Sandpaper on Silk

This has been a rough year, I mentioned that in a previous post and I mentioned some of the reasons why. This year I celebrated (I use this word tongue in cheek) my twenty year anniversary, February 7, 1992 was the day myrubyslippers life changed though at the time I wouldn’t know this single event would be life changing. All year I have been exploring my inner world and the events of my life that created that inner world. Some days I feel caught, as if I am Dorothy but the tornado didn’t drop my house in Oz and I do not have Ruby Slippers.

Nearly a year ago I told the story of February 7th, for those who have never read it feel free to jump over to Crime, Punishment and Victims. As part of that story, I provided this simple table, which I have changed to provide release dates:

Charge Sentence Date Release Date First Eligible Release Parole Date Birth Date Actual Release Date
Att Cap Murder w/ Deadly 8/12/92 3/13/12 3/31/97 12/14/75 3/12
2 counts Att Cap Murder w/Deadly 4/13/93 3/9/27 7/12/00 6/18/76 10/12
2 counts Att Cap Murder w/Deadly Agg Robbery w/Deadly 3/8/93 3/5/27 3/12/00 3/5/76 11/12

Yes, you read the above right, all of my personal offenders are now free. When I wrote On My Knees in October, only one had received his parole approval. Since that writing, something else happened, in November the final blow to my already shattered spirit, shortly before Thanksgiving the last of the three walked free with his parole. I simply could not write then, I couldn’t put fingers to keyboard, it has taken me weeks till now in truth to say they are all free.

Yesterday morning I was in my doctor’s office, we were discussing the weakness in my arm. Why during the course of the day my right arm will suddenly become weak, I suddenly can’t type, why the escalation in pain over the past several months. I adore my Neurologist, for several reasons but mostly because he is patient with me, patient with my complaints. We both know what is wrong, I suspect we both know I cannot continue to ignore the obvious, but he has not pushed me to surgery earlier than I was ready to accept the inevitable, I am not going to miraculously leap up healed. He is also not a pill pusher, which I appreciate even more than anyone could possibly imagine. We now have a plan, I don’t love the plan; I have been avoiding major surgery for a few years, it is likely I will not be able to avoid any longer.

When the first of the three walked out the prison gates, he had served his sentence. It was a mixed set of emotions I felt, but he had served his entire sentence he was done and free. When I received the first notice of parole in October, I was as the title of my post says on my knees. I couldn’t breathe for days; my fury was so hot I lashed out at everyone around me. Then November came, the third letter came. Honestly, I thought this one would be a notification of denial, surely they wouldn’t grant another parole, would they?

Parole

Really? Parole?

  • I can’t sleep through an entire night, because of pain.
  • I can’t sit for more than two hours without tears of pain.
  • I can’t walk for more than fifteen minutes without my right leg going entirely numb.
  • There are times during the day, I can’t feel my right arm, my hand goes numb, my entire right side goes numb. There are times I am in so much pain I want to scream.

Parole?

What have they done to deserve parole?

I have to have more surgery. I have to risk my life under anesthesia for the possibility of life with less pain.

They get parole seventeen years early.

Parole? I am trying to find my compassion button.

compassionbutton

I am trying to find the place in me that agrees this is fair and just. I am trying hard to say this is not about me but simply part of the system. Victims are truly not part of the equation, though we are notified and we are invited to say our piece to courts and parole boards, it isn’t truly about us. We are not part of the criminal justice system; it is not about us in any real sense. I know this, intellectually I know this; my heart doesn’t follow my mind.

When an offender is arrested and goes to trial it becomes THE STATE vs THE OFFENDER

That is the truth; it isn’t really about the true victim any longer. The victim is simply a witness to the crime. No matter how horrific the crime, no matter the terror, no matter the injury, no matter anything at all the victim is simply a witness for the State, the State is in fact the Victim. I always have to remind myself of that simple and ugly truth.

What I really felt that day was what I felt twenty years ago after they were arrested and I sat in the DA’s office talking about their sentencing, I knew someday this day would come. I didn’t know then I would evolve or change, I only knew I was furious and wanted revenge. I told him I didn’t want them in prison I wanted them on their knees in front of me, on a dark street, I wanted the gun they had used to shoot me and I wanted to shoot them in exactly the same way. If they survived as I had, under the very same circumstances they could remain free, if not Que Sera. I was primitive that day. I was primitive twenty years later, it was as if I hadn’t evolved at all and I was a little bit ashamed.

