“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough”

I spent the morning responding to comment after comment from women who have read my article “An Open Letter to the ones who have never been assaulted.” The article was published 8 days ago and has been viewed 15,719 times by people from places I’ve never been. My husband has made it his daily mission to provide a visual so I can grasp how many people this is. Each morning he reports the name of a town with an equivalent population. So far, the towns have all been small coastal villages. That is comforting to me.

The words were written for myself. I shared them for my daughter and for my future granddaughters. Never did I expect that I was sharing them for women I have never met, women as close as South Carolina and as far away as South Africa and Australia. Women thanking me. Thanking me for sharing my story. Thanking me for speaking up, for being brave.

“Your timing is ideal. I needed this right now.”

“Courageous and touching. Thank you.”

“I’m not brave enough to speak up but it helps to know I’m not alone.”

“Thank you for sharing your story…our story.”

Women sharing. Voices joining. My eyes soak up their words. Their message makes it’s way into my mind, through my heart, and one by one passes back out as droplets from my eyes onto the keyboard. Connection, kindred spirits across the miles connecting through the written word. Seeking solace in knowing we are not alone. Gathering strength from each other in order to face and stand down that which has silenced us. We are stronger together. Our combined energy, a force to be reckoned with.

For  me, writing the article was cathartic. During the process I began to feel an inner shift, an ease, a confidence, a relief. I felt a need to place my story out into the world in a way that was more real, more tangible than the spoken word. I wrote for myself. What I didn’t realize is that I also wrote for my Self, my inner being coaxing me along, leading me closer and closer to others who shared my story.

“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it isn’t strong enough.” Advice from a young man with an old soul made me pause and reflect. What is my Why? It’s the reason I do what I do, to pay bills. Some days, just to pay the water bill. My Why now expands beyond basic needs to include tuition, vacation, life insurance, and savings plans. All noble desires centered around family but never has any of it made me cry. At times it makes me anxious, disappointed, often frustrated, but I don’t believe it’s ever made me cry.

So today, I observe the eagerness with which I prepare my coffee and settle in for my morning routine. With a physical desire felt deep in my belly, I anticipate what I might read when I open the comments section. The stories, a thread connecting souls across time and space. Energy flowing. Strength growing. Whispers amplified when spoken through the megaphone of solidarity and understanding. Brave women reaching out with shaky hands to touch others to be assured and to reassure.

brave

This is the Why that makes me cry.

Tears of understanding + Tears of connection = Tears of Joy

Civic Ignorance

Just when we think it can’t get any crazier, when there can’t possibly be another trigger point for him to hit, BAM! There he goes again, even lower than before. This time it’s babies being ripped from a mother’s womb. A ghastly description of what could only be a scene from a low budget horror movie. Facts be damned. He’s gonna say whatever the hell he wants to and, lord help us all, there are people who believe him. People who will take his repeated false statements as fact and repeat them over and over on social media sites, adding graphics, creating memes, and misconstruing the issue to a point that no one knows where the truth lies anymore.

As a country, we’re battle weary. We’ve fought against racism, sexism, xenophobia, misogyny, and bullying. Many of us have stood in disbelief as we watched neighbors and friends step out of the darkness to reveal things about themselves that most of us would prefer not to know. A part of us wanted to stay inside our happy bubble singing LaLaLa and seeing only the good in everyone, normally, focusing on the positive and tuning out the negative. Sadly, “normally” hasn’t been around for a while.

For the past year, we’ve had to speak up for immigrants, gays, Muslims, and refugees. We’ve been called to re-evaluate our views on practically every social issue imaginable: Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, Criminal Justice, Gun Control, Abortion…

To explain why it’s wrong for a country founded by immigrants to discriminate against immigrants felt ludicrous, but we did it. Using words like freedom, opportunity, justice, and inclusion, we reminded folks of what it means to be an American. We attempted to calm the paranoid and bring sanity and compassion back to the conversation. We’ve talked of religious freedom and equal rights. We’ve been reminded to “Love thy neighbor as thy self,” that “Black lives matter,” and that “Love is Love.” We’ve defended religions that were not our own in hopes that the sentiment would be reciprocated and mutual acceptance achieved.

