Why I stayed…

1991…

The first three months were like a dream… we saw each other almost every day…. he called me every night to wish me sweet dreams…. he brought me flowers… took me on wonderful and exciting adventures… he was perfect…

Then one day in 1991 it all came crashing down… Garth Brooks released Ropin’ the Wind and I had to work late to put the display together for sale in the morning…. I called him, my angel on earth, he didn’t answer so I left him a message telling him I wouldn’t be home until late… I told him I loved him…. I told him I’d call him as soon as I got home….

11pm I pulled into my driveway and stood in front of a very angry man… fuming… He took my keys, opened the door to the house and pulled me inside with so much fury I almost fell to my knees… The next hour was a blur as this 6’6” stranger stood over me, yelling in a whisper, a very loud and terrifying whisper… Telling me he owned me, that I wasn’t allowed to stray from the order of things without his ok… when I finally was allowed to speak, through my sobbing tears, I explained I had called him, he wasn’t home and I left a message… Apparently, him not being home, not getting my message, well…. it was my fault…. And yet I stayed…

The next day flowers arrived at my work, with a note… “I still love you”… I interpreted it as “I am sorry for last night, I love you” and things went back to normal… So I stayed…

As the weeks went on my mistakes seemed to increase… As did his temper… the whispers turned to yelling… the yelling turned to humiliation…. and then came the first slap… it came out of nowhere… and it concluded with… “Next time, you will think twice”… and I did, I thought twice, three times… a hundred times… I thought, “What am I doing to anger him so much?” I paid such close attention to each situation… I stopped talking unless he asked questions… I stopped going out… I stopped my life and only focused on what would please him… and yet the slapping turned to hitting… the hitting turned to punching… the punching…. it turned to burning…. And yet I stayed…

When I left him, it wasn’t my choice… he had beaten me so badly I couldn’t stop throwing up, my eye was swollen shut and my nose was broken… my friends made me leave… They took away my right to choose because… I wanted to stay…

I write this, not for sympathy, but for those who keep asking women, like Janay Palmer, Ray Rice’s wife, why the hell would you stay with someone like that? While I can’t speak for anyone but me… I’m guessing it’s a similar story… A friend of mine stated he thought she was staying because of his money…. I know his intention wasn’t to hit me where it hurts, but that’s exactly what his comment did…

Perhaps for some, it’s what they get out of it… But for most, it’s what we put into it… I stayed because of a number of reasons:

1. Because I thought he loved me…
2. Because I thought I loved him…
3. Because that’s what I thought love was…
4. Because I never once, not even for a fraction of a second, thought he was in the wrong…
5. Because I was convinced, I deserved it…
6. Because I was convinced I kept making mistakes and he was teaching how not to…
7. Because I believed, if I can change, if I can finally get it right, he’ll stop…
8. Because I believed his apologies…
9. Because I didn’t think I could do any better… or didn’t know there was better out there…
10. Because I hated myself…
11. Because I hated myself…
12. Because I hated myself…
13. Because I hated myself…
14. Because I hated myself…
15. Because I hated myself…
16. Because I hated myself…
17. Because I hated myself…
18. Because I hated myself…
19. Because I didn’t know how to love myself…
20. So…. I stayed….

There are a myriad of reasons why we stay… a million reasons why we don’t leave… and sadly while we are in the thick of it we can’t see clearly, we can’t see we deserve better, we keep on hating ourselves, allowing the torture, the torment, the violence, the humiliation… we allow it to continue…

I’m left with scars on my thighs from cigar burns, scars on my vagina from cigarette burns, a scar on my chin from a punch with his ring on and because he broke my nose I snore so loudly I wake myself up every night… for close to 20 years I didn’t take my clothes off in front of a man with the lights on, I never left the house without covering the scar on my chin with makeup (honestly, I still don’t), I couldn’t look at myself without feeling the shame…

It wasn’t until I turned 40 did I make the conscious decision to right all the wrongs I’ve gone through…. to speak up and speak loud, to fight for my sisters who are staying… whatever their reasons are… to heal myself, to love myself, to forgive myself… an unending process, but one I won’t give up on…. It took me 20 years to get to this point and I plan on growing, evolving, changing every day, I’m not staying anymore….

