Of the many reasons I blog, this is at the top of the list: Meeting, befriending, supporting, and being supported by a woman like Susan. Thank you for this amazing piece my friend…I love your voice and am honored to stand beside you…
There is choice. We can die
from the shame of what is done
to us. We can wear the names
like letters branded into our skin
and quietly disappear,
become the nothings
they say we are, banished and vanished,
or we can wear our own words.
We can show them women are not sheep.
Girls are not fruit.
There is no shearing of hair
or reaping a harvest from us.
We learn through breath
the difference between being a victim
and becoming a survivor
is subtle, delicate
before it grows strength:
That shift across the line
of being versus agency
is a thing danced, not learned; sidestepping guilt and spinning it
back where it belongs
with something simple as a lifted head,
a turn around to shout back
at what is muttered under breath, or the woman who did not stand in shame, wordless,
but blocked a door shouting for police,
And in exploring what tickles me and ticks me off…this matter happens to be one big, fat, hairy, gray one
Matter that took me more than 45 years from the start of it to face, speak out about, seek help for, and begin the process of forgiving myself by working to place the responsibility where it belongs
Not in the heart or on the soul of a 5-year-old, 6,7,8,9…19 year old girl! Or 20, 30, 40, 50…..80 year old woman, if I’m lucky enough to live that long.
It needs to be thrown into the faces, stabbed into the hearts, and tattooed onto the souls of both the familiar and the unknown faces of those with black hearts and ruined souls who felt they had the right!!
Those who felt they were owed!
Those who felt we asked for it!
Those who believe a 5-year-old wants it!
Those who thought it was no big deal!
Those who blame their victims!
The following link shows just how deranged, deluded, and dangerous these predators are.
In their own words…as (forever and ever) remembered and demonstrated by their victims:
PROJECT UNBREAKABLE – an online photography project that aims to “encourage the act of healing through art.”
It’s not pretty
It’s not nice
But it’s real
Very, very real
Please, take a moment and click the above link.
If it doesn’t make you mad, it’ll make you cry.
If nothing else…it should remind you to
never forget or take for granted the power of words.
In the wrong hands, they can fatally wound a heart, forever scar a mind, indelibly stain a soul
In the right hands…they can free the world…one victim and one share at a time
And this shade of gray looks good on me…a fighting shade, a warrior shade, a sharing shade
I want them to be walking around in a public place, like a grocery store, and suddenly recognize what they did and dissolve into panicked tears. I want them to lie awake at night and spend hours replaying those scenes wishing through choking, pathetic sobs that they could change the endings. I want them to be terrified of being around the opposite sex because it might happen again. I want them to be so deeply ashamed of themselves that they truly believe their own parents would stop loving them if they really knew the truth. I want them to get the cold sweats and shakes whenever someone mentions the word “rape”.
I want them to look at other people who are happy, who have healthy and pleasurable sexual relationships, and feel broken. I want them to feel enraged whenever someone spouts off “just world” philosophy bullshit. I want them to avoid mirrors because they can’t stand to look at themselves. I want them to spend countless nights getting drunk so they’ll finally have the courage to commit suicide only to realize that they’re a coward (just like they already knew). I want them to spend 15 minutes of every hour in the handicap bathroom at work trying to calm themselves down. I want them to feel inescapable panic about half of the time they have sex for years after the fact. I want them to think about my face any time they’re feeling sexual pleasure or getting naked or masturbating and I want that image to crush any hope of arousal.
I want them to explain to a significant other, through hysterics, exactly what happened on those nights. I want them to fear being out in public because it feels like the truth of those experiences is written on their faces. I want them to spend years in therapy. I want people to tell them that their pain is not a big deal and that they should just stop thinking about those nights because honestly, what is it really helping? I want them to feel a deep, unabiding sadness when people tell women not to go out alone or drink too much or wear sexy clothing because they know it’s not going to help a damn thing.
