Presence over Presents.

December 15, 2008 (the baby’s third Birthday) was the last time my ex made a resurrected cameo appearance in his son’s life.  A total of one and a half hours to be exact.  Whoo hoo!!!  He came into the restaurant looking like a Latino Santa Claus, hauling in a giant Toys R Us bag filled with toys that were too advanced (bottom of the toy train said ‘not recommended for children 4 and under’), and clothes that were sizes way too small. He tried desperately to make a connection, but the baby clung to me, unsure as to who the heck this man bearing gifts was.

He was nervous. Partly because I stated in the Court Order that he was to come sober and consume no alcohol during the visit.  His close friend Captain Morgan was going to have to wait till after.  Towards the end, he held the baby in his arms for less than a minute, trying to get him to smile.  Nope.  Didn’t work.  The baby’s body language clearly read, “Who are YOU?”.  Exasperated, he handed him to me and said his infamous line, “I gotta go.”

I smiled.

“Of course you have to go, that’s what you’re best at!”

He stood in silence.  He then took out a crisp fifty dollar bill and placed it confidently on the table.

“For your dinner.”

Silence.

I continued to smile, realizing that we did not need his appearance every couple of years.

“What are you waiting for? Go ahead and turn your back. That’s what we’re used to seeing anyway.”

He left. I paid my bill and left a fifty dollar tip.

Today, I am thankful for Fathers that choose their Presence over their Presents.  I salute you.

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The “missing” letter.

September of last year I had messaged my Uncle on Facebook asking if he knew the whereabouts of the letter.  After telling my parents about my molestation, I decided to write my “Grandfather” a letter, which was to be mailed to my Uncle, who was going to pass it on to him.  Imagine my surprise when my Uncle replied four days later saying that “I don’t think I ever saw this letter and if I did I don’t have a copy of it.”  Bullshit.  He was the appointed messenger.  And I wrote that damn thing twice.  So not only did he lie about ever seeing it, he then downsized my ten year ordeal to an incident.  Isn’t an incident something like accidentally rear ending somebody in the parking lot of a shopping mall?

Okay, I guess then that letter has conveniently gone missing, swept under the proverbial rug of The Cultural Code of Silence.  Surprise, surprise.

It’s a good thing I remembered what I wrote, huh?

I started off the letter with, “Do you remember the summer of 1994? I do. I remember everything. You have murdered my childhood.”

“I am writing this as a living corpse.  I am numb.  The only way I can feel alive is to put a blade to my skin and cut. The blood signifies that I am unfortunately still here.”

Then I made some points very clear to him.

– “I have told my parents.”

– “You will never see me again.”

– “I cannot wait to get married and take on a last name that I could be proud of.”

– “You will never meet my future husband and my future children.”

– “I am in prison for the rest of my life for your crime.”

– “I will never know what it will be like to lead a normal life.”

– “I pray you die alone.  I pray you die slowly, just like how my death was.”

–  “On the day of your death, I will smile and laugh.  I will come to your funeral wearing the brightest colours to celebrate your impending arrival into Hell.”

———-
My “family” can keep the original letter.  It has probably collected a lot of dust anyway.  I wonder what else is under there?

Nothing will stop me.

“Even if you are in the minority of one, the Truth is still the Truth.” – Mahatma Ghandi.

Everything’s gonna be alright? (Domestic Abuse)

How can she find peace in her mind when
Love means returning to the scene of a crime?
– Brother Ali, Babygirl
  • Domestic violence is most likely to occur between 6 pm and 6 am.
  • More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.
To this day, I always get a receipt.I had angered him.  That was the message transmitted into my brain.

He came home from work without diapers – again.  Such a simple task.  I went to the mall myself, while he napped.  I wanted to get a trim, not a haircut.  I thought that a complete haircut seemed too far off a luxury for me.  He didn’t answer the phone when I called to say I was going to be a bit longer.  Figures.  He was napping.

The trim turned into a full fledged haircut.  It was heavenly to get some much needed TLC.

I came home in a better mood, happier that I got a break from Mom duty, and that my hair was (gasp!) shampooed and brushed.  My mood was quickly deflated when he saw my cheerfulness.

