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Becoming Isolated

When looking back I can see some moments of when it happened and at the time did not seem like I was allowing myself to become isolated. Isolation happens when you are separated from your normal supports, whether it is people or activities you do that make you feel worthwhile. It is strange to think that some of it I did not mind and it is only looking back that I see what it was in context to the emotional abuse.

It is so hard to describe and explain since it is very easy to feel such a fool about it. In my case, I thought I had changed and was a better, stronger person, an individual of worth and values and loved meeting someone who not only appreciated me as such but shared these ideas himself. It was so nice that he took my side of things and encouraged me to break away from my family and live my own life.

I think this is really key somehow, that feeling that someone believed in me like that, I can't emphasis enough how good that felt and how much I loved him for it. I was important, a real person who deserved a chance at a real life like normal people!

In trying to write this I try not to feel self-loathing at what a fool I was. I can hear all those echoes of self-doubt, self-hate reverberating so loudly and trying to stand up to them and say/shout "You have no power over me anymore!" What a strange thing the mind is! How can those feelings that were so real come back in such force like this over and over again? That fear that suddenly everyone will read this and think "My god, I had no idea she was such a loser, such a stupid person. I will never read her posts again, that idiot! And to think I liked her at first but now that I know her, gross!"

Luckily that feeling is going away as I take a breath and remember that I have changed inside myself. I am no longer that person though I can remember it too vividly sometimes, it can no longer hurt me (well, it does hurt to remember those times but it is a distant "me" and doesn't make me want to crawl under the nearest rock anymore, so it really does get better.) But I guess those feelings were always there at the back of my mind and I guess the predator types can recognize it in us.

But it was because he believed in me that I loved him so deeply and without any sort of conditions about it. It seems there was some sort of great divide in how he treated me since before we married we talked about everything and he liked listening to me but afterwards he was too busy or too tired from working so hard for us that he didn't anymore. but we were building a life together so I could put up with it. Our plan was to not have children for at least 5 years to get a house, a car each, travel and enjoy life together first but I became pregnant within months, even on birth control!

Somehow this was my doing and I felt sooooooooo guilty for it since it was not our plan and I had ruined everything. It seemed to be that I ruined whatever beautiful thing I was trying to do, so was very ready to accept blame for our plans getting derailed like that. Of course he was valiant and stood by me and our ruined dreams of life together. This seems to be a key thing too, that it was me that ruined it for us, destroyed our plans like this.

My 2 best friends, that ones we always planned to be friends even when we were old and gray and stuck in rocking chairs, we would be rocking on a porch together and laughing about how good our life's were, that kind of best friends, also became a barrier to 'our plan' . They liked to have fun and with me having the 4 girls in 3 years "fun" seemed a distant memory to me, tired was what I knew so well back then. It happened slowly, over a few years that I did not want our daughters exposed to that kind of lifestyle. We were going to have good and decent daughters, raised right. I slowly began to separate myself from them but how do you say the reason why to your friends without giving offense?

I wasn't sitting idle during those years. When the twins were 2 I started back at the local university to get my BS in computer science/math. I was so eager though that instead of taking a few a year I wanted to work my butt off and get it done quickly. Each semester he would be there for me always but by the time midterms were rolling around and I needed quiet to study he was off somewhere else. My grades suffered and I felt such a loser. Everything I touched I ruined. I had flunked out of another university in Syracuse earlier was implied when we talked for a few seconds about it. Being reminded of that time sure shut me up quickly and I let the subject drop.

I had been accepted to an ivy league school and was going to rock the world with my intelligence! A lot of factors were involved, not the least being raped there. At the time I told myself to just get over it since it was not the first time and probably would not be the last but somehow I couldn't when it mattered so much I just couldn't. Failure was my middle name and I was positive if I checked in the dictionary under 'worlds biggest idiot' there would be my picture and description "Enthusiastic but incompetent, thinks she is intelligent but..." So much self-loathing about myself back then that just those few words my husband said brought it all back like a rockslide.

