MEMOIR

Who is your heroine?

This year is coming to its end and one can safely say it has been a remarkable year in a sense that women from all walks of life came to the foreground to claim their voice, share their stories, and forge a community in their fight for making the world a better place for women (and men). The upsurge of feminism (and women in leadership roles) brings me hope for a better future and also fills me with a bit of sadness when I think of the women who preceded us, who for generations, centuries and thousands of years were compelled to live a life in limitation.

Many of my heroines never had a chance to tell their stories or claim the recognition they deserved. Too busy to provide for their families, they had no time to complain, little sympathy for their concerns, and certainly very little hopes for radical change in the ways in which they were treated, their opportunities limited, their voices ignored.

Reckoning with the past, I wish to pay tribute to the unknown heroines – like my paternal grandmother – whose shoulders we all stand on. My grandmother spent her entire life working as a cleaning lady, raising her two children and an adopted child as a widow, then me, her grandchild, while forever trying to make ends meet despite working all the time. A brilliant woman well into her late 80s, she survived on 6 grades of education because, back in her days, women were expected to devote their lives and labor to their families, and for that role, her level of education was deemed sufficient.  All other endeavors, such as a dream of a professional life and personal accomplishments (her dream was to become a special education teacher) never materialized because of her circumstances. With all the hardship that I can only in hindsight guess, she carried herself with utmost grace and strength, which is why she, in my eyes, is a true heroine.

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Surviving Abuse In My Twenties

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I am 30 now and am already physically tired. I’ve been stomped on, strangled, broken, and bruised; it’s been very real – my body has had its share of turmoil. In addition, my mind has imagined sweet fairy tales of blackbirds flying out of a baked pie, and wolves blowing my house down over and over again. My spirit throughout has been in a state of confusion, being raised Catholic, turned Christian by grace, then to trying to find my voice and beliefs in a stable place. My name is Desiree’ and my desires in my 20’s has circled around being noticed. Problematically, when a particular guy liked me, and my cell phone rang with his caller ID, I was excited :-). Positive or negative, I knew he paid some attention to me. My possibilities were and still are endless: “1st comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage”… the lies of the modern day fairy tale. It is reported that women ages 18 to 34 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of Domestic Violence (DV). Moreover, it is noted that “DV cost more than $37 Billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical, mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.”

 

Just like I craved a stable man to notice me, I deeply yearned for my family’s security, passion in the workplace, career accomplishments and education. In my domestic violence relationship, all these things came to a screeching halt. I am very grateful that my life did not end.

 

In the city that never sleeps, or in the suburb that twinkles stars at night, I believe there is a sounding message of real love, pure and understanding; after the purple rain. That message has led me to rebuild my inner faith and survive my 20’s with most of those years in an abusive relationship. Looking back on the forbidden places I’ve conquered, this is not a taboo.

 

My 20’s have been the time of my life. Now as a member of Voices of Women Organizing Project, I’ve reclaimed my power to speak in and through a dominant sisterhood and pave a positive path for that weird and exhilarating space beyond survivorship. The question today is…will you have to be a survivor or witness abuse to really understand? Create a better decade. Support Now. Join Us.

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