So, back to this has been a rough year. As I line up those dominoes so I can hopefully knock them down. The second letter of parole, yeah that was one, that one knocked me over. That one hurt. Honestly, I don’t often call myself a Victim, I don’t like the word and I certainly don’t like it applied to me. But that day, when I opened that letter Victim was aptly applied to how I felt.

I am struggling to breathe through all these different issues and find my footing. I refuse to allow this year a stranglehold, yes it has been rough, sandpaper would have been gentler. There is light though and it is not a train, my soul takes flight even through these difficult patches of pain, anger and frustration. One by one, I am going to let them go, the dominoes will fall and I am eternally grateful for the wonderful friends in my corner who keep shouting at me…….

JUST BREATH

From Megaphotos, as always dance is my idea of breathing

From Megaphotos, as always dance is my idea of breathing

Comments

  1. The more of your posts I read the more I realize what a remarkable person you are. I truly admire you for all you that you have experienced and survived. It is a testament to the human spirit.

    • Thank you, survival is only what we do when there is no other choice. It is the thriving afterwards that is difficult and what we have to work at. This, this thriving is what I am still working on!

      😉

  2. There are some mixed thoughts on this posting Val but in my opinion once someone has killed another as in murder then they have no place on this earth, nothing can change their actions and whatever remorse, if any is just far too late.

    The victim’s voice is always lost and the do-gooders who protect the monsters of this world should think again, there can be no returning to a normal life after the act of murder; after all it is impossible for those that were slain to have that same opportunity in life, a life taken before their time.

    I have no compassion for those that choose to take another person’s life and then miraculously change their views to suit their own agendas… Real life is just not that simplistic.

    I wasn’t aware of this happening Val but I know that you are suffering still my great friend and I wish you all the very best for the future, it must be a living nightmare for you…

    Andro xxx

    • Well Andro, they failed in their attempt. So here I am, I fight this issue the balance between redemption and retribution. I believe humans have the capacity to change, I believe in redemptive justice. I work within Victim Impact and have to believe in it as each time I walk through the doors my mantra is “let my voice reach just one heart.”

      This has be a hard walk Andro, I fall down sometimes. I fail sometimes. But I truly do believe in remorse, redemption and the ability to change especially in the very young.

      • It is a nice thought Val and I admire your true grit for you have come through such a very hard time in your life, though for me personally I just don’t believe in forgiveness, not for murder anyway, perhaps one day I might have a different opinion.

        Have a relaxing day today and
        I wish you all the very best Val 🙂

        Andro xxx

        • If i might a comment here on the subject of forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness has a lot more to do with the well being of the victim rather than the perpetrator. It can be very cathartic and aid the healing process.

        • Andro for me it isn’t about forgiveness, it never has been. The entire discussion surrounding forgiveness is something else, something each person must take on for themselves based on their own personal ethics and even faith. Mine do not require forgiveness, I have not forgiven my transgressors as they have not asked for my forgiveness nor have they shown remorse for their acts. My personal ethics do not require that I hand out forgiveness, I gain nothing for it, I don’t heal because I offer it for free nor do I owe it.

          My work as a volunteer is something entirely different. It is something I do owe because our nation is going the wrong way and we are losing generations of children. This is different.

  3. Val, I always want to say something to you when you post what you have been through, but my emotions are so mixed that I have to sort them out, as usual. I have decided to just tell you honestly what I know. As you know, I have been to prison, and I continue to work with women who are post-incarceration. What happened to you was and remains awful and wrong and I am so sorry for it all. My heart aches for you. On the other hand, I know two women who, in their youth, killed, or were a party to the death of someone. They are both out now after 15 and 10 years respectively. They have worked hard, and they are thriving and doing everything in their power to be good people and good citizens, clean and sober, and rebuilding their lives. I guess I always pray for actual corrections from the corrections system rather that plain, outright, punitive measures that give no second chances. Ugh. I do not know what those three men feel about what they did to you, but the women that I know are so truly repentant. Just know that I love you!

