When the Devil Dies the Demons Linger on…

butterfly let go

A few days ago my mom sent me a message saying “he passed away”… Since I read that sentence I’ve been in a physically fully functioning emotional coma… I’m going through the motions of life… Working, socialising, going through the daily requirements… but inside..? Inside I’m frozen… I’m dead… I just don’t know how to react…

You see… “he” is the devil who stole my childhood… who, for 6 years, from 3 – 9 years of age, abused me, terrorized me, and threatened my family if I were to say anything… So, I never did… My wings were clipped and I just carried the weight of guilt and shame with me well into my 30s…

Burdon

Until I read that sentence “he passed away” I honestly thought I had dealt with it, I thought I had moved on, I truly thought I had healed… And now, here I sit… feeling like I am a little kid again… lost and scared… Add on angry and full of regret…

On some level I wish I had confronted him, my demon, yelled at him for taking away my innocence… for filling me with shame filled self loathing, which in turn led me to 15ish years of self destruction… drugs, promiscuity, suicide attempts… and yet, what good would that do? He wouldn’t have cared… if he apologised… would that make me feel better? Would it, in fact, heal me, give me closure? Probably not, his smirk, his arrogance, it most likely would have killed me…

So, I guess I have a lot more work to do than I had thought… a lot more healing, a lot more coping… I need to find a way to allow forgiveness into my heart… a way to forgive myself and to forgive him… I can’t keep dragging this boulder of hatred around with me… I am better than that… better, stronger, smarter, more beautiful… I just need to allow my wings to be set free…

 

free butterfly

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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….

Ubuntu

My entire life I’ve struggled with the concept of religion… Though, never with the concept of a Higher Power… Just what man has done to manipulate our reason for being… I’ve searched and researched many religions, paths, faiths and philosophies and while the books come close to what my heart longs for, the majority of the practising people have discouraged me… The fundamental truths are constantly distorted and changed to suit the current situations… And rarely in a positive way…

17 years ago, I found my path, I found my guide, and my life changed forever… However, I still longed for a communal name for what my heart already knew to be true, so while my spirit was on its long, arduous, oft times feeling unattainable journey towards enlightenment, my brain needed closure, and I never stopped searching…

Ubuntu

Then, one miraculous day, I saw this image I remember thinking, this is what God is… This is what the High Power is… Ubuntu… It’s a philosophy that spans throughout Africa, and it bests translates to, “I am, because you are.”

I am, because you are… how beautiful, how simple, how perfect… (examples of Ubuntu I found during my research) If my neighbour is hungry, how can I eat without sharing with them? If a stranger comes to my town, I will feed them, house them, make them family… Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, a Zulu Sangoma (healer) from South Africa says “Unbutu is nothing more or less than compassion brought into colourful practice.”

Compassion brought into colourful practice… That has been my life(s)time quest… practice, always, compassion… Kindness, Compassion and Love is my mission in life…

As the last hours of 2013 tick away, I can honestly say I am glad to close this chapter on my life and start fresh with a new year… I faltered many times in 2013, I was overcome with grief, I was and am deeply depressed and I know I allowed myself to slip into a very dark place… That place scares me, and I want to come out, I want to come home…

So my renewed mission for 2014 is Ubuntu, I am, because you are… my heart is your heart, your heart is my heart, there is only one heart… Ubuntu…

Peace and Love for 2014

Ganesh Om

 

 

 

 

Some links on Ubuntu:

Nelson Mandela’s interpretation

Ubuntu’s philosophy, a short documentary

Bishop Desmond Tutu (one of my favourite beings of all time)

President Obama, at Nelson Mandela’s funeral 

Hate is hate, and the Salvation Army is full of it…

After posting the article a few weeks back, about the Salvation Army’s long running history of their anti-LGBT, homophobic beliefs, I was presented with this question:

“How can you deny the great work that the Salvation Army does for the public at large? Why does their stance on LGBT issues have to come into play, that’s their right to believe how they believe? Why should I withhold my money from an organisation that provides such great charitable work to the needy?”

Needless to say, this person is no longer my friend on Facebook, or in the real world… My answer to this is… Hate is hate, no matter how you wrap it up to disguise it, hate is hate…. No matter how many Santa’s on street corners, no matter how many donation kettles in stores, no matter how many people are helped by the money collected, hate is hate…

If the work you do is segregated, if you are selective in who you help, then your work is not true charity… Webster’s top two definitions of the word ‘charity’ are:

  1. benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
  2. generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also :  aid given to those in need

NOT:

  1. benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity; UNLESS YOU ARE OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY
  2. generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also :  aid given to those in need; UNLESS YOU ARE OF THE LGBT COMMUNITY

The Salvation Army has a long history of trying (and on occasion succeeding) in wielding their power to fight against the equal rights of our LGBT community… See the Huffington Post article here…  

I can’t, and won’t, ever support any group that actively promotes hate… There are so many wonderful charitable organisations out there that do as much ‘good’ for the world, and their mission is to help people, ALL people, regardless of their sexual orientation, their skin colour, their nationality, their religious choices, their genders, etc…

The Canadian Red Cross’ Mission Statement is: “The Canadian Red Cross mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.”

United Way Toronto’s Mission Statement is:  “To meet urgent human needs and improve social conditions by mobilizing the community’s volunteer and financial resources in a common cause of caring.”

With organisations like these, and countless others, all encompassing, inclusive, accepting, organisations, how on earth could I give my money to a group that promotes inequality, segregation, and hatred… Sorry Salvation Army…. but until you learn the true meaning of the word ‘charity’ you won’t ever have my support….

