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Painful Lessons from My Past

When I packed up and moved to Colombia I left abuse behind. I had enough of it in my life and I had enough of how it made me feel. I think that I almost felt that it was normal, as I was abused daily as a flight attendant when I worked. Many people are abusive in this world, although  they would never think of themselves that way. I started working as a flight attendant at the age of twenty and my job molded me into a person who accepted bad behavior as normal. I now know I allowed it to spill over into my personal relationships. When a passenger was rude and demanding, I had to accept it and hold my tongue. The customer was always right. Not a favorable way to grow into an adult

Abuse is insidious and can creep up in a relationship; it does not have to be your partner or spouse. It can show up in friendships, with siblings, work, and family. When it starts happening in your life, the natural reaction is to hide it from others and let the world see only the good times, especially in these days of social media. We see photos of everyone we know on the many social media sites. The photos usually  show good times, happiness and fun. I know, I only posted pictures of  happiness for many years in my second marriage. What I have discovered as I look back on my past is this; little events of questionable behavior lead to big events that ruin lives and destroy relationships. Abuse is not just physical, it is verbal and action oriented. By action oriented (besides the obvious physical abuse) I mean deliberately doing unkind things to another or allowing someone else to treat you badly without putting a stop to it. Usually the person doing this has learned this behavior. That is why generations of families continue repeating the same mistakes, and the cycle continues. If you can spot the signs then you can stop the succession. In my case it is too bad it took me so many years to realize that by accepting and allowing these behaviors, I perpetuated continuing this way of life to my children.

The first thing I would say about abuse is Do NOT let anyone invalidate you! If you see or feel something is wrong,  no one has power to negate that, ever. No one else has lived through your exact experiences. And so, no one else has the right to dictate or judge how you feel. Your feelings are important. Don’t let anyone lead you to believe otherwise, or make you feel small by demeaning you with words or actions. I lived many years allowing the family of my ex to do this to me and to my children as my ex would not stand up to them. Well you know what? I SHOULD have stood up to them right when it started. I have to bear responsibility for allowing it to continue. It was a thorn that stayed under the surface during my entire marriage. There were many times horrible things happened and I should have demanded the perpetrators leave my house and not wait for him to do it. I can’t tell you how many times my daughter was bullied and physically harmed by her step-cousin, all the while the family excused the act. I have always wanted to be the peacemaker, I regret that now. You can be peaceful, but  not wimpy, you should always stand up for what you know is right and correct those who are wrong. I would comfort my daughter and hold anger inside me. That anger still lies dormant, but I have found ways to let go. Writing it down validates my thoughts and helps me see things clearly now that I am out of the situation.

Do not stay in a relationship where you are not valued as number one! When I married for the second time I was quite active in the Catholic Church. One thing the priest emphasized in pre-marriage counseling was the husband and wife need to put each other before anything else, supporting each other’s decisions. My mother and father were always united when it came to my brother and I. If there was a disagreement about something we children never knew. As my children grew up they saw me as the disciplinarian and my husband as the friend who took away any punishment I had commenced. This ate away at my authority and respect, and thus implied I had less significance than him. It caused many problems over the years. If your partner does not support you and you do not support him, then it is time to move on. I wish I had left earlier than I did. I  say to myself now; communication isn’t just an important part of a relationship, it IS the relationship.

Don’t allow fear to keep you with anyone who is an abuser. You are not how others treat you. You are not the horrible things they have said or done to you. You are not the person that hears negative things and takes them to heart, making you question your own sanity. Don’t let anyone discourage you, make you feel self-doubt or try to control you because they want you to do what they think you should do. You are your own shining star! Show the world your star and ignore the negative. When I left my marriage it was this last act that caused it. I was being verbally abused by a drunk who had once again gone back on what the two of us had decided was the right path to take in a family crisis. He again said one thing and then turned around and did another. Words became heated, he came at me and choked me in front of my son, who was a young teen. I fear that he will always carry this image in his mind as he screamed “Mom don’t call the police!” I remember the hands leaving my neck and running to my car where I took photos of the marks. I left and never looked back. Now look where I am 6 years later! I’m starting my business and have reversed my life to become a positive role model to others. That weak woman I was, that woman who allowed herself to be bullied and abused is strong now. I will never again allow any person to abuse me or have someone in my life that I see abuses others. I ended a friendship this year because I saw abuse in a home where I had stayed. Abuse ruins lives,  I know it is not easy for people to pick themselves up and move forward like I have. This is my message to anyone in an abusive situation, seek help through an organization, family, church or synagogue. There are people who will listen and believe you. The abuser usually turns the story around and tries to make YOU look crazy, stand strong with your convictions and don’t worry about what others think, just get away!