The point is he knew just what buttons to push and I was the one who gave him all that information when we were talking about our lives before we met! I didn't realize it then though. Back then I would drop something instantly when he mentioned a few things to me like "you know, you are being a bit selfish..." or "How can you be so greedy, I can't believe it.." or "you really hurt my feelings, you are so mean, you seemed so nice when we met.."

Or he would just need to say how hard he was trying for us and did I really think he wasn't and I would never want to imply I thought he was not trying hard enough so would shut up about it. All these little things that are buttons that can be used against us. It is so important to stop and think about this because they do know the power of this and will use it against you if you let them. Your buttons are unique to you is another important thing to remember since even someone who is as close as a sister and was raised the same way will have different emotional thoughts and reactions then you.

It is so hard to take a close look at yourself and do it without self-loathing, I know! but it is so important to do, that I can not stress enough. No one but you knows your secret thoughts and feelings so only you can recognise your own buttons. For me, I really hated how selfish and greedy others seemed to me. It always seemed to be the idea "you get everything" so I ended up with nothing. One silly example was when I had spent about $100 on a designer perfume. I had saved my money for ages to buy myself this gift and felt I deserved it. I loved the scent of it since some of them have a big name but smell bad to me but this one was so nice and lovely that I wanted it for myself. It took ages of skimping on things to save that kind of money but I did it.

I proudly showed it to my mom and let her smell it. I never wore it since it was too special for everyday wear and I never had any sort of celebration so maybe the first month it sat in its box untouched but adored by me. One of my sisters was having a wedding anniversary and my mom wanted to give it to them as her/our gift to them. Part of me hated that thought but another part of me also realized that my mom could never save money herself so did not have any money to buy them something special like that so I gladly let her give it to them. Mom was so happy that I felt like such a shit that I resented someone else getting my special perfume. I now hate that smell since it reminds me so strongly of how much I hated myself for my evil feelings. My mom was so happy and my sister was thrilled about it and here I was being so selfish! But it is that kind of silly thing that can help create this feeling of worthlessness inside yourself.

It is hard to fight that kind of thing since I know my mom never had a chance to save money herself and loved being able to give them something so special like that designer perfume. A $100 for a tiny bottle! Maybe half a year of denying myself little pleasures to get that one and mom wanted me to give it away?! The smile on my mom's face on seeing our sister open it and how surprised she was made mom's day. My sister was thrilled, and who wouldn't be to get that kind of gift! I valued my mom's pride over my own enjoyment since I had the power to save money and buy it where she did not but still... I resented it a bit and hated myself for that feeling.

That kind of thing can stack up and grow so huge that it can be overpowering, especially if you try to deny the feelings since they are "icky". All these little things do add up though and become "buttons" that can be pushed to get a certain reaction from you and those who are in an emotionally abusive relationship may not be aware of how it is happening so easily. Taking the time to stop and think and do it without self-loathing will really help you see things clearly.

So, one of the things I did to help change my life was I wrote a mystery. That first one took 3 years of my life to complete. I would lose track of time when i got really into it and sometimes was late getting the girls from school. Little things like that can really add up big when you already feel a bit unsure about yourself. But I had written a mystery novel! It was a real novel and not those short story ones either!

This was when I first mentioned wanting a divorce to the girls and they had no idea what it was really except it was a bad thing that happened to families. The oldest was just about 10 then. I finished it but read almost exactly the same sort of plot so got mad and threw it away and wrote a new one. That one took me 1 1/2 years to complete and again I ended up reading almost the same plot in another book. The last one I wrote took me a year to do and I was so angry to read another mystery so similar to it. I don't have them anymore but so wish I had saved them now! Save them (whatever the "them" is that you love doing!) even if they are just stuck in a box in the top of the closet, you will be glad someday you did!

I decided I would need to create an original character since plots will probably almost always be like one in some book somewhere. What counted was my originality. I had plenty of that so worked up several ideas. I had just started writing it when I asked for the divorce though and have not done it since. It is something I plan for this summer to start! But I was doing something, something I had talent in to get free. Already that was in my mind though I dare not speak it or even think it loudly back then. It was why I began writing that first mystery. I think now I should have gotten a normal sort of job instead but this felt so good and made me feel so alive and creative that I had to do it. But I also became caught up in it and missed the time to get the girls from school. It was hard since he made it seem as if I did not care about them at all because I was doing this. I mean, if I thought clearly about it back then and could speak up I would say it was exactly what he was doing but I was trying for a better life for them while he was not. But being a bad mom terrified me.

