Teela Hart

Surviving Domestic Violence

Lean In




I made a post a while back describing an incident I’d had with Jon in 2010 resulting in right arm paralysis. An all-out military assault of MRI’s, X-rays, poking and prodding rendered an ugly diagnosis. The physical therapy department had become a second home and the pain nearly insurmountable. When asked to describe the pain, the words always fell short. A brachial plexus injury is a devastating and crippling injury from which many never recover. Thunder and lightning had taken up residence from my neck rendering the arm and hand useless. The pain was a special kind of horror; however, the complete and utter betrayal in its ability to function caused the most heartache.

Working tirelessly, wearing a special *contraption* and the unwillingness to accept this as a permanent disability excited the required drive to beat the prognosis. Following nine months of intense therapy, function slowly returned and the pain receded. Unexpected jerking movements resulted in dropping, or randomly flinging whatever object I was trying to control across the room. The unadulterated hilarity of the Freddy Krueger splint coupled with the identified object and its unidentified destination kept me sane.

Fortunately, I retired the splint to the Freddy Krueger hall of fame, however, the daily exercise and muscle stretches continue to this day.

Last week started like any other abnormal, PTSD ridden week with a twist of bitterness and a healthy dash of straight up disgust. However, Wednesday’s flavor of the day changed rapidly from vanilla to rocky road when a sudden severe onslaught of sharp pains traveled between my shoulder blades. The excruciating pain and inability to breath drove me straight to the MD. He examined me thoroughly and had me carted off to x-ray where they discovered I had multiple fractures in the vertebral body of my spine.

Dazed and confused, I proclaimed the impossibility of the situation, followed by a ‘what the hell are you trying to say’ stare. There had been no hideous falls or car accidents; therefore, I was hard pressed to come up with a plausible explanation for the injury.

It was obvious the Doc had been in deep thought over the cause of the injury before spilling the diagnosis onto my lap. It would appear, to the best of my understanding, that there had been significant damage to the cervical and thoracic vertebrae in 2010 along with the brachial plexus injury. The vertebral body had developed multiple stress fractures last week for reasons I cannot explain causing the severe pain I am currently experiencing.

Once I returned home, drugs in hand, shaken to the core with anger, and weeping like a newborn baby, I headed for my room. I could not hide the tide of emotions from my children and of course, they followed in behind me. It pains me that my children are forced to see me in this state. Once again, I failed at being the rock, the fortress they need. However, they do not complain, they are champions. They each take time to lean in, give me hugs and whisper in my ear, “I love you.” I do not have to ask, they instinctively act. When they least expect it, I lean in, give them hugs and whisper in their ear “I love you.” They do not have to ask, I instinctively act.

We are a family, strengthened by our past, weathering the storms of the present, and reaching into the future as we learn that we already instinctively know what it means to lean in.

Author: Teela Hart

I am a mother, daughter, sister and domestic violence survivor.

28 thoughts on “Lean In

  1. Hello. I have just found your blog, by a link sent by another blogger. You have much courage.

    (PS. I am having trouble reading much of your blog because of the red on black, or grey on black writing.)


  2. Children are so loving and giving. I had a 6 month old, 3 year old and a kindergartner when I ‘started over again,’ due to bad marriage. I feel that they kept me focused and helped me to begin a new life. I chose this place, halfway to my ex, and halfway to my parents over 28 years ago! Never looked back! Smiles, Robin


  3. That SOB…He needs for some prison thug to teach him how to be a true lady.

    You needn’t feel sorry that your children see your emotions. It shows them what being human is all about. I know as parents we’re supposed to be the Knight in Shining Armor, but just like Tin Man on ‘Wizard of Oz”, we need to be oiled every now and then, especially when our tears cause us to rust a little…


  4. I am honored to have you follow my blog. It is nice to be in contact with you. A fellow sister. meghan


  5. I agree with Alex: Fortress. And inspiring.


  6. I am so glad you and your children have survived with your sense of family intact. I’m lighting a candle and thinking of you healing. Not much else a stranger from across the internet can do but I want to do something 🙂


  7. You are a fortress! A fortress is only worth anything if it survives when tested 🙂


  8. Oh, Teela, I weep for you. How awful. So so sorry to hear. Hugs. xxx


  9. You DID NOT fail to be anything, besides absent. Your presence speaks volumes to them, just naturally. You are doing an amazing job at being a mom when your kids come to you and whisper “I Love You” into your ear; I’ve don’t remember the last time I was blessed with such a gift, Tee. Love those babies like you’ll never see them again…


    • I am doing that with all my heart as often and as much as I can. Thank you so much for encouraging me.
      I’m glad we met.

      Are you ok?


      • I’m glad too.
        And hey – stop doubting yourself so much – you’re strength oozes from your every pore – it radiates from you presence, seriously…
        Sending good recovery energies to your injuries, too 🙂

        Am I ok? YES. I’m actually feeling a lot less “weird” about it than I was earlier today, less heavyhearted. Can you believe I would actually experience GUILT briefly, at first!?!? I’d love to be able to kick myself right now for THAT. But otherwise, I’m feeling like the guy who cut me open and tried to end my life is DEAD, and
        I feel the dread and anxiety going on now, solely over having to tell Boo upon her next appearance (Gods willing) that her father passed away – and then everything else, too…
        BUT I AM GOOD.
        Still back up puttin’ pack up…;) HUGS


      • You’re right. But thank heaven I have you to keep me strait. 🙂
        And thanks for the energies. I’ll take ’em.

        I thought about the “guilt” part and I wondered how I would feel and knowing me, I’d be the same so don’t be so hard on yourself.
        I’m sure you do feel a sense of relief/dread over having to tell Boo.
        Hopefully she will turn up soon and maybe she can begin to heal some from that.
        I’m glad you’re GOOD. 🙂 Hugs right back.


  10. Family is indeed a beautiful thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So sorry, hon! I wish I knew something better to say than, I’m sorry, and I understand.


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