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DomesticAbuse - Kim Petersen

Some Apologies Are Endless.

And some are made from delusions.

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When I was a teenager my friends and I spent many hours discussing futuristic relationships. Secrets smiles and girly giggles accompanied much of these conversations. Dreams floated somewhere above us encased within invisible pink bubbles tied with crimson ribbons; the man of our dreams awaited to sweep into our lives when the universe conspired our fated meeting. We could barely wait.

Dreams.

They are the cornerstone of imagination and make the world go around. They form the wings of precious wishes and exquisite desires; and there are none so much as precious as the promising dreams of love to a girl.

My teenage dreams foretold love like no other — he was charming and smart, caring and tender; his smile would light up my heart and quicken my pulse. He was open-minded, sweet and compassionate. He was witty, vulnerable yet strong. Most of all, though, he respected me.

Respect.

This quality was vital and posed lengthy in-depth discussions among our group. None of us had a history of violent homes, yet we were more than aware of the widespread violence against women that went on behind closed doors across the world.

My convictions were strong; I would never tolerate violence or mistreatment from my future partners. Never.

But the convictions of a girl who dreamed of falling in love fizzled as time moved forward to present a man who she thought possessed the above-mentioned qualities. They say love is blind. Perhaps it is. But I think that an open-heart nurtures forgiveness, tolerance and empathy, and it is those elements of love that can become the foundation under which the narcissist to thrive.

She was giddy. Excitement filled her. The future stretched untouched and perfect beneath his devotion. They would stick together through thick and thin; they would carve the path and create dreams. They would love and be loved. Hold and be held.

But dreams are nothing when the edges begin to crack and the shadows start to loom.

Excitement fades when the constant barrage of demeaning comments begin to chip at your psyche. The convictions of a girl drown in a tsunami of guilt when he kicks you so hard that you can barely walk for a week, or tells you he would gladly do jail time for your death.

“I’m sorry, honey. I’ll make it up to you.”

Some apologies are smothered in golden jewels, international holidays and new clothes. Some even take on the form of a new car.

Thwack!

“I was feeling a little cagey — you stepped on my toes. I’m sorry, honey. It will never happen again. I love you.”

Some apologies are made from delusion even when delivered sincerely.

Goodbye dreams. So long, respect. Enter guilt, self-loathing and everything black.

Black for the single most horrific day that still haunts me — the day the screams of my little boys followed me down the hall as he gripped my scalp and dragged me to the bedroom. Black for the moments my heart split when they watched from the threshold as he flung me on the bed and punched me in the head. Black for the terrified eyes that blinked back at me.

Boom!

My head pounded. The sound of his voice reverberated somewhere in the distance as he growled. But I felt nothing and heard nothing as I focused on the horrified eyes brimming from the doorway.

Some moments you can never undo. Some moments stay with you no matter how deep you bury them.

I’m sorry for the charred dreams and teenage wishes snatched away by brutality. I’m sorry for betraying the convictions and values that I had so strongly believed in. I’m sorry for abandoning my sense of self-respect, self-love and self-worth. Most of all, I’m sorry for the innocence stolen away from my little boys the day their world turned black.

Some apologies are never too late to be expressed. And some apologies last forever.


Also published by P.S. I Love You on Medium

Relationships and the Power of Standing Your Ground

Something like love and respect.

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According to my ex-boyfriend, 99% of women are ungrateful and I am one of them. Uh-oh. Looks like we might have a woman-hater on the loose. Someone call the United Nations Gender Equality hotline. I’ve flushed out a real-life, undercover misogynist. He’s all yours.

Yep, I have been analyzed, categorized and classified ungrateful by a man I haven’t seen in about twelve years. Although, considering I was up against such a warped conception stating that 99% of women are ungrateful, I never really had a chance at success.

So, what did I do to constitute such a radical characterization?

I no longer possess the desire to engage with him. That’s it in a nutshell.

Twelve years have passed and still, he seeks me out despite the fact that I have since married another man and have unduly expressed my disinterest in him.

Over the years I have had to block him on social media and email, but every now and then I click that unblock button because I have an internal battle about blocking people that have meant something in my life. The act of blocking can feel hostile and contentious toward the blocked. It is not unlike balancing an invisible sword over their heads which in turn affects our own karma. But some people leave us no choice.

Sometimes, people can’t let go of the past.

During a recent unblock phase, it didn’t take him long to figure out he was carrying an “Out of Jail” card. His name blinked with an incoming message on Messenger within a matter of days. How he manages to score this information so fast is beyond me. Some folks have way too much time on their hands.

Speaking of time, it is of the essence. We are all aware that there are only so many days to speak our truth to the people that matter in our lives.

He wasted no time in declaring his truths to me. He thought about me and my children all the time. He couldn’t forget me. Mistakes were made and he’d give anything to ease the discordant feelings still lingering deep inside. Twelve years and he is still trying for a past that will never come again. A filtered past that looks strikingly different through my eyes.

The past has a way of glamorizing the truth. The years roll by and it gets easier to peer through rose-tinted glasses existing to make everything seem beautiful by distorting the real facts. As a woman who has experienced domestic abuse for over a decade at the hands of her first husband, rose-tinted specs and the ability to romanticize the truth does not always work for me.

Truth: Some people show up in our lives to reinforce what we don’t want.

