So Many FEELS!

feelsYesterday I wrote this post. By noon MST I had 72 emails in my inbox, had 3 Facebook messenger chats and 7 iMessage chats regarding my post on Violence Against Women.

So MANY FEELS!

I have heard from victims, witnesses, supporters, friends, strangers, acquaintances and my children. There have been so many questions and comments I just cannot get to everyone and I am sorry.

The next best thing I can offer is a reply to you here, since many questions are similar I thought we could have a Q & A session right here, right now. I prefer to answer individually, but I just can’t – and I am sorry. I do want to thank you everyone for their support and kindness. It really means a lot to me.

The Edmonton Tourist Answers Your Questions:

1) I hate surprises. Why did I read about this and not have you tell me? 

Honestly? I thought you knew. If you didn’t know then it was because I thought I was over it. Sorry. I hate surprises too.

2) This must have been difficult to write. How were you able to do it?

Good question. I didn’t find it difficult to write. Writing is my meditation, my creative outlet, my forum for sorting out my thoughts. I often don’t know what I am thinking until it comes out in written word. Then I read it and wow….that is how I am feeling or thinking. It is almost as if my emotions and brain have a life of their own and get to explore themselves while I am not looking.

Another reason it wasn’t difficult to write is because it happened 27 years ago. A lifetime ago. I am not even remotely the same person and I have the ability to look at the abuse objectively. I have knowledge and wisdom in my corner. The other part, convincing people it happened, that is painful. My daughter explains it best: That is just they was society is right now. It always seems to be the victim’s fault, like they should be able to control monsters. We all aren’t a SuperHero. My wise 18-year-old said: Unless you walk in their shoes, you have no idea how difficult the situation really is.

3) Do your children know?

Ummm….ya, about that. I am not the mom who hides things from her children. I face things head on. I am honest where other people blush. My 9-year-old asked me once about masturbation – they got a straight up answer and not the answer where you go blind and your hand falls off. The answer where they understood the mechanics. As they got older the questions changed from concrete questions to more philosophical. I taught my kids to be critical thinkers. They can hold their own in any conversation…watch out for that girl of mine, she will knock you down a peg or two if she thinks you are not walking within your set of values. Notice I said YOUR values. She doesn’t force her values on anyone, she expect you to live by our own code.So talking about me being abused was fine because they can see I am not a puddle on the floor and they can ask me anything and get an honest answer. I told them may not enjoy reading this blog, but I told them the basics. It’s up to them to explore for themselves. They know I am okay. They also know I can hold my own in any bar fight….so they are secure beds at night.

4) I never understood WHY my mom never left.

That is something you can understand. Listen to her. Be empathetic. You will figure it out. I have a feeling it had more to do about not letting you be homeless than it was about her not having courage.

5) It was stupid for you to confront that man.

I didn’t confront him. I supported her. If you can’t see that, then you still don’t get it and that’s okay, I can explain it a different way. I do not speak angry. Angry is a language that comes from somewhere deep inside and spews out hate. I have been on the receiving end many times but I shut down. I listen, absorb and hurt when it happens. I always stay quiet instead of fighting back. BECAUSE quiet is more powerful than words. Lowering your voice has greater impact than yelling louder. I wasn’t there for him, I was standing in solidarity with her. It wasn’t about him. It was about supporting her. I could care less about him. I cared about her. I could have been hurt. He would have had spent time in prison. Besides…..I know a guy 😉

6) WHY

Why is complicated. All I know is doing the right thing is hard. Doing nothing is easy. People say “Mind your own business”. Helping is different. Its part of who I am. All I wish for is for people to respect each other. Easy.

Respect means loyalty, kindness, equality, empathy and other things as well.

7) Did you do this to gain popularity?

HAHAHAHAHA no. I did this because I know how it feels to have no one stand up for you. It happened years ago. It happened last year and more recently it happened this spring. I was shocked when the one person I expected to support me didn’t. I get why now, he isn’t as strong as I thought he was. That’s okay too. Not everyone is who you need them to be. Just love them for who they are.

If I wanted to be popular, you would all get to see me naked. Being smart is way better than being naked.

8) How did you get out?

Hmmm. That is a bit more complicated. Without going into details that just don’t matter, I will say I did things that I would not have done today to be free. However, I wouldn’t be who I am today had I not done those things. It was hard and a lot of people were very angry with me. It was a lonely time and I don’t wish it on anyone. The one thing I might do differently is tell people EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED. Victim shaming needs to stop.

9) You were brave.

If being scared is brave than I suppose I was. I just want to get people thinking. You may do something different because your life experience is different. BUT THINK. Think about actions and consequences. If you can live with the consequences, then you are golden.

10) I wish there was someone to tell him to be a better man.