Some people will refuse to accept that you are no longer who you used to be – that you’ve made mistakes in the past, learned from them, and moved beyond them. I found that many people did not realize that I had lived in such a difficult situation for years. I encountered many judgmental people I once thought of as friends. They treated me differently when I would go to a social occasion. Who knows what gossip they heard, or why they felt the need to judge me. Maybe they do not understand I have grown and moved on with my life leaving a past that was unhealthy. Do not help them by acknowledging their begrudging behavior. Let go of their negativity, find peace, and liberate yourself! Show them and others you are not that past! Show them you are living in the present and doing just fine! Show them your courage, your fortitude, your love for others. Show the people who have hurt you that you are better than that, show them you are not the person they incessantly said you were. Make your life a glowing example of courage. For all of you suffering silently in a situation that is slowly killing your spirit; you can change it. Just take it one day at a time.

My last thoughts are you have to forgive, no matter how hard it is. Not for them but for you! Let it go. They know what they did, they will think about it in their quiet moments, their own thoughts will be their tormentor. Let that be enough. Let them see you are not the same as them, that you have no need for revenge, just a need to move on and live your life the way it should be lived. I guarantee the respect others will give you will more than make up for the respect you lost for yourself when enduring a situation that you felt helpless in. I am proof of that. I have survived, I will continue to be a survivor.

 

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I dedicate this blog to my best friend Shannon, for without her I would not have made it to the place I am today.

Visit my Facebook page Villa Migelita. I share my daily adventures and zest for my new found life.

I have opened a Bed and Breakfast and you can book to come visit me in Colombia, the land of Magical Realism. http://www.villamigelita.com

 

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The Real Side of Grief

I have thought a lot about my daughter lately. It will be 5 years in January since she died. I think about how time just goes by; and I think about what she would be doing if she was still here on this Earth. I think about the sentencing of the killer next week. I think about how hard I have worked to bring justice for the death of my daughter. I think about the corruption in Louisiana and if all the letters sent will actually help. I worry that some back door deal has taken place between the prosecution and the defense. I worry about the prosecutor and victims advocate who have never really been on board with me ever since they realized how hard I was working to get a trial for my daughter who is the victim. I think about how messed up the laws are in the USA that the defendant has more rights than the victim. If a petition had not been sent to the senator of Louisiana I still would be fighting to get a trial. That petition (in my opinion) most likely influenced the monster who killed my daughter and left her on the side of the road,46319_10201682425288406_520618800_n made him realize I was never going to let him live his life without facing punishment for killing another person. He pled ‘no contest’ to felony hit and run with serious injury or death. He has still not shown remorse nor acknowledged his guilt in my daughter’s death. I think of the toll this fight has taken on my health. I have had so many health problems since the murder. Nothing life threatening; just chronic problems that interrupt my life. I really am not a complainer and have lived with these problems and continued my life and my pursuit of justice no matter what. I have done what was necessary to bring this subhuman to a place where he is now to be sentenced. Still I worry; that worry caused me to get shingles. Shingles is keeping me away from the sentencing. I have decided that I can not travel 15 hours by airplane to make my statement to the court. Anyone who has had shingles knows the pain and danger that they bring. After much contemplation, along with seeing doctor’s about their thoughts, and many stories from kind people who follow my page Villa Migelita on Facebook I came to the only real decision there was to make. I can not go. Some might not agree, and I understand that, but it would put me in danger for more bad consequences to my health, and to others around me.

Now that I made my decision, I am a bit more at peace. I am continuing to work on getting this man sentenced to the maximum penalty through the internet, which has done well for me thus far. I wonder though has the judge made up her mind already? Has he bought his freedom? It is really strange how the victims advocate is responding to my simple requests. Actually, she has only responded a couple of times and that is to do what she always does; discourage me from what I am doing. When I sent her the sentence guidelines for what the murderer should get, she wrote me back that is not a guarantee. When I sent her the statute about how the DA can put in a motion for my video statement she wrote back she would pass it along but could not guarantee this. When I told her I wrote the judge that I could not attend due to my health problems, she wrote back I should not have written the judge. Imagine that! The person who is to be advocating for me is actually discouraging me! She actually is saying I should not exercise my right to free speech, she is discouraging me from advocating for my daughter! This is what I have been up against for almost five years now. It really does make me worry, and this is why I have shingles. I believe all my efforts might be for nothing because I think they have some sort of deal that has been in place since he pled ‘no contest’ and nothing I do will change that. So I am writing it down. I think all who read my blog and follow my page need to know what I suspect. I also want to include my Impact statement which will be to be read in court. I hope it is. Oh, and she also said to me perhaps the video will be given to the judge to view outside of the courtroom and not at sentencing. Why not at the sentencing? It is all so fishy, it is all so wrong. What is the big deal of showing a short video so that the murderer can hear my voice? The voice of her mother?