I am not suggesting these people are any less important than the ones that stick around. They are just as significant because it through these interactions and relationships that we are pushed to assert ourselves;to believe in ourselves enough to stand our ground.

Life presents us with options; forks in the road that lead to alternative destinations and different realities.

Thirteen years ago, and divorced, the option for me looked something this:

Would you like another serve of asshole? Or would you prefer to experience real love and respect now?

Naturally, I was opting for the latter. But, before I got to the love and respect part, I had to sit down to one more turbulent meal of asshole. In the form of Mr 99% guy. I found myself on repeat. Almost.

He waltzed into my home and wanted control from the get-go. The earliest sign was when I cooked for him for the first time, presenting a meal that was instantly met with a grimace and a rude remark. My heart dropped. His mother didn’t cook that way. Turned out, his mother did everything better than me. Do I look like your fucking mother?

I should hope not. Especially when wearing black lacy lingerie, strappy stilettos and clutching a bottle of edible body oil. Vanilla flavoured. There are benefits to divorce. You get every other weekend kid-free to swing from the proverbial chandeliers. We swung hard. His mother stayed out of it. Thank goodness.

My friends became his enemies.

Not really. But if I dared smiled when greeting one of my friends, I was accused of deception.

“You haven’t smiled that wide all day!”

“Umm … what the?”

Can you image how he coped with my male friends? He loathed every one of them and didn’t bother to conceal the fact.

My children became his enemies.

Not really. But exerting dominance over children has a way of making narcissists feel empowered. He actually kicked my three-year-old daughter because it bothered him that she wanted to cuddle up with me on the lounge.

Red flag blazing.

I became his enemy.

Not really. But I stood up for myself and my children with a fire I could not deny. A fire kindled from years of living on my nerves with an abusive husband and a promise I had made to myself — No longer would I accept ill-treatment from a man.

With each and every one of his attempts to coerce me into submission, I responded with a strength I never knew I had. Even when he physically hurt me in the most sadistic ways.

His pain was inflicted with malicious intent. Whereas, my ex-husband was an outright hothead. This guy did stuff to offend my delicate parts; like pinching my nipples till they bruised or tearing my anus so that I bled for a week. He would strike when I’d least expect it — during a hug or a play-rumble.

Yeah.

Truth: Some people show up in our lives to remind us of who we don’t want to be.

Playing the victim gets old. So does the stress that comes from continually being on guard. Sometimes, people put us in a position where we have no choice but to stand by our convictions regardless of the outcome. Even if it makes us feel horrible on the inside. These are the moments that shape our lives. The forks in the road where we face a choice to either change it up or continue choosing similar experiences.

We always have a choice. Always.

Life whispered:

Are you done with mistreatment, Kim? Would you like to raise the bar and attract better experiences into your life? Are you ready for love; real love?

Yes please.

He was the catalyst in choosing to break the cycle. The final straw at the end of a long and dark road littered with abuse, tears and heartbreak. Thankfully, the experience was fleeting in the grand scheme of things, lasting about six months. Although, the relationship was profound nonetheless — just in a different context to how he views it through those distorted rose-tinted glasses.

It was through that relationship, I learned how we choose for ourselves is largely based on self-perception — the manner in which we view our own worth; what we’re prepared to settle for and what we will fight for.

I fought for respect.

I chose to be alone rather than face another long-term bout of pain and dysfunction. I chose myself and I chose my children. If that makes me ungrateful, then so be it because I’d choose it again in a heartbeat.

Sometimes, it makes sense to remove the rose-tinted glasses and see the past for what it is. If we can’t do that, the lessons go unlearned and we might find ourselves on repeat while faintly hearing life whisper truths through our soul. Something like respect. Something like real love.


Also published on P.S. I Love You on Medium

The Color of Green

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“Whatever it is that you’re doing to make him react that way, stop it.” Jill blinked through a thick layer of mascara. She stroked back a long blond curl and shook her head. “If you stop upsetting him, then he won’t hurt you.”

Huh?

My jaw dropped, my stomach clenching as I looked at her. Words eluded me in that moment. I had finally found enough courage to confide in someone, to voice the horror of living with an abusive husband, and this was the response my mother-in-law dished out?

I clamped my jaw shut, pursing my lips as another feeling erupted and burned my cheeks. Shame. My eyes drifted down to my feet as I forced out the words. “But I don’t do anything to upset him.”

She crinkled her nose, her pencilled brows lifting as she scrutinized me. Her next words made me want to sink between the twisted carpet beneath my feet.

“Well, you must be doing something wrong. Lucas wouldn’t hurt you otherwise.”

She swivelled towards the kitchen benchtop to pop on the kettle. I watched as she pulled two mugs from an overhanging cupboard before setting them down and looking back at me. “It’s your fault, Ava. He’s always had trouble controlling his emotions. You need to learn how to behave.”

She paused and flashed me a smile. “Coffee?”

Coffee? Was she serious? As I fixed my gaze on her, I realized that she was. I tilted my chin as I circled strands of auburn hair over my ear and narrowed my eyes. At the same time, I became aware of the rage brewing in my veins. Her smile fizzled as I marched closer to her. I tore at the sleeves on my wrists to expose the bruises on my skin, thrusting my arms at her as I spoke through gritted teeth.

“This is my fault? My fault, Jill?” I said, as the heat of my tears stung my eyes. I tried to withhold the tears as I gazed down at her, watching as she barely glanced at the angry welts.