We’ve fought against the language of rape culture. We’ve heard audiotape boasting of sexual assault defended by men and women as “guy talk”, “locker room antics”, and “typical boy behavior”. We’ve been told to get over ourselves and stop pretending to be offended by vulgar words. For days, we fought to be heard. It’s NOT the word “pussy” that upsets us! It’s the act of grabbing a woman ANYWHERE without her consent. Many spoke out, no longer allowing the normalization of unacceptable behavior.

Week after week, issue after issue, we’ve armed ourselves with facts and resolved to do our part to discuss and debate respectfully and thoughtfully. We’ve listened, responded, and when necessary, agreed to disagree. This is how democracy works. But lately, like a toddler whose tantrums have not resulted in the attention he was seeking, the outbursts have reached the level of deplorable and I, for one, have no more patience.

We now have a presidential candidate, civically ignorant, spouting lies and spreading unfounded fear. Using innuendo and rumor as if it were fact, to distort records and manipulate the citizenry. Taking quotes out of context to paint false pictures. And as upset as we should be with this behavior, we should be even more upset with the behavior of those who have allowed this to fester. Those who have laid back and been spoon fed by the media and by the church, taking whatever is offered as the gospel, not questioning or inquiring. Allowing those in power to manipulate emotions and thoughts because it’s easier than thinking for our selves.

“I don’t understand, “ is not an excuse. If an issue is important, seek to understand. Reach out to people who have experience and ask questions. Approach things with an open mind and a caring heart, willing to learn and brave enough to allow a paradigm to shift.

If you read a quote that bothers you, research it. And if you discover the quote was taken out of context, imagine how it might feel to be misquoted yourself. Be grateful you aren’t publicly scrutinized and have compassion for those who are.

If you don’t understand the effects of sexual assault because you’ve never experienced it, don’t judge those who have. Refrain from questioning their motive or behavior. Express gratitude for your fortune and compassion for their struggle.

If you don’t understand the how and the why of abortion because you’ve never known someone who faced that decision, don’t condemn what you don’t know. Express gratitude for your innocence and compassion for their pain.

If you don’t understand why it’s important to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter because you aren’t black, don’t condemn those who are angry and frustrated. Express gratitude for your privilege and compassion for their story.

If you don’t understand why some of us are weary and no longer have patience for the conversation, then you aren’t paying attention and that is the reason for our frustration.

For whatever reason, be it laziness, busyness, or ignorance, if you choose not to do a little research and educate yourself on the issues, please refrain from the conversation. You are only serving to lower the overall competence and intelligence of an already shaky population. Our democracy is in danger and civic ignorance is the cause.

The Affair Factor

Thanks for the authentic response Derrick! Very well said.

derricklweston

0114_clintons-1998

Something has been bothering me. It has been for awhile, but with the volume on the election rhetoric cranked up so high, it’s really striking a nerve. I’ve been accused of over-sharing in the past and may be again here, but so be it:

I have a really hard time with people criticizing Hillary Clinton for her handling of her husband’s affair. I say this as a man who had an affair. I say this as someone who knows that unfair things were said to my ex about how she was handling things. I say it as someone who has both firsthand knowledge and a lot of guilt and shame in this area.

There are a couple of criticisms that I hear that I think are wildly unfair. The first is that she couldn’t take care of her husband. When said, this can mean a lot of things; that she…

View original post 1,070 more words

Love Harder – the world needs more healers

Many are feeling confused, scared, sad, angry, frustrated, inadequate, pathetic, weak, searching, helpless, speechless. Lost.

I am.

I’m confused. How do we heal this?

Bombarded by news of shootings, riots, grieving, anger. What does it mean? No one’s to blame. Everyone’s to blame.

“But he must have done something.”

“They’re all prejudice.”

“He was unarmed.”

“They felt threatened.”

I’m scared. How do we heal this?

Our children are watching.

To my black brothers and sisters, I’m grieving too. The color of my skin holds me back from moving towards you because I’m afraid of judgment, afraid of rejection. Worried my intentions won’t be seen as sincere. How can I possibly know or understand?

I’m staring to know.

I’m beginning to understand.

With each story, my heart breaks.