I want them to feel like I know them better than anyone ever could because I was there, I know what they look like when they rape someone. I want them to feel like I’m inside them, all the time, mocking them for every failure, panic attack and sick day. I want them to believe that it’s always going to be like this. I want them to feel like trash, actual use-and-throw-away trash. I want them to feel angry and have no outlet for that anger except their own body. I want them to feel weak and useless. I want them to feel DEFINED by those experiences. I want them to feel like a monster.
A day that requires a strength I’m not positive I have.
Yet I’m committed to faking that strength if I have to.
A day to speak-up, speak-out, and step-up.
To use the tools I have; tearing down old walls, kicking open locked doors, and shattering the stained and grime covered glass windows that have kept the dark in and the light out for too long.
Then, I can put the sledgehammer down, pick up my paint brush, and add my own colors to the palette of those brave souls already building a sanctuary from the prisons of abuse.
If aiding those who have already begun fabricating the framework; the architects like Andrea Bredbeck, and the carpenters, masons, and painters who swing their hammers, glide their trowels, and stroke their brushes of truth; if that is all I can do, then it’s what I will do.
Support is the – KEY – to this sanctuary. Without it, the door will remain locked.
Let your loved ones know, BEFORE they need it, that you’ll always be there.
Don’t assume they know…hammer it home it you have to.
That’s YOUR tool…use it. With love, but use it.
♥ And to those I love and to those that love me…thank you. ♥
I particularly love this one because it’s quintessential Susan (the Green Thumb Goddess). She can always pack a wallop in her poetry but I think she especially nailed this one. The seed planted here is powerful, visual, and easy to relate to.
I would also like to thank my daughter-in-law Lindsay for allowing me to use her beautiful face in this image. While she’s not a victim of sexual abuse…she absolutely ‘gets’ it!
A side note:
Women do not have to be victims of abuse to feel like and see that ‘stranger’ in the mirror…sometimes lost, sometimes less than, too often unrecognizable. Because I know that feeling all too well, not just as a survivor, but as a woman in general, there’s an added incentive to lead by example; to show that we must not be silent; we must not become part of the backdrop of someone else’s life; we must not lose sight of who and what we are…special, unique, and empowered to change the world by virtue of our voices, our minds, and not the least, raising our children.
We must step up and out of the supporting role and take the lead when we need to; show our sons and daughters that just because we plant and tend the garden, it does NOT make us gardeners.
And our choice to be housewives, does NOT mean we are ignorant of the world outside our four walls.
If our choice is to be stay-at-home mothers, it is just that – a choice. NOT an open door to disrespect, condescension, or a sign that we feel ourselves unworthy. If anything…it’s the complete opposite.
The link above will take you to their page…but here is what they ask:
1. Write an article/poem related to Women & Women Empowerment and post in your blog.
2. Link back to this article of KnowYourStar.com with a hyperlink so your readers and friends can join us if they are interested.
3. Enter your name and link into the Linky widget. (It should be the post link, and not your blog link in general. In your blog, click on the post title. The URL in the address bar would be the post link.).
4. Read and enjoy as many of the other writers as well. When you read more, most of them return to read yours.
5. Don’t miss this golden chance to impact the society! Let’s change it for better!
In collaboration with my dear friend and fellow blogger, Susan Daniels and her amazing ability to put what we feel into poetry…the following is our response to the challenge!
We did a series of three poems/images. The poetry is classic Daniels and the images are composites of photos of my own that I’ve manipulated to show what her words mean to me.
Please join the challenge is you feel you can, but if not, Join in the Conversation, visit KnowYourStar.com and read some of the other powerful entries in the effort to get RAPE out of the closet.
I was working on a post this morning, having to do with the tons of fun in the sun trying to sell a house in today’s market (yeah, right), when as often happens, a short sidestep away from the center line resulted in being led down another dirt road. But that’s life, especially my life, as I live for the treks down the less traveled dirt.
