Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: An Unusual Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday, and I celebrate today by acknowledging YOU, who have each and all helped make my past year the wonderful year it was! I reread the comments on my last post and felt so affirmed and blessed that each of you is a part of my community.

Today something important happened that I am now celebrating, something that is not traditional birthday fare.

One is that I stood up for myself with someone who does not value who I am. It was very, very hard, but it was one of those situations where I didn't make a decision---something primal just rose up in me that refused to accept being consistently treated in a poor way. It reminded me of a situation years ago with my mother.

My mother was my primary abuser as a child. One day, after 16 years of physical and verbal abuse almost on a daily basis, instead of hiding the bruises, I put on a dress (in those days you wore dresses to school, not pants!) with a lower neckline that showed the bruises where she had tried to strangle me the night before. I even pulled my long brown hair back into a ponytail so that the bruises could not be missed. I didn't decide to do this consciously; it just happened. For years I had hid the marks---for my whole life. I knew that was what you were supposed to do.

My teachers all asked me what had happened and I told them. I told them how she hit me all the time. How she screamed at me. Some days she beat me, as she'd say, "until I draw blood". My mother lost her job as the school truant officer. There were no other consequences, as it was a different time, but she never hit me again.

Back then, no one talked about child abuse. I don't think I had a conception of it as being "abuse". Something in me just finally knew that trying to strangle your daughter was wrong.

It was a very good feeling to stand up for myself. And when my mother died 6 years later, I didn't cry. I still have not cried, nor do I miss her.

So, standing up for myself was the absolute most important thing that I could have done for myself this year on my birthday. The feeling I have is one of sweet safety, holy self-care, the great kindness of the Universe, the incredible feeling of being loved by God and of knowing that His love is immense.

If any of you watched Saving Grace (my favorite television show) last night, the expression on Earl's face as he told Grace how much God loves her---this face, and what Earl said to her---it made such a deep impression that it carried me to a safe place, just as God carried Grace and Neely to safety in the show. It stayed with me through a difficult night. I don't think I will ever forget it.

So despite the unusual circumstances, it is truly a happy birthday for me. I feel those feelings---the feeling of "NO!" and the feeling of safety and love---and I would not exchange them for any other birthday gift at all.


Carmen said...

Happy Birthday sweet Olivia!

thinking of you and celebrating you. always wishing you the best.


p.s. always stand tall and brave for yourself! no matter who that person is. you are a very valuable person in my eyes, to all of us and in God's eyes.

Hugs and besitos to you chiquitita.

((( H U G S ))))


patti said...

Happy Birthday!!

Yay to you for standing up for yourself O - it is so empowering when we assert ourselves.

I hope you have the best day ever, you deserve it!

Kim Mailhot said...

Happy Birthday, Olivia !

This is a very powerful post. You are a powerful woman, just as you were on that day when you openly showed your bruises. You shone the light on what was happening to you, and took yourself out of the darkness. What better gift could you give yourself than to shine that light even brighter today !

You are a Child of light, brave one... keep on shining...

thailandchani said...

First off, Happy Birthday. I am truly glad you exist. :)

As for the rest, HUZZAH, Sister! Isn't it nice to feel that visceral life force.. the one that says "I value my existence and you ain't gonna get away with not valuing it!"




Kate said...

Happy Birthday Olivia. I agree with Kim, quite the powerful post. I think you've been a powerful female since the day you showed your bruises. what courage you had.



Nicci said...

Good for you Olivia. What a great birthday present for yourself. Much love to you and Happy Birthday.

Sharon said...

Best wishes Olivia. I keep tabs on how you're doing here. I wish you the best, as always. I'm happy that you continue to grow. Thanks for always inspiring me. :)

kikipotamus said...

Oh, Olivia, what a magnificent gift of Love you gave yourself on your birthday. Happy birthday, dear friend.

Heather Plett said...

Yay! You are an amazing, bold woman, and even though I'm a day late for your birthday, I celebrate you today!

Just think of that bold step as a first step in a whole new incredible journey.

groovysabrina said...

Dear Olivia, Much love to you on your birthday. How difficult it must be to share this experience, one that no one should ever have to endure. I admire your strength and hope that you are surrounded with others who value you, now and always. Wishing you courage and fulfillment this year!

Daryl Brown said...

Happy Birthday! What a great feeling that must be for the strength you know is in you to surface and assert itself.

CrystalChick said...

Wishing you a year of kindess and strength and many many more wonderful feelings that allow you to know you are loved by God.

Melita said...

happy belated birthday first and foremost. this was such a powerful post that i had tears in my eyes while i read it. you are simply one amazing lady olivia!! i am so truly thankful that i have met you! hugs!!

Jane said...

Happy belated birthday, O!!! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. It takes a lot to step out and do so. Your words really hit me at gut level today. Lately, I've been having a very tumultuous relationship with my 10 year old daughter. I would never resort to laying a hand on her but I have said some very unkind things to her in the heat of the moment. I've been sad about our relationship and wondering if/how/when we can get it right. Your words reminded me of the impact that harsh behavior has on innocent children. Thank you for sharing.