She shrugged. “Like I said, you need to stop upsetting him. It’s not his fault.”

My dark eyes narrowed down to slits as my jaw tightened. “Are you telling me that I deserve this?”

She avoided looking at me as she turned to busy herself with teaspoons and coffee jars. When she didn’t reply, I stepped closer to her.

“Jill?” I said, biting my trembling lip. “I asked you a question.”

Her golden tresses flipped across her shoulders as she whirled around suddenly, treating me to a heated stare. “I don’t want to talk about it, Ava,” she said, clasping her slender hips. “We don’t talk about these kinds of things. We just note it, learn from it and move on.”

“Move on?” I felt the fury overwhelm me. So, I mirrored her moves, gripping my hips and glaring. “Is that the answer that’s been evading me for so long? And how about your grand-babies? He’s already started venting his rage on Liam. Who knows how far he could take it…” my voice trailed and I shuddered.

The thought of my children suffering beneath my husband’s erratic bouts of violence was too much to bear. I knew I had to do something. This life was eating me up from the inside out, and it was guilt that formed the groundwork on which I stood.

Guilt. If I could give it a color, it would be green. And not the green offered of vibrant grasses swaying beneath a summer breeze, but the sludgy green that clung to the walls of a putrid pond. Green shadowed my every waking hour. It was that murky shade that relentlessly haunted me. Green for not protecting my children from the horrific scenes tainting their reality, and green for the strength I lacked. Most of all, though, it was the muddy tint of green that had replaced my convictions.

Jill waved a dismissive hand, snorting. Her gaze hardened as she looked me in the eye.

“He wouldn’t hurt the children,” she said, straightening her short frame. “You married him, Ava. This is the life you chose. Now, you must deal with it, just like I dealt with it. I didn’t go running to my mother-in-law for sympathy.” She took in a breath and hissed. “No, I toughened up and got smarter, and that’s what you need to do. Stop upsetting him and he won’t hurt you.”

I swallowed hard as her words sunk in. She tore her eyes away and made for the fridge. The revelation came to me in a flash.

“You were abused, too?”

I saw her tense before reaching for a bottle of milk and swinging the fridge door closed. When she didn’t answer, I moved up to her, noticing her fingers quivering as she set down the milk. She didn’t look at me.

“Jill, how bad was it?”

Her chin lowered along with her shoulders and she sighed. When she turned around, I saw the pain in her eyes.

“Lucas’s father was a good man.” Her eyes glazed and darted away from me. For a moment, I wondered if she would continue. She let out a breath as she began to speak again. “But sometimes, good people do bad things.”

“Like what?”

Her fingers knotted together, and she shook her head. “He’d always had a hot temper; anything could set him off. Me and the kids lived on our nerves and walked on eggshells. It was like Russian Roulette.” She gave a rueful laugh. “One day, I came home from work to find him…” Her voice faltered.

Her chest began to rack as she leaned heavily against the benchtop. I had never seen her so vulnerable. When she lifted her eyes to mine, they were glistening and my heart cracked. “He was interfering with Lucas.”

I gasped and reached out to her, resting my hand on her arm as I searched for the right words.

My words came in a whisper. “Wha — what happened?”

She jerked away from me as her voice hardened. “Anarchy — that’s what happened, Ava. And what followed was my near death. So, you see now, Lucas isn’t to blame for his behavior. He breathes beneath the treacherous shadow of his father. You must submit to the life you chose, be there for him and forgive his indiscretions.”

My mind went blank then, before a thousand thoughts spiralled as I struggled to understand. My eyes skimmed to the floor. Then, one thought materialised above the whirl in my head — The cycle of abuse stops here.

I could barely breathe when I looked back at her.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you and Lucas,” I said, shaking my head. “But that doesn’t excuse the way he treats me and the kids. Toxic behavior can be unlearned; it doesn’t have to carry on through the generations.”

Her lips contorted in a scowl. “Did you not hear what I said? He’s been through hell! His actions are not always his own. Ava, you need to understand this — he needs you to understand this.”

“No,” I replied, feeling the heat simmer below my skin as I siphoned courage from the fire. “That’s where you’re wrong. Every action is a choice. Every hateful remark, every slap, and every punch that he delivers is a choice he gets to make each and every time.”

I reached for my wedding ring and twisted it off my finger. Her eyes widened as I placed it on the benchtop beside the milk. Then, I levelled my stare on her and lifted my chin. “Love shouldn’t hurt, Jill.”

I stormed out of the kitchen as she chased after me, calling.

“Ava! This is crazy! What are doing?”

When I reached the threshold of my bedroom, I paused to glance over my shoulder at her ashen face. “I’m taking the kids and leaving,” I said, clutching the door frame. “I’m not you, Jill, and no amount of understanding his past will justify another minute of this life. I deserve more; my children deserve more and I’m doing something about it.”

She shrieked, but I didn’t wait around for her reply. I walked into my room and opened the closet where the luggage was kept, before pulling out items from drawers and hangers and flinging them into the bags. It was then that I felt something shift slightly within me, and for the first time in years, the murky green shrouding me lightened.


Originally published by P.S I Love You on Medium – November 8th, 2019.

Recognising abuse in all its forms – by Kai Calvi.

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Through this post, I am sharing my story in the hopes of educating others. Not only in recognizing abuse, but to also shed light on the help and resources available for victims of abuse.