I loved and adored my mom and wanted to be the kind of mother she would have been if so many bad things had not happened to her. I hated everyone who tried to make it seem like it was her when it was the circumstances surrounding her that made it impossible to cope easily with life and kids and just everything. But I wanted to make sure my own children were valued and raised right and with love and all that good stuff. It was very hard to deal with since I did maybe once a week or every 10 days or so miss getting them from school on time. What kind of a person was I anyway? Sure, I said and thought good things but here I was selfishly ignoring my own children when we had talked about this so much before we were married.

Buttons, it is almost a comical idea when you stop and think about it but it is true all the same. I like to think I was never some sort of wind-up doll who would mindlessly do whatever, I had a brain and was not afraid to use it. But how do I explain my life then? One mistake after another after another. It helps to separate them into external things you can not control (like society, other people or money stuff) to ones you could. It does help to see that parts of it were not your own doing. That kind of realization can go a long way to helping yourself heal and to be kind and forgive yourself some of your mistakes.

So, I mentioned family and friends as ways to get isolated and how it can seem a good thing at the time but you do need to put it into perspective. Perspective is a good thing since you can realize that instead of a normal mirror you were seeing yourself as through one of those fun house type ones. It becomes distorted and until you walk away from that image you see and reflect honestly and clearly it will keep happening no matter how much you want it to stop.

Things that make you feel worthwhile is another big huge thing. It does not have to be anything major even. In my case it was a few things, my love of books and gardening. Spending $20 on a book for myself could make me feel like the greediest and worst sort of person. It wasn't like I was buying drugs or booze or anything bad but at that time it felt just as if I was doing that kind of thing. I went to the library a lot but sometimes I just wanted to own a book that I liked. When money is tight though it can seem a luxury and indulgence that I did not deserve. Another thing was gardening where i spent money when we had the house. Maybe $20 at a time buying seeds, tools, whatever but it made me feel good. Our gardens were never the lush beautiful things I wanted but I worked with what I had. I felt like a horrible person buying big bags of dirt for my garden since there was already so much dirt that and I was just greedy.

When I joined the Rose Society in town here I can hardly explain the joy and freedom and goodness it gave me. It was so nice to be just there since I rarely was around other people much normally since I love being on my own. It was so fun! It met once a month and at first it was easy to have either my husband or my one sister who came over for food all the time to watch them during those few hours. Suddenly though, my husband was finding it extremely hard to be able to watch his own kids on these evenings. My sister chose to sign up her son for soccer practice during that same time. I can remember being so mad when she said she had a choice of times and chose that one. I was voted secretary of the society just before I was unable to go anymore. Down in the dumps hardly begins to describe that feeling!

Don't I matter? Don't I deserve some fun out of life too? What is wrong with him? What is wrong with me? these are the kinds of things i asked myself before I went to that woman's resource place to get help. I so want to go back and erase all of this. It is soooooooooo embarrassing to write about myself back then but I do hope it will help another woman who is isolated or alone to realize how and why and all that stuff so she can begin to change herself in a meaningful way instead of the floundering around I did for ages. I do not believe that any woman deserves such feelings about herself.

That we made mistakes is one thing but to tear ourselves apart over it is another thing entirely. We can forgive others who make honest mistakes but when it comes to ourselves we find it harder and I wonder why this is so. I would love to hear other woman's opinions on this since I imagine each woman will have a unique perspective on it that we can piece together bits and pieces that make up "us" and start to build ourselves back up. I think there is a big difference between liking to be on ones own, which I do, and feeling all alone. what was that book, maybe Age of Innocence where one lady replies when asked if she really likes being on her own so much 'As long as my friends keep me from being lonely.'