“What the fuck man?!  How long does it take to buy diapers?”

My explanation went through one of his ears, and out the other.

“Where’s the proof?”  He asked, his tone condescending.

I didn’t get a receipt.  Did I think of getting one?  Nope.

He stormed out of the room and out of the house.  Yup, he was angry.  And he was headed straight for the – where else?  The liquor store.

When he left, I purposely put the baby to sleep, took off the shirt I was wearing (it had my smell) and put it underneath his blanket and then I pinned yet another note at the bottom of his blanket.  The same note I’ve always written – only the date changing.  “Look up.  I am always watching over you.  I love you.  Love, Mama.”

Months earlier I had changed his Baby Einstein mobile and changed it to black and white photos of the baby and I.  In hindsight I knew my mindset at the time was that I was an abused woman living in fear.  That was my reality.  I changed the photos on his mobile to photographs of me holding him, so whatever was to happen to me, he would always see me when he looked up.

I knew when he returned, he was going to be drunk and angrier.  I underestimated how angry he was.

I heard him open the front door and he mumbled something to his parents in Spanish who were downstairs at their usual spot in front of the television.  I heard him say to them “con mi amigo” which translates to “with my friend”.  Assuming they had asked him where he went, that was his answer.  Ha.  And what’s the name of your friend, I thought to myself.  Jack Daniels?

I sat on the edge of the bed, my stomach churning as I forced back tears.  I felt like I was about to enter a slaughterhouse, a feeling, that was becoming too familiar.  I remembered humming to myself “no woman, no cry…everything’s gonna be alright…” as if I was trying to channel the spirit of Bob Marley to come protect me.I heard him in the bathroom, before making his grand entrance into the bedroom, stumbling and of course, drunk.  He accused me, since I came back in a cheerful mood, relaxed with a coffee cup in my hand, and my hair looking different (aka cleaned and brushed) that I had gotten my hair done, and met up with a guy for coffee.

Ah yes, the tall tales you conjure up when copious amounts of alcohol hits the system.

Ha.  Can you imagine my dating profile?  26 year old woman, mother to newborn, habitually abused by common-law husband seeks a sober man to sneak around for hot chocolate after buying diapers.  Sounds sexy, no?!

He punched me, in the stomach while calling me a liar.  He grabbed me by my arms and dragged me to the bathroom, the rug burn on my legs and thighs.  In my mind I kept thinking “this is it.”  What came next is something that is seared into my memory forever, and I would give anything to forget.  He had never dragged me to the bathroom before, the abuse often took place in our bedroom, so I had no clue what he was going to do.  With his one hand he held tightly to the back of head and the other holding whatever he was drinking, he lifted the toilet seat and pushed my head in, over and over, I lost track of how many times.  I was coughing, spitting, and crying and when I tried to fight back, it seemed like he held my head down longer.  Gasping for air hurt my lungs and stomach.  Even though water was going into my ears I could hear him; switching from drunken laughter to him calling me a “liar” and a “whore”.  There was a point where I surrendered.  The baby was fast asleep, I thought.  He wouldn’t be able to hear what was happening to his mother.  “It’s okay to die now” I kept saying to myself.  “He’s asleep.”  And that’s when I escaped into the depths of my soul and replayed a dance sequence from one of my favourite movies, The Sound of Music.  The scene replayed was “So Long, Farewell”, and I concentrated on the lyrics and choreography, particularly the order in which the characters would be performing.  To escape into a song and dance was my method of survival.

And when it was over, he pushed me down, my right side of the head hit the floor and I was surrounded by a pool of toilet water, my own vomit and tears.  My eyes were closed, but I could feel his presence over me, and he poured the rest of his drink onto my head as he said “See what happens when you can’t prove to me where you went?”.  Then he turned off the bathroom light, and walked away.  I lay there, pretending to be dead (and wishing I was), curled up in ball.  The only sound in the house?  The sound of television downstairs.  They never came up once.
Everything’s gonna be alright?

Justice in Action: In solidarity for survivors of sexually based crimes.