My name is Kai. I am a 41-year-old mother of three beautiful sons. All of my life I have fallen victim to one form of abuse or another. Until quite literally, it took my world falling apart and finding myself and my three boys homeless for almost a year to actually recognize what was happening to me.

Even before I was born, I was at a massive disadvantage.

My father was a paedophile who before my birth had already interfered with my elder half siblings.

My mother had been abused as a child before she was handed into an arranged marriage at such an early age, that she didn’t even know what it meant to be a wife, a mother or a woman.

She had endured nine years of severe abuse from her much older Italian husband until she eventually escaped that situation only to fall into the clutches of my father who destroyed her world on a whole new level. As you can imagine, her harsh experiences had a significant impact on her, spilling over into forming her own psyche – making her very controlling and overbearing, and setting the bar for what my sisters and I were to deem as “Normal” in a relationship setting.

My saving grace was that I got to live with my grandparents for the first four years of my life, due to my mother having a break down. My grandparents were loving, stable, and kind, and they adored me – which became a memory that I clung to and gave me hope for the oncoming days of my life. There was a time when I had known love without control or abuse. Not only did I know that that kind of love existed, but at one stage in my life it was given freely and without condition.

Within this post, it is my intention to not only demonstrate the signs that you should be looking for when dealing with a narcissist and abuser, but to also bring light on the fact that abuse is not only limited to partners. It can be delivered at the hands of parents and siblings, co-workers, bosses or friends, and sometimes, sadly even children.

You can break the cycle.

  • It is important to recognize that a lifetime of being subjugated to abuse, does not mean you have to continue to live that way – yes, abusers have a way a sniffing out the vulnerable. And that is all it is – vulnerability due to subjugation. There is nothing wrong with you.
  • There is nothing about you which makes you deserving of this treatment.
  • It is NOT your Fault!
  • It is a matter of readjusting your thinking patterns to view yourself and your circumstances in a new light – retraining your mind to not only recognize the early signs of abuse, but also, to act early on.
  • Self-empowerment and education are key to rejecting an abusive life and not tolerating this kind of treatment from anyone, or in any form.

Let me just clarify that not all abusers demonstrate abusive behavior from a point of hatred or even wanting to hurt others. They tend to do so as a result of their experiences and conditions – learning these toxic practices through the trauma they have endured throughout their own lives.

It is not uncommon for an abuser to use these trigger points to manipulate situations and the people around them. It is a tool to get what they want. The fact is, most of us have been through hard times during our lives and learn to work through our pain without transferring those demons onto others.

I find that there is such a selfishness around holding onto hurt and using that pain as an excuse to justify our behavior. Yet, those that abuse others will often use their past as a tool that conveniently blinds them to the truth of their actions. Many times, they do not actually recognize what they are doing, and they will deftly alter the reality of a situation to support their delusions. This is when the familiar phrases of an abuser will occur:

“I’ve done nothing wrong”, which generally follows with an accusation, “you caused it”, “it’s all your fault” or my personal favorite, “you made me do it”.

My mother was the first to use this kind of manipulation on me and it wasn’t until the “big breakdown” of 2011 that I even began to recognize this. She would manipulate myself and my siblings by claiming that she would not be a part of our lives if we didn’t bend to her will. Which was shortly followed with her expressing her regret of having ever having children at all. She had negated us with her words with constant reminders of her disappointment in us, and she blamed us for everything. To her, we were at the core of her every problem; her every hardship; her every pain endured throughout her lifetime.  

Can you guess how hearing those words from a mother impacts a child?

Guilty. Responsible. Worthlessness. 

To the point that we felt so utterly responsible for the “horrible” state of her life that we would do anything she asked to keep her happy – and all at the expense of our own happiness. Including leaving relationships and the people in our lives that we loved to appease her, or ditching important obligations and plans to cater to her needs and wants.

Years later, homeless and living with a friend in Katoomba, I received counselling. These sessions were like a pinnacle of light for me, shining clarity over the cycle of abuse and helping me to understand toxic behavior.

I learned about how people like this have the ability to make you feel responsible for their survival. When in reality, they are extremely resourceful and will manipulate others into doing their bidding – until you discover the power of the word “NO”.  

I was 32 years old before I used this for the first time.

My mother had turned myself and my three children out on the street when we had needed her the most – I had managed to escape an abusive relationship and we had nowhere to go. We’d been staying with a girlfriend temporarily, but had eventually overstayed our welcome – three young boys with a depressed mother doesn’t make for great house-guests. My mother was our last and only option, yet she turned us away to live on the street.

Her refusal to help me and my children cut to the bone; her words were like ice in my ears and a chisel through my heart.  

What was I going to do? I was depressed and penniless with three boys and a car packed full of the only possessions we had left in this world.

How could I subject my boys to a life in a refuge after all we had just been through? After all I had done to get us out of an unhealthy environment at my mothers’ behest, I now had to shame myself further by asking for the help of strangers. I mean, who would want to help me if my own family wouldn’t?

It was failure that encompassed every part of my being – how much more of a failure could I be as a woman and a mother to further subject my children to these situations?

So, I hopped in my car and looked for some place suitable to park and sleep for the night. I drove through my childhood town with the underlying urge to get as far away from where my ex-partner was as possible, finding myself in the parking lot of my high school.

Security turned up and moved us along, but not before asking if we were living in the car and if we needed help. Of course, my pride wouldn’t allow me to admit to our perilous circumstances and I denied such a horrible assumption before moving on. For three days we wandered – cold, hungry, hopeless and not knowing where or how to ask for help.

