Words

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Words are easily my favorite thing. They make up all my other favorite things: books, stories, and poetry. They seem to be the fastest way to my heart. Words can make something from nothing. Empires have been built on words.

Laws are created with words.

Love has bloomed from words.

Wars have been started over words.

They are used to motivate, to militarize, to organize, and to separate.

I hear people say all the time, “They’re just words.” I’m living proof that some of the most painful injuries can be caused by words.

Life is described by words.

I’ve read articles and stories of the blind and how they are better able to perceive the world because of being able to read braille.

The deaf are able to learn where they have not been able before. The animated teacher’s mouth movements can make sense when they are transcribed. Words are made into motion as someone translates speech to ASL.

I use words in everything. I use them to explain, to understand, to evoke, to heal.

Words make up the sonnet, the manifesto, the suicide note, and the battlecry.

Emotions and worlds come to life as words pass the lips or spill across the page. They are a confession of love, an apology, a last chance, a request, and sometimes, the last memory people have of us after we’re gone.

Whether in ink, by mouth, on a screen, or locked away and confined to your heart, words are my most favorite thing. 

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#MeToo

Please be advised that the following blog post contains sensitive subject matter and may be a trigger for those who live with present and past experiences with sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.

 

Social media has been filled lately with the #MeToo stories of sexual abuse, harassment, and assault. The recent attention to the subject has been desperately needed for change. I personally have shared my story(ies) with close friends and family. This has been about as far as it as gone. I’ve seen/heard of too many of my friends and others in my life who have gone through these type situations themselves. This is an issue for both men and women. A person’s gender does not determine whether or not one can help educate, change, and prevent future instances of abuse..

While this has been in the media, I have seen my fair share of people saying things like how someone dresses or their level of intoxication is just asking for an unwanted sexual situation. I can’t explain the feelings that come over me when I read or hear of someone saying it’s deserved or asked for. First, anger, obviously. Who in their right mind would ever believe that someone would wear something with the intent of getting assaulted? This is absolutely insane. Also, I should be able to expect other people to control their primal urges no matter how I’m dressed.

Secondly, I feel a deep sadness that people actually blame the victim. They point fingers at someone who has experienced what is potentially the worst thing that’s ever happened to them.

And third, I feel a fear for every person that I care about and even those I don’t know that they may experience what I myself have.

I’ve had several experiences with harassment and abuse throughout my life. I can remember the boy in middle school who made unwanted advances. I can recall the boyfriend who thought I needed a “push” to be ready for the same things he was, but the cake topper was my step father.

He was ex law enforcement, well thought of, and popular.

I realize now that I should have seen earlier signs. There were snide inappropriate comments and smacks to my backside when it began. While this was uncomfortable, I, in my fourteen year old mind, thought it was as far as it would go. Oh, how wrong I was.

My life changed drastically. Every man I met became a potential predator. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. My view of myself changed. I disgusted myself. I was damaged with no self worth, and I felt like everyone could see it. For the past sixteen years, I haven’t felt comfortable around people. I had to admit to my sweet boyfriend (now husband) what was happening to me after he witnessed it first hand. Had he not caught my step father in the act, I may never have spoken up. Tony cornered me in my room and demanded to know how long I’d been enduring the abuse. His brown eyes were a mix of sorrow and anger. He told me that if I did not speak up, that he would. My relationship with him has been changed. He’s been so tender and understanding about the lingering issues that I’ll probably have for the rest of my life. My heart has been hardened because of what happened to me. If sharing my story will prevent it from happening to just one person, it is worth putting my private experience out there.

Please, if you feel like someone might be making inappropriate advances toward you, no matter how insignificant it may seem, tell someone.

 

Fourteen

Fourteen years have gone by since Tony and I made vows to one another. People seem to forget the importance of those vows these days.

“I, bride, take you groom, to be my spouse, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

So far, we’ve done a pretty good job of upholding them. We’ve had more worse, poorer, and sickness than we’ve had better, richer, or health, but when you have and hold and love and cherish, the rest seems to fall into place.

We clash and argue. We get mad at each other a lot. The wonderful thing about it is that we’re rarely mad at one another for more than a few minutes. Then one of us has something funny to tell the other, and then we have to make up so we can laugh.

Tony and I have known each other all our lives. We drifted through childhood only seeing each other a scarce few times, and then, fate intervened in December 2000. I was standing by brother, A.J., helping him catch candy at the Christmas Parade.

Mama called out to me and asked if I knew the boy and lady standing next to her.

I said, “No.” And turned back to A.J. Tony ended up walking down Main Street with me that night. While I was looking for a friend, he was covertly looking at me. He told me later than when he set eyes on me that night, he knew I was it for him.

I wish it had been that easy for me. For the next eleven months, he called me most days. We’d talk for hours about anything and everything under the sun. He did hard time in the friend zone for months.

During this time, I thought he was dating. I thought surely there was no way that he was single. I didn’t realize he was waiting for me.

One night in November 2001, he finally told me his big secret. We came out of that night a couple. A month later, he said he knew he was going to marry me.

Fourteen years ago, he did just that. We recited our vows, and as we leaned in to kiss, he had a nosebleed. Since then, he’s been my rock. No matter what, he’s in my corner. He accepts my shortcomings. He knows my weird quirks. He loves me anyway.

We have never been a traditional couple. We’ve never really been a modern couple. We have odd ways of working things out and so far, that’s worked for us. I told him before he married me that I did not believe in divorce. He just smiled and said, “Good because we’re not getting one.” So far, he’s been right.