Day 10 of Freedom
Today is Wednesday, July 6, 2011. It is also day 10 of my freedom, and it has been one of my most enjoyable days so far. It started off well enough when I woke up around 10:40 a.m. I washed my hair for the first time in freedom and I could feel myself beginning to cleanse myself in body and soul from a lifetime of captivity, cruelty, and abuse. It was an amazingly wonderful feeling.
I spoke to Beverly this morning about when she or Julia or Gisel would be able to take me to Boca. Seeing that I had a fair amount of stuff, she said they were trying to fix a van so they could arrange to take me to Boca to pick up my stuff. I have no idea when they will be able to take me to Boca, but I am so grateful and happy to be here.
And so this morning I did my laundry for the first time in freedom. I had to borrow some detergent and stain remover from C and with this I was able to do a small load. It was really easy and really great to do my laundry for the first time in freedom today. The washer and dryer reminded me of the fancy washer and dryer in my mother’s house and I am so grateful to the people who paid for this house so I can do my laundry comfortably.
C was also kind enough to help me by washing my towel along with her other towels, and I thank her for that help.
I threw up a bit last night from nerves but that is to be expected given the amount of stress involved in leaving behind a lifetime of captivity. For the first time since I left my abusers, I was able to do some substantial intellectual work for a few hours which allowed me to forget the abuse for a while. I have been following the freedom uprising in Syria with great interest, and so I did some research on the latest developments in this uprising. I looked at YouTube videos of Syrian soldiers and officers who were defecting from the Assad regime in detail because I believe a split in the army is one of the key necessary factors for removing the Assad regime from power.
I wrote three pieces on Syria today. One was my transcription of excerpts of some noteworthy aspects of the testimonies of these defecting Syrian officers’ and soldiers stories. One was an analysis of the latest developments in Syria with an eye toward seeing when regime change will happen. And one piece was an assessment of what a post-Assad Syria might look like. Anyone who is interested in reading about the intricacies of Syrian politics can check out my political blog here:
Today I spoke on face book with a newly single mother whose abusive doctor and soon to be ex-husband reminded me of my father. She is a mother of two sons from her abusive marriage, and I discovered something unfortunate about mothers who are fleeing abusive relationships. It is much easier for me as a single childless woman to flee my emotionally abusive parents and grandmother than it is for a mother to flee her abuser. The reasons for this reality are numerous. First of all, the mother has to figure out a way to support herself and her children, whereas I don’t have the pressure of having to support children.
But more importantly, the mother who flees an abusive relationship can never really fully leave her abuser behind. I don’t ever have to see my abusive parents and grandmother again if I don’t want to. But unfortunately the mother will be forced to see her abuser even after her divorce because he is also the father of her children. And her children will also unfortunately be exposed to her abuser because even a divorced father has a right to see his children. Therefore the mother can never fully separate from the abuser because he remains a part of her life and her children’s life.
In addition, my friend was encouraging me to pursue the career possibilities which are open to me as a person with Asperger’s, a neurological disorder which is characterized by high intellect and very weak social skills. I was advising her about how to help her 12 year old son, who has such a severe form of Asperger’s that he is afraid of all social contact including even visiting restaurants and stores. She suggested that I could be a counselor for families of children with Asperger’s. I have no interest in this career path but she and I agreed that I could be a very good writer on Asperger’s and that I could use my writing to help parents of children with Asperger’s to understand the inner world of their kids. She suggested I get in touch with her son’s therapist, and I intend to do so shortly. I feel so blessed and excited to be finding new career possibilities every day in freedom.
Later on my Spanish teacher called me and asked me how I was doing. I told her I am doing very well here but I am not yet ready to look for work as a Spanish to English translator. She offered me her total and unconditional support, but she couldn’t really understand my decision to separate fully and completely from my family of origin. She had a hard time understanding that my parents deliberately treated me with intense, calculated, and planned cruelty and that they rejected me as a daughter and a human being. She could hear the joy and pride in my voice and could sense how satisfied and happy that I am feeling already.
Finally today I was speaking to Beverly. She showed me a book which explained to me a little bit about her career. I didn’t realize that she has spent 35 years working with kids in different capacities and that she thoroughly enjoys working with children. Her book explained about the various activities that she plans for the children under her care, which include allowing young children to plant a garden. She also laid out in great detail the educational objectives of each activity in terms of helping the children to develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. I wish I had a mother like her. And I wish my early childhood education had been so rich and so carefully planned by such a compassionate, caring, and involved instructor.
The book also explained her many experiences, degrees, certificates, and qualifications in regards to working with children. Beverly had so many different experiences for such a long time working with kids that I could not remember them all. The book contained letters of reference from gratified mothers of the children she cared for, and also from some of the older children themselves. She told me the sad and moving story of one child that she took in - a pregnant 14 year old Mexican girl. That girl’s story saddened me so much because her life possibilities were effectively snuffed out from under her when she was just a child. Beverly helped care for the young mother and her baby but I couldn’t help thinking of how many options were closed to that young teenage mom at such an early age. She also included some poignant and sad letters from a young imprisoned father of one of the children she cared for. I felt sad for this young man whose life chances were also limited by both his unstable family environment and his own poor choices.
