I Was In An Abusive Relationship Without Me Knowing

When I was younger, I had no concept of domestic abuse or abuse in general. I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship until after I learned about it as I grew in my chosen career. The abuse became a byword in the meetings I attended, and it became very real when I witnessed for myself what it can do to women and families.

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It was in late 2000 when I entered into a relationship with someone I met in the country where I was working then. He’s from my country and being new in that place, getting that much attention from men, I felt very special. But this one particular person had pursued me until I said yes.

We were inseparable. He became constant in my daily life – from waking up to sleeping. I thought it was cute, sweet and very loving. Every day I get sweet messages in my email, and at some point, I was looking forward to it and felt terrible when there was no new email from him. Every hour I get a phone calls just asking me where and how I am, that was also sweet until it was not anymore. He would show up in my office if I am working in the headquarters bringing food or inviting me out or any gifts he fancies giving me.

I live in another town, so I go home to the capital every 2-weeks to spend a weekend break and work in the HQ before I go back again, so we only see each other every 2-weeks. He didn’t like it. He wants me to travel every weekend and spend time together. I found it again sweet, thinking he cannot live without me. But going for 6 hours on rough roads twice every week was not only tiresome but also costly for the organization and dangerous for my driver and me.

I get to travel when there’s approval from my coordinator, and I have to time it with something to do in the city to not waste both time and fuel, that time back then fuel was difficult to source and very expensive in the black market because of the embargo.

He was not happy with the arrangement that’s why when I am in the capital city, he never lets me out of his sight especially after work or during the weekend. He would pick me up from my house, and we would spend the whole weekend together to the point that I moved in with him because that’s what he wanted. He was so possessive he doesn’t want me to mingle with other people when I am in town – wants me all to himself. Sweet until it became too much and when I protested, without physically hurting me, I felt beaten.

Slowly I lost touch with the friends I met there. Social media was non-existent, and SMS was a luxury we don’t have. I was not allowed to mingle with my colleagues, and he doesn’t want to join me when I invite him because he doesn’t like to hang out with other people except me. If we will accept an invitation, it was from his friends, and I cannot say no because he will get angry, so I always tag along. He would also host dinners and karaoke with people I don’t know, men with their wives and gf but we never go to their houses when they invite us.

In short, he controlled my life. He showered me with gifts and sweet messages. He provided me with luxury my organization cannot provide us because we’re supposed to be frugal and not showing off – I mean we cannot afford 24/7 generator to light the house or even to use aircon during summer. He brought me to nice restaurants and decided my life for me.

We had several fights, but I never win. We had big fights out of nothing. He will accuse me of wanting other men than him if I admire a car parked by the beach with a cute driver. Or when I was in an official party and laughing with some male guest, he thinks I was flirting with them. He almost drove off the cliff when we decided to have a romantic dinner in one of the few beautiful and expensive restaurants in the city, and we found there some of my friends from where I live that was also in town having their breaks and relaxing. He accused me of agreeing to his invitation because I knew my boyfriends (yes that’s how he called my friends) are there. When I stopped talking to him, he will woo me and say sorry, and everything will be okay until it happens again.

It didn’t help that the country where we were at that time have both development and peacekeeping action. When you’re based in the center of the country and surrounded by bushes, you’re bound to meet people from different military and country contingent with a mix of other humanitarian aid workers, and you immediately become part of the group. You form a bond because you rely on each other in case a problem arises or just to keep the boredom at bay you make impromptu events and own places to be the “place to be” (like a gasoline station because they have fuel became an impromptu bar to keep beers cold and have light) because that’s just how it was in the bush and that is what my then boyfriend didn’t understand. For him, it’s flirting, and that was a pure evil accusation.

Despite that, I stayed in the relationship. Eventually, he moved to another country but before he did that he offered marriage but with a catch! I am to become a stay-at-home mother to the family that we will raise. He converted to Islam when he was stationed in the Middle East for seven years, and he started quoting the Qoran on why I should submit to him being a woman.

I remember vividly the answer I gave him. I said

my parents worked hard to send my siblings and me to school, to good private Catholic schools so we can pursue our dreams and be better in life. Now that I am enjoying the fruits of that, why stop now to raise a family? Because I know I can be a career woman at the same time a good mother and a wife if you choose to find a family mission

He didn’t like my answer, and he didn’t like working in countries with no action. He’s one of those adrenaline junkies who like working in countries where there is always a danger of getting killed or just in the midst of it. He didn’t repeat the proposal.