Wow, the girls just told me I have been writing this for 2 hours! I am having to once again battle this thing where it is like Hamlet asking himself "to be or not to be, that is the question" but in my case it would be "to submit or not submit"... whether tis nobler in the mind to not talk about oneself so much and deny others the chance to realize they can avoid the slings and arrows of discontent... Oh, ugh! Should not try to paraphrase Shakespeare I am thinking!

I know this is super long but wanted to get it written so thanks for not throwing me out. The girls watched a movie called Death Trance where the monk is telling the other guy a story about his monastery and the guy gets annoyed and boxes his ear before walking away and turns back and says 'Your stories are too long." I feel that could be said for this one maybe but anyway here it is....

Maria

Comments

Nusrat Ara's picture

Sweet Maria

Dear dear you have been so harsh on yourself. But then I guess we all are. We( women) are conditioned to put our interests at the bottom of the priority list. Believe me it isn't always right. We need to live for ourselves. ' Give them an inch and they will take a mile' applies to family and friends as well. I guess we have a responsibility towards ourselves as well, we owe ourselves this much. I know easier said than done. I really identify with you because most of the times I have been my last priority. And I have willingly accepted all. Now from some time I want to revolt. The question is against home as I see myself responsible for it. It has resulted in a lot of loss.

I told my mom sometime back that I want to live for myself. And I also know it is me who is coming in between. I want to be free.

I hope and pray you have come out of that mindset and I am looking forward to do that for myself. You know the beauty and happiness of life lie in small things ( like smelling or tending a rose). The irony is I know yet am not able to do it.

Love
Nusrat

PS. How are the girls. I love the way you refer to them ; the girls . Five little girls living in a doll house :)

Nusrat

Maria de Chirikof's picture

Hi there

Oh, I hope I am past the worst of it! The girls say I need to work on feeling I deserve good things a bit more but getting there slowly. I had meant to write a nice short one but it kept growing and growing, so embarrassing when I just go on and on like that but wanted to get it said. There were others I want to write but needed to get this one done first I felt so just started writing it.

Do you ever find that happening? Trying to describe things and realizing I need to start a bit before in some ways. It was a nice feeling getting this one done so now i feel I can move on to other things I wanted to talk about. I wasn't sure anyone would read this since it is soooooooooo long!

Irony is sometimes a 'spice of life' I think where you suddenly get a laugh when realizing things like that... I felt that a bit when writing my one called "The Straight and Narrow Path, part 1' when i felt such irony about some things and finally had to say "hey, I know all this, can't we just move on?!"

The girls are doing good and are eager for year to be over as the twins graduate (with honors) this year so it will be just the youngest one left in regular school. With Spring they are wanting to get out more and more but still kind of muddy and dirty outside.

I like your articles and was thinking with it being so quiet I would go back and find all the ones I read but didn't have time to reply to. I looked once and I think these VOF start from about 60+ pages back and can't find a jump to on here yet. Thanks for your reply, it is always nice to get one!

Maria

jap21's picture

Beautiful soul, Maria

Dear Maria:

Once again I am really inspired by your story. Many times when we are in the middle of the swirl, it is hard for us to realize that we need to have a life of our own. Besides loving our kids, our husbands, our moms and everyone else, we need to have our space. I am glad you have found your own path, and shared it with your lovely girls. All the love you give them is an example for us.

I am glad you decided to make us all part of your life by talking about this. Thank you, beautiful Maria.

Lots of love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Maria de Chirikof's picture

smiles

In looking at myself back then I felt such a failure except with them, I managed to do 4 things right at least! They are not perfect but who cares?! The 3 adult/almost adult ones are on here now and I am thrilled! I hope they can learn that the circumstances surrounding their growing up was not "them" since they had no choice about things. I love that they always give me credit for making sure they understood how valuable they are.

They always support me and encourage me so I am thankful for that!

love,

Maria

Carole's picture

Very moving .....

Maria, I have learnt alot from all this.Sharing your story is the first step in overcoming your struggles. You are very brave to have done this and i believe you are already an inspiration to many. The length does not matter as long as you get it all out of your chest. Many are in similar or worse situations but you have moved on. BRAVO!!!!

