic-name he earned so many years ago seems so fitting.  He just can’t seem to come to terms with the relationship I now have with our father.  He means well, I think.  He and our father appear to have a thriving relationship, while the one I had drown years ago.  He sees that as my fault.  He protects him.  He blames me.  He can’t leave it alone.   He won’t leave it alone.

Damn-it-Danny, leave it alone.