People now tell me they think I am strong. A rock.
"You've survived so much."
"You can handle so much."
While it may all be true...that I have survived a lot...handled so much...and have been able to keep growing, and moving on....what they don't realize is underneath it all I still grieve all that has been lost. That "rock" which is able to deflect so much pain, so many attacks...protects a tender heart of a woman which nurtures the dreams of a child...a little girl...who still holds on to the dream that fairy tales can come true.
I do still wonder at times if there will come a day when the grief of loss will become too much to bear that bitterness will take hold and tarnish my view on life, the past, the world, love and the future.
I think that is why I decided to write this blog. There are some people out there I know who have read my writings, and were shocked when they learned for the first time the steps my life has walked. I know this because over the years I've listened to their comments on others....victims (survivors)...and often heard stereotypical viewpoints.....generalizations that summed up a tunnel vision opinion of the assumed character of the person in which they just judged. A review of a life by just knowing one chapter in the book.
At the time they made the comments they didn't know me as a survivor, but rather saw me as one of the many different hats I've worn:
Each time I heard those generalizations...those judgements...I wanted to scream out, "STOP!! Don't do that!!!! Don't feed the cycle of silence!!!!!!!!!!" But, even I stayed silent and fed my own cycle of critical judgements.
"Stigmas grow in the back in the dark of closed closets." - Was a saying I came up with when I advocated for children of special needs. Something I told people...parents..schools..politicians...but did so without realizing how one day that thought would blow open the door to my own closet.
I think it all came together for me after that last attack on August 13, 2007. I woke up the next day, a reporter in the community in which I lived...knowing that word would get around about what happened...knowing that people would talk. Hell, it was news:
"Victim audio taped sexual assault."....what a story, huh?
But what I didn't realize was that being that reporter.....a known figure in the community..moves would be made to silence the story behind the crime. It's "dirty laundry" ...was a comment I heard...a comment that hit me to the core.
The shame that is attached to those words WERE too much for me to bear and in all essence blew open my closet door. I had enough to deal with, and I wasn't able to claim the crime of the shame.
The real soiling came when rather than truth being shared, rumors were spoken and within a couple of days time my youngest son came home with tears in his eyes...
"Mom, the kids teased me today and said my dad was a murderer. They're making fun of you for being raped."
Now the violent sexual assault I suffered at the hands of my estranged husband was technically considered a "rape" ...but not something I was prepared to hear about being used as a way to tease my baby.
"Dirty laundry...rumors....Stigmas grow in closets..rumors...Dirty laundry....rumors....Stigmas grow in closets"
My thoughts were spinning, and then it happened. All those hats I've worn (Reporter, volunteer, advocate, activist, Democrat, leader, friend, Mom) came together and refused to allow other people to tell my story. How could they when they didn't know all the chapters to my book?
Yup, my closet door burst open and I haven't turned back. I told my children that we could either let people "assume" who we are, or we can give them something to truly talk about and tell our own story. Either way they were going to talk, we already knew that as was proven by Kyle coming home with tears in his eyes being bullied by children who have over heard conversations of their parents...parents who worked in various roles of the justice system.
Everything Happens For A Reason...
Had there not been those rumors...those generalizations...those sweeping judgments...maybe I wouldn't have gotten mad and just maybe releasing all the shame of the other chapters in my life wouldn't have happened. Yes, my road to healing was littered with dirty laundry, but ignorance, judgments, and stereotypical viewpoints did in fact provide me the detergent to reclaim my own story...
The one thing I hope people take from reading all the chapters...the good ..the bad and the ugly...is knowing that even though I am a strong woman who can handle so much, and has been through so much..that the real person I am is captured in that tender heart of a woman who nurtures the dreams of a little girl that fairy tales can still come true.....
I am one of you.