This is our letter in support of Daisy Coleman, survivor of the Steubenville, Ohio rape case.  A colleague and I have been following the story of Daisy Coleman, a student at a Missouri high school who was raped by Matt Barnett, a high school football player.  The headlines on November 26, 2013 is a victory for survivors of sexually based crimes.

———-

Dear Daisy,

You are receiving this letter today from two survivors of sexually based crimes. Although our crimes occured nearly 25 years ago and we are now women in our early 30’s, we both can relate to your story significantly due to the similar outcomes.

We applaud your bravery and ability to stand strong against judgements casted upon you, the violence surrounding you, and the unjust scrutiny your state’s people have intentionally engulfed on you and your family.

Your aftermath mirrors ours. Collectively, we have self-mutilated our bodies, questioned our faith, and have unsuccessfully carried out our suicidal tendencies. And like you, before this all happened we were innocent shining stars looking forward to our bright futures. Please remember all of your emotions are valid and you are not alone.

This may sound redundant and overtly hopeful, however, healing is possible, it just takes a great amount of time. You have begun the process already by standing up for yourself and breaking your silence. Many women, let alone 14 year olds, are unable to speak up in fear of the backlash that you are so obviously experiencing. Missouri State Law recognizes the importance of protecting minors under the age of 17 so much so that they have written a section specifically related to Statutory Rape. Children are not capable of making the choices to give consent to sex. Just like your State, our Province of British Columbia also recognizes the need to write a law maintaining the protection and innocence of our youth. Daisy, we feel Survivors of Statutory Rape deserve automatic prosecution of their rapists.

Just because people, police chiefs, prosecutors and senators attempt to thwart your voice and that of your family, does not mean the crime did not occur. You must prevail and you must seek justice. We have been following your story because it relates so personally to us, and we are inspired, just like so many others. Please continue to follow your truth. Do not let those in power dictate how your crime is addressed. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Even if you are a minority of one, the Truth is the Truth”.

Since your image was unrightfully tarnished, we would like to give you your name back. The name Daisy is a symbolism of loyal love, beauty, and simplicity. Although this may be hard to believe right now, your name also represents purity and innocence. And we are certain that as you walk on your path towards healing, you will live up to another symbolism of your name, patience.

Be kind to yourself. You matter. You too are a child of the light.

Love, your friends,
R&J

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Happy ReBirth-Day to Me.

She said if I was meant to die he would’ve killed me
There must be a reason that I still breathe
I don’t have the tools to rebuild me
But I still believe that one day I could feel free
And my body can be mine again
My eyes can learn how to shine again
My inner child won’t have to hide and then
When I’m strong then love could be invited in
Sweet God that’s all I ask of thee
I’m willing to give what you demand of me
I’m learning to embrace the reality
That life doesn’t always turn out how it’s planned to be
I didn’t deserve what was handed me
Only one who can grant happiness is me
What it takes for her to face the day
I can only hope to be half that brave

-Brother Ali, “Babygirl”

Music is my closest connection to “God”.  Throughout my life, I have attended countless church services, in chapels and cathedrals, from weddings to Christmas midnight masses…but for me, the most powerful “church service” happened in a club.  When Brother Ali performed “Babygirl” right in front of me…well, that had to have been the most pivotal moment of my journey thus far, and it was the closest I had ever felt to “God”.  It was a funeral service and a baptism rolled into one; the confirmation of the death of my childhood taken too soon, and the rebirth of a woman rising victorious.

October 19, 2013 will mark the one year anniversary of my Rebirth.  I was blessed to not only attend the concert, but we shared a profound conversation afterwards.  In the entrance of a packed club, surrounded by fellow Hip Hop heads, he pulled me into his big stature and he enveloped my small frame as I lost my composure, his arms holding me as I shed tears on his shirt, his silence creating space for me to grieve.  I thanked him repeatedly, and told him that listening to “Babygirl” was my alternative to taking Ativan, and that it took two years for me to listen to the song in its entirety.  I literally felt a weight of silence lifted off my back.  Now I guess it’s natural to think “what a weird place to have that kind of moment!” because I have thought that too, but as I look back on it now, it makes perfect sense.  I was surrounded by, and was in the Hip Hop element.  My healing has brought me back to the Source, my First Love,  Hip Hop.

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