All I can say to that is be the man you want your son to be. Change is possible. You do not have to follow in footsteps that are abusive, hurtful or sexually harmful. Fix your corner of the world. If everyone did that, this place would be awesome. I know WAY MORE GREAT MEN then I know terrible ones. I no longer give my time to terrible ones. It’s your time, your life. Live it so your offspring would be proud to call you Mom or Dad. If you don’t have kids, live your life so you would be proud to tell your Grandma, Mom or other important person in your life. They should know everything. No secrets. If you have a secret, then something is wrong. Fix it.

While we are on this subject, Men get a bad wrap. Women are far more sneaky and evil than men. Or perhaps that is just from my perspective. The men I have in my life are people I admire – except for that one guy….we all have THAT ONE GUY in our life that just needs someone to nurture a bit…then he will come around. But don’t condone his actions. Make him accountable…as long as you make yourself accountable. Judging is different. Don’t judge – it’s not cool or politically correct or nice. BE NICE PEOPLE!

11) How can you ever get over something like that?

You just do or you die. Everyone handles things differently. I have had triggers lately that have been upsetting for me. But there have been a heck of a lot of OTHER things in my life that are MORE upsetting. I suppose it is perspective.

Live is just a series of experiences. You take something away for each one, apply it to the next and so on. The plan is for one day to have learned enough from your experiences to have nothing phase you. Water off a ducks back. When that happens you die. The End.

Most of my experiences have been crappy ones. HOWEVER, I have learned a TON OF STUFF! I could start my own University, or Country or Planet with the stuff I learned. I can also tell you that I also don’t really know anything. Its complicated.

Just be kind and things will work out okay. If things are not okay, you are not at the end yet. Be patient, you will get there.

Why is International Women’s Day so Important?

International Women's Day (4 of 10)
International Women’s Day (4 of 10) (Photo credit: pdxjmorris)

In case you slept in this morning, let me be the first to share the news: Happy International Women’s Day!

If you are like me, then you must be wondering why we need a day to celebrate women. I gave this some serious thought.

I realize it was only 100 years ago that women (in western cultures) were not considered people under the law.

I realize that in my lifetime women’s professions went from housewife, nurse, teacher – to anything you want to be – ANYTHING.

I realize that equal pay for equal work is still not happening in many parts of North America – not to mention my city.

I realize that many women are still expected (and do) the bulk of the home stuff, cook, clean, raise kids, make the decisions, work full time and in many cases go to school as well. Although this is mostly a generational thing. It takes a long time to change attitudes.

I realize that many women have been prosecuted for their beliefs and strive hard for the opportunity to have what I take for granted.

I realize that women in other countries are still oppressed and do not get the choice of free will because they are still considered property.

I realized all of this last night when my 15 year old daughter came down to my office to talk to me about her days events. She has been visiting different schools around the city trying to make the right choice for her. I am the one who told her to look at the schools with an open mind and evaluate them on a set of criteria that she has created in her mind.

Now that she has visited the short-listed schools, last night was the time to decide.

Her list of must have for a school were the following:

  1. Excellent Music Program
  2. Great-excellent Drama Program
  3. Opportunities to try new things
  4. AP Math
  5. AP English
  6. An atmosphere where you feel welcome and a part of something bigger that can actually make a difference.

The first school she visited during the week actually offended her. She was angry by the time we had left. There were no welcoming gestures from staff or students and she had a sense that she would be alone yet working along side people rather than in a team atmosphere.

The second school had a great drama department and was welcoming but it didn’t feel to her there were the well rounded opportunities she was hoping for. She talked extensively to teachers and other students and thought – maybe. The location was great and many of her friends had decided this was the place for them, but she wasn’t sold.

After last night’s visit to the last school on the list, she sat down at my desk and looked at me like she was very concerned. I asked her to tell me her thoughts. Her first concern was finding the time to do all the things she wanted to at this school. She was quite sure she couldn’t be on the Cheer Squad AND drama and music. There was no time for guitar class if she was taking photography. The opportunity for learning (yet another instrument – she plays keyboard, guitar, percussion and ukulele) was available if she took Jazz Band. She expressed the desire to play the upright Base. That was 3 separate music classes plus all the other classes she wanted to take. Not to mention the AP courses for core classes. Then there was the different sciences she is interest in like forensic, bio and chem. SHe loved the way the students told her the school wasn’t full of cliques and everyone intermingled and was supportive of each other.

I looked at her and thought she has decided which school she is going to. Then I thought about her grandma’s options and realized this is why we celebrate International Woman’s day.

The achievements from past women are significant – not because of lack of intelligence, but because of opportunity. It does not occur to my daughter that she is not capable of doing any of these activities. It does not occur to her that she wouldn’t be permitted on the basis of gender. She becomes indignant when she hears no on the basis that she is a girl and will argue with intelligent information to make her point. She does realize time is a factor and the ability to keep her marks up are important to HER. Her plans for the future are huge and she doesn’t want to limit her options.

She has OPTIONS. She has more options than I had. More importantly, she has more options than I was aware of.

I’d like to take a moment to thank all the women of the past who forged a path so significant, they changed my daughters world. I am eternally grateful and I can only imagine the good things ahead for future generations.