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….

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

“They’re Real and They’re Spectacular” Until you go shopping for a dress!

Today I went shopping for a new dress to wear to the awards gala in Atlantic City this weekend… It’s the first time in a couple of years I’ve gone shopping for something fancy schmancy…

 I left my home with the highest of expectations… I mean, in the past 8 or 9 months  I’ve lost well over 45 pounds and am like 8 dress sizes smaller than I was, so I figured I could hit H&M or Suzy Shier, find one of the sexy dresses I see in their ads and actually fit into them! I mean, my intended budget was $45.00, and as my plus sized gal pals can attest to, that’s insanely unrealistic in plus sized stores…

So I went to Dufferin Mall… walked right passed Cinnabon, (a victory all on is own) and into H&M I go… I found a few dresses I liked I held up their ‘large’ size, and quite frankly it wouldn’t even cover one of my nipples! So, a tad disappointed, but not yet defeated, I went into Suzy Shier, and they were having a sale, ALL DRESSES $30.00!!!!!!!!!! I was even more determined to buy one there as it was under budget! I picked up 5 dresses, went into the change room, and again, my chest, my DDD chest, beat me down into a puddle of shame, a quivering mass of depression, and an informal decision to walk straight to Cinnabon and feed my depression as I’ve done my entire life…

I thanked the lady who helped me, and left… close to tears, wondering how, after all my hard work I still don’t #$^#*$ fit into a ‘regular’ sized dress… then it dawned on me, slowly, (thankfully before I got back to Cinnabon) that while the dresses didn’t fit over my chest, they DID fit everywhere else… HOLY CRAP! They fit my ribs, my waist, my hips, my ass!!!!

So this realisation is a big deal for me, all my hard work IS paying off! But what to do? I still need to shop in a plus sized store to appease my giant breasts… So I went to a plus sized store, Addition Elle… I tried on 4 dresses, all of which fit over the girls, and I fell in love with one of them… I felt like twirling around and dancing like a Disney Princess in this fantastically beautiful dress… and I felt beautiful… So what if I, because of my ‘girls’, have to keep shopping in plus sized stores, (other than the fact the prices are at least double, another topic for another blog entry), I felt gorgeous, sexy, and happy, with me, my body and my boobs… My boobs are part of who I am, who I’ve been for over 30 years, (read “My nickname in grade 4 was ‘Tit Wiggle’” for insight into that tale), I love them, they, in some way, define me, who I’ve become and who I want to be…

So life is good, I have an awesome dress, I went $60.00 over budget, and I am quite ok with that! I just won’t eat during the month of May!

p.s. I’ll update this entry with a photo once I wear the dress this weekend.

Some of my Best Friends are Gay!

Subtitled “I’m on the Pro-Gay Bandwagon… are you?”

I’m going to begin this with a bit of poignant humour, this is a clip of Nathan Lane on the Ellen show, it’s his response to a group of closed minded homophobes who tried to have Ellen DeGeneres removed as the spokesperson for JCPenny, and how JCPenny not only stood by their choice, and didn’t give in to petty threats, but Ellen’s response of humour, grace, class and confidence, as she says “My haters are my motivators”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YNXikPtknM

I work in an industry that has such a diverse group of people, all races, ages, religions, sexual orientations, etc. and we all just… get along! It’s like in the park, when you see someone feeding the birds, pigeons, chickadees, crows… they all hang out together and eat in peace… sure every once in awhile a big bully of a seagull swoops down trying with all his might to take all the food, but the tightly knit group bands together, defends themselves, and actually invites the seagull to join them, sharing their feast… sometimes the seagull does in fact settle down and joins in, and sometimes he flies off to find another weaker group to take over… In one shift, during the course of an 8 hour event, I have witnessed this… the group, defending their territory, with love, compassion, humour and kindness, have won over the bully, and by the end of those 8 hours, we were all nibbling on stale rolls together… It warmed my heart to be a part of that progress, I felt proud to be in the company of such fine birds!

So, like the title says, “Some of my best friends are Gay”, and they are! And so what? Why does it matter? How does the fact my saying they are gay change the fact that they are some of my closet friends. Being gay doesn’t take away from the person they are, it doesn’t make them less of a person, it doesn’t make them non-human… Every time I sign a petition, read an article, or hear a story about a gay couple not being allowed to marry, or offered basic human rights such as being allowed to roam the streets freely are stripped from the gay community, or people being imprisoned or beaten and even put to death for being gay, a little piece of me dies inside.

“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

If I were, at random, to choose 5 straight friends and 5 gay friends and simply wrote one page each about them, about their life, about their choices, about their dreams, about their values and handed you those 10 sheets of paper you wouldn’t be able to tell me that these 5 are the gay 5 and these 5 are the straight 5. They are just 10 stellar human beings, doing good things in this world, seeking the same things we all seek, love, friendship, acceptance, joy, beauty, etc.

How can a nation, as ‘forward thinking’ as the United States of America think their government has the right to deny their own citizens the right to marry one another? Their own Pledge of Allegiance states: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

How can we sit by while innocent people are being imprisoned for simply uttering the word “Gay”? While our brothers and sisters are being sent to re-education sessions to ‘fix’ them? While they are being put to death for the simple act of being true to who they are? Silence and inaction isn’t the answer…

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies,

but the silence of our friends.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I know this post is long, it’s all over the place, has no real form to it, and probably not my most eloquent piece and for this I sincerely apologise… However, I believe that is because I am at a loss for what is happening in this world. I’ve tried numerous times to write this, put my inner most feelings out there for the world to read… I’ve rewritten it dozens of times and finally decided to just vent, and pray my message is heard.

