change.

There are moments in life that change you.

I’m not talking about slightly altering an opinion or making you consider a differing view. I mean, these events alter everything about you, down to the very core of your being. For the rest of your life, everything will be divided into two time periods: BEFORE and AFTER.

The trick is to not let that event define you. How to go about that… well, that’s something I don’t know. But I am more than this, and I deserve more than this.

 

(the trick is to) keep breathing [garbage]

Advertisements

Sisterhood Is Powerful

I adore my male friends. They’ve been with me through a lot. They’ve given me love, support, good times and true friendship.

However, every time I hear a girl go off about how she “can’t stand girls” and can “ONLY get along with guys” because “there’s less drama,” a little part of me dies.

Yes, women have faults. Yes, some women are mean to other women. Some women have treated me horribly, for a variety of reasons. But my lady friends have also helped me develop some of the strongest bonds I’ve ever known.

My lady friends helped guide me through my first relationship, through my second relationship, through the extremely public trauma that is a highschool breakup. They tell me that I’m smart and funny and beautiful and incredible, even when especially when I’m feeling like none of the above.

They cried with joy when I announced my pregnancy, when my daughter was born, and throughout her life to date. They welcomed us into their lives, their families’ lives, their pregnancies, their children’s lives.

My sisters have held my hand, both literally and figuratively, as I left an abusive ex. They’ve helped me dust myself off and carry on. They’ve given me shoulders to cry on and tissues for my runny nose. They’ve inspired me with their own tales of strength and triumph.

My girlfriends were the first ones I confessed my rape to – almost a decade after it occurred. They were an unwavering pillar of support. They believed me, supported me, helped me to move on from a painful memory I had never quite gotten over. Those same girlfriends were the ones who texted and called and held my hand after my second rape. The ones who let me rehash the details and refused to let me blame myself. They stayed in touch, made sure I got up every day, made sure I carried on. They wouldn’t let me curl up and die, even when that’s all I wanted.

My ladies have stayed up all night with me, dissecting pop culture, current events, oppression, fashion, music, racism, sexism, the beauty myth, what makes Tim Hortons’ coffee so addictive, why that guy hasn’t called yet, and if I even want him to. They’ve held my hair back when I’ve drank too much, put me to bed, and then laughed hysterically when I woke up hung to the tits.

They’ve been there for birthdays, for anniversaries, for graduations and funerals and everyday bullshit. They’ve talked me through breakups and rejection and shared their own stories of heartbreak to make me feel less like an unlovable wretch.

These same women have given me hope, laughter, love, and cast-off clothing. They’ve joked about my big ol’ butt and my penchant for dating assholes. They’ve told me when a guy’s a complete dickwad and then watched me ignore their advice for years. They’ve also helped me move on when that same asshole broke my heart. Not only that, but they did it without even an “I told you so.”

My sisters live far away. I don’t see them nearly enough as I would like or they would like. Distance and finance are formidable foes. Despite this, my sisters are a part of me, and I, a part of them.

Ladies, if you “can’t stand girls,” maybe you haven’t met the right ones. Maybe you’re intimidated by them. Maybe they make you feel threatened, feel less unique, feel inferior. Maybe they challenge you, your beliefs, and your actions.

But me, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my sisters. My sisters hold me up. They inspire me. They challenge me and support me and help me better myself each and every day. My sisters are my strength, and I am blessed to have them in my life.

Gratitude

but you changed the rules
in an hour or two
and I don’t know what you
and your sisters do
but please don’t
please stop
this is not my obligation
what does my body have to do
with my gratitude?

look at you
little white lying
for the purpose of justifying
what you’re trying to do
I know that you feel my resistance
I know that you heard what I said
otherwise you wouldn’t need the excuse

– Ani DiFranco

Unbreakable.

**TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE**

Today I was introduced to an amazing project: Project Unbreakable. Created in October 2011, this project helps survivors of sexual abuse, violence and rape take back the power of words used against them. Creator Grace Brown asks survivors to make a poster showing a quote from their attacker and be photographed holding it. Many survivors outside Grace’s area are taking their own photos and submitting them as well.

This project resonated with me for several reasons. One: I’m a feminist. Sexual violence does not ONLY occur to women, but the majority of it does, and the pain of my sisters is my pain. Two: Rape culture is all around us. It pervades everyday¬† life. One third of women have experienced some form of sexual abuse, violence or rape. And three: I, too, am a survivor of rape – more than once, in fact.

As I devoured page after page of these photos, my emotions ran the gamut from angry to sad, discouraged, horrified, pained, and yes, even inspired. The strength shown by these survivors is admirable. The stigma around sexual violence often places blame upon the¬† victims and ignores the responsibility of the perpetrators. Speaking out about these topics may be triggering. It may cause conflict with friends or family members. And, let’s face it, speaking out is downright scary. In a world where most of us care to some extent what others think of us, it’s incredibly hard to open up about a topic that many are judgemental about.

So, in the interest of furthering my One Word project, of healing myself, of learning to speak out against injustice… I will take this step. I will be strong. I will be unbreakable. (And in typical over-achiever fashion, I’ll be submitting two pictures – one for each rape.)

(July 2001 – age 16)

(December 2011 – age 26)