I had hit my lowest point; I had become a single mother with no home and no relationship, and had spent the majority of my life having every small failure pointed out in grand fashion. I didn’t know there was any kindness in this world outside of that warm embrace and kind smile shown to a small child by her grandparents.

It was during this time that my mother called me – not to check to see if we were okay or to offer help, but to ask for me to research pay grades for my eldest sister. My loud and resounding “NO” resulted in my first ever panic attack, as well as the cold silence that followed from my mother lasting for a solid 18 months. You see, for the first time ever, I had dared not yield to her desires.   

This “NO” felt as though it was the final blow to my already crumbling existence. What would I do without her help? How would I survive without my mother to tell me what to do next? And how on earth was I meant to make these decisions on my own? Clearly, I wasn’t any good at it – just looking at my current situation proved that point.

But there something else – that same singular “NO” started a snow ball reaction, and all from that one profound moment when I had chosen to put myself first instead of succumbing to my mother’s demands. Resisting her wishes changed me and the course of my future.

Left with no one to tell me what to do meant I had to find that inner-strength and make the hard decisions myself – for me and for my children. I dug deep and found a resilience I had not known existed; I got the help we needed in order to get us back on our feet and start again; I battled suicidal urges; feelings of worthlessness and my value as a mother… a woman … a human being.

It wasn’t easy. Each day I had to make the CHOICE to continue. And each day, I rang the life-line helpline to talk to people who kept me from slipping over the edge that loomed so dangerously close.

Those months were some of the scariest and challenging moments of my life, and it took every ounce of my inner-strength to get through – I found love, guidance and assurance in three very brave young men that stood by my side through the entire ordeal. They were my only reason for every step I took in the right direction, and they became my sole focus in striving to become a better person. My boys’ constant presence in my life drove me forward to eventually find a beacon of light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.  

It was through the wonderful support of the refuge that we got the help we so desperately needed:

  • We were given a roof over our heads.
  • They provided us counselling. 
  • They educated me on the cycle of abuse.
  • I learnt to trust and believe in myself again.
  • We were surrounded by supporting love.
  • We received financial help.  

I cannot express gratitude enough for those days, for without having been homeless I would have quite easily slipped back into God knows how many more years of abuse. It took a lot of hard work and self-love to convince myself that I was worthy of love; of happiness. But I got there in the end, and so did my beautiful boys. And it was that one small word that had been the catalyst in flipping my world upside-down until it was righted again. 

Nowadays, there are no more “red flags” in my life – there are only deal breakers, and with every beat of my heart I know without a doubt that:

  • I am worthy of being loved the way I love others.
  • I am worthy of happiness.
  • I am worthy of being treated with kindness.
  • I am worthy of acknowledgement.
  • I am worthy of respect.
  • I am worthy of honesty.
  • I am worthy of safety.
  • I am worthy of having a voice and expressing myself.
  • I am worthy of a drama-free life.
  • And asking for help does not make me weak.

I have learnt that no one has the right to:

  • Devalue me.
  • Make me question my sanity.
  • Put me down.
  • To project their behavior on me.
  • To be wary of those that feel the need to assure you they are good, genuine or kind.
  • To stand my ground against those who fabricate to win an argument.
  • That I will not be blamed for things that are not my fault.
  • That those who can’t take the time to listen, do not deserve to hear my voice.
  • That being mean “as a joke” is still being mean, despite the laughter.
  • That I will not tolerate threats or ultimatums.
  • That I will not be manipulated by using my friends, family, pets, lifestyle, or choices – I will not have someone triangulate a situation.
  • That I will not allow someone to put words in my mouth.
  • That if someone chooses to target my reputation as a means to control me that that is purely an opinion and those in my life that count should know better.
  • That no one has the right to break or damage my belongings.
  • All of the above are a form of ABUSE; above and beyond actual physical violence.

For the first time in my life, I am in a positive, loving and supportive relationship with a woman whom I am head over heels in love with. Who is deserving of my time, my love and every moment of my attention. Although the road to get here was broken and a lot of time was spent on paving the way, I realize that there are good people out there.

You are one of them.

I will continue to always show kindness and compassion to others, but I am now selective of who is worthy of the love I have to give. I hope my story has touched those who need it the most. Thank you for reading!

Helpful recourses in Australia:

1800 Respect Line 1800 737 732

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

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About Kai Calvi…

Kai is a mother of three sons. Holds Diplomas of Business as well as Interior Design and Decorating. Runs her own small design business whilst managing a Dental Surgery in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Kai is an advocate of Mental Health awareness, Domestic Violence and Women’s rights, as well as being actively involved in the LGBTQI community.


~ Giving Voice to Real People.

Changing Life Chapters – it’s Easy to Resist Change.

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“Love is friendship set on fire.”

~ Jeremy Taylor

What lights you up inside?

Have you ever looked back and imagined your entire life as chapters of a book? And that each chapter began with an inciting incident that eventually led to a critical point that became that one moment when you stood at a crossroads? You remember that one – the time when you knew your decision would determine the way your life would unfold over the months and years to follow.

Of course, we experience more than one of those pivotal moments during a lifetime. It’s how it’s meant to be; how we grow and evolve as individuals and as a species. Besides, life would fast become mundane if we were not periodically presented with new possibilities. It’s as if the universe peels back to reveal a crack every now and then – a sliver wide enough to illuminate a path brimming with alternative prospects of a different life.