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Warrior Women

As I walk through this world, a seemingly, beaten and worn down woman… A woman who has suffered at the hands of cowardly men who abused her for their own sick sense of power and then turn around and blame her for their actions; men who took from her what should have been hers to give; men who left scars so deep that they will never truly heal… physical scars she sees each and every day that force her to revisit the emotional and spiritual scars from so many years ago…

I oft times wonder “how am I still standing? How do I go on each day with a smile on my face and some semblance of peace in my heart?” These are just a few of the questions that are thrown at me whenever I tell my story…

My only answer is, I do it because of the women who came before me, the brave warriors who fought so courageously, who laid a path for me to fight and conquer my demons, so that I can, somehow, put one foot in front of the other and blaze my own trail of freedom, of strength, of power, of femininity, of kindness, of compassion, of love…

These cowardly men may have taken from me what was only mine to give, but they have not won, for each day I wake up with new sense of determination and focus, to not allow them to break me down… to not allow them to destroy me… but to fill myself up with pride, confidence, beauty, and love…

To those women who went before me, I humbly and sincerely thank you… to those women who walk with me, may our heads always be held high, may we hold each other up when we feel like falling down… to those women who will see the trail left by me and my sisters, may it guide you to a place of strength, power, self-respect, dignity, equality, faith, hope, kindness, compassion and love… and may your trail be one much less volatile than those that walked before you…

Peace 

International Women’s Day, #IWD2014

While I appreciate the sentiments of “Happy International Women’s Day” and all the wonderful men thanking the strong and powerful women in their lives… to me, that is not what International Women’s Day is all about, it’s not Mother’s Day, it’s not Valentine’s Day, it’s not Thanksgiving… 

International Women’s Day is not simply a celebration of women worldwide, it’s a day, yes, just one day out of 365, to recognise our struggles, to bring awareness to how much work we have to accomplish to reach our goal of equality… This year’s theme by the United Nations is “Inspiring Change”… Below are just a few of the changes that are needed for women and girls around the world… 

 

  • It’s about providing free and safe education for all females…
    • There are 600 million girls living in the developing world. Two-thirds of the world’s uneducated children are girls, and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women.**

 Education

  • It’s about providing Equal Rights for Marginalized Women Workers….
    • Many working women continue to face sex discrimination and other unfair treatment on the job, including sexual harassment and assault, wage theft, unequal pay, and other injustices. Women in male-dominated industries and those who are marginalized by race, poverty, immigration status, and/or sexual orientation often confront multiple barriers to equal opportunity and fair treatment at work. ***

 equal rights

  • It’s about a woman’s right to make decisions concerning her own body….
    • Pro-choice, the right for a woman to make her own decisions regarding abortions
    • Ending arranged, forced, under-aged marriages; The right to marry who we want, if we want

 my-body-my-choice

  • It’s about ending violence against women…
    • According to a study done by the World Health Organisation, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner*

 ending violence

  • It’s about all females living shame free…
    • Stop victim blaming
    • End rape culture
    • Stop shaming the victims and protecting the attackers
    • Allowing our girls to grow up feeling good about their body image, respecting themselves and being the strong, powerful, beautiful, funny, creative, talented, successful people they were born to be.

 Things that cause rape

So, this is what International Women’s Day means to me, it’s not only honouring the amazing women in our lives, which we should do every day anyway, but it’s about standing up, both females and males, and taking action, finding solutions. It’s about a world I can show my niece with pride, a world where she and all our sisters are safe, and honoured, and educated and healthy and proud….