    • I continue to work in the Victim Impact Program and truly believe, in my heart compassion is the only right way I can live. I have believed this always, nearly for twenty years. It is why I struggle with this issue so badly. It is why it hurts so hard. I don’t know what they feel either, I only know what I feel, I only know what my family has gone through. I can’t help my fury, it is the flip side of who I have worked so hard to become. But honestly, this year has been so hard and as I face yet more surgery their freedom just hit me because I will never be free.

      What do I want for them, that they can be truly free. That they can make real lives and rejoin society with real opportunity for all the things they have missed, to make their way. Their youth broke my heart, cracked it wide open and it remained an open wound. Yet still, it doesn’t take away my sometime fury that they never once in all this time, not once in any parole hearing never did they say ‘sorry’.

      It would have helped.

      I love you also.

      • OneHotMess says:

        Val, that is my problem…I work with women. They DO feel remorse and are less likely to be sociopaths. They do feel sorry and own what they did and see the wreckage—maybe not in the victim’s life, because how could they? They do not see it…it’s hidden from them, like your pain is hidden from your perps. My friends, and I will call them friends until the day I die, lost their children’s growing up time. Both have two girls who went from toddlers to adults while they were in. Oh, I want to hug you because I think we want the same thing! We want a world where no one is so broken that they break anyone else. Again, I love you and your courage! As an aside, I did meet one woman who should never see the outside of a prison again, and she won’t. Chilling, her crime.

  4. I’m sure that the anger, frustration, pain, and other emotions that your posts cause me to feel is actually nowhere near what you feel. Probably the best I can say is Strength to you!

  5. Just breathe, are great words to live by, but no one can tell you this unless they’ve lived in your shoes. Still, I hope it helps to know that they’re are people who care, and people who are horrified by all you’ve been through, who would hug you and hold you close, if they could. It’s sad to think these boys were just repeating what they’d learned from their role model parents. What a waste. Like father, like son, I suppose. I’m so sorry Val. I wish we could somehow take your pain away.

    • That Monica is the very worst of it, they were living the nightmares their parents lived. I have written their stories along with my own. It is I think what ultimately got me through from fury to some sort of compassion, maybe not all the time compassion but some. They lived what they saw, what they were taught.

      My fury is very frequently turned on our system. The idea we have two sometimes three generations sharing the yard. In my crime and punishment series and my victim impact series both, I talk about this. It infuriates me.

      Thank you, for your compassion. I will be okay I think. There are days that are rocky, I suspect there will always be those days. I just have to hope there will be fewer of those. I have to hope my heart will remain open and full.

  6. Since I opened this post about two hours ago, I’ve been trying to figure out what I could possibly say that would take away your pain, your anger, your frustration. It isn’t often that words fail me, but tonight they do.

    I wish all of your friends could just take a little bit of the weight onto ourselves so that your portion was more manageable. I think in many ways the fact that you can write about this horrible ordeal — from the beginnings of the crime through the latest pain inflicted upon you, helps a bit.

    I wish we could do more.

    Virtual hugs headed your way, Val. Lots of them.

    • I waited to write this Elyse. Waited until I could write with less anger, less fury, less rage. I am okay, really. Frustrated, yes I am that. Frustrated that my body is failing me. Frustrated the system feels as if it is failing me. But, really I am okay. This year has been a bit rough, but it has had some really good parts to it as well and I have been lifted up, the weight has been lightened.

      You might be surprised how much those virtual hugs help. Stay tuned you will see.

      Val

      • Actually, I’m not at all surprised that they help, those virtual hugs. I think sometimes the ability to write about pain is more important than anything. And when we find that folks who read it are touched, well, that helps enormously.

        More virtual hugs going your way my friend. And you know, one of the best things about 2012 for me is my new virtual friend Val.

  7. I have nothing to offer except my very best wishes to you.

  8. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I really, really feel this, Valentine. If someone/many had had such impact on my life, I know that I wouldn’t want them “out there somewhere”. You wonder will they re-group and just do the same again. Did they ever ever know what they actually DID to you/impact they had on that person they targeted back then?

    It’s true the victim isn’t really part of the equation. It is great you say your part (it could hardly be a justice system otherwise) but yest, not exactly part of the equation.

    I am truly sorry this is now more you have to “come to terms” with. More you have to live with. To think of not going 2 hours without pain… Well, I cannot imagine it. My sincere heart towards you. N.

