protect, respect, affect

Protect, Respect, AffectA few weeks before escaping the sociopath, he and I were browsing photos taken during his family birthday parties and his family birthday parties and his family birthday parties. (If it seems like I’m stuttering, I am. His family was obsessed with celebrating birthdays!! Their own.)

All the photos were posed (of course) with everyone smiling and happy and looking like they were a part of some picture-perfect family. I couldn’t help but notice that I was wearing the same green t-shirt in nearly every photo taken. Birthdays from months before, weeks before, and days before, I had worn the same green t-shirt. I thought it was comical, chuckled, and commented, “I must really like that shirt, huh?” The boy thought it was funny also and said something about another birthday coming up and that I better be sure my green t-shirt was washed and ready for the big, picture-taking event. I smiled outwardly but kept my disgust of this “dress-up” idea hidden.

I don’t remember that next party, but I’m sure we probably had the same fruit cake, ice cream, Argentine treats, and coffee. Always the same. I’m sure I wore the green t-shirt, too, but I was in such a daze during those weeks just before leaving, many of the specifics remain a blur. And all of this I write now would have remained a blur too if I hadn’t reached for that green t-shirt this morning.

I grabbed the first shirt that caught my eye, but before putting it on, I became focused on the difficult-to-read words scrolling and swirling across the front: protect, respect, affect. My mind snapped to attention immediately. My decision to wear this shirt today wasn’t random or some fluke. I was meant to “get” something today. And this is what I got:

To me, these are the three things we, the victims/survivors of domestic violence/intimate partner abuse, must live by moving forward to ensure our healing and the healing of others:

Protect: We must protect ourselves (and our children) first. The abuser need not be protected. We should not be obligated to hide our secrets from the world. The secrets of the abuse inflicted upon us happened. They are real.

Respect: We must respect ourselves. Our thoughts, emotions, and actions have value and meaning. There is a reason for them and we must respect them by accepting them.

Affect: We must work toward affecting change. If not for ourselves, then for other survivors. Remaining silent simply helps to maintain the status quo of ignorance which breeds more abuse.

I thought about those pictures of me in the t-shirt again. I realized the Universe or God or some power greater than myself was trying to tell me something. Something like, “Get out! Get out while you can! You were meant for something so much better than this.”

Somehow I got the message, because I got out soon after that last family birthday party. And realizing today the possible source of the force propelling me forward, that green t-shirt, simply amazes me and is something I can’t just brush aside as a coincidence. It WAS a message, and the messenger needs to be thanked. Thank you.


Traveling Yogi & Roller-Skating Queen

I have reached day 20 of my 30-day challenge. This past weekend I traveled north to attend my niece’s birthday party. Much to my joy, there was a Bikram Yoga studio just a few minutes from my in-laws home. So, before the party, I was able to get in a practice at Bikram Yoga Exton (BYE).

The Exton location has only been operating since November 2011. The ladies’ locker room was nice and spacious and VERY clean. The studio is also large and easily accommodated the 30+ students attending on Sunday. Kristin Sapp, the owner and instructor, became certified in 2011 and has some amazing abs, as you can see! Her clientele is growing rapidly, and soon she hopes to offer more classes to her already busy schedule.

Everyone I met at BYE was ecstatic about the opportunity to practice with Kristin and had individual stories of improved health and well being. One student told me that her mother recently completed a 60-day challenge in just 38 days (by doing doubles) and lost an amazing 20 pounds!!! (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to, folks. 🙂

Immediately following the class, I showered, dressed, and navigated myself to the roller rink where my niece and family were celebrating. Thinking I’d get an opportunity to rest and enjoy watching the kids (including my son) have fun skating, I was quickly informed that my skate rental was already paid for by my brother-in-law, so I had better “go get laced up!”

(Note: Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout. Before leaving the troop, I earned my one and only badge in…can you guess? Yes, Roller Skating! I have always been proud of that silly little badge and make a point of telling everyone about it whenever I get the chance. Of course, I couldn’t keep quiet about the badge at roller rink, now could I? I told my son and he told his nephew who told his brother who told…You get the idea. I never guessed I’d be put to the test at a birthday party attended by 27 10-year-old kids!)

To start, I enjoyed a free skate with the rest of the guests as we listened to Rhianna, Adelle, and some other musicians I can’t remember. It was fun and very relaxing. Then the lights went up and the MC announced the start of the races. (Races? I’m not going to race a bunch of kids and beat them and feel like a cad for doing it. No way was I going to be THAT parent.) But somehow I was talked into racing the boys wearing in-line skates (seems they’re much faster than traditional roller skates) and a few of the other parents.

Around the first corner, I was behind a pretty fast kid and thought for sure I could take him in the lane. Suddenly, some other kid cut in front of him knocking him down in front of me. In a split second, I thought, “Oh, hell. I’m going to roll over this kids head and hurt him. I better just spread my legs and pray.” Amazingly, I missed hitting any vital parts of the boy like his head, guts, or other parts which can go unnamed. However, I ended up falling face first over top of him. I asked if he was okay. He muttered, “Yeah, but my fingers…” All I heard was “fingers” and immediately got up to finish the race. (If it was JUST his fingers, the kid could suck it up, right?) I finished last. The kid didn’t finish. He had his fingers wrapped in band-aids. I was sure to let his mother know that I was the one who damaged her kid’s fingers. 😦

Then the next game was announced…The Limbo!! My intention was just to help my son get under the pole. But somehow I became a participant. And the poll kept getting lower and lower, and more and more kids were eliminated. Then it came down to two: me and a skinny, little 10-year-old girl who is in training to be an Olympic figure skater. I had no chance! And for once this evening, I was correct. I just couldn’t squat down low enough. Broke my heart! But the party was awesome! Happy birthday, Bella! 🙂

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