I moved out of the first country myself. My contract finished, and I moved to another difficult country. We continued the long-distance relationship and spent a lot of money talking to each other over the phone even though we knew we would not end up together until we called it quit three years after we started the relationship.

We drifted apart, and myself had grown to be my own person more and more. I started to see myself as someone that can be alone, that I don’t need a man to complete me. I reached a point in my life where I stopped altogether dreaming of getting married and having kids especially when you know that by the time my kids start walking I will need an assistive device to follow them around. Not fair to them and not very healthy for me but I am sure many will disagree, and that’s fine.

On hindsight, I already survived my vicious cycle of abuse and came out victorious. I still slip up from time to time, still finding the wrong men for me to hang out with but I have no more illusions and when I feel trap I know I can always open the door and leave and stop being the victim of my stupidity.

But my relationships are not always negative, I guess in my 40ish life I’ve met the men I can say “love of my life” and could have ended up with them, but they all got away.

The first one from my country left me to marry the woman he got pregnant and had a son before I met him because the woman stalked me and threatened my life, use the kid as a pawn to guilt trip my boyfriend then. The one from Canada was diagnosed with hepatitis C, and because he loves me so much, he let go of me even though I told him I would be with him until the end. He said it was not fair to me to look after him while I am still young, I can find someone healthy and can provide for my needs – it was noble and I kept his letters. I have no information whether he survived or already moved to the next realm, and I tried to search online but no luck. And the last person I said “I love you” to was taken from me by the bad guys in 2016; he was ambushed trying to fight off criminality in El Salvador the first day he returned to work from a month-long holiday in the US. Maybe it was time for him to leave all of us he loves.

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Writing this post I realized no one is insulated from abuse, but what is important is how one rise above it. I am incredibly grateful to the stories I’ve read in World Pulse it enlightened me and made me feel that my experience in relationships made me the strong woman I am today!

I believe and you should too that WE ARE STRONGER TOGETHER!

Adjustments to the realities of war and violence

Note: This blog post has been published in https://mydecadelongtravels.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/adjustments-to-the-altered-realities-of-war-and-violence/

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But what if you didn’t die when exposed to the cruelty of the world?

That person ends up disabled changing the dynamics of his or her life and of the lives of the people around them. Especially those closes to him or her whose coping with the change also affects their being starting from their psyche.

I call it the ripple effect as a consequence of trauma.

The impact of disability, which brings change to the person himself is too much. It is life changing, altering everything he worked all his life for. Everything that they know is normal is altered forever. In their mind, more often than not their lives are over, and with that thought, it is often difficult to convince people of the alternatives. That life continues with some accommodations to start over and build a new reality.

Like in any situation of trauma, people with disabilities undergo the process of grief and acceptance. No one can do it alone, help should be available when traumatic events happen in one’s life.

The assurance that “you are not alone” should be there to see the person through the initial shock of the new reality of being alive and of being different.

The difference should be a part when the person learns to accept that it does not change anything more than the appearance. His or her mental health should be considered immediately to allow reality to set in with less dramatic effect on his understanding of his or her new person. Accepting together with him or her would be the closest people in his life because, like rearing children, acceptance of change is a “village.”

Not knowing what is there for him or her, and for them further traumatizes the person’s mind and body that is why it is important that during emergencies, psychological first aid – counseling is available and accessible to all.

Mental health support is for all the people that surround him or her as it will buoy them over to the new reality of their lives and prepare for their environment. This is accompanying immediate medical and physical support to get the person back on his or her feet and start to follow the process until a new life, an accepted reality is reached empowering the person himself and those around him into continue living because at least that they can do something about it.

No one support is more important – be it physical, medical or mental health support. We have to look at the person and acknowledge that what s/he needs is a holistic approach to allow full and complete recovery.  And continue to be part of the environment with the support of the people around them, equally able to adjust to the new life brought on by senseless war and violence in our world.

#NoMoreWar

The Heat is On

Ah, the end of the month … it means that in two weeks it would be the fourth month since I broke my bones and third month since I started my physical rehabilitation treatments.

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My bones had set well and good. I was already given a full-weight bearing go signal by my doctor, and my therapist had been wearing me out trying to work more on my gait quality and endurance. Strength is not a problem for me, but I still have residual tightness and numbness which as I was told is usual with ankle injuries.