    • Thanks Noleen. Truthfully, I don’t know what they know or don’t know. They did of course hear the first impact statements from me and other family members at their sentencing 20 years ago. I don’t know if they have ever been allowed to read others or not. They certainly know there have been others written, they certainly know I have protested each time they have come up for parole.

      I just don’t know what they know. I don’t know what they know. But it isn’t all bad, wait for my next post.

  9. I don’t know your whole story, Val, but I’m so glad to know that you are working it out by writing about it. Writing is healing. It’s the process of getting it out that makes it so. Simple. True. Keep at it.

    Peace. Love.
    Susan

    • I write, I also speak. I speak to one of the most difficult audiences of all. Offenders within the criminal justice system. But there are still days, like that day. It comes and goes.

      This story at least, it is in the links. It is a rough one.

      Thanks Susan.

      • You are a brave crusader, Val. You speak for those who cannot, seeking to make reason of some things that make no sense . . . shining a spotlight on violence and the effects of every individual’s life choices on everyone and everything around them. There is no vacuum. We are all connected–for better or for worse.

        Thank you for your strength and determination.

        Hugs,
        Susan

  10. Excavating rage is good, no matter how many times it takes. You are human and entitiled to work through anything / everything in your life.
    Scratching an itch takes time; sneezing to clear your sinuses might take numerous tries; a cold takes time. I hope this doesn’t sound trite–think this: to all things, there is a season…
    Sometimes, when the air gets stale, we open our windows and find spring has arrived. With the fresh air in our lungs, we begin to look forward to the promise(s) it brings.

    Just breathe, Valentine. I have high hopes for you.

    • Exhale, I know. I am getting there. Slowly, but I am getting there. I had to give myself weeks to write this one. Actually I had to work my way up to writing it.

      Trite, no. Apt, yes.

  11. That must be an awful feeling! Yes, the victims almost always seem to get lost in the shuffle of the justice system. DNA and new forensic technology are both convicting and freeing more people. But, many people who were wrongfully convicted already criminal records, so they’re not entirely angelic and clean. In a sense, Val, you were sentenced to life after those guys attacked you. But then again (and I know how quirky this sounds), you’re really the only one who can set yourself free. As difficult as it may be, please don’t let those scum bags tear you up like this!

    • Alejandro this is just the process, I know it. Intellectually I know it and have been expecting it somewhere deep down. It doesn’t change my reaction. I have been involved in the system for years, part of Victim Impact for nearly 9 years now. I understand pragmatically the system. You said something I have said many times when I speak, they got time – I got life. This is a difficult concept for many to understand.

      I will not ever be entirely free, I will always have reminders. But, each day I am more free. I survived what I was not intended to survive. Most days my life is good, despite the pain. My anger? This too shall pass for today.

  12. I know no amount of my words can help as you feel so deeply let down by the system… I can only say to you that in learning to let go of that Inner anger we also help to heal our outer pain… I do not presume to know the depth of your own pains Val.. or in any way compare my experience with your own, its far from what trauma you went through.. But I learnt to Breathe…. and in breathing I let go through the out breath much of my resentment and anger which in turn helped heal my physical body..
    Pulling in that energy through the breath helps strengthen our Emotional Body which in turn heals of physical… That Thought train played an important role upon my own road to recovery …

    You have a huge Compassion Button…. and you press it regularly on many occasions… Tuning the mind to press it here means not only for others.. But hold that finger over your own heart.. and press it in deep, for remember also Val.. we often forget to give our own selves a Hug… It took along while, and even some days still I fail to press my own compassion button… as we are hard upon ourselves….

    Sending you the Biggest of HUGS your way Val.. for I want only to wrap you in Silk…….
    Love Sue xoxox

    • I am working on it Sue. I thought of that Train today when I went for my first Acupuncture appointment, one of the reasons I love my doctor is his willingness to approve alternative approaches. I know I have to have compassion for myself, one of my failings and something I have to work on more.

      Much love and gratitude as always.

