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….

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/