Here is my written Victim Impact statement, I tried to keep it brief so the court could not say it was too long:
“I received a call from my soon to be ex-husband around 11:30 PM the night of her murder. My daughter Mikel Cara Carson stopped to help a person she saw hit by a car. Then the defendant Christian Cvitanvich hit that car, and my daughter’s body was thrown and allegedly killed instantly. How, though, will we ever know if she actually died immediately? If the defendant had stopped and tried to help, if he had called 911 immediately, if he had done the right thing, we would have answers to these questions. When asked how I am affected, these questions come repeatedly to my mind. Did she suffer as she lay on the side of the road until the sun came up and someone called in her body? It is a torment I wish on no one. I struggle every single day with questions about that night. I struggle with the fact it took 12 hours to discover who she was and that she lay in a morgue unidentified while her baby daughter was calling for her at home. I struggle with the fact that my son has never been the same since her death and has left his once promising life of a good education to now barely getting a GED. I struggle with the anger that surrounded me after her death: the anger of my son, the anger of my ex-husband and all my daughter’s friends, the anger of the father of her daughter. I struggle with what would have been a promising life for her, taken from her in a moment. A moment when she chose to help someone. Think about that. My daughter Mikel was helping someone. She was killed while doing a good deed. Now I have moved to get away from all the horrible consequences that have resulted from that night when she was left abandoned and alone on the side of Highway I-10. As the reality of her death unfolded, I saw people I had known for many years change. They became angry, they did things they would not normally do, they took their anger out in ways that were not healthy and were destructive. My son to this day is not living the life I had hoped for him to live, nor has he agreed to counseling. My ex-husband got re-married and is now divorcing again. The father of my granddaughter is in jail, leaving my granddaughter without either parent. Me, I am rebuilding my life and living for her and what she would have experienced if she had not been taken so suddenly on that fateful night. There is not a moment I do not think of her since she was murdered. Everything I do, I do with the intent of giving my granddaughter Amaya a better life as she grows up. I worry for my granddaughter: I worry that I am the only one who tells her about her Mommy and how she grew up. I worry that Amaya will become angry as she grows older because she is without either parent now, and she has no real memories of her mother except those I give her through photos and memories. I have had counseling for her death, but still my health has suffered. I have had to wear a retainer for a year to re-adjust my jaw after grinding my teeth so badly at night while I slept. I have never had a good nights sleep since learning of her murder. I have had continuous health problems: recurring urinary tract infections, vertigo brought on by a virus that attacked my inner ear, and now that same virus attacking my body by way of shingles which has made it impossible for me to travel to this sentencing, a virus known to be only brought on by extreme stress. I believe that this stress of trying to bring justice for my daughter and her death has caused these problems. I am devastated that I can not be there in person to say this while looking at Christian Cvitanvich, who has never shown remorse for taking my daughter from so many that loved her. I want him to know her daughter will turn 7 in January and he left her motherless. Her brother will be 20, the age of Mikel when she died, and is suffering inside so much that he can not live a normal life, nor has he moved on like others would his age. Cvitanvich has left many saddened friends and relatives who still can make no sense of the needless death of a young mother who was only 20 but going to school to better herself, while also working, for her beloved daughter Amaya. I ask the court to give the maximum sentence under the guidelines described for this crime. He needs to have punishment for the crime of killing an innocent young mother who had stopped to help another human being. Why did he not do the same when he hit Mikel? Ask yourself that? He was most likely drunk. The selfishness about his future took priority over helping another human being. I wish my daughter had been selfish that night and not stopped, as she would still be alive. I wish that with all my heart. I will never be free of the terrible anxiety I get when I think “if only” she kept driving home to her precious daughter.”

The above statement is the real side of grief. Grief is not something that can get better with time, grief is with a person always. It stays, it lingers, it does not change. The only thing that changes is the person who experiences the grief. They have to make choices. They need to decide if they will grow stronger using the sadness inside of them to help others in the same situation, or if they will keep it inside and hide the sadness. They need to decide if they will fight to live a normal life, or grow depressed and withdraw from life. They need to work every single day to stay healthy and to have some sort of happiness, a happiness that is stripped from them by death. I have chosen to move forward. I am not always successful, but I am trying. This is the real side of grief.

There is still time for those who have not done so to fax a letter to the Honorable Judge Trudy White. Please be respectful and ask for the sentence to be the maximum under the guidelines. Every letter makes a difference and she has to consider them. This is the fax number: 225 389 4737.