      Val

      • Ive been having regular Acupuncture treatments for around 3 yrs now Val for pain and other things.. I can whole heartedly recommend it… I started off going every 2 weeks then 3 weeks now its every month.. and I should look like a pin cushion.. But I recognised that I held many energy blocks ’emotionally’, and once the therapist got to the root of my emotions she helped me tremendously in helping release those deeply buried emotions which often are the core to our pain…

        I hope Val that the treatments help, …. Have faith and yes compassion for yourself is a big Key in helping us emerge from our shadows!
        Love and Blessings always
        Sue

  13. authormjlogan says:

    I understand from a different perspective than yours, one I cannot share publicly. It won’t be long and someone who hurt my family, one of us in particular, will be eligible for release. We talk about it. About what we’d like to do, or want to do, or…

    Keep breathing and keep surviving.

    • I understand, believe me my family struggled with what happened to me. My sons were very young 20 years ago. My father was still alive then also. All my siblings each had a different reaction, each still have a different reaction. Twenty years ago, seeing me in a coma, being told I might not survive was very hard on my family. Watching me learn to walk again, watching me struggle with pain, multiple surgeries and many setbacks over the years; all of that was terrible for my family.

      I understand I do. Each time they came up for parole before my father sat down and wrote a letter. He poured his anger, his fury into those letters. I have copies of each of them, they make me cry. Never did I understand my fathers love more than when I read those letters.

      My fury burns some days. But I also stand up in front of offenders, not my own but others and tell my story and the story of my family. I tell the story of my offenders who truly were just children 20 years ago, children with their lives in front of them. Believe me I understand how easy it is to give in to fury, I get it. That is part of why I have such a hard time with my feelings, because I also feel and have always felt there has to be more.

  14. Can’t imagine what you’re going through. The pain, both physical and emotional, of their early release could surely be crippling. I wish you well as those dominoes fall. May they stay down a little longer each day.

    • Thanks Carrie. Believe me, I am doing all that I am able, all that is within my power to fix both the physical and the emotional. I promised myself a very long time ago to not hand over my life, not to them not to anyone. This is just been a hard year, I suspect some of us with history like mine, well we have those sometimes. Knowing this, being prepared and willing to fight back perhaps that is more than half the battle. I refuse to be one of those shrinking violets, afraid to step into the light. I would far rather shake my fist and scream foul things at a fate I didn’t ask for but have to live with.

      I am going to force them to fall, kick them all over the place even.

      Val

  15. I read some of the history – its not easy to read I cant imagine to live it. a wise lady once told me that “Forgiveness is for the other guy when they crawl across broken glass and beg for it, when they are full of remorse and are willing to say out loud they acknowledge all the miserable and rotten things they have done to cause harm in the world and to you. Forgiveness is not free and should not be granted simply because people think you should” I believe she went on to say that there was nothing wrong with not forgiving – to feel it and not feel guilty… Ithink that applies here.. ? heal you screw them.. and .dont feel ashamed even if you really didnt evolve )im sure you have) … and breathe.
    Hugs ❤ Lizzie

    • Hugs back! I think I like that lady 😉

      I am healing. There are simply days when all the healing in the world takes a back seat because someone, some azzhat picked the scab and let the blood flow.

      XX

  16. You breathe. Some days, you exhale flames and venom. As you should. Some days, you exhale reason and pragmatism. You are most comfortable here. Some days, you exhale laughter and light. Those days are coming closer together. I doubt you even realize it. I love to hear the sparkle in your eyes.

    They will fall. This time will be different because you will watch them fall from the stands and laugh when they shatter. I have all the faith in the world in you. I love you.
    xxx

    • Perhaps I should get my eyes lined so the sparkle is more obvious! My fangs feel a bit, well a bit dulled right now but I will sharpen them back up.

      Thank you my sister, for always being there in my corner where I can find you. I doubt you know what that means.

      XX

  17. I had already read “On my knees,” but I could hardly breathe myself as I read the other links that told the history of the crime and your survival. Yours is a truly amazing story of strength and courage but now I understand your rage. May you keep breathing…breathing…and dancing…every day.

    • Dancing, not sure I am there yet though now and then I put on some Pink and my wiggle get its groove on.

      But breathing, inhale … exhale. I am doing that. I am doing that with each day that passes. That light at the end of the tunnel, I am convinced it is not a train, it is a party and I am attending.

      Val

  18. I am pushing the compassion button. I am sending you love from over here, Val.
    Breathe. Just Breathe. Xxxx

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