I survived domestic abuse. I am alive and well. I have a beautiful family, a job I love, and wonderful friends. You could say I am thriving - and most of the time, that's true.
There are some days, though, when I suffer setbacks. Those days are no fun, because they make me wonder if I'll ever get past my past. Maybe the point of it all is that we are never meant to "get over it." Maybe we are meant to use our experience to drive change.
It was a simple joke in the lunchroom that triggered my current state of mind. A comment about speaking to a waitress slowly because "she already had one black eye, so I kinda figured she wasn't a very good listener." I immediately clenched my jaw, grabbed my things and left.
Almost immediately, I regretted my response. Mostly, I regretted not letting myself react. How would that look different, and why would I react, you ask?
Reacting would have meant instead of closing my lips, I would speak. Should I ever face a similar situation again, here's what I hope to say:
A woman with a black eye may be a poor listener, a poor housekeeper or a poor sex partner. I have been accused of all of the above. But the man - or person - who gives her a black eye for any of those reasons is a poor excuse for a human being.
Have you ever been called such vile names in a voice so loud that you tried to drown it all out by singing? Have you ever had a hand wrapped around your throat to silence the singing? Have you ever been choked until you passed out and urinated all over your clothing? Have you ever been beaten black and blue for staining the brand new mattress on which you urinated while being choked? No? Then maybe you shouldn't comment on her black eye.
Have you ever found yourself bent backward over a kitchen stove with a knife to your throat? Have you ever found your only defense against a chokehold to be biting into the arm across your face until you could taste flesh and blood? Have you ever been kicked in the ribs while vomiting as a result of defending yourself? No? Then maybe bite your own tongue before commenting on a woman's black eye.
I am a survivor. I am thriving. I am still angry. I think I always will be to some degree - and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe the only way the world changes is when enough people react. Strong reactions are sometimes called for. Will you join me in being a voice?