Perhaps this is the reason for it all. To awaken those of us who have been complacent for generations. Content to sit in our safe cozy spaces believing that all is well and all is equal. Convincing ourself that working with, playing with, living with black people means prejudice is history. Turning the other way when we hear of injustice because that isn’t what we see day to day in our part of the world.

A young man is shot walking home at night. He must have been up to no good. We search for evidence of past misdeeds, justification for the killing. Blame the victim. If only he hadn’t run. Innocent people don’t run. Right?

When we know better, we do better.

Now, more than ever before we must love intentionally.

Start close. Expand out to the whole world. Send love.

How do we fix domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, sexual assault, discrimination, political corruption, gang violence, Charlotte, Orlando, Syria, Uganda, etc etc – the list goes on and on and on – the answer is always LOVE.

Start close. Expand out.

2ed5342ee88f877e87baa5d480f5ad12“I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered, where does it hurt? It answered, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.” – warsan shire

Before, we were blind but now we see. The world is awakening and with this awakening comes power to change. We all have the power within us. We need only to start at home. Love your Self with intention. Love your family with intention. Take not one moment for granted. Feel gratitude for the breath you take, the air you breathe, the earth below your feet, and the sky around you.

Intentionally feel. Intentionally see. Intentionally listen and then love. It won’t be large acts on a grand scale that will heal this troubled world we, as a species, have created. It will be small acts of love given freely and often and always with intention.

More healers are aware and working in the world than ever before. We are all healers. We must make the conscious choice to be. Meditate love. Love harder and then love some more. – namaste

An Open Letter to the Lucky Ones – the ones who have never been assaulted

To all of you who still don’t get it,

You are the lucky ones. Good for you! A small number of you, by the grace of God, have never been subject to assault or known anyone who was assaulted. You are in the minority. Three out of four women have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lives. So unless you are the one out of four, you actually do know someone who wasn’t so lucky. And after reading this, you will know of one more.

The first time I was five. A family friend visiting in an RV. A mini home. I could be the wife, he said. I loved the little kitchen with the icebox just my size. I served him pretend food and brought my baby doll with me.

The wife has to do things, he said. I didn’t want to. In my strongest five year old voice, I said no. He didn’t hear me.

Shame crept in. It crawled up my back and over my face, muffling my still small voice.

The second time I was eight. High school boys, my neighbors, like brothers. I trusted them. They touched me. I closed my eyes and left my body behind.

The shame grew heavier.

The third time I was twelve. He was trusted to drive me home but his hands on my barely budding little breasts betrayed that trust.

“stop”   He couldn’t hear me.

The shame was too thick for my tiny voice to escape.

I was raped in high school. Under the pier. In the sand. He was a ‘friend.’

In college. In a car. I was drunk.

In relationships. I was silent.

Why don’t women speak out?

Why don’t they confront?

Why don’t they press charges?

Those who have been there never ask why. Most don’t know. Often it isn’t a single assault but the cumulative toll of a lifetime of smaller events. The effects of shame compounded.

Jokes are made and memes are created. Efforts to verbalize assault are dismissed as over reaction and unwarranted sensitivity. Meanwhile another young woman is groped, grabbed, forced, molested, raped….

Shame is a cloak that muffles the voice. It takes a strong woman to lift the edge and speak out. Her voice only a whisper that alone, often is not heard but when combined with the voices of other brave women, begins to grow louder and eventually those who ask why will hear the answer loud and clear.

Why? What good will it do if no one listens?

Listen.

For the sake of your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your wives, your friends.

Listen.

Don’t just listen when we are strong and shouting. Listen when we are scared and shaking. Listen because we matter. Listen because this isn’t just bigger than life politicians, wealthy men, and locker room banter. This is our life.

Don’t think because we have been silent that we don’t remember. We never forget.

If you are one of the lucky ones, share your voice with someone who has lost theirs. Speak out and speak up. You were spared the shame of assault for a reason. Use the strength you have to help lift the edge of someone else’s cloak. Don’t add to the weight with your insensitivity.

It’s taken nearly forty-seven years, hundreds of hours in therapy, and the love and understanding of a strong man to develop the muscle to lift my own cloak. Recently, I’ve felt my muscles quiver but with the strength of every woman who finds the courage to speak out, my voice grows louder and for that, I am grateful.

-namaste