Not Really Here

Photo by Anna Z. Kendall, who wrote a book of poems about her abusive ex husband. It’s called Sex, Porn & Hotel Rooms: Poems From A Marriage.  He was not only abusive, but near the end of the marriage became a full fledged sex addict.  The book is still available here and there.  Anna never promoted the book because she was too ashamed to come out as the woman she became – before she became the women who got away.
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About this photo: Taking this photo was an emotional drain. As I kept posing for my camera on 10-second timer, I got so frustrated. I couldn’t get it right. The angle was all wrong. What’s the matter with me?  (Kind of how I felt in my marriage)  And as I viewed each photo, I wondered “Who’s this old woman? Why did I waste my good years on that terrible husband? Look at me – who would want me now?”
 
People ask women like me: Why did you stay? How could you stay so long?

First, let’s clear up a dreadful word, “battered.”  
 
Battered = dumb word.  But its definition rocks.
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Battered women are not tattered and torn or crawling around on their hands and knees. Battered women are regular women who are stuck in a relationship with a man who uses “a pattern of intimidation” to dominate and terrorize his woman.  aka domestic abuse and domestic violence. (and for now, I’m writing about women in relationship with men)
 
This pattern of intimidation wears us down.  He confuses us. He is our own personal crazymaker.  He hurts us, hits us, infantalizes us, and. And.  And…  Just when we think we can’t take any more, he becomes the nicest person we’ve ever known.  Nice.  Gracious. Loving.  
 
So we stay.
 
We think this is Love.
 
When things are bad, we dissociate. 
I’m not really here.
When things are good we dissociate. 
I’m not really here.
The world swirls around us while we can’t think straight.  
We remember being happy as a girl.
We don’t remember being happy as a girl.
I’m not really here, 
not in this marriage.
 
You may have read my post about a “shadow” Dissociative Disorder.  I used the name “Mira” for that post.  How easy it is for me to blur out of focus and slip into a different name.  Even Anna isn’t my real name.  But maybe my life hasn’t been my real life.  It’s easy to imagine because I’m not really here. I’ve never been here at all.

28 thoughts on “Not Really Here

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      1. The naked body, vulnerable and strong, frail yet living, impervious to extinction — always followed by another body and another, millions born every second — and the words written on that body… We are here in the moment and we canl be seen in the moment. And then one day we’re gone, all of us, and we leave behind a concept. We were always concepts masquerading as bodies: the body isn’t really here at all, is it? Here and not here. Tortured and fearful, a moment of joy, confused, observer and subject. We are it, and we are beyond it. Here, but not really.

        It’s an amazing photo.

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    1. colum: holy crap, you found the essence of the photo and crafted words around it to emphasize what it shows, how and why and why not. a beautiful description. tender.

      thank you.

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    1. really? so glad. it’s been a part of my life for so long that it is just some strange kind of normal. if you know what i mean.

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  1. I’ve been in your shoe. You describe it perfectly. Now my adult children are dealing with the pain of their childhood. God bless you,

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    1. debra, so sorry. mine don’t really know – they know things intuitively, but i kept it such a secret (i think). i can’t imagine they didn’t hear our fights in the middle of the night, him waking me up all hours for sex. god bless you, too.

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    1. thanks. what was more powerful – that i posed nude, what i wrote on myself, or what i wrote, or — ?

      i’m using my power to rid myself of his, i think.

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      1. jmgoyder: don’t worry, i did not think you were applauding the situation! thank you for your kind words and support, anna

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  2. What a beautiful photo and thank you for being brave enough not only to show your beautiful body but also to express your feelings around the photo in words. Very powerful.
    Al

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  3. You are a brave and strong woman, for sharing your thoughts like this. But most of all you are brave and strong for leaving that man and continue to fight for your healing and picking up the pieces of yourself. I have walked alongside many women struggling with the same battles you are struggling with, and I know it is a rough road.. I will keep you in my prayers Anna (and all of the other you’s as well)!

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  4. I always feel so helpless when I hear of women who have endured this suffering. Even in situations that I become aware of in which the women have managed to save themselves from it, I’m still frustrated that it happened anyway.

    No one should have to endure that.

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  5. Monday: Good on you for getting out too. Thank you.
    Al: You help me be glad I posted, thanks.
    josefine: It almost sounds like you are writing about someone else. Me, strong? I sometimes get so mad at myself for putting up with his b.s. for so long, it seems like I was so weak. But, yes, I guess I am strong, now. Thank you.
    Lissa: I hope you are right, thanks.
    themofman: I have a swirl of feelings from reading your comment. I know what you mean. And yet I also know that there’s no sense in getting frustrated because women in this situation will only leave when they are ready to leave. I’m sure you know this. Ahhh, everything about it is frustrating! Thank you for your honest words.

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