Tag Archives: Feminism

Stories To Be Told

4 Nov

You would be surprised at the stories that women hold. You would be shocked at the truths they keep on the edge of their throat. These truths are waiting for an opportunity to escape, but more often then not, these truths never find that opportunity. Women have this ability, which is both a strength and flaw, to hold treacherous stories within them and continue to live out their daily lives, taking kids to school, doing laundry, and going to work…without ever uttering a word. Sometimes we wait for the right time, sometimes we use them to comfort others who are going through the same thing… but sometimes we have to ask ourselves. If we had told this story, would it have stopped another woman from having to bear her own alone? Would it have stopped another story from even beginning? Would it have stopped?

It is only after we face down our stories and tell them and heal from them, can we be truly free from them.

*

I was 17 and I had the slack but grueling job of a traffic controller at a construction site out of town. I kept the road ways safe for the somewhat steady flow of automobiles and construction equipment. I kept the roadways safe, but there was so much more that was unsafe.

I had already endured my share of sexually flavoured remarks that were peppered throughout the long days. Men grabbing their crotches and making lewd gestures. Men, grown men with beards and wrinkles not induced by smiles. I was not smiling.

There was one young man 5 years older than me, donning a dirty white tee, who stopped by my traffic perch on the dusty road in his big rock truck. He asked me if I wanted a ride and I, was seduced by the idea of seeing the construction site, the roads, from an elevated view. To feel the power of being so much bigger. I consented and he made this joke and that joke… would I want to touch his stick while we drove?

No I would not.

We worked. The days were long, hot and dusty, and sleep came too fast and was always too short. I had been on that job for over a month when he suggested I stay at his place. He lived only a few minutes from the site, whereas I drove 45 minutes to get their each morning. I would have hesitated, but one of the other girls had stayed with him before and she had no complaints. I longed for that extra 45 minutes of blissful sleep and decided I would take him up on his offer.

After work he drove up to me in his ridiculously jacked up truck and I hopped in. We ate supper and everything was normal, everything was okay. I excused myself to the bathroom and found boxes of needles and other stuff sitting on the counter. I examined them with curiousity. Steroids. Which made sense, because he was huge, with broad shoulders and a big frame. He also just finished bragging to me about how he ran with a tire chained to his back. A tire…chained to his back. In that instant, I became fearful. All I knew is that he might have an anger, a steroid  ramped up anger that I would not like to see.

I asked him where I was sleeping and he directed me to his bed. I got changed and slid into bed but was surprised when he got in next to me. He said don’t worry, we’re going to be using different blankets. I fell asleep, exhausted from the days unrelenting heat.

I was 17. Survivor of childhood abuse. Minsconstrewer of sex equalling love. Ex-believer that I had no right to my body. I had just learned how to finally say “No” earlier that year. I was so proud of this fact that I happily reported it to my counsellor. Sex was always a “you went this far, you made your bed and now you have to sleep in it” kind of deal to me. I could say “No” but boundaries… was something still far beyond my capacity.

I woke up feeling something getting close to my anal region. He was licking near my ass and I said curtly, “What… are you doing?”

He quickly regained his composure… “Nothing.”

I told him, “Go to bed,” and clenched my eyes tight trying to wish myself out of the situation.

I woke up again, this time to him humping my leg. I was terrified. I told him to stop. He did. I closed my eyes, this time not daring to return to sleep. He became more forceful after that, pushing himself on me, his lips onto my lips, onto my neck, my breasts.

All I could think about was steroids. Anger. How big he was. How hard having to deal with another rape would be. How I wanted to disappear. I let my “No” disappear and let his impulses consume me.

I remember him being on top of me and crying. I cried hard. He finished and rolled off of me then said he would sleep on the couch. I cried myself to sleep and woke up to him beside me. He tried to kiss me in the morning as if we were lovers, as if this was intimacy. I felt sick. I pushed him off of me and got ready for work.

