The fight of my life.



Violence (trigger warning) in movies doesn't bother me because it is often so fake. It stands so far from the real thing, that I consider it comical. Snarky one-liners fly between bone-cracking and blood-spitting swagger. Add in the occasional nuclear warhead to the chest and like most people,  I'm laughing.

I say this because I've been in more than my share of fights.  
Please understand that is not a boast like something quipped by an underdog hero from the movies I just described.  I mean I've been IN more than my share. I've physically occupied the same room as someone while his fist bruised 3 of someone else's ribs, causing permanent kidney damage. 

That was not the worst fight of my life. 


I've stood in a doorway holding my breath, hoping not to be in the way of the stronger one.  I've stood in the way of the stronger one, hoping the weaker one would run away, even though she chose not to.  

That was not the worst fight of my life.  


I was the one that pissed him off before he chose to pick up a coffee table and threw it across the living room. I have seen a person's spirit crushed. I've seen my loved ones fade and diminish into shells of who they were. I've seen them never get better. I've been the recipient of a hurtful suicide note full of lies and rejection. "I barely know you," is what he said to me after he put food on the table and fixed my car my entire youth. 

That was not the worst fight of my life.  


50% of my immediate family DIED because of the violence in my childhood home.  My father's suicide was not the only death.  I would have brothers. I got out. They didn't. 

That was not the worst fight of my life.   


I'm safe now.  I'm grown up.  I got help.  I have support. Like most survivors from my circumstances, I have embraced guidance with humility and am a good parent (approximately 30% of survivors grow up and become abusers.  That means the VAST MAJORITY DO NOT GROW UP TO BE ABUSERS. We live with enough pain,  please don't add that assumption).  

I live with mental illness from my experiences. I will be in some form of treatment for the rest of my life. I try, every day, to be better, stronger,  smarter, more compassionate and kind. I seek to be the best version of myself that I can possibly become. And I live with a posture of hope for the future. 

And this is the worst fight of my life.  


I can't erase what happened.  I can't make all those hours go away. Though I will continue to heal, seeking help and progress daily, this reality will limit me. Abuse at such an early age and with such frequency has changed my biology: neurochemistry, IQ, Adrenal system, immune system, metabolism, and bone density.

I have fainted (vasovagal syncope) simply because someone said she'd be angry with me if I made a certain choice.

My heart races and breathing gets shallow every time I am noticed (because a part of me knows that being noticed can be deadly. That makes most careers problematic, let alone publishing).

I carry shame about what I know.
I feel guilt that I made it out alive.
I am angry that I had to ask certain questions regarding the nature of humanity and God.
I understand how knowledge of good and evil could destroy Eden. I should never have had to rationalize suicide. I should never have had to ask why or gain an understanding of why because
I DON'T WANT TO KNOW HOW TO MAKE SUICIDE MAKE SENSE. But I have. First with my dad, then with a client, then with my aunt.

While I have not attempted suicide, I have wished for death. I have hoped for it. I have prayed for it. 1 Kings 19:4 is not one of the verses they teach in sunday school. It is not held up as a virtue, but I know what Elijah means when he says, “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” 

And you know what? I fucking hate it, but I am not alone. 


I have a support system. My dad bailed, but I have more family than I could have hoped for and as much as I need. I have friends that know all of this, who have stood next to me through YEARS of getting better. I have health insurance, resources, and a damn good therapist.

I have an advocate in heaven. God is my father. I've lost my faith in corporate church, but I still believe in Jesus and many of his people (I don't care if you don't want to hear me say that. I need him too much to care about what you think. And the truth is, He really loves you too).   

And I have me. I am weak, but I am strong too. I pursue change and growth. I apologize. I repent. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for help. I work hard. And I want to do more of that. I am enough, but I can't do enough, and that's okay. I forgive the people who hurt me, along with the people who suspected and said nothing.

I am more than the scared kid that I once was, but I welcome her.  


And to be honest, the rest of me is scared too. I don't know what happens after I share this. I don't know if I will ever get another client or be able to publish another piece. I don't know how many trolls will emerge to use this against me. I am already limited. I don't know what limitations will come after this.

But I hope that telling my story will help me keep getting better. I hope that telling my story will help someone else feel less alone. If you feel alone with any of this, reach out to me. My email address is amy.j.karas@gmail.com And if not me, find someone. Tell your story.

This is not where the story stops. I want to make the world a better place. I have tomatoes to grow; knowledge to share; lessons to teach; ideas to contribute; and speeches to give. There are friends to encourage; kids to read with; hands to hold; dinners to cook; and people to love and be loved by. I have more books to write than I could finish in a hundred years. There is so much work to do. And I want to do all of it.
I want all of it, but I'll be happy with the handful that I can actually carry each day. 

I'm in the fight of my life. It probably is not as intense as many that other people face, but I am fighting. No one can fight it for me. I'm not done yet.

I won't quit, even on the days when my dad's justifications are at their most persuasive. And they are. 

I will walk with a limp for the rest of my life,
but here's the thing...

...I will walk.

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