Our bellies may flutter as we peek through the doors of a mysterious future. We might slide on our dark shades to peer into the uncharted hours of a life spreading before us like the light of the moon trailing across the ocean’s surface. Thinking … pondering … mulling over the would-be path while we analyse and sift through the possibilities until we decide whether to embrace something different or stay put and play it safe.

Sometimes, it might be a work opportunity or a crazy idea that entails a certain amount of risk. Other times, it might be more personal life choices like love and relationships where the stakes are raised high enough to warrant a vault pole if we decide to take a leap of faith. Whatever the moment is, one thing you can count on is that it will usually show up when you least expect it.

It’s easy to resist change. After all, the future is unpredictable and uncertain. No one can really foretell what the future holds; freewill takes care of that. Gifted psychics and mediums can only take you so far. Their visions are always confined by a higher order. In other words, those intelligent beings existing in the higher realms looking out for you will only allow you to uncover so much about the future. The rest is left solely to your own discovery in order to strengthen your personal growth and life lessons.

Makes sense. If we knew without a doubt the events yet to unfold, how would we really be able to relish those moments as we experience them? We wouldn’t, and that’s the beautiful mystery of life – to be present and participate fully; to feel and resonate with our emotions as our paths wind through rocky waters and soar at wonderous heights, and to anchor ourselves in the present while keeping a firm vision of our ambitions and desires in our mind’s eye.

And this is why the present is all-powerful, because the present is all we have to ground our feet in deep and practice assuming that our desires are fulfilled before we leap into the future. Does this not excite you as it does me? That your dreams and aspirations, desires and hunger to create are as real as you want them to be; as real as the power you decide to extend to them. The energy will always go where it is directed so direct it wisely.

I love the way Neville Goddard expresses this notion in his book The Power of Awareness when he states, “All transformation begins with an intense burning desire to be transformed. You must want to be different before you can begin to change yourself. Then you must make your future dream a present fact. You do this by assuming the feeling of your wish fulfilled.”

We can’t stop change from happening. Even when we think nothing is changing, it always is. The invisible wheels are always shifting in the background of our lives. We change even when we don’t want to change – physically and emotionally, our circumstances, environment and relationships. So, if our lives are always changing, why not embrace the all-powerful present to manipulate your future into your most burning desires?

If we’re being honest here, it is through our relationships that offer us the most value on the everchanging wheel-deal. This is where things can get tricky when thinking about our future, but without those rich and transformative experiences relationships provide, we cannot reach our full emotional potential as evolving human beings.

We are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and lovers. We wear many hats for many different people. Each relationship has its own authentic current pertaining to the two individuals involved; each provides layers and experiences that enrich our lives in some way, even when we are confronted by conflict within those connections. Yet, of all the relationships we experience, it is through the ones we connect with at the heart that really shape and cultivate our lives – the ones that burn like an exquisite flame to light us up on the inside.

Have you ever felt your breath thin and your heart explode when confronted by that special someone? Or told someone that they were the best part of your day and meant every word?

Love. Messy, scary, exciting, beautiful love. Everyone experiences it differently, and each time it happens, it is never the same as the time before. Anyone that has experienced it knows it is the best feeling ever. Love is like a rainbow; even when it’s not returned, it is still filled with glorious colors that shade your heart with beauty. Love is never wrong. Never. But the thing about love is that it is subjective and intangible, and it’s different for us all.

It can grow and flourish, making us feel smitten, crazy happy and utterly delirious with all things wonderful. And sometimes, it can take a turn and produce the opposite effects – it can sour and hinder your happiness, clip your wings and make you sad. Sometimes, love just runs its course for the length it takes for that relationship to reach its full potential. This is when the two in question become passive within the connection; when they no longer challenge and fuel one another at the deep levels required in order to continue evolving and learning from the union.

I know this situation well. We probably all have at some point or another. Remember earlier when I mentioned imagining the everchanging sections of our lives like chapters of a book? Here’s the super-short version of one long chapter in my life, and it all started with a guy…

Love was the inciting incident. I fell in love with a guy I had known during my childhood years. He reappeared into my life like a lovely blonde vision with a cute smile and a gentle demeanor, and every part of me succumbed to his blue-eyed, boyish charm. Yep, I totally melted while my heart sang and other parts went wildly crazy. It wasn’t long before he took me to the beach, produced a diamond and asked for my hand in marriage. Truth be told, it scared the bejesus out of me. I was 21 years old with plans to travel and see the world before thinking about marriage. But he was so damned vulnerable and sincere in that moment that I couldn’t bear the thought of turning him down.

My bad.

The usual entailed; we set out to make a life together. We moved around a bit until eventually buying a house, cars and furniture; a cat came along … then children. Travel emerged too. We cruised the south Pacific, visiting cool places like Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia. We flew to New Zealand to spend time with his Kiwi family, and he bought me stuff – lots of stuff. I was buried beneath so much stuff, I didn’t know what to do with it.

Hmm.

Progressive complications are … well … complicated. Not all things are what they appear to be. Come to think of it, most things aren’t what they appear to be. On the outside we appeared to be the perfect family. Lots of stuff and travel makes for a convincing veil. Yet there is truth to that old saying about what happens behind closed doors. You know those kinds of people that don’t possess the ability to recognize their own toxic behavior and the effects it has on others? They are the worst kinds of bullies because you cannot reason with them no matter how much you try.

