Like many women out there, I had a very difficult start in this world. We all share a very similar story, and this is mine.
My mother told me stories of my father. I don’t have many memories of him. I’m told that’s for the best. I only remember the good, except for his inability to rescue me from hell. I remember him teaching me to read, and supporting my love of books. But that was when I was older too.
He was a Marine, M.P. to be exact. I was born at Quantico, and then we moved to Michigan so my Mother could be close to family. Perhaps it’s fantasy, but I swear I have memories of when they loved each other. But something changed. Mom told me stories of how he would hit her. How when she was pregnant with my brother, he kicked her down the stairs to try to make her abort. She left him when I was three.
Soon afterwards she found herself with another abuser. We were very poor, and sometimes even lived in abandoned houses. See, she was programmed that she didn’t deserve any better. She spent many years of her life in a nightmare which she couldn’t awaken from. Not until she lost what was most precious to her; her children. Then she began her journey to try to pull herself together, to try to heal. Some scars are so deep, that no matter how much love you give, no matter how much light you shine, the hurt still hurts into generations. We bear the pain for our fore bearers. We try to heal not only ourselves, but generations of pain. Breaking cycles of abuse is not for the faint of heart.
So we come to my journey. Three years old, my Mother and Father divorced, and I found myself shortly after facing the monster that would shape my life. The force I could not escape, I could only survive. I have no memory of when the abuse started. I just know that it was a part of my everyday life. Something that I knew wasn’t right deep down into my core, something that I couldn’t quite grasp, something that I knew to rebel against no matter how much he hit me. I knew deep down it was fight or drown right from the very beginning, and that is something that has stayed with me my entire life. That lesson; fight or drown. And if you ask anyone that truly knows me, that is how I view life. Even if I get saddled with depression, and sit within the fog of forgetting for a period of time it’s there. Fight or drown.
He hit me; called me names, made sport of me, and stole my innocence. He tore me apart, tore me down, in every way he could. He not only left bruises upon my body, but within my heart, and within my soul.
The biggest wound by far though, was watching my Mother deteriorate more and more each day, watching her slip into a darkness that my hugs could not bring her back from. I think I hated him more for taking her away from me, than I did for him taking me away from me. Looking back at photos of myself as I grew, you can visibly see that happy vivacious little girl; and then my eyes turned hollow, my back stiff and strong like I was steadying myself for the hit.
My mother losing the battle left me to take over. I became the little woman of the house, being a little mother to my brothers. She didn’t mean to desert me. I know she carries guilt for that, which I wish she would forgive herself for. I forgive her, and love her. I wish that could be enough, but often in life we carry our burdens when we can lay them down.
As I grew into a young woman I had to face other abusers as well. And not all of them were as forward. I grew to hate my shape as I began to fill out. I feared my breasts, and learned to walk with my shoulders hunched forward, head down in shame; shame for being woman. Something I should have been able to marvel at and celebrate, I hated. I wore clothes that were baggy as not to bring attention to myself, I put on weight (that I have battled for my entire adult life) to try to hide and lessen the attention. I would rather be “fat and ugly” than an attractive target. It’s funny how that doesn’t really stop them. I internalized all of the messages I saw in the world. To be a woman, an attractive woman is the goal, but that came with objectification and being owned by a man. It was like everything told me that was all I was supposed to be. So I fought back, knowing that I didn’t want that, I tried to rebel; and took weightlifting in high school. I started swearing, and drinking, and belching, and spitting, and trying to be masculine. I thought if I could be more “Tank Girl” less “Punky Brewster” meets “Madonna” maybe I could more respected by men. All I did was hide who I was from myself, and the world. The truth is I am more like “Rainbow Bright” meets “Daenerys Targaryen”. (Please forgive the pop culture references.)
It has taken many years, a lot of pushing away what was good for me, and running from my pain rather than facing it; for me to get to the point of absolute breakdown. But when the tower is razed to the ground, then we can begin to make new bricks with which to build, which is what I have been doing. I am so very grateful for the many Earth Angels, and Goddesses that have helped me in this!
Why am I doing Red Tent? Why is this important to me? Because I am a game changer, I am a cycle breaker. I am a healer, and a force of nature. I do this for me. I do this for my Mother, and my Grandmothers. I do this for my Aunts and Cousins, Stepdaughter and future Grand Daughters and Great Grand Daughters. And I do this for you. I have been leading Women’s trance Dance at different events for several years now, and many women have told me how much it affected them, how much it meant to them that I was doing it. They say things like, “I wish this was something I could do more often.” “This opened me up in a way I knew I needed, but didn’t know how.” “When can we do this again?” The last one I did, a woman said to me, “you should look into Red Tent.”, because I didn’t know anything about it. Synchronicity, Divine providence, whatever you want to call it. This is where I need to be. This is what I need to be doing.
In West Michigan we women need a place of healing and respite; a place of strength, growth, creation, and sharing; a place of sisterhood, womanhood, and wisdom; to share our burdens and our joys, to celebrate our power as women and to lead the next generations into a stronger tomorrow. With you, with your help, with your strength, and grace, and beauty, we can and will take our sisters by the hand and lead them out of their darkness. I dream of a world of equality. And I dream in Red.