You are an excellent writer. Keep up with the spirit as you continue moulding your PRINCESSES for their destiny.

Big hug with lots of smiles!!!!!!
Carol

Maria de Chirikof's picture

Struggles

The girls say there is a difference in my writing from when I first joined and these ones. They say that they can feel that my soul is happier and freer. I think part of that is learning to love and trust myself which I always found hard to do since I made so many mistakes and things like that over and over again through the years.

I do hope that by sharing these embarrassing things that other ones can recognise things about their own lives and realize what it was that is wrong so they can help themselves heal. Especially the young ones either just reaching or just in their early 20's. I spent another 20 years floundering around and hope they can read and learn from my mistakes so they do not stay in a bad situation for that long themselves.

Hugs and love,

Maria

katea's picture

My friend, Maria

Dearest Maria,
I know, I am not old enough and experienced enough to share my thought or advice on what you've posted. However, like what Nustrat and Jackie said before me, don't be too hard on yourself and that you are a beautiful person. Plus, we love you as you are. Your opinions may have been different to some of us but that is ok. It does not make you any less, or others better. The point is, we are all here to reclaim our power as women in whatever form it takes: a domesticated mother, a feminist, a grandmother, or a young girl. We just have to anchor ourself to whatever makes us stronger, happier and better. For me, you don't have to be another person so I can appreciate you cos I really appreciate you as you are.

Don't blame yourself for not fulfilling your dreams then, and don't blame yourself for believing in the promises and sweet words your husband said to you. When things don't go as planned, then plan another thing, and another. The Universe gives us endless possibilities to reach our dreams.

Don't think you are selfish just because you wanted that designer perfume and you even saved up for it. And yes, it's nice to give it away to make your mom and sister happy but I feel, you are not just a daughter or a sister or a friend or a mother. You are you when you take away all the responsibilities and the roles you take. It's totally not bad to satisfy oneself once in awhile; to be alone and have your own space as you; to get the things that you want for yourself. How can we share so much love, so much happiness, so much care if we have not filled ourselves with these?

Like, for example, I cannot let other people take away my little pleasures and bliss: my own space and splurging once in awhile on food, clothes, shoes, perfumes, artsy stuffs and books. Because I also do my work and services for my family, for my friends, for my community, for my country and for the world in the best way I know and the best way I can. If that is not enough, I don't know what is enough.

We come from different backgrounds and situation but I think all of us deserve to find our own bliss. If writing is our bliss, then we have to find time to write. If we need solitude, if we need to be alone to rejuvenate ourselves, then by all means, we must do that. We should not only think how we can make our loved ones feel loved and satisfied but we must also do it to ourselves.

I think, being greedy, selfish and mean is when you know you have so much to give and you won't give it because you don't want others to feel as good as you. Being greedy, selfish and mean is when you take away other people's happiness for your own sake; when you grab people's ancestral lands; when you put into your bank account the money that is supposed to feed the hungry, heal the sick or house the homeless; when you flash your Porsche, Lamborghini, Maybach and Ferrari when it's people's taxes you used to buy them; when you don't give full-time employment to your employees so that you don't have to give them their benefits; when you wage war and cause children and old to die to get the resources of that country; when your neighbor's daughter is being abused but you won't dare intervene cos it's not your own. I don't see you Maria in them. I see you as someone who cares a lot and loves a lot--a $20 book or $100 designer perfume is too insignificant to measure your loving and giving heart. :)

And yes, to say the least, I do have a penchant for designer perfumes and I just wear it everyday cos it just makes me feel good. I don't have to be super rich to satisfy myself, I just have to be comfy with myself and the things that I do. But one of the things that I learned from you on your post, is the "saving part". I really have to learn how to save soon but every time I pass by a bookstore, I can't help but buy books. It is my addiction. To make me feel less "guilty" for not saving, I share my books with other people, some teachers in the countryside who I meet borrow books from me. Maybe that would do the trick? :) And, I also learned how to let go. When people don't return my books, it's ok with me especially if I know my books will help them to help themselves or other people.

hugsssss,
katea

Poverty is man-made that we can undo.

