The first, and only, time I danced with my father was at my wedding. He was a really good dancer. Why did he never teach me?
Ten years ago today, I was violently beaten. I sustained a concussion after several blows to my head, and a broken arm: My arm was pulled up and behind my back — after I was forced on a bed, on my stomach — and twisted at the wrist until my upper arm snapped in two. It took four months to heal.
It was charged as a domestic assault.
And I know what you are thinking: Why would you date or marry a man who would treat you that way? There is, you are thinking, an element of responsibility here on your part.
But it wasn’t my boyfriend, and it wasn’t my ex-husband.
It was my brother. And my father.
I think last night was the only night I have really cried about it.
Many byproducts of assault
There are a lot of byproducts of assault and domestic violence: clinical depression, post traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, insomnia, inertia, eating disorders, employment issues and gratitude.
Ironic, isn’t it — that gratitude would be on the list? And it is the strongest, most pervasive thing that has come out of it.
In 10 years, I have not been verbally abused, physically hurt, emotionally beaten, denigrated, humiliated or lied about. In 10 years, I have not been demoralized, demeaned, marginalized or ridiculed. In 10 years, I have seen the perpetrator convicted, won a civil suit, raised my kids and fallen in love. I have found who my friends are, and who they are not. The former have been held fast, the latter have been dismissed.
I left my job in litigation, waitressed and have gone back to writing. I have gone from being barely able to smile to laughing so loud and so deep that my kids are embarrassed. I have gone from no tears, no feeling, no connection to the world to having more than I can handle. It is an embarrassment of riches.
I have felt sadder, more alone, and more betrayed than I ever could have imagined. But out of all that misery — out of walking through all those emotions and more, out of feeling every last moment of anger and fury and shock — I have gotten to the other side. I have let go. I have forgiven, and I have moved on.
I never wish to see any of those people again — forgiveness is for you, really, not for the person or people who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean “Please come back and be a part of my life, I have let go of what you have done.” Forgiveness is a way of saying, “I let go of the power you had over me, I let go of you because I love me more.”
I let go, so I could live.
Somewhere I know it is written, from Kahlil Gibran or the Bible or just some wise person somewhere, that in order to feel great joy, one must feel great pain. Like good and evil, one does not exist without the other.
I have felt both.
And gone from a nadir to a nexus: of life, of love, of freedom.
Carrie Daklin is a Twin Cities freelance writer.