On Being a Woman Outrunning Yet Still Carrying the Impact of Male Violence

I've spent far too many of my 33.5 years on this earth trying to survive, navigate, mitigate, and outlast the impact of violence, abuse and harassment from men and the shitty consequences of their harmful decisions. From my father, stepfather, boyfriends, the guy who tried to rape me in my dorm room on base in 2003, the random dudes who felt they had a right to follow/touch/say whatever they wanted to me as I walked past them in school, on the street, in formation, on the dance floor, during deployment...I am so tired. 

Weary of apologists and the laundry list of excuses and explanations that work overtime to evade accountability. Of rape culture. Of beliefs and mindsets that reinforce and enable violence + the idea that being a girl or woman (cis or trans) = being owned, commodified, used, and treated however men deem is convenient, comfortable, and appropriate for them at home, in schools, on the job, in faiths and places of worship, in politics, in every space women exist.

The impact continues to reverberate and be felt in my relationship with myself, with my husband, in my parenting, and in my relationships with others. I received a text today that reminded me that I may never outrun it, or be free from/completely done with it in my lifetime no matter how much work I do in and out of therapy...and grasping to understand this just reveals how tired I am. I'll be 34 in December and what I want more than anything for my next 34 years is to just be free from the impact. That's it. I'd like to be free. Not just healed, FREE. I'm working my ass off to ensure my boys are so that the cycle hopefully doesn't continue with them, but what I wouldn't give to be free from it too.

I know I'm not the anomaly. So many women have experienced assaults, abuse, harassment, and mistreatment at one point in their life. Too many lose pieces of ourselves or our lives altogether to the act and the impact that reverberates and alters for long after it happens. What I wouldn't give for us to be free so we wouldn't have to carry the impact of this depravity within us. Yes, some of us survive it, but it always costs us something. Our identities, our wholeness, our  mental & physical health, our sense of worth & value, our lives...it costs us something. 

There is more to living as a woman than this, isn't there? What does it take to survive as a woman in a world where patriarchy negates our right to exist and thrive outside of its terms? What toll does this emotional labor have on our beings? 

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 "What's the greatest lesson a woman should learn?

that since day one. she's already had everything she needs within herself. it's the world that convinced her she did not." - @rupikaur_Milk and Honey 

"But She Has Everything She Needs With to Survive", acrylic on canvas, from The Laughing Barrel series, an exploration of the historical origins and personal impact of emotional and expressive suppression in Black women. 

"But She Has Everything She Needs With to Survive", acrylic on canvas, from The Laughing Barrel series, an exploration of the historical origins and personal impact of emotional and expressive suppression in Black women.