This particular step off the line was a conversation with a friend that began with small talk about the Gawd awful heat wave and remedies for sun burns, meandered to the pros and cons of having your home and all its contents spread all over the air waves for any ol’ burglar to scope out, tip-toed into current affairs generally and recent events in the Florida courts specifically, then naturally (!?!) morphed into what it must be like for a child to be raised in a Muslim household that forbids TV, radio, music, internet, and playing with children not of their own religion.
Don’t you just LOVE these conversations that sprout tentacles like a giant squid? I do…I love the random nature of them almost as much as the feeling of comfort I get knowing we can talk about anything…all at once! Very stimulating to say the least.
Anyway, post Muslim life discussion, from which we both came away thinking we’d like to try our hand at reading the Koran, the conversation jumped the broom to religion in general. While one of use believes and the other does not, one thing is certainly true: Where we find intolerance, bigotry, segregationist thinking, there is usually a religious aspect fueling it. If we are ever to see the day when our planet’s caretakers can live in true peace and brotherhood…religious fanaticism or extremists, of any kind, must see the end of days.
This of course ‘evolved’ into, well, evolution. Which as a non-believer in religion of any kind, is in fact, the religion of choice. Past the talk of apes and chimps, we discussed how humans are shown to have an innate ability to share. Yup. Share. Which of course led to whether being kind and empathetic is genetics or learned, and whether lesser traits, like competing in all respects, is too, learned or innate. Survival of the fittest after all, with no moral force guiding it? For the non-believer, the take is that we are just naturally a ‘nice’ animal. For me, the believer, I tended to agree, but still harbor some doubt. I do think, that while certain characteristics of humans are innate, most are learned behaviors. Basically, nature vs. nurture. An old and forever on-going topic of discussion that has its own, very long, dirt path. We discussed why certain behaviors occur in some animals and not in others.
For instance, the beaten dog. How can a dog who knows mostly pain from the hand of its human, still find it within itself to lick that very hand the few times it might be extended in what one could only marginally be described as love? It’s insane. Yet, it happens all the time. However, for a child to be reared in the same way, the risk is far, far greater, that the result could just as easily be a non-empathetic psychopath as it could be a loving, thriving, kind, and generous, human being. Is that a choice? Nature vs. nurture again? I used myself as an example, and even so, I still have doubts about it…or maybe doubt is too strong a word.
I have questions.
Being a victim of childhood sexual abuse (The year that broke the dam) from the ages of 5 to 14 and a victim of rape at the age of 19, one could imagine that I could have become a bitter, angry, mean-spirited, non-trusting, love-hating person. But I didn’t (Back on the Road). I’m like the beaten dog…and I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic here…it’s more a visual aide. I live a life filled with as much love as there is hate; as much beauty as there is ugliness; as much need for love, both to give and to receive, as distrust of it. So, it begs the question…was this my choice? Or was I bound by genetics to grow into a woman with a heart and huge capacity for empathy? I don’t know.
But here’s the rub, and ultimately, the reason for our long stroll down these particular paths…in speaking with this friend, it was pointed out ardently, that I do, in fact, have a wonderful heart, a good and strong personality, a huge capacity for love, and that (this is the key) I’m beautiful on the inside.
Ah yes…the beauty within vs. the beauty without (is that the term? doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean). I, for one, actually HATE that phrase. I love that I am, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a double-edged sword for me. I fell into the trap long, long ago, that it’s more important, at least initially, to be more beautiful on the outside. It has been my experience, and I just may have to take the responsibility for it (Delusional Illusions), that people who could not see beyond the surface passed me by without a second glance and without having the pleasure of getting to know me. I’m not alone. I’m certainly not unique in my thinking this is the way of things. I say honestly, if it was a choice to be the way I am, it was not an easy one, but for me, the only one. Why? Genetics? Nurture? (shrugging shoulders still)
So while I do still struggle with this question, the conversation, for all its meandering, did help me see that hard or not, choice or not, I am on the right path. My path. And if Joe Blow from Kokomo chooses to walk by me because I don’t look like a Playboy centerfold…I say one thing (well, I say it behind his back ’cause I’m nice)…