Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Face Off With Death (My Near Death Experience : Chicken Soup For The Soul Submission)

I loved to dance when I was a teenager.
In the middle of winter my best friend Jennie and I would slide down the street in what we called our “slidey shoes,” whipping down the side roads covered in ice. She launched me down the road like a racehorse, both of us giggling. I pushed her too and we played “crack the whip,” kind of like you do in roller skating… all the way down the long road to go dancing.
We would end up falling flat on our backs on the road laughing.
What a memory.
We slid into the parking lot of the Galleria, a dance place for teens. No matter the weather, or what my day was like, I could let off steam and dance. And every year they had an all-night party there into the wee hours of the morning.
Jenn and I were always the last to leave. We were there till 7 am.
We were going home, and as an afterthought, I asked my friend if she was going to take the self defense class that the high school was teaching that week…after all, you never knew who you would encounter dancing. I had taken the class the day before, and I felt empowered! She said no, but that she would.
After that memory, there’s nothing happy about it. Not that day.
I came home from dancing that morning after the all night to morning party and tried to sneak Spaghetti out of the fridge.
I would try to be quiet about getting food from the kitchen without my father finding out.

With my father’s room right by the kitchen that was hard to do.

My father:  Incredibly abusive when I lived with them to when I left. He knew nothing of love, (thanks to his abusive father- I think that's where he learned to be such a bastard,) egging on even my sisters to abuse me even while he was beating me.  He controlled everyone and everything around him.

That is my father.

He would do his best to catch me eating: From 10 to noon we weren’t allowed to eat. After 10 pm we weren’t allowed to eat either. Any excuse to beat me to a pulp if I ate at any forbidden times.
I opened my bedroom door (that was also next to his) and closed the door as quickly as I could sneaking quietly, (or so I thought)  through the small corridor to the kitchen. I was starving. I couldn't stand my stomach growling anymore.

At 10:30 am, just as I was looking into the refrigerator door, he grabbed me.
He attacked me, hitting hard.
Years of beatings culminating in one moment, and that empowering self-defense class…I thought I could finally fight back.
For the first time in my life, I really fought back for all I was worth.
That took a lot of guts for me.
I realize now how sad that is, that I felt that way. That I almost died for eating that day is laughable. It doesn’t make any sense. But in my parent’s house, nothing made sense.
The norm was, when he attacked me, I would go completely limp. Like a prize fighter who knows he’s lost the fight, all the light going out of my eyes.
One shuddering sigh, and I gave up.
Cowing, I tried to protect my face, and swatted weakly at my father.
Enraged, he suddenly had his hands around my throat.
I looked up into the face of a mad man. It didn’t even look like him to me; this red faced, spitting monster with his hands so tight around my throat.

It felt like he wanted to will me out of existence with his bare hands.
Suddenly everything went black. I stopped struggling because it didn’t hurt anymore.
I didn’t feel his hands around my neck. I didn’t have to struggle to breathe anymore. And strangely, I felt peace. I have never felt anything like it in this life.
I could hear everything going on around me. And I could hear my mother yelling “you killed her”!!!
There was screaming chaos all around me, but in that moment, I felt at peace.
One of my sisters told me my face turned blue.
I couldn’t move. Weird, maybe I wasn’t breathing. Strangely I thought “huh…. I’m not breathing. It doesn’t hurt anymore”.
I only saw blackness, but in that blackness a clear, indescribable love. Pure, unadulterated love just flowed through me. It told me everything would be ok, that even though I stopped breathing, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was love.
Everything that I felt in that moment towards my father, hate, anger, fear: gone.
People who have had near death experiences say that they felt love and weren’t worried.
I didn’t feel worried.
Once, I heard of one woman in a car accident who lost a young daughter and she felt love. As she walked down a corridor with her little one, that little one kept walking to the end of the corridor without her and she knew it was ok to let her daughter go. She knew her daughter would be ok because she felt that love. She felt that peace and she let her daughter go.
That is exactly how I felt.  I knew I would be ok. I felt that love. I was enveloped in it. I knew it. It was familiar. Nothing else mattered. I felt cradled in it. I let go.
The only way I can describe it is being “Held by God”… I felt held by love.
People talk about that darkness before they go through the tunnel.
I think I didn’t go “far enough down the rabbit hole” to see that tunnel.
Suddenly I gasped…
I’m back! I thought.
That God held my life in his hands and didn't end it speaks volumes to me and to this day, I remember.
God chose not to end it.
My life had only just begun.
Years later when our teenage daughter tested me my husband said that maybe one of the reasons I didn't die could be so I would learn the lesson my father never did.
You can't control other people.
There were many lessons in my life, but the one that sticks with me is this: my young daughter flying down a ski slope getting closer and closer to the edge of a cliff; I fly as fast as my mommy skis can towards the safer side (near the cliff but making it so she can't get too close to that cliff) to reel her in to safety, but to still give her wings so she can fly down those slopes.
My daughter, who is always unafraid when she skis. (update) she is now in Asia and just the other day swam with SHARKS!)
Now that she's older, I want to give her wings, not take them away. I may not be perfect at it, and I have made my fair share of mistakes, but when I see her fly, I am so proud.
These days, I eat whenever I'm hungry. I will never allow a child (or friend) to go hungry in my house (in fact anything is fair game- you hungry? If you’re at my house, you can eat it.)
I am a writer working on my biography about my life to help others who have been through abuse like I have to know that they are not alone. And I am a Nia instructor (Martial arts, healing arts (yoga) and dance. Yes, I still dance.
God brought me full circle. Nothing can stop me from dancing. I have found out…
I can fly too.