Week One Debrief

Week one of the donation drive is well underway and things are coming in at a slow and steady trickle. While sitting on the tailgate of my van waiting for donors to show up (of which there have physically only been four so far, but four with generous donations) I have reflected a great deal on the ways in which my life has been negatively impacted by domestic violence. Here in summation:

  1. It has created some divides that are too rocky to traverse.
  2. I still have regularly occurring nightmares wherein I relive helping my mom clean her blood off of the waterbed after a fight between her and her partner. That was thirty years ago. I was four. 
  3. Violence fostered a climate in my brain where my already genetically predisposed neurotransmitters could easily misfire, causing irreparable damage to my psyche. This means the pathways in my brain are lined with violence.  
  4. I will probably be medicated and go to therapy for the effects of the many types of violence I experienced in my young life for a very long time. That fact alone is shrouded in concern for my body, for the safety of medication, for the fear of dependency to feel 'normal', and for the financial responsibility of a lifelong need.  
  5. My children have felt the effects intergenerationally. It trickles down in the angry and short-tempered side of me, the embarrassing behavior, regretful words, and shameful acts of yelling mean things at the people I love most in all this world. Meanwhile they have had to look at me through frightened eyes, the grinding of my teeth audible and my knuckles tense and white as I stomp out an aggressive infantile rant. It hurts to admit these things and to know that they happen in part because I was heavily conditioned by similar behavior as a child. It is such hard work to rewire, but I have made it my life's work to do so for my children. 
  6. I walked down a lot of statistically predictable paths as a result of my mother's experience, including: teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, lack of high school completion, divorce, receipt of welfare, having children from multiple fathers, chronic underemployment, estrangement from family, and cycles of violence and assault. 
  7. At the tender of of six I said goodbye to my mom. Her casket lowered, and I never saw her again.
Since announcing the donation drive last week I have received three emails from strangers, empathizing and sharing their own experiences. I have had two good tailgate cries in reflective homage to all of my friends and family members whose names I could rattle off without blinking who have all suffered various forms of abuse at the hands of partners and loved ones. I have listened as my son Koa serenaded me with a song he wrote about my resilience and presence in his life, and bawled until I almost couldn't breathe from the beauty of his words and the depth of his love. If nothing else comes in the coming days, I have all of this and more already.

I have  been changed by the experience of this donation drive already, and it's just getting underway. It is one way for me to have some control over all of the things that happened to me and around me that I had no agency over as a child. In this scenario I get to determine what my response to domestic violence is. I get to speak openly and honestly about my loss. I get to speak up for women who can't. I get to do something that turns the experience into one of growth and strength instead of stifling me and making me fearful. I get to empower others on their quests for Life. 

That is the greatest gift my mom ever gave me; I just didn't get to open it until now, when I was ready to. 

Come by and say hello this week, and bring a donation if you can: 
Wednesday, 4/16, 4:30-6pm
Friday, 4/18, 12-1:30pm
Saturday, 4/19 12-2pm   

1 comment

Jaycie Wakefield said...

Just catching up on my PP and I must say I really appreciate you opening you're heart and sharing you're story with the world. You have live a hard road my dear and I know in my heart that you will overcome you're obstacles and rewire where needed. The work won't be easy, but I know that you aren't a stranger to hard work. There's no better way to harness your story than to help others affected by violence. Thank you for serving your community in such an impactful way.