When I looked back at this.. I thought, “Why didn’t I tell him to sleep on the couch? Why didn’t I tell him it was not okay? Why didn’t I just say “NO”?” Did I even have a right to hurt over this?Why? Why? WHY?!

Thus, I came to blame myself for allowing it to happen. I blamed myself for this, as well as many other events, for a long time. Then, one day, after much substance abuse, collapsing, treatment, counselling and healing… I knew the truth. The truth is, it was NOT okay. It was not just a matter of telling him to leave, when I look back at where I was in my healing journey from abuse and sexual  violence I understood I did as much as I could at that time. My voice was perpetually stolen and I didn’t have the strength to speak for myself when I had needed too. This is the result of repeated oppression….not a mark of an internal flaw. It makes me wonder how many other girls, and women, have been faced with an event that gave them the option of A) getting raped, or B) doing nothing. How many women have selected option B and have had their voices stolen right out from under them? How many women have choked back this same story?

Women hold stories and some never get told.

Stories are healing.

Stories have power.

Stories need to be told.

Even now, I wonder to myself, will this story only shape and mold opinions of me as a victim? As something and someone so one dimensional that my other facets diminish in the face of this? I believe the stigma attached to one telling these stories needs to be examined and turned over. The questions that need to be asked, are why are things like this taking place? What mentalities exist for men to commit such acts? What healing needs to happen for women so these stories do not become a life long saga of abuse?

I had worried about these stories and their possibility of a negative ripple effect. I had worried.. but..

No, these stories do not define me. They are a mere fraction of my journey. No, these stories do not define me, I broke their power to do so long ago.

Reconciling “Woman”

15 Oct

Lately I have been trying to reconcile the difference

Between the type of woman I thought I would grow into as a little girl

And the woman that I have come to be

I had always imagined someone delicate yet not fragile

She is strong in a silent unspoken of way

But wears her vulnerabilities

Draped across the span of her hips comfortably

She knows full well, that her softness isn’t a hindrance

Nor a weakness, nor a feature that may cripple her,

She does not fear the wolves that will surely smell it and come knocking on her door.

She knows not of their bite

This woman,

Is someone who’s love is like dawn creeping up

On a field full of spring flowers, dew speckled,

Softly awakening, blooming beautiful into the beckoning blue vastness above

Boasting a smile that speaks of possibilities, passion,

And recites poetry or ponders parables

With a mouth that talks as if God is in the room with her

Knowing that each word is an offering

Her words, soothing and insightful, speak healing to those who surround her

She is confident in her nakedness

Those full swelled moon hours do not blush

She carries her contours elegantly

*

I am not this woman

I long feared that scavengers had taken the best that my body had to offer

And I would only have remains to give to a true lover

Mere pittance in comparison to the unpillaged kingdom

I had when I didn’t know any better

When they should have known better

I struggle daily with allowing my lovers fingers

To caress me

Afraid he’ll find new scars, old wounds

And realize just how aged I am

The stars will surely fall from his eyes

When he realises all the stardust is gone

Yet, even though I may squirm and may fear

I bravely allow myself to unravel

Knowing that somewhere, I am soft,

And sometimes, it is safe

I may play hide and seek with my vulnerabilities

Leaving them hidden and pretend they don’t exist

I might succumb to the single mother bravado

And cry behind closed doors

But I have my real moments

And each day it becomes easier to just be

I have molded my past pain into a tool to advocate for change

I speak fiercely with heart, with passion, with purpose

and I cuss sometimes

Okay,… I cuss frequently

But I know how to use my words to build altars to uplift people

I know how to pray not just when something is wrong

I know the power that lies in my tongue

And I try not to wield it in such a way that it would oppress

I use it to break chains

I may not speak softly

but there is strength,

soul fortified and forged through fire

I may not love like sunrise

But baby my love is dusk

It holds the best of the darkness and the light

I have triumphed over obstacles that would make most men weep

I may not be the woman that I once thought I would be

But God damn it

“ I am a woman, phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman, that’s me”

 

(the last two lines are from Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman”)

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