 

“So, until all my sisters are free, really, none of us are free…”

 “Equality for women is progress for all” ~ From the United Nations page for IWD

 Here’s hoping to one day not have a need for International Women’s Day…

 international-womens-day--001

 

 * http://www.unwomen.org/

** http://www.educatinggirlsmatters.org/

*** http://www.equalrights.org/

 

What is love?

I wrote this a few years back…

A friend and I had a discussion about love, and I was asked what it meant to me, I couldn’t quite sum it up at that point. I asked the people in my life, both close and acquaintances what it meant to them… apart from one person saying “@#*$ like a wild animal!!” (which was one of my favourite responses), their answers were short, but some really hit home, I took them into my heart, and below is what love, in some small measure, means to me… 

Love is kindness, gentility, thoughtfulness, an ear and a shoulder, it’s in a child’s smile, it’s a mother’s touch, it’s a friend’s hug, and a lover’s embrace. It is opening your heart to someone, allowing them in, no matter how many times you have been hurt, love is trust.

When I say I love you, I don’t say it lightly, it comes from the very depth of my core, it is who I am, it fills me with such passion and desire that it sometimes moves me to tears, and God willing, it is in every action I take…

Love is humour, laughter, faith, friendship, communication, honesty.

When I say I love a “thing” I really do… I love cheesecake, I love the ocean, I love a multicoloured sunrise…

Love is sitting in silence and still so much being said, love is looking across the room, seeing a smile and being filled with joy, it’s the purr and meow from the light of my life.

Love is in the simplest things, like smiling at someone on the street, or holding a door open, and not expecting a “thank you”.

The power of the word love is a wonderful thing, but the power of the action of love can change the world. Mother Teresa once said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” The first time I read this quote it left a profound impact on me, and I feel it changed me… I read it and re-read it, and try to remember it, especially in the most stressful or anger-filled times of my life and somehow it reminds me the real reason for us to exist on this planet is to love, to love with everything we are, stand in the face of fear, anger, negativity and just love. To make the choice, in each and every moment, to love, to be kind, to do whatever it takes to take the right path.

What is love to me? Love is everything…

love 2

Love is always the answer…

At times… life can be a bitch, a total, heartbreaking, slap in the face, unjust bitch… it can take everything in which you believe and shatter it into a million pieces within a fraction of a second… Life can take all you hold dear and precious, your faith and your humanity and it can obliterate it… Life can be the ultimate force of total, all encompassing douche-baggery…

But… that’s got to be a temporary situation, it must be… we can’t allow it to take over our lives, take over our hearts and change us for the worse… we can’t allow it to extinguish the light from our hearts… we can’t allow it to eliminate our faith…

We must be stronger, more powerful and better than what life sometimes offers us. We must stand up to life and not let our SELF be changed…

We must remember the real life, the one that offers us miracles, hope and bliss… We must remember to focus on Kindness, Compassion and Love, and release the hate and the anger… I know that is asking for a lot when we are faced with such atrocities such as Sandy Hook, Danzig, and most recently, the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the case of the death of young Trayvon Martin… How can we let this go… ? We need to take this anger, this resentment, this hatred and transform it into something positive… We must pray for all the Trayvon’s of this world, and do whatever we can to change the system, the laws, the thinking, the privilege that is so segregated…  We must spread love in this world with such a force that the hate will just die out… Love… Love is the answer, love is ALWAYS the answer… for each of us  the path is different, but the destination is the same… we all must arrive in love…

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Lover’s Tiff…? Nope… Violent wife abuser? Yip!

Please watch this video, and then read on…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hsX2MAW-gQ

Isn’t this sweet, simply a “lovers tiff”, according to Nigella Lawson’s husband, Charles Saatchi, he was emphasizing a point to her and the photos misrepresent that… so do the tears in her eyes, the fear and terror on her face…. and what I am sure are big giant bruises left behind… Yip, just a misrepresented lovers tiff… I am so glad he cleared that up….

If this is what he does out in broad daylight, in public, on the patio of a restaurant, what does he do to her in the privacy of their home, and what does he do to their kids?

