Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Autism Answer: My Husband Didn't Hit Me

Surgery, Day Six

What a conundrum. People are too often blamed or not believed when they find themselves in an abusive relationship and reach out for help. Yet, also too often, when people see a woman (or child) bruised and battered they pounce on the assumption that someone is abusing them.

Have you noticed this?

One personal recent example:
My husband saw a woman in the store with black eyes and a bruised arm. She said something about getting hurt on a job but my hubby hardly even listened because he was absolutely certain the story was being invented to protect a husband or boyfriend.

A few weeks later, he and I drove to Dallas for my appointment to have Mohs Surgery in order to remove the Basal Cell Carcinoma from my face. It turned out the cute little mole just under my left eye, near my nose, was deceptively dangerous (albeit, slowly so). My lovely hubby waited hours in the waiting room, asked me thoughtful questions, bought me coffee, held my hand, worried wildly when I was taking longer than several other patients
Surgery, Day One
getting the same type of surgery. He loves me and worked at finding ways to be of service while dealing with his own anxiety.

He, uh, he didn't hit me.

As I finally emerged from the room (cancer free!) and told him that we were officially able to go home, he relaxed a little and breathed an audible sigh of relief. The couple we had been chatting with in the waiting room - interestingly, a husband and wife from our very small town! - were happy for us but a little bummed that they weren't able to leave yet. Also, they were impressed with the immediate swelling and bruising of my face. "You'll have to walk around town telling people Boogie did that to ya!" the woman joked.

CONFESSION: We all laughed. Nervously, without making eye contact, and aware of our shared discomfort. But, we laughed. Not because it was funny, but because we were all thinking it. I did look like I had been beaten up. And it did remind us of photos where women have been hit by their husbands.

Why? Why all of us? <---- This is an important question with answers worth discussing. But, also, with answers worth giving to ourselves. So, I'll ask for that in today's sharing. Let's give ourselves some answers.

Surgery, Day Three
*As my wound began to look quickly worse, evolving speedily from one state of healing to another, looking like one image we would imagine of an abused wife after another, the next few days were an emotional roller coaster ride for my hubby.

You see, he couldn't stop thinking about the woman he had seen only weeks previous. The woman he had been certain was being beaten by her man. Sure, she could have been. We (sadly) know too many people for whom that is or has been the story. However, he realized, probably she wasn't. And how sad is it (this is my own addition) that he had not only made the assumption, regardless of her words, but had done so only to then judge her for being beaten and lying about it?

For days my husband would cringe every time I had to run an errand in our town, knowing that many others would likely be making the same assumptions and judgments about us, about me and about him.

Well, my face has healed quite a bit now. I no longer look like a stock photo under the heading "battered women", and so it could be easy for my husband to just forget about it.

Instead, today he found himself running into the woman he'd been thinking about so much (funny to say that so comfortably as his wife, right? tee hee!) at the store and nervously approached her. He apologized for the behavior of his inner monologue and the subsequent sharing of that opinion. He told her the story of me, my face, his worry. Her reaction was forgiveness and laughter. Turns out, she told him, that a few police officers pulled her aside and asked similar questions, they'd had the same assumption.

I'm sorry that people do beat their spouses and their children. It's such a sad, horrible, hurtful truth. And I'm also sorry that when they don't, people might assume they do. There is some crossing of the wires where caring is concerned, maybe. We want to care and step in, we want to be a helpful hero, yet we are also afraid to be when people specifically reach out to us. Or, maybe, we just like to imagine the sensational stuff when we know that we aren't expected to take responsibility. There aren't a lot of easy answers where taking action in the relationships of others is concerned.

But we can do a few things. Stop judging so easily, stop assuming so readily, and especially: choose to believe the stories people tell of themselves and their experiences. It's true that there will be people and times in our lives where the evidence will need to not be ignored when met with clashing stories, but those times are - for most of us - rare. And even then, let's listen without judgment and assumption.
Surgery, One Month

If someone reaches out for help, specifically trying to sever an abusive tie with someone, or if we see consistent and concrete evidence of abuse, where a child or disabled person is concerned, perhaps we open ourselves up to taking an action or opening a door where they can find help. And if someone tells us no, they don't need us, our assumptions are wrong, maybe look at where and why we are having those thoughts. Is it evidence or knee-jerk assumptions? Who are we judging? What does it say about us?

It's interesting stuff, really. Diving in and getting to know our judgments and assumptions. They reveal a lot about who we are and the world we are immersed in.

Also, wear sunscreen. You might be able to avoid the Mohs Surgery I had and never even ever have to wonder if people think your spouse is hitting you.

Hugs smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

PLEASE: If you or someone you know is struggling to heal from or understand how to change a story of abuse, please read Sever The Cycle of Abuse with The Sub Shop Savior by my mom, Dr. Lynette Louise ("The Brain Broad"). It is a beautifully written and designed true story that offers guidance, friendship, and understanding.  

 *AN ASIDE: I like to think of the way my wound healed as being similar to the healing we go through after leaving an abusive situation. At first, it looks kind of worse. Though we have taken the first steps toward healing it is a precarious time. My wound needed special care, it needed protection and careful cleaning. It is similar when we have broken free from a harmful relationship. We are messy, vulnerable, confused, and in danger of allowing ourselves to be infected with poisonous beliefs, potentially prolonging our healing or hurting ourselves further so that we need yet MORE help and interventions. However, if we do the work and take care in the beginning, the healing soon becomes visible and - dare I say it? - almost easy. Until it IS easy! We are left with a scar, a reminder that we can mostly forget or ignore but sometimes flares or itches and tends to invite questions we can choose to answer as ways to offer insight. It's worth it, my friends. Cutting the cancer literally off of your skin or cutting it figuratively out of your life. It's worth it. (Now, does anyone want to give me $600 so I can pay for my surgery? It's worth it, I just don't have it. Oh, wait. That's still part of my healing, eh? Well, the request still stands. Sometimes it's okay to ask for a little help in the healing process. Giggle! xoxo)