Becoming the Phoenix: Life and faith after an abusive marriage

By Andrea Feaster

Early in our marriage my husband and I had a terrible fight. He grabbed my hair; a glass top table got broken. Later, after things were calm and we apologized to one another, I told him I had called our church to ask for help. He was outraged, saying I had dishonored him. I hadn’t meant to harm him, so I called back and apologized, assuring a member of the pastoral staff that everything was fine. She comforted me, told me it was okay, that marriage is sometimes hard and I needn’t worry about having damaged my husband’s reputation. That was the end of the conversation.

During subsequent arguments over the next 11 years, my husband spat in my face, pushed me, told me I acted like a whore. I desperately wanted to provide an intact family for my children. I wanted to stay married, to keep my promise, to please my husband whom I loved. So each time I forgave him, admitted and apologized for my part in triggering his anger, and resolved to do better.

“I desperately wanted to provide an intact family for my children.”

Then one day my husband threw one of our sons across a room. When I told him not to hit the boy, he pushed me out into the hallway, slammed the door, and returned to “disciplining.” I panicked, kicking and shoving the door until it came off its hinges. He turned away from our son and came after me. Face against mine, he yelled at me to leave. He pulled back his arm, elbow at chin height, and made a fist to strike me. I looked at the floor.

He put his arm down, picked up his Bible, pressed it against my cheek and shoved. He told me I needed to read it more. Told me the man is the head of the family. That I had no family. As he yelled, he held his Bible with one hand and slapped his bare chest with the other until his skin blazed red. He put his face against mine and blew hard, spitting.

“Each time I forgave him, admitted and apologized for my part in triggering his anger, and resolved to do better.”

Taking off his wedding band as he stormed away, he spun and threw it at my face. He told me to get out of his house. I told him I would not leave my family. “Who is your family?!” he screamed. I finally choked out, “My children are my family.” My heart broke.

Throughout that day and night, I pretended everything was fine as I quietly contacted my parents to get us out. They never questioned me. The next day my sons and I boarded a tiny plane that took us away from him, away from our home, school, friends, pets, photographs. Family took us in. I was ashamed. I felt like a Judas.

 

When I met with an intake counselor at Families First a few weeks later, she handed me a checklist of behaviors and asked me to mark the ones I had done to my husband. Then she gave me a second copy of the list and asked me to mark the ones he had done to me. (It was not lost on me that a checklist existed of the many behaviors that happened in our household that I thought were private, that people didn’t know about, that I had never told anyone.) The counselor put the two lists side by side, looked me in the eyes, and said slowly as she tapped his list, “There is nothing you could have done that would justify someone treating you this way.”

"Journey" was the best way I could describe the file of communications and legal documents I gathered as we left my now ex-husband.

“Journey” was the best way I could describe the file of communications and legal documents I gathered as we left my now ex-husband.

I have a file of the communications and court documents pertaining to our departure labeled “April 2012 Journey.” That journey continues for me and for my children, even though we are in a good place now.

“It is not an easy journey – not easy to begin, not easy to continue.”

However, when I think about women who don’t have the support system I had – college education; work history; good credit; family who bought plane tickets on the spot; a former employer who re-hired me; friends who gave us dishes, clothes, toys, dignity – when I think about women who are lacking any of those things, I’m right back in that hallway, staring at that fist, trying to gather the courage to leave.

It is not an easy journey – not easy to begin, not easy to continue. This is the 19th year of the Spirit & Place Festival and the festival will explore JOURNEY with events from November 7-16, 2014. Perhaps the conversation could include how our community can be one that listens supportively, gives generously without hesitation or judgment, and actively builds a foundation of encouragement on which we each can journey safely.

 

About the author

Andrea Feaster is a market research analyst who lives and works just north of Indianapolis. She now attends Church for the Nations, blogs sporadically at https://medium.com/@a_feaster, and tweets at @a_feaster.

My Journey

Erika Kind

Erika Kind

By Erika Kind

For a long time I was dissatisfied with living here in Liechtenstein. I did not feel comfortable. I always dreamed about living somewhere in the US, preferably near the ocean. Eventually, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a year in the states in the suburban of Buffalo with my young family. It was the best year in my life. I was far away from my surrounding and felt free for the first time in my life. My family was undisturbed by any relatives telling us what to do, how to plan our lives or how to raise our children.  To me, America represented the land of liberty.

“It is not about the place or even your arrival. It is about the journey and your experiences you have before you arrive at the place!”