Maria de Chirikof's picture

Boundaries

I can remember when I went to that Woman's Resource Center that she said I would really benefit from their workshop called Boundaries. I was all fired up and so ready to fix up everything about myself that I eagerly went there with my daughters in tow to learn and felt such disappointment that they had no sort of day care while you went to these workshops. I was so mad, I mean, how date they say that there is this one workshop that will help you draw boundaries and then say you can't go! I mean, back then if I had support it would have been easier so I never went to that workshop but have thought about it a lot. It will be a journal someday.

My new favorite perfume is one called "Lauren" by Ralph Lauren but I haven't bought perfume in years and years. I showed it to the girls and had them smell it but said I rarely wear perfumes, especially because of my work now as a PCA but that is how I feel is a good scent that is "me".

I think learning budgeting and saving is vital for woman. I mean, even if all you can truly save is $5 a month, do it! It is something we need to work harder on since there is so much stuff we need to replace that we lost from before that we have not saved much yet ourselves.

thanks for your friendship and support, it means a lot that the woman on here like you are so nice!

love your friend,

Maria

aliĝngix's picture

You story mad me sad to see

You story mad me sad to see what you went though, and all that has happened to you. It's good you should explore the pain and try to understand how it happened, because while we don't have stitches for psychological wounds, we have words for. I am a stout believer that words are a gateway to transfer thought to paper, and therefore a kinda remedy is made.
...am I making sense? I hope I am.
Well, it's nice to see that you can explore and get out what you want out in the open. That's the first step to recovery. That's what this place is for, your voice!
Oh, yeah, I though that line at the end was funny, the Hamlet line and the movie line. it was funny, trying to let everyone off real easy. it's nice to talk to you. I'm will be happy to hear from you again.
P.S. Feel better about yourself. I think the other people are right when they say you need to indulge your self, and to take little baby steps at a time.

Maria de Chirikof's picture

thanks for your support!

You are making sense and I agree that writing, even if just for oneself, is a good thing. I think by now everyone knows that it was wanting a better life for my daughters that made me feel the pressure to change and not fail "this time" and with their love and support I think I really past the worst of it. the rest will come in time I guess.

thanks for your support as always!

Maria

JaniceW's picture

dearest Maria

It is difficult for me to associate the woman you describe, the one who saw an "idiot" in the mirror, with the woman I have grown to know and love. It takes such strength to step back and look at one's life critically but objectively. I hope that in time, you'll realize that circumstances and society shaped your thinking about yourself but that the true Maria, who has finally emerged, was and is always a beautiful, strong, intelligent, philosophical, often funny, amazing person who has not only become a role model for her daughters, but a mentor to so many on PulseWire. Your wisdom and clarity of thought is such a gift and I for one, feel so blessed to have you and your daughters in my life. Plus, you make me laugh when I need it most. Thank you for your friendship to our community and don't stop writing -- no matter how much you have to say!

Maria de Chirikof's picture

mirrors

It will be a journal entry where I try to describe how weird it felt to think and believe one thing but always this other seemed to be there. A lot of others get built off of this one and that is why this one ended up so long, the backstory I guess. The examples used are also part of the other stories and why I chose them to illustrate certain points and trains of thoughts that happened inside my mind back then.

What I find really funny is when I first got a computer and joined a chat group that one friend said what she really liked about me was how "blunt" I was. This is something I find impossible to do when speaking so was surprised it came through but realized words written free my voice. This is also a planned journal entry sometime where I try to describe how you can learn not to use your voice but that does not mean you stop thinking things.

Your comments always give me courage to post another one! I honestly would have stopped posting if you had not encouraged me from the start! It is hard to have a very low opinion of your own worth. In the book/movie "Joy Luck Club" the girls say I am the one who needs to understand and find her worth...

I am so happy my 3 adult daughters joined! I hope they can find a better sense of themselves on here like I have! At first they did not want to come to "my space" but I said it was a really nice community and there was room for all of us on here. I said it might seem weird at first to have their mom talk to them as adult to adult but the 3 on here are adult-ish now so it is good for us to relate this way.

love and hugs from your friend,

Maria

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