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Chantal Barlow

Why are you participating in Unconventional Apology Project?

"I didn't get to throw myself a 'coming out' party [laughs]."


I am participating in the Unconventional Apology Project because I didn't get to throw myself a "coming out" party [laughs]. I think it's important to drink your own Kool-Aid [laughs]. Being a participant is my way of showing my commitment to the project and honoring my grandmother. 



Have you ever had the opportunity to discuss the story you are sharing with us today? What impact did it have on you?


"I knew things were about to significantly change."


I shared my story with my parents shortly after it happened. I think it must have been the next day or for certain, that same week. We live many miles apart so I decided to Skype them at the time. It was incredibly emotional [long pause].  I knew I needed to share this because I knew things were about to significantly change. At the time, I felt this huge sadness that I would be worrying my family [tears]. I knew that being this far apart, would leave us all, well, reminded that we live far apart [pause]. I couldn't just come right over and be my parent's child [pause]. I needed a hug, and they just tried to comfort me the best they could from so many, many miles away [long pause]. I think this was one of the few times anger consumed me about what happened. All of these feelings were a result of what happened to me. But it felt like it happened to us, they weren't physically affected of course, but it was a reminder that I wasn't as "ok", and it felt like now I am left to sift through all of this, including reassuring my parents that I am ok. 




What domestic abuse experience do you want to share?


"I've never experienced the threat to my safety until the 'stuff' took over—her insecurity about not being able to control me."


I've never experienced the threat to my safety until the "stuff" took over—her insecurity about not being able to control me. 


Her lowest point became my lowest point, too. It was hard. I remember being on the ground. I remember being straddled, and pinned down to the ground. I remember smelling the alcohol [pauses]…when she was drunk, I became a possession and not the woman she adored. I remember yelling. I remember the, um, hmm [pause] devastation. She gave me a concussion. It left me nauseous, scared, [long pause] confused and lost. A fucking head-butt? I have to say, it still sounds pretty fucking barbaric. I think. I know. The shock left me frozen. I couldn't defend myself. I really felt paralyzed. My brain, and my [pause] body and my chest ached. I spent so much time playing out what happened. Not so much the head-butt. Or being mad that I didn't snap out of being in shock while I was pinned down. Damn, that bothered me for the longest. I pride myself on my strength; physically and otherwise. So I asked myself so many damn questions, over and over and over and over again [very deep, audible sigh] “How did I get here? Is she feeling this shitty about what's happened too?” My temporary memory was all screwy at the time.  That paired with knowing that I tend to block out painful circumstances. It's like I can't recover that file in my brain [pause]. "Stuff" got her there; her not being able to control me. The binge drinking lowered her inhibitions, and her "stuff" was let out on me. The "stuff" that dissolved, destroyed, dismembered [laughs] the fantasy of what could've been. 


You know, [long pause] my memory is so terrible, well, I know it's coping, but this is the occurrence I can remember. I know she hit me another time. I just can't remember if it was that night or sometime close to that night. I guess that's a good thing? Not remembering? I like to keep the good stuff whenever I can anyway [laughs].  


Even though we ended years ago, the social impact was still there, you know? [Pause] It felt like a constant insult that I had to...I was always basically playing off what really happened. Hiding the part that hurt, it felt like again, I was left to deal with the truth on my own, another way she was able to kinda fly under the radar. Tell comfortable truths that didn't compromise the, hmm [pause] the way people viewed her. That was pretty obvious to me, the kind of escaping out of confronting it and accepting responsibility, and it landing on me to kind of pad the downfall of our relationship. It's so shitty. I'm a hermit, so to interact on the rare occasion with mutual friends and be confronted was so [pause] unfair. It was so frustrating to see she was able to resume life so easily, it felt really unbelievable, for a very long time.  




What no longer lingers in your heart and mind about your experience? What has opened up for you as a result?


"I am thankful that I no longer try to figure out what happened." 


What no longer lingers [long pause]. I am thankful that I no longer try to figure out what happened. I spent a lot of time after, years, in fact. Trying to make sense of what happened. I wasn't trying to figure out my part in it. I was trying to make sense of it so that I could somehow feel more at peace with what happened. I wanted to basically, hmm, speed up the life lesson that was to be had, and if there even was one. Another thing I've noticed is that when I interact with her - we are still friends - I don't carry this frustration of her being able to bury and hide what happened amongst our friends, or even in our interaction. It's allowed me to be more of an observer, and if she wants to tell the story of us, how we ended, what really happened, in a way that seems to protect the image of herself, [pause] it says more about her than it does about me, and I am really relieved that's no longer lingering. 




What is your definition of love and how does that love feel?


"Love feels like my highest highs, and is my safety net during my lows." 


[Huge Smile] [Laughter] Love is always unconditional. Love feels like freedom, from the inside out. [Pause] Love is living giving and receiving without the barriers. Love feels like my highest highs, and is my safety net during my lows. 




What does leaving a Trail of Existence mean to you?


"Traveling down a path of truth."


Leaving a Trail of Existence means traveling down a path of truth. Creating a path for me to look back on and be proud that it's possible to not make compromises where I don't need to.




Do you have any parting thoughts?


"It's amazing to sit in this chair, in front of the lights and camera and be proud that I am strong enough to share my story."


It's great to feel like an internal shed [hand gestures of it leaving her body] of decayed feelings that are no longer living in me. It's amazing to sit in this chair, in front of the lights and camera and be proud that I am strong enough to share my story. 

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WARNING: this website contains accounts of domestic and sexual violence that some may find graphic or triggering and not appropriate for all ages.


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