Violence is not based on a certain social structure, or economic class, or on education, or lack there of, it’s based on people who are sick, who thrive off of dominating the weaker sex, who feel it’s their right to do what they want to their ‘possessions’, it’s a power thing, it’s a thing full of hate and anger, it’s got to stop…. It is NOT the victims fault, it’s not as simple as ‘well, why she doesn’t pack the kids up and leave’ and anyone who says so needs to stand in these women and children’s shoes, just for one day… To see the scars, physical and emotional…. to see the years of emotional abuse, that have broken them to the point where they feel there is no place to turn… no one who can help, and that it is their fault….

It’s our fault, who ever had the damn camera should have put it down, gone over there and put a stop to the obvious abuse…. Someone should have stopped it…. plain and simple, no ifs ands or buts… you see someone being hurt, you stop it, you call the cops if you are at risk, but you make damn sure you don’t leave that situation until the person is safe….At the very least the person with the camera should have stood in front of him, so Charles (Mr. Lovers Tiff) could at least see his actions were recorded and he would stop… Somehow, some way, it is our absolute duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves…  And whether the victim is a famous, rich, white female, or an impoverished person of colour; whether they are sitting outside a fancy, expensive restaurant or if they are in the park in the poorer section of town… if they are being hurt we step in…. we help… end of story.

You’re Going to Make it… Cornilius “SEE” Flowers

Sometimes life just bestows you with gifts you never thought possible! Somehow, Cornilius “SEE” Flowers stumbled upon my blog and he sent me the link for his poem below… Please watch it, it breathes life into his words, and it will breathe life into your soul…

http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/other-shows/videos/the-messengers-you-are-going-to-make-it.htm

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Several years ago there was this show on TLC entitled “The Messengers”, it was a spoken word/inspirational speakers competition… There was this one contestant named ‘Cornelius “See” Flowers’, and week after week he would bring me to tears… Even if you offered me a million bucks cash I couldn’t name one other contestant on that show… but I never forgot him… There was one week in particular that stood out, his speech was called “You’re going to make it”… It touched me so deeply I typed out the words and when I feel the need for inspiration I read and re-read it… I can hear his voice in my head… I wish I could find the video of him, his poise, his compassion, his strength and his faith ooooooooooooze out of him and it’s so uplifting… for now, his words will have to do…

Struggle means: to progress with difficulty.
You know what that means? It means that you’re going to make it.

And I don’t even know what you’re going through.
And I’m not even going to tell you that I understand.

But if you’ll accept this suggestion as it be. From experience, take it from me.
Your struggle – it’s all part of his plan.

And you are going to make it.

Setbacks are just set forth to strengthen your spirit and character.
If you ever obtain the wisdom that you have already been blessed with…
You’ll see. You had to be messed with.

In order to be able to look someone else in the face, eye to eye, and say:
You are going to make it.

He who has begun a great work in you, shall complete it; until the day of Christ.
What that means: God is in you. Every day of your life.

Just making sure that you’re going to make it.

And in the pit of your stomach, you know it. So put that mask away and show it.
And let the world see it. Because if you want it, you can be it.

You just have to take it.
Tell God that you want it, and tell yourself that you can make it.

And don’t rely on your family and friends for foundation.

More than likely they’re just waiting to see if you’re serious or not.
Or if what you say is really what you’ve got.

And don’t get mad at them for not believing in your dreams.
And then not spend time convincing them with your pleads.
You just pray to God that they have the courage to follow your lead.

And if they still reject you, dust off your feet and your shoulders, and he’ll eject you.
Because sometimes you have to remove yourself; and then they’ll respect you.

But you are going to make it. Regardless.

As long as you start each job at the end.
What I mean: see it done, before you begin.

Money? It’s already there.
Health? Baby, you are already healed.
Faith? You have not, because you ask not.
Family? He who has created you, is more than you’ve got. And all that you need.

You just have to believe… that you’ll struggle, but…
You are going to make it!

Cornelius “SEE” Flowers

ॐ Peace ॐ

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