I tried hard.

For many years I over-stayed my welcome in a marriage with thoughts of making it work. I was really kidding myself, but we’re all pretty good at that, right? The idea of change was terrifying. There was our jointly owned home to consider, combined assets and finances, and of course, the cat and the children.

Life happens…

The months turned into years and more years, and I knew in my core that that relationship could no longer serve me in the ways I yearned to be served. The connection had faltered, waned and had become a shadow of the beginning. I longed to be able to connect at a meaningful level; needed to relate and expand in ways that he was unable to reach – through soul, spirit, intellect. Which naturally spills over into producing the ultimate bedroom experiences, by the way.

Sigh.

We all do the best with what we have and what we are capable of in the moment. It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t capable of taking a hard look at himself and readjusting accordingly at that time in his life. But these were my lessons too, and I strongly believe that we never get more than what we can take.

I took a lot, and lots of stuff doesn’t come close to filling the void within.

This really was nobody’s fault. He was physically and emotionally abusive, controlling, and extremely difficult to live with. Yet, that was his hang up; his own demons that would become his undoing. In the early years before we had children, there were times when he would lock me in our apartment before he’d go to work his night shift. He would lock me in there with no way out, only to return home and demand to inspect my nether region.

Was it fresh, plump and pink this day? Or had it taken a serving?

God forbid had I decided to serve myself while the cat was away. Have you ever been subjected to that line of questioning as someone has their nose buried between your legs with a microscope in hand?

“Uh-hum, it appears you are somewhat swollen.” Dark frown raises with suspicion. “Who’s been here?”

“Huh? Are you out of your mind?”

Yeah, someone was losing it and I’m certain it was me. He actually didn’t have a microscope, but considering the amount of effort he put into these inspections, he may as well have. Besides feeling utterly violated at such a derogatory treatment, I had no idea how he thought another man could get in. Too bad if the building caught fire too. I would’ve been toast.

The Crisis eventually arrived in the form of suffocation. Over the years our relationship had disintegrated to the point of disparity and existed for the sake of familiarity, the vows we had taken and the children we had created. Discordance dominated the connection; the pages in our book were verging on an entirely different series. Emptiness replaced the meaningful exchanges and delicious intimacy we had once thrived on – and yes, that was there in the beginning. But intimacy and connecting had become something of the past and I needed more for myself, and yet, I buried that internal need to grow for the longest of times.

The universe offered a crack. I had a choice.

If I continued to play it safe, I would be better off financially and the children would not have to endure the reality of a broken home. Stay and I wouldn’t have to endure hardship or raise three children alone; stay and I would remain miserable and oppressed, and in doing so, I would inevitably deny myself of my own truth.

Climaxes are not always earth-shatteringly exquisite, but they always bring change. I’m not certain what finally broke the final piece of resistance, but suddenly, something clicked inside of me – I couldn’t deny what I needed and craved in order to nourish my soul. It was then that I began the change by anchoring myself in the present and daring to see my life differently; a life that he had spent years trying to convince me that I was too weak to create.

 So, one day when he was condemning and criticizing me, I looked him in the eye and told him that he could try as hard as he liked but he would NEVER break me. Then I did it – I made the first moves to make a change that I had thought was nearly impossible.

He wasn’t an easy man to escape. Those who thrive on controlling women never are. He even threw things at me as I held my terrified two-year-old and stuffed my belongings in boxes as I prepared to shift myself and my children out of there.

Resolutions are like a breath of fresh air asthe new normal settles in your bones. I had resisted change because I was afraid of the unknown, but it was when I peeked through the crack the universe had provided for long enough that I believed that I was able to place my faith in an uncharted future. It was either that or continue on the same path that wasn’t lighting me up on the inside. And that is what it comes down to – knowing when to embrace the mysteries of an unmapped future and when to play it safe.

The future is there regardless. Playing it safe and hiding from exciting opportunities or unbridled passion, or just a change for the better might be terrifying, but it won’t enrich your life in the same ways that owning your truth will. We are here to carve our notch on the surface of time. If we don’t write our chapters with our authentic selves, then we cheat ourselves more than anyone.

It’s like being faced with a field of blooming daisies and the universe cracks open to present you a rare wildflower. Picking the wildflower could be risky and exhilarating, but it could mean the beginning of the next chapter in your life if you are but game and brave enough to pluck the stem from the universe and step into the uncharted future.

Abuse Me, Abuse Me Not

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“Everything depends on your attitude towards yourself. That which you will not affirm to be true of yourself can never be realised by you, for that attitude alone is the necessary condition by which you realise your goal.” ~ Neville Goddard.

I tend to never think about the past. For me, the past has served its purpose, and I know I will accomplish nothing if I choose to dwell over it. I’d rather look forward, focus on how I want life to be – not just only at the micro level, but at the macro level too. Yes, I want to see change in the world, in humanity. I want to see a shift towards world peace, and I want to see every person act out of love and not fear. I’m not ashamed to admit that I am one of those dreamers John Lennon so famously sang about in his classic song, Imagine.

I am a dreamer. I have always been a dreamer. Even the darkest moments couldn’t quite diminish the spark deep inside of me, and like many of us, I’ve lived through some dark times.