However, the year went by and we had to move back to Liechtenstein again. Back in old unwanted situations in an unwanted area – back in our small country where everybody knows everybody or at least it feels like it. I was struggling with being back for a long time, but after a few years I discovered California. I fell in love with SoCal instantly. Here I not only had the American way of life, but also the warm climate and the ocean. It felt like paradise to me and I have travelled there several times. Once again, I had the desire to live there in a beautiful house above the ocean.

During that time I went into a personal and a marriage crisis. For six months, while my husband and I worked through that crisis, I was also undergoing a huge transformation process. I discovered myself and life in a whole new way. It was so insightful that I even started to write a book of liberation. My own life turned out to a pot of countless examples. At the end of those six months I stood at the beginning again, free to start over. I began to reinvent my life with everything I had learned. I freed myself from the belief that I have to bow to other people’s wishes. I even ended up going to California, which turned out to my spiritual fuel station for insights and inspiration.

One day sitting in my big and beautiful garden in Liechtenstein I looked out into the blue sky, listened to the birds’ twittering, watched the bees and butterflies surrounding my lavender bushes, looked towards the mountains and realized (probably for the first time in my life) the gift I was given. All of a sudden I understood that I never ever could have been happy in California without first discovering my happiness within. Now, I am happy wherever I am because I am happy with the person I am with from birth to death. I don’t need to limit myself to one place since I can have it all.

It is not about the place or even your arrival. It is about the journey and your experiences you have before you arrive at the place! The happiest place to be is always with you, since it is part of yourself!

In Love and Light.

About the author

Erika has a practice for aromatherapy and self-development and also works as a singer. She was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1970. Today she lives with her husband and their three children in the Principality of Liechtenstein in the heart of Europe. “I’m Free” has been published in German and Kind is the author of a poetry book with the German title “Wie das Leben schreibt…”

The Journey of Four Puppies

MartyKingsbury_HeadshotBy Marty Kingsbury

It’s 4:30 on a dark Puerto Rican morning. The first light is just starting to break, and Jane and I are waiting for Edi Vasquez of All Sato rescue to pick us up. She has four puppies for us to bring into Boston.

We have spent six amazing days travelling around this little island, driving its highways, city streets, and small roads. We walked the beaches and sought escape from the hot August sun. We saw dogs walking with owners, proud and tall, and we saw other dogs: skinny and scrappy, hiding in the shadows, begging for food, hungry for, yet terrified, of human contact.

Jane, especially, has been a traveler all her life, seeing and weeping for street dogs in Greece, Rwanda, and Peru. When she first adopted one of these abandoned animals, she fully believed it was a way to give thanks for all she had been granted.

Four PuppiesAnd now, this morning, as the sun peeks through the Puerto Rican night, we become conduits, passengers bringing dogs across the border. We are conductors on an underground railroad, legitimate coyotes for puppies, travelers on American Airlines carrying four 8 week old, 4-pound puppies to a new life.

They stop us at the airport. They tell us that one of the soft carrying cases is too big. Roberto, Edi’s amazing assistant, has to go back to the house and get a better case. I am tense with worry, but Edi stays calm. She nods and talks and wends her way through logistics and stewardesses and paperwork and dogs. I don’t know how she does it, but she makes it work. We walk through the gates, puppies in hand, and yes, even they have to be searched for hidden explosives. Damn, they’re adorable. They lick the cheeks of the security officer and she coos right back at them, squeezing their armpits, rubbing their bellies.

And then we are on a plane, puppies are at our feet. They squeak a little, but as we hurtle through space, as the engines hum, as the skies turn blue with another day, they curl up and fall asleep. Jane’s puppies find her feet tucked in under their case, and they put their chins on this warm, comforting pillow. We can almost hear them snore.

And then like magic, two women from Caribbean Connections meet us at Logan Airport in Boston to sweep these young puppies away. We say good byes to our new best friends and turn to get our luggage.

Over the last ten years, we have adopted dogs, donated money, and attended reunions. We have photographed and written stories and poems of their antics. But this moment, this brief time, suspended in the air with dogs, bringing them back for someone else – this act closes a circle that began 45 years ago when Jane started to travel, started to ache for these homeless dogs.

 

About the author

Marty Kingsbury is a poet, playwright and English instructor at Urban College of Boston. Her stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S. and Canada and her plays produced throughout the world. A lifelong animal lover, she and her partner live in Cambridge, Mass. where they share their two rescue dogs. She recently published “Rescuing Oricito: The Almost True Story of a South American Street Dog” about one of her rescue animals.