I tried to write this post from a place of compassion, a desire for change, and I pray my rage doesn’t come through. To, one last time, quote the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (snippets from his brilliant and beautiful speech ‘I have a dream’ while based on the equality of the race all mankind, I truly believe his intention was for worldwide equality of all mankind in its entirety, race, religion, sexual orientation, body type, etc) :

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:

‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Peace & Love

Princess Larissa, on her birthday…

Once upon a time the most beautiful princess was born to an equally as beautiful mother. This princess was very blessed to be loved beyond words by her mother and her grandmother. Her mother chose the most perfect name for this princess, she named her Larissa… The meaning, Cheerful and Lighthearted, no name could be more fitting as where ever this princess went, the people she met were happier, and better inside for having the chance to meet her.

As the years went on, Larissa grew into a stunning princess with the shiniest, silken hair; almond shaped eyes that sparkled with the light & mercy of God; and a smile so bright and welcoming and everlasting. But what was even more beautiful than her physical self, (and let me tell you, that’s no easy feat, Princess Larissa was ‘slammin’) was her inner beauty. Princess Larissa’s heart was filled with so much kindness, laughter, joy and love, that when people came into contact with her, even for a moment, she enriched their lives for the rest of their days.

Princess Larissa forever carries the memories of her mother and grandmother in her heart, she misses them both in every moment of her life. But she never lets one of those moments go by without thanking the Lord for blessing her with two such loving beings, for giving her the opportunity to recognise their beauty, feel their love, and love them right back. Her gratitude and compassion just reaffirms her timeless beauty.

Princess Larissa had two beautiful daughters, both of whom inherited her spirit, her heart and her beauty. These girls are already carrying on their mothers living legacy of kindness, generosity, cheerfulness and lightheartedness! They are her pride and joy, she is the embodiment of the perfect mother, and her love for them grows each and every day.  

I have been blessed with the honour and privilege of watching Princess Larissa grow and blossom into a fierce and powerful woman. And today, while the world wishes Princess Larissa a happy birthday, I silently thank God who, many years ago, brought me to this magical child and allowed me to witness her life. In my heart, she is my daughter and my little sister wrapped up in one beautiful package. I am proud and humbled of the person she has become. I am in awe of her capacity to love in the face of tragedy, of her SHEroic warrior spirit, and of her infinite inner and outer beauty.

Today, on this, the day of your birth, I wish for you eternal bliss, abundance in all you seek, wild and amazing adventures, laughter and joy in every moment, friends and family filling your heart with light and love.

Lastly, I thank you Princess, for allowing me to be a part of your life, for being ever so lucky to witness your beauty, for it changes me, every single day, it changes me and makes me a better person in this world. I love you, more than mere words could ever express.

Happy happy HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Travis and a Soldier (child) Named John…

When I moved to Panama I flew via Atlanta, which is one of the airports that the soldiers use to fly to Iraq. The fear and sadness in that airport were palpable, I, someone who always walks with her head up smiling at every person I pass by, kept my head down as I couldn’t deal with seeing those young boys dressed like grown men, leaving home to go fight a senseless war… fighting back tears, trying to live up to everything the uniform says they should be…. instead of going to college, or getting jobs, learning, growing, partying, getting laid and having fun…

While waiting the 5 hour layover Travis and I sat at a restaurant and they were so nice to us, they gave me a little cup of water and fresh tuna for her and let me keep her, in her travel bag, up on the table so she could always see me…

One soldier was sitting a few tables away from me kept looking at us and smiling, I think laughing too because I kept talking and singing to her and had a hand in the bag petting her to keep her calm. At one point he had so much sadness behind his smile I asked him if he wanted to come meet Travis… He jumped up and sat with us (now we all know Travis has her moments of hissing, screeching etc. but when she’s hopped up on valium, she’s quite docile lol) he put his hand in her bag and petted her, while I tried to explain why my female cat was named Travis… he had his hand in the bag the whole time, talking to her and telling me about his experiences. He was 18 years old, his name is John, his father and grandfather were both soldiers and it was just expected of him to become one too… He told me that he’d never spoken these words out loud to anyone, but he said “I am so scared, of course of being injured or dying, but actually of having to kill someone. All I want to do is play my guitar and sing” Tears flowed down his cheeks; he turned away from me and focused on Travis. She’s such an amazing being, she felt his pain, and pushed her own fears aside and began to purr. His face lit up and said “hey she’s purring!!!” His smile was of a child, delighted by the simplest things in life. I told him to feel honoured, as that rarely happens for anyone but me!!!

“If purring could be encapsulated, it’d be the most powerful anti-depressant on the pharmaceutical market.” ~ Alexis F. Hope

I decided to make him laugh and taught him the Travis the Kitty song and we sang it together to her laughing so hard.

He looked at his watch and said “I can’t believe how quickly the past 1.5 hours went, I have to run to my gate now!” He stuck his whole head in Travis’ bag and gave her a kiss, I stood up to shake his hand and he took it in both his hands and said “Thank you Lalita, this was the most relaxed I have felt in a long time, when I close my eyes at night I am going to sing the Travis the Kitty song till i fall asleep” With that he gave me the tightest, most genuine hug I have ever felt, and one I’ll never forget, he grabbed his duffle bag and ran to his plane.

“A loving cat can mend a wounded heart.” ~ Anonymous

I stood there watching him run, and realized only when the waitress put her arm around me that I was sobbing… She said to me, “Hon, you did a great thing there… from looking at you, I don’t know who got more out of it, him or you”

It wasn’t until hours later, while Travis and I were on the plane, did I realize we didn’t exchange numbers, or emails or even last names… I’ll never know what happened to John, I sometimes used to think he was home safe and sound and got himself a feisty little cat named Travis Jr. lol… but I do know he changed me forever, I don’t walk with my head down anymore, everyone I pass by gets a smile.

“Until one has loved an animal,  a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France

Previous Older Entries