I also saw the beautiful pictures of the many kids that Beverly cared for as a foster mother. I could see the joy in the eyes and hearts of these young souls that Beverly took under her care. She loves all people - as shown by the fact that she takes in needy children of all races - black, Hispanic, doesn’t matter. She took in the 1 ½ and 3 ½ year old daughters of an exotic dancer for a few years. She also took in a black boy with Downs syndrome for I think it was five years. I only wish she could adopt some of these kids so they could have a permanent and stable mother to love and care for them.
Beverly also wrote several pages describing her career path in detail. She is outstanding in working with people as shown by how many of her supervisors have liked her work so much that they invited her to move with them to their new jobs. I only wish I had Beverly’s social skills. It also struck me that Beverly was subjected to a great deal of sexism and sexual harassment in her career. I was saddened and sickened that the Mayor of one City that she worked for told her to shut up and just allow herself to be taunted by her colleagues. She ended up suing the city and was out of work for two years, which was a very trying and difficult experience for her as a single mother of her daughter Kristin. I got to know Beverly even more as a person through looking at this album and got to appreciate her talents in caring for children on an even deeper level.
I am so happy and grateful to be staying at the transition house at Heaven on Earth Foundation. I am grateful to Beverly every day for her hard work in taking care of the six young girls at this house, and I thank C for her daily support and Julia, Ibis, and Gisel for their warm introduction to this house and their constant help.
How I Ended Up at the Transition House at Heaven on Earth Foundation
I had really no idea that I would be here even two weeks ago. I knew that I was reaching the end of my patience when it came to living with my maternal grandmother, but I honestly had no idea where to go. Living with grandma was becoming increasingly intolerable, but I thought I needed to endure it another 8-12 months. Why? Because my best friend in Boston, who so kindly agreed to take me into her home, is happily married and the adoptive mother of a wonderful 5 month old son. As all parents and anyone who is familiar with infants can tell you, a five month old baby will guarantee you a long period of almost total sleeplessness. I was thinking of waiting about 8-12 months until my best friend’s son turns 13-17 months old so that I could sleep through the night.
But then two of my friends and fellow abuse survivors urged me to act sooner. One of my friends on face book, a female abuse survivor, said to me that I was crazy to endure another 8-12 months in this hell. And also my Egyptian male friend, a child abuse survivor from a radical Islamic family and a former political prisoner who served four years in prison, really challenged me to leave this hell once and for all. He said to me, You know, my 19 year old girlfriend has left her abusive family. So why haven’t you left already?
And so inspired by my two friends, I put out a posting on the site USA Survivors of Sociopaths, which is primarily a group of domestic violence survivors in South Florida on face book. I said that I was looking for a place to stay for 8-12 months. And literally within 20 minutes I got back a response from Julia at Heaven on Earth Foundation telling me that her organization had a transition house in an undisclosed location in Miami-Dade County and I should call her after 6 p.m. if I was interested in it.
Then she told me to call her after 8:30 p.m. on a Friday night - and this was a dilemma for me as a religious Jew because it means breaking the Sabbath. But I thought that it was worth it for me to break one Sabbath so that I could continue to live and enjoy myself on future Sabbaths. In fact Jewish law actually commands you to break the Sabbath in order to save your life or another life because breaking one Sabbath allows you to live and observe more Sabbaths in the future. So following this logic and knowing that I was saving my life in the emotional realm and putting an end to 35 years of horrendous captivity and abuse, I made the call. I guess the rest is history. In Hebrew we would say that this is Bashert, and it was meant to be. That it was ordained by G-d.
In Memory of Esteban
I was touched, moved, and saddened when Julia opened the door to the transition house and told me it was named in memory of Esteban. Esteban was a 10 year old boy who was murdered by his own father, a cruel 75 year old man who killed his son and then himself. I know from first-hand experience how painful it is to be emotionally rejected and financially abandoned by my father. But even I find it hard to fathom that a father could be so cruel that he would literally murder his own child. My heart breaks to think of this wonderful young boy whose life was snuffed out at such an early age. I read the Spanish-language plaque in his memory. I looked at his photographs in the house. And I read some of his writings.
And I thought to myself - what a terrible, irreparable loss for humanity. Who knows what a wonderful young man he might have become. He might have become a good husband and father. He might have contributed to society as a police officer, fire fighter, teacher, Little League coach or Boy Scout mentor. Or he might have gone on to a career such as law, medicine, accounting or business. The world is a poorer place without Esteban.
Sadly we can’t bring Esteban back. But we can tell his story to the residents of this house and our society so he isn’t forgotten. And also we can keep creating programs like the transition house so other children from abusive families have the chance to grow up in freedom, get an education, and improve their lives. Esteban’s legacy is helping other kids have the future that he was so cruelly and unjustly denied.