Better With Age

 

 

I’m a recovering chameleon. I lived mirroring those around me. I dared not show my true colors for fear of being rejected or humiliated. I conformed to my boyfriend’s ideals and lifestyle. So much of my time and effort was spent emulating those around me that I barely knew myself. I had no idea how to be myself and I’m still learning.

I was watching an episode of Grace and Frankie today, on my lazy Sunday. It’s the episode where Jane Fonda’s character, Grace, is trying to impress a new boyfriend by pretending to like golf. Lily Tomlin’s character, Frankie, calls her out on it and reminds Grace how much she hates golf. Grace admits that she is afraid her new boyfriend won’t find her interesting enough if she admitted to him that she despised his favorite sport. This really hit home with me and it broke my heart. Here was a 70-year-old woman (yes, fictional, but definitely relatable) who still feared rejection to such a degree that she continued to lie to herself, as well as others.

By the time I’m 70, I want to be that lady that dies her hair hot pink and says whatever the bleepity-bleep she wants to say. I’ve earned it. Like a mature Cabernet Sauvignon, I will just get better and more unique with age. I want to give wise, no-nonsense advice to poor younger girls still figuring things out. And when I do, I want to sit back, adjust my hot pink wig, and think how damn lucky I am to have lived through all that bullshit, whilst sipping a glass of Bordeaux. Because you see, life is too short to pretend to be something you’re not. And some people are too shitty and petty to waste your efforts on.

So right now, I am going to channel my inner 70-year-old Cabernet self just waiting to be aired out in a glass carafe and say, “How do you want to live the rest of your life? Forever comprising yourself for the pleasure of others? Or are you going to focus on what makes you happy and content and let all that other bullshit follow? Because, honey, when you get to be my age, you’ll wish you had stayed true to yourself.”

*sips glass of Bordeaux and cackles softly*

~Lindsey V.

Through the Cracks

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On June 1, 2011, my friend, Jacque Waller, went missing. While I prayed fervently for her to be found alive, I still had that terrible feeling that something far more cynical had happened. Everyone knew that her soon-to-be ex-husband was a ticking time bomb. I took care of her triplets for a short time, in her home, and always felt uneasy around him. I had heard stories about his outbursts from a few friends that worked closely with him. We suspected him from the very beginning. Two years later, he finally confessed and gave the location of her body and she was laid to rest. Unfortunately, this happens to more and more victims of abuse every year.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S. The total estimated number of intimate partner homicide victims in 2007 was 2,340, including 1,640 females and 700 males. With statistics such as these, why have we not seen a decrease in these numbers? Why aren’t there higher measures in place to ensure the safety of those that have filed claims against their abusers? What can be done to help keep victims safe from their abusers? These questions are finally being addressed after the brutal torture of one woman by her estranged ex-husband who was arrested, then freed on bond, and given the opportunity to kidnap her again. By then, it was too late, he followed through with his threats in shooting her and then himself.

Hopefully, one day, these abusers won’t be allowed to fall through the cracks. Hopefully our justice system will increase laws to ensure that these highly dangerous cases aren’t allowed out on bail. Hopefully the system will allow higher safety measures to victims that need help.

Thank you to Lindsey V. for the inspiration behind this post.

~Christa G.

Wuv, Twu Wuv

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“Mawiage is what bwings us togevah today…”

Had I been asked 5 years ago if true love really did exist, I would have said absolutely not. Love seemed like a struggle to me. The term “love-hate relationship” was definitely the only thing I knew of. And if so much hate could be prevalent where there was supposed to be love, then it wasn’t true love in my opinion.

Love was a fairytale. A fantasy that could never be achieved in the real world.

Little did I know, the reason I felt that way was due to the fact that love was absent from my relationship. Love cannot be found where abuse is present.

When I was able to free myself from that toxic relationship, it was as though a veil was lifted. I was freed from the thoughts that I was worthless, ugly, and unsuccessful and found a strength I didn’t know I had. I gained true love for myself. It took some time, but I eventually realized that everything I thought a relationship should be like was a lie. When I discovered what love should actually feel like, I was changed in so many ways. Bitterness and resentment were wiped away and replaced with a newfound confidence. When you receive pure love, you are able to give so much more. The best description for love, that I can think of, can be found in the bible…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When love is present, so is hope, trust, faithfulness, and honesty. There will be disagreements, but compromise should always be achieved with civility. With true love, we respect each other’s time, beliefs, morals, goals, and wishes. Through it all, I have realized that true love should not come at a price to my own happiness and self-worth. Where there is happiness there is love.

 

~Christa G.

Exposure

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I stumbled across this story on Facebook the other day and was inspired by the courage and passion in this woman. Melissa Dohme, a miraculous survivor of domestic violence in which her ex boyfriend stabbed her 32 times, leaving her for dead in the middle of a road. Thankfully, two teenagers heard her screaming, called 911, and managed to stop her attacker, who then drove away and attempted suicide. Dohme now dedicates her life to educating others on domestic violence. She recognized a great need to spread awareness. Luckily her attacker is facing a life sentence with no chance of parole, but other women in similar situations have not been so lucky. Dohme knows that she is a miracle, saved for a purpose to use her voice to speak for those who no longer have a voice. I am so humbled after reading her story, yet also enraged.

Let me explain. I only heard of Melissa Dohme because the article on Facebook was about how she had just become engaged to the man who saved her life. I normally don’t get into stories about grand proposals where the man has set up the perfect stage for popping the big question. I was attracted to the article because it mentioned her surviving being stabbed 32 times. 32 times! And I can’t help but ask the question of why am I just now hearing about this woman and her experience? Did it have to be accompanied by a crowd-pleasing story of her agreeing to marry the EMT who saved her life that horrific night? Why not celebrate this woman solely for her heroism and work with Hands Across the Bay? Yes, it’s an incredibly romantic story of her finding love again under such circumstances. And it is possible that I didn’t hear about this story before because it wasn’t circulating on Facebook. But it doesn’t change the fact that there is not enough media coverage on domestic violence. This is not a topic that is discussed openly at school or at home.

Parents, you need to talk to your kids about abusive relationships. Schools need to talk about abusive relationships. It’s not a complicated subject. It’s quite simple really. Abusers do not actually love you. They do not relate to you as a human being. They cannot empathize with you. You are an object to be controlled or manipulated. Melissa Dohme expressed the fact that no one talked about domestic violence in school. Lack of education on this matter is exactly why so many young girls or boys find themselves stuck in relationships that are destructive. They do not recognize it as abuse. They think that they are the problem. They think that love is something that is a deep long-suffering struggle. And they believe these things because it never entered their mind, until it was too late, that they could even be a victim of such a thing. They believe this because they grew up hearing others condemn women or men, like themselves, for never leaving such a relationship. They believe that the victim is at fault. They believe that they would never let themselves be with such a person. So they clearly are not with such a person. Because it could never happen to them.

~Lindsey V.