Peace

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

Breaking down walls…

I wasn’t planning on sharing this story, but the more time that passes, the more I am coming to terms with what happened to me and need to share…

One of my closest friends in this world has been in the hospital for the last two weeks and we are currently unsure when they will be coming home…I have been spending all day, every day, at the hospital, by their side when I can, or in the visitor lounge when I can’t… The hospital is a sad and scary place, surrounded by such overwhelming emotions I have a need to find balance, to keep connected to my soft side, I am finding myself hardening up, building walls to combat these energies… and I don’t like how that feels…  

So, I’ve made a point to help people wherever I can, when I am in the lounge I make conversations with the patients, especially those who are alone… If I see someone lost, I try to help them find their way (literally lol), if I see someone crying, which is a daily occurrence, I reach out to them, even if it’s to hold their hand… I speak to each nurse with respect and gratitude, for they are truly angels, their gentle & compassionate care for my friend is truly amazing….. They’ve become like family to me and I’ll never forget them… I thank the doctors, the miracle workers… I hang out with the orderlies and joke with them, flirt with some of them lol… I’m well known at Tim Horton’s, they know my coffee order, and relish in my joy of the pumpkin spiced muffin!…

Last Thursday there was an elderly man in the elevator bank on my friends floor, he looked lost, so I asked him if I could help him… He asked where Tim Horton’s was, I told him I am heading that way and to follow me… When we got to the main floor he asked if I could take him back up to the floor so he could go back to his wife… I said no problem; I’ll be back in 5 minutes… When I met him again, and we entered the elevator, he became sexually inappropriate with me, to the point I was terrified and had to physically push him off of me and escaped quickly when I left the elevator. I filed appropriate reports with the powers that be, I’ll just leave it at that…

This man, along with all the other men in my life who have taken from me which is only mine to give, feeling awful and gross, and dirty… I showered 4 times in 8 hours, and could have showered dozen more…  He also, and quite possibly, worse, left me feeling angry, furious, enraged, and beaten down… On my drive home I was screaming incoherently at the top of my lungs, I woke up every few minutes crying, sobbing, shaking… A week later, I am still not sleeping well…

For a few days after this happened I made the conscious choice to stop helping people, to shut up, not talk to anyone, to give up on humanity, to only focus on those in my immediate circle and shut the rest of the world out… This man took away the part of me that makes me me… he robbed me of my freedom, he took away my strength and replaced it with fear and total disappointment… I did this for 3 days, I walked with my head down, eyes on the ground, fists clenched and just took care of my friend… As each of these three days passed, I felt worse and worse, I felt physically ill, I was crying each time I was alone, I found myself lost, and scared, and I wasn’t me… But I wasn’t able to stop, I had built up a wall and refused to break it down, while I wasn’t happy, I was safe… I was suffocating in my safety, but I wasn’t afraid…

Then on day 4 as I was walking into the hospital there was an old man trying to climb the stairs and carry his walker up, dozens of people walked by him as if he didn’t exist, and I couldn’t handle it… I busted through my wall of anger and hatred and touched his arm, asked if I could help him carry it up while he used both hands on the railing… He barely spoke English, but thanked me profusely, and I made sure he got inside and knew where he was going… In that moment, as he took my hand in his and thanked me, in a NOT gross way, I started breathing again, feeling again, and slowly, brick by brick, I’m breaking down the wall…

ॐ Peace ॐ

 

 

 

A Big Girl’s Fairytale…

Once upon a time there was a girl who, after the most difficult and tragic year of her life, gathered up as much courage as she could and went on vacation alone…

While sitting on the beach and speaking in Spanish to one of her dear friends who lived in the Dominican and worked on the beach, she overheard two girls sitting behind her, two absolutely beautiful, skinny, model-esque girls, talking about her… They were saying things like, “I wouldn’t even leave the house if I had a body like hers let alone go out in a bathing suit in public” and “how on earth someone could let themselves go like that is beyond me.” Some more comments, more harsh and thoughtless comments, followed…

The only thing this girl could hope for is that these two models thought the girl didn’t speak English and that’s why they were being so loud, and heartless with their words… This girls friend saw the change of expression on her face and he asked what was wrong, as strong as she tried to be, a tear rolled down her cheek and she looked at him and in Spanish, said “nothing my friend, I just missed you so much and am glad to see your sweet face” He then hugged her, told her to stop crying and enjoy her vacation…

As her friend walked away, she stared at the ocean, quietly sobbed for a few minutes, and begged God to release the anger and sadness in her heart… By some miracle, God did just that… right in front of her beach chair she saw a teeny tiny crab doing a little crab dance, side to side, as if he was performing just for her… She wiped her tears, and smiled, and the smile grew to a laugh and the laughter grew to release… She no longer felt sad and angry, AND she felt forgiveness, she forgave the models for their hateful words and she forgave herself, for allowing their words to hurt her so deeply…she felt connected to the universe and all of its wondrous, mystical and magical, beauty… When the crab finally disappeared under the sand she lay back on her beach chair and began to enjoy the feeling of the warmth from the sun on her BEAUTIFUL body, she put on her iPod and she found peace…

An hour later this girl was hungry so she got up to go to the beach front restaurant for her daily hotdog and as she passed by the two models, she looked at them right in the eyes and with a big genuine smile she said “I hope you beautiful girls enjoy your vacation!!” The shock on their faces proved her earlier suspicions that they didn’t think she spoke English… and then there was a look of fear… to which she replied “The Dominican is a magical place girls, I hope you discover it and appreciate it!”

The girl went to the restaurant and enjoyed her hotdog, and the rest of her vacation… And that night, at the buffet, they were serving crab legs; in honour of her earlier gift from God, she chose not to eat them! And she, so far, is living happily ever after…

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