Relationships are a beautiful and necessary part of life. It is through our relationships and interactions with others that we learn so much about ourselves and the world. We learn great things like love, respect, empathy and consideration. We learn how to relate with others and the art of compromise. We fall in and out love, hearts break and we grow and evolve, and we realise what we do and don’t want for ourselves.

Sometimes, those lessons are tough. Well, let’s be honest, our biggest lessons are always the toughest to learn. The worst thing is when we get caught in a revolving-lesson door – the cycle drill that won’t quit till you make a change in yourself. That was me. I was on repeat – a lesson that began when I was sixteen years old and lasted until I finally kicked it in the butt when I reached thirty-four. That’s right, almost twenty years of enduring one lesson through three relationships – abuse.

I am not a trained psychologist, nor have I earned any qualifications in social welfare. I have studied towards a Bachelor of Social Studies (psychology), earning two years of transcripts before I went on hiatus and began writing fiction books. It was through study that I rediscovered my love of writing. I loved writing the essays for my modules, yet each of my lecturers had at some point mentioned the same thing upon reading my assignments – I wrote too creatively and needed to be more scientific, but hey, I wanted my work to be interesting, even when including the principles of clinical jargon and conventions. I loved writing books so much; the rest is history (excuse the cliché).

The point is, I don’t traditionally qualify as a trained person to guide others going through abuse. But I do qualify as a domestic abuse survivor. I have experienced verbal and emotional abuse, physical and sexual abuse. Image abuse, and stalking. I know how it feels to be that person – the one that lives behind closed doors in a world of shame; the one that beats herself up every day for her weakness; the person that can barely stand looking in the mirror because she failed herself and her children, and can’t find a glimmer of light in a world of shadows.

For a long time, that was me. The worst thing about being a victim of abuse is the guilt that comes along with it. Guilt becomes a constant companion in a fake, plastic world. It’s there when you wake up every morning, and it’s there every second of pretending everything is okay.

There are all kinds of guilt – guilt for betraying your own convictions; guilt for convincing yourself it will never happen again while knowing full well it will, and finally, the guilt that eats you from the inside out – not protecting your beautiful children from the ridicule and violence.

Looking back, I guess I thought I didn’t deserve any better. Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing incident to set off a chain of events that can last a lifetime. I did it for almost twenty years. I lived on my nerves and walked on eggshells, and every now and then I’d let loose and face the demons with a defiance I couldn’t ignore – that spark deep inside of me flared to the surface and desperately screamed for justice, dignity and self-worth.

I know how it feels to have your life threatened. My first husband used to tell me that he would gladly do jail-time for my murder. Words enough to send a chill down my spine even recalling them.

I know how it feels to see the fault in yourself. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I do anything right? I’m a loser. I’m nothing.

And I know how it feels to see no way out of a black tunnel – “You couldn’t survive without me, you wouldn’t make it.” “Nobody would want you, you’re used goods.” “You’re useless, dumb, stupid, fat, ugly.” “I’ll use you up till there’s nothing left.”

Hear some things enough and you start to believe them.

So, what changed?

Me.

I’d had two little boys with my first husband, but it wasn’t until we had a little girl that something really shifted in me. My little fair angel was the catalyst in a world of darkness. Maybe it was because of the time when my then husband pegged a TV remote controller at me when I was breastfeeding my newborn. He missed me but he didn’t miss her. Or perhaps it was how he’d ridicule me for not producing enough breast milk and our baby girl began to lose weight fast – my fault. Or maybe it was the times when he came home late at night drunk and woke me just to terrorise me.

Whatever it was, I knew I could no longer live that life. I knew there was more, much more, and that life was supposed to be happy. I could find happiness. I could. I wanted more for my children. I wanted peace for them. I wanted to see them laugh more and make a mess if they wanted. I wanted them to feel confident and to know a better existence.

I remember one night I went outside and gazed at the stars. I looked and looked until I believed in something higher than myself. I asked for strength, guidance and courage, and I knew if my life was going to change it would be up to me to make the change. No one would do it for me. No one.

So, I did it. I took a breath and summoned my courage. I got a house and packed our stuff and with the help of some beautiful friends, I moved myself and my children out of that situation and I never looked back. Not once – even when he begged me to come home, or when things got tough and he made life difficult. Control is not something people easily relinquish. I was out and it was the best thing I’d ever done.

The thing is, I chose myself. I chose my children. And I chose to believe in those stars. Somehow, I knew everything would be okay. I took a leap of faith, and even though it wasn’t always easy going, I still chose to believe. It would take another five or more years for me and my children to sift through the emotional scars that that environment left on us. There were challenging times dealing with adolescents with major anger issues; there was heartache and tears, feelings of hopelessness and working through the guilt. But we got through it together, and my children were my salvation and I was theirs.

I still gaze at the stars and I still believe in them. I know for a fact the abilities I possess to initiate the changes I desire in my life because I’ve done it, and I know that the power comes from within, and not from outside of myself. It’s in all of us. If you want change, only you can make it happen. And if you don’t want to get stuck in the revolving-lesson door, you need to adjust the way you think regarding the specific subject. One of my favourite Wayne Dyer quotes is when he said, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Those words resonate with me so much, I wrote them down and stuck it on the wall next to my bed to remind me that no situation is immovable, no matter how static or impossible it seems.

Choose happy. Choose yourself. And please don’t focus too much on those dark times you experienced in the past – give power to the future you desire and be a dreamer like John Lennon. Imagine.