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Although, my therapists been telling me that I recover fast and is able to do active exercises faster than most patients they see in similar condition. And my doctor also said the same and mentioned that some patients love their injuries so much they don’t want to be moving on their own, I am the opposite.

I challenged the norm pushing myself hard before it’s time, and it fought back putting me in my place by letting me feel pain.

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The weather in the Philippines been rising. I was still happy until the summer officially kicked in because the heat is also kicking us all indoors.

My doctor was right when he said “let’s not put you on full leg cast” when he saw me the first time in January. Instead, he prescribed for me to use an Air Cast, a type of boots that I put on myself with help at first, and adjust the pressure on both sides to control the movement of the ankle as I start putting weight on my foot while keeping the ankle secured and stable.

 

He said I will thank him come March knowing that the temperature will continue to rise, and I am thankful indeed. Since 4 weeks, after wearing the boots at least 12 hours per day, I am almost not wearing it at all. I walk around the compound in shorts, without an appendage and only has one when I go to the hospital or attend a meeting like I did last week.

Wearing the boots outdoors now is more a precaution and protection from bumps in high traffic area like hospitals and malls. Otherwise, I almost don’t need it anymore, soon it will have to be shelved until I need it when my wires are removed.

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In spite of the positive remarks from my treatment team, I still feel I am not doing enough, and I still feel sad and depressed sometimes with my condition. That was one of the reasons I had by set-back that I wrote all about here Happy Scar, trying hard to fast track my recovery that I almost re-injured myself, at least in my mind.
I am counting the days within the time frame I set for myself which is by mid-June to see if my physical and emotional self will be attuned. For the meantime, I am trying to fight off the heat playing in the garden with my niece and the garden hose.

Cooling Off
Cooling Off

I went to bed happy.

The last thing I did was publish my last post and turned off the lights. I guess I was tired because most nights I don’t sleep before the witching hour of 3 am the following day so sleeping before midnight was a real treat! But whatever time I went to la la land I always wake up the same time, before the rooster even which tells me I must be getting old 😄. Who cares anyway? Definitely not me!

Anyway, fully awake now I checked my phone and saw the little WordPress, WhatsApp and Facebook icon giving notice that people actually read my post. Well the WhatsApp message was something else but I am pleased with who I saw, and read and I liked them. Especially in Facebook because these are people that I personally know and knows me back.

The first three women who liked my FB post are the three women that I admire myself.

We encountered life and work together and actually a fourth even reached out to me privately when I posted my poem Falling In The Cracks. She offered to listen but all I could reply was “Thanks Amel” because I know even without telling she knows what I am feeling.

Then I saw this quote fitting tribute to the friends I made over the years.

It is not really the number of friend you have that matters its the quality and the bonds you made together.

It doesn’t matter how often you see or talk to each other its the feeling that you know they are there no matter what.

There is always that invisible tie that binds friends together and its truly great to know that the binds are made of gold thread that is priceless like that of families.

Shout out to my friends 🔊 You know who you are!

Lets to friendship! Even virtually

Am I Lucky at 7?

I’m at my ortho doctor’s clinic waiting for him to arrive for my first appointment and maybe my last during this month – the fourth month since my accident.

I came home after I was released by my attending orthopaedic doctor from La Marsa private hospital. I stayed a week after my surgery. And anticipating my need for full time care my organisation, and I decided to evacuate me back here. One week after being hospitalised I was cleared to travel with so much precaution, and class except I cannot enjoy the perks of a business class traveller when you’re nursing a cast leg and in blood thinners especially if your airline has good wine selections 🍾🍷🍹

So arriving after travelling 10,000 kilometres for 24 hours the reality of being disabled was sinking in. The local representatives of my insurance were in my case and scheduled me at the end of the week for a consult. The paranoid in me felt that I need to see the doctor immediately. Complaining of pain and thinking that my toes were turning blue. So instead of Saturday, I went to the emergency room three days prior only to be told my blood circulation was healthy and my pain was nothing to be worried about. My doctor just looked at my leg inspected the sutures and gush at how meticulously it was done and prescribed iron supplement and removed the blood thinner drugs. Then I was sent home. Uneventful 😄.

From then to now I wonder what will be the news … I am feeling lucky at my 7th visit to my doctor … that is if he arrives.

I am patiently waiting ⏳