 

It’s all about Indy

Photo Credit: Eric Learned

Photo Credit: Eric Learned

By Amanda Dorman

Indianapolis has received no shortage of national attention in the past few months. The Chicago Tribune wrote that Indianapolis feels “progressive – some might even say hip.” In an article about affordable American travel, the Wall St. Cheat Sheet wrote, “it’s all about Indiana.”

Comings and goings on The Circle.  Photo Credit: Conrad Piccirillo.

Comings and goings on The Circle.
Photo Credit: Conrad Piccirillo.

Having lived in Indianapolis all my life, I feel this change too. Last summer my professional journey led me from Carmel to Downtown Indy. Although only 30 minutes apart, my lifestyle Downtown is quite different: I walk to work every day, I can visit the farmers market on my lunch break, I have access to the Cultural Trail within steps of my apartment and I no longer have to stress about UBER-ing it home on the weekends (I live within four blocks of Mass Ave).

“If I could give Downtown Indy a slogan, I would defer to a t-shirt I have that has a map of Indy and the words: We Like You Here.”

Much has been written about the changes that have swept through Downtown Indy in the last few years and the attractions that we can now brag about: the International Orangutan Center, the gorgeous Alexander Hotel, the sports teams. But I never doubted Indy could attract, retain and support these attractions and events.

photo (2).fwIf I could give Downtown Indy a slogan, I would defer to a t-shirt I have from Sunday Afternoon Housewife that has a map of Indy and the words: We Like You Here. If you want to start a fashion magazine (Pattern), you can do that. If you want to open up a juice bar (Natural Born Juicers), you can do that too.

A few months ago I had the honor to be a judge at a 5×5: a partnership between Central Indiana Community Foundation, Christel DeHaan Family Foundation and the Efroymson Family Fund, among others, to give anyone with a great idea the opportunity to pitch it to the public and a panel of judges in five minutes using five PowerPoint slides. At the end of each event, the winner walks away with $10,000 to activate his/her idea.

5×5 is what Downtown Indy is all about: if you have an idea, and the drive to see it through, you will likely find support from someone in our community. You may not get $10K to make it happen, but you’ll get somewhere. And that somewhere can lead to something. After all, we like you here.

 

Amanda Dorman is the Communications Manager at Downtown Indy. She enjoys teaching indoor cycling, yoga, live music and exploring Downtown Indy (especially through food!). Find out why “it’s all about Indy” by following her on Twitter: @amandajdorman.

 

Journeys are Collaborative

10153692_1451285278442485_3011645273274777775_nBy Aaron Pierce

Great journeys are never embarked upon on our own. Even a journey of solitude will be one that is impacted by others. Collaboration is human nature.

“Everyday more people connect, come online, and begin their own personal journey of discovery and interaction.”

In our dynamic passage into the socially connected globe, we have collaborated and engaged with one another like no other time in human history. The digital revolution has opened the doors for a new globally connected social revolution. People interact freely in today’s world with physical geography only rarely acting as a shield that veils culture and ideas. Everyday more people connect, come online, and begin their own personal journey of discovery and interaction.

Social Photography is a collective of photographers from around the world that investigate our ever changing and connecting world through photography. We are fostering a dialog about our changing times through our hybrid gallery concept. Our hybrid gallery fosters a conversation about our journey through the evolution of web connected social media through our online Instagram Account and physical gallery, located at Studio B Creative Exchange in Indianapolis during October 2014. Our hybrid gallery is a reflection of the hybrid lives that we all live – both existing in the physical as well as virtual.

“The photographers will reveal their discoveries as well as their struggles and challenges along their journeys.”

During October, as a thematic partner with the Spirit & Place Festival, our collective will focus on telling stories of their personal journeys into this realm. The photographers will reveal their discoveries as well as their struggles and challenges along their journeys.

We invite you to join us in forming a collaborative conversation by commenting and sharing your journey through comments on our Instagram account. Collectively we may all come to better understand our time and paint a clearer picture of where we may go from here.

As a collective, we are honored to be chosen as the preview kickoff to the Spirit & Place Festival and the 40 + events that they will host in in November as part of their “Journey” theme.

Social Photography is supported by the Spirit & Place Festival, Fountain Square Brewery, 12.05 Distillery, IUPUI, and Roberts Camera. Social Photography was founded by Indianapolis based photographer Aaron Pierce. Pierce is a writing and geography student at IUPUI that kicked his photography journey off with the theft of his father’s camera as a toddler.

