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You are standing over her body. There is a waft of smoke coming out the end of the pistol that you’re holding. You should probably lower the gun, but your arms feel frozen in front of you, just as your fingers feel frozen around the handle. It takes you a moment to realize what you’ve done. The weight of the, now, warm metal sends a chill down your spine, because you already know that no one is going to believe you when you say, “I had to kill her.”
It is five years earlier, and your cheeks are burning from the places where she’s slapped you. Her saliva hits your face, and you almost swear you can hear it sizzle against your flesh. It’s not your own rage that’s stained your face red, but a combination of her fury and your own humiliation. And before you can even ask her, “Why?!” her fists are connecting with other parts of your body. You slump to the floor, curling into a tight ball, and trying to protect yourself. Every time this happens, and it happens more and more often these days, you can hear your father’s drunken voice in the back of your head, calling you a pussy! Asking you why you’d let a woman treat you this way.
It is two years earlier, and she’s screaming at you. You’re such a worthless piece of shit! Her language, her hostility, doesn’t shock you anymore. All you can do is cover your ears and hope that she gets tired of verbally assaulting you. That’s when she throws a punch that catches you square in the face. Your eyes tear up and you swear you can almost see stars. This is the first time that she’s ever hit you.
You are six years old. Your father is a sinister shadow cast on the front porch. You are afraid that he’s going to come back in to finish the argument, but instead he slips out the front door, into the night. Your mother is a puddle of sobs on the kitchen floor. There’s blood staining her face. Her eyes are puffy and swollen; it’s a mixture of the violent crying and the freshly developing bruises. You sit down next to her, reaching out your small hand, wishing you could have protected her. This is the moment that you blame yourself for her pain.
This is the instant that you decide you will stop the cycle of violence that had been a family tradition for as long as anyone in your family could remember. You swear to yourself that you will never hit a woman. In fact, you pledge that you will never even raise your voice…
And you have no idea that, in a horribly ironic turn of events, you will grow up to acutely perpetuate the cycle… by marrying a woman who will treat you in the same way that you are terrified of inflicting on someone else. By not asking for help… for suffering in silence, the way your mother did.
But the worst part is that even if you had asked for help, most people probably would have shrugged their shoulders or perhaps even mocked you.
Because even forty years from now, people will have a hard time grasping the concept:
Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a human one.
“I know you’ve always been on my side. I know you always will be. I’ll take you on a wild ride, if you slip your ship into my sea. Anything you want. Anything at all…”
I don’t believe in many things deeply, ardently, or passionately. You could count them all on one hand… and still have a few fingers left to spare. I don’t believe in gods or karma. I’m not totally confident that objective meaning exists. Sometimes, I don’t even believe in humanity.
I do believe that self expression is a fundamental human need and one of the most important aspects of human existence. While objective meaning may be questionable, I think that subjective meaning is what allows us to find any value in this life. Self expression, especially through the medium of Art (writing included of course), is the epitome of what is worth living for. To feel, to experience, to create, to share our unique perspective; unique in the sense that each individual consciousness, while there are many similarities, will never be exactly the same. When there’s nothing else, I’m moved to partake in this creative legacy, and to help nurture it whenever and where ever I can.
I believe that every person regardless of age, sex, gender, race, class, nationality, creed, or any other way we categorize people, has the right to pursue happiness in whatever shape or form so long as they don’t violate the right of others to do the same. Every (wo)man is a domain onto themselves and they deserve the sovereignty to craft their own experience and the liberty to choose their own path… and we as fellow human beings should strive to encourage and support others with the utmost empathy and respect that we can muster, because it’s by recognizing and appreciating the legitimacy of others to exercise their free will that we also recognize and appreciate our own.
I believe in you.
Always and without expectation for you to be anything more or less than what you choose to be; what you are; what you want to be…
I love you.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about LGBTQ issues as of late. While there’s still a long way to go, in terms of progress, I think it’s worth mentioning that I feel fortunate to be a bisexual-female-“minority” in this time frame and in a Developed part of the world. I don’t think I would’ve had half a fair shot at any other time or in any other sector; I can speculate that life could have been incredibly difficult for me if circumstances had been different. I realize that I’m lucky, and the least I can do is acknowledge it, as well as do my best to show my support for other individuals struggling to have their human rights recognized around the world. Also, to say thank you to those people who came before me, who made it possible for me to consider myself so fortunate. To say I’m sorry, to every person who had/still has to hide or minimize who they were/are out of fear of social stigma and/or physical danger. I love you, sincerely. I won’t forget.