Plan 2020: Charting a Vision for the Future of Indianapolis

GIPC_Indy-2020-Logo_2-ColorBy Alex Miser

Journey is a very prevalent theme in Plan 2020, the Bicentennial plan for Indianapolis. The plan defines a new approach to planning in Indianapolis, meshing community vision, values and strategy with an unprecedented, coordinated update to core city government plans. Plan 2020’s mission is to make Indianapolis a better place to live, work and visit.

While Plan 2020 is focused on the future of Indy, it’s important to understand the journey that got our city to this point. One of the defining stops on our journey was UniGov, the merging of many aspects of City and County government in recognition of the need to coordinate growth and insure long-term prosperity for the region. UniGov was done at a time when cities nationally were struggling with population and economic losses. Subsequently, Indy grew while many of its peer cities declined. This was a result of Indianapolis converting areas that might have been suburbs in other cities to part of the City of Indianapolis.

UniGov bought Indy 40 years of growth by expanding the city’s borders. We have finally caught up to that growth and we can no longer expand by adding land. We have to grow by adding people. Plan 2020 will be our roadmap for attracting new residents and improving the city to reflect the values of current residents.

“The home for Plan 2020 has undergone a unique journey of its own. Plan 2020 is based in old City Hall, which has been brought back to life as The Hall.”

At the heart of Plan 2020’s mission is understanding what type of city residents want Indianapolis to become. To answer this question we have asked the community two primary questions: “What do you value?” and “What do you wish Indianapolis valued?” These questions are check points along our planning journey to ensure that we are crafting a future that aligns with the needs and values of residents. You can join the conversation by visiting our MindMixer page, which helps inform our team about ways to forge a compelling future for Indianapolis.

The home for Plan 2020 has undergone a unique journey of its own. Plan 2020 is based in old City Hall, which has been brought back to life as The Hall.

The Hall is the planning hub for Plan 2020. It’s where ideas connect. The Hall serves as an urban think tank and hub for the city’s new strategic plan and other community-based planning in the City. The Hall is one of Plan 2020’s engagement vehicles, helping to produce collaboration and discussion among Indianapolis residents. The Hall hosts non-traditional public meetings, forums, events and activities to spur innovative thinking about the future of Indianapolis.

Alex Miser helps the Plan 2020 team craft and share their story with the community, and is in charge of operating and programming for The Hall, the home for the Plan 2020 initiative. He is a life-long Hoosier and is passionate about helping Indianapolis develop neighborhoods and communities that people are proud to call home.

Join us in 2014 as we celebrate the theme of “JOURNEY” during the annual Spirit & Place Festival, November 7-16.

Wildlife Journeys into Downtown Indy

By Dave Hoffman

It’s arrived! You may not have noticed it, so you may want to watch for wildlife the next time that you are downtown.

Watching for wildlife, for me, goes back a long way. Poised on the edge of the front seat, a decade before seat belts, I loved to peer into the darkness as we journeyed on bumpy, gravel roads from my aunt’s rural farm toward our home in the city. Intent on spotting a pair of green or yellow eyes, those wondrous, magical eyes illuminated in the headlights that stimulated my youthful imagination, and filled me with mixed emotions of wonder, excitement, awe, and sometimes fear.

The other “wildlife journey” was a recent move from the outskirts of town to a new location at 708 East Michigan Street, where the Indiana Wildlife Federation (IWF) brings a rich tradition of “common sense conservation” to downtown. Established back in 1938, IWF promotes science-based, wildlife management and sustainable use of our wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Diverse membership in IWF includes conservation clubs, wildlife watchers, hikers, hunters, fisherman, photographers, bird watchers, and those who want to ensure that our wildlife and wildlife habitat are maintained for future generations.

United, we speak out against shooting deer in fenced enclosures, fight invasive species like Asian Carp, actively participate in the legislative process, and work to guarantee access for all Hoosiers to enjoy outdoor recreation. We hope to teach tomorrow’s youth to enjoy Indiana’s natural resources, and how to manage them wisely.

Join IWF and many other outdoor organizations at the Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience, September 20-21 at Fort Harrison State Park. The event is billed as “Indiana’s largest, hands-on outdoor recreation event.” Details are available at Outdoorexperience@dnr.in.gov. Get the whole family involved in wildlife watching by stopping by our booth and helping your children build a bird feeder.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear about your own early outdoor experiences with wildlife. If you would like to share them with IWF, please send them to Hoffman@Indianawildlife.org.

Dr. Dave Hoffman is an IWF Board Member. A native Hoosier, and retired Duke Energy, Indiana executive. Dave enjoys numerous outdoor activities, writing about the outdoors, and wildlife art.