Pink

via Daily Prompt: Pink

I was born pink. My cheeks were rosy, my little hands and feet were chubby and pink. I was dressed in pink dresses, bonnets and little pink shoes. I had pink bows in my hair, and pink everything. I was told “pink is a girl color”. I was told “Only girls can wear pink” or “only sissies wear pink (if they are male)”. I learned at a young age that anyone dressed in pink is by default a girl.

So I grew up loving the color pink. I had a pink bedroom I designed myself. I had pink shirts, pink pants, pink shoes, pink hair ties. In college I bought pink bedding and pink decorations for my dorm room. It never occurred to me that a color could have so much meaning.

As a feminist and a woman there’s many things that I’ve been told about pink which counteract what I learned when I was younger. I’ve been told that pink is a gender norm. Pink is a color for everyone, not only girls. The color pink is not associated with weakness or less power than any other color, it’s a color. Colors are not gendered, but are only in existence to color our world. Liking one color over another doesn’t make you anything, it only defines your likes and dislikes. Wearing pink isn’t a statement. Wearing or liking pink doesn’t determine your sexuality (aka “make you gay”) or your gender identity. Not everyone who identifies as female likes pink like I do, and that’s ok. Deep down I wonder if I really liked pink growing up or if I only liked it because of what I was told about it.

pink

 

Today the color pink means more. At the women’s rally back in January pink was the color of resistance and feminist support. Pink was the color of the hats that told outsiders what we believed in. Pink signified support in women’s sexual and reproductive health and support of Planned Parenthood.

The resistance wore pink.

Pink was powerful, dominating and loud. Pink wasn’t afraid to step on toes and fight for the rights of those who are vulnerable. Pink wasn’t just for women, it was for the LGBTQII+ community. Pink represented equality for those who can’t afford healthcare should the ACA be repealed. Pink stood for racial equality for those being oppressed. The strong wore pink. The noble, the proud and the brave wore pink. The humble, the meek and the neglected wore pink. Pink wasn’t a “girl” color anymore, it was the color of a movement.

Now my ideals about pink have changed. I’m eager to stand on the edge of revolution and wear my pink for all to see. I’m happy to support those who choose not to wear pink. I’m happy to hope for a world where all colors can live together and work as one to make changes for the better, one where pink is just a color that anyone is free to like.

 

Fireflies

I remember clearly being a child and catching fireflies in the summer.  While many other kids my age loved Christmas, I longed for fireflies and summer. There was nothing better to me than a summer evening. I loved running through the tall grass behind our house barefoot and chasing those flying green orbs. I loved collecting them in a jar. More than anything I loved letting them all fly out.

As an adult we lose this connection to nature. We no longer catch fireflies. We no longer run through the grass barefoot. We aren’t grounded in the Earth, but entangled in our work, friends, families and lives.  We no longer seek to catch anything elusive outside of a promotion or possessions. We don’t let go. We don’t disconnect from our modern lives.

Sometimes when I feel stressed or overwhelmed I go outside at dusk (summer is still my favorite). I take off my shoes (and socks if I’m wearing any) and I stand on the grass. I root my feet into the Earth to remember where I’m planted. I drop my shoulders and feel the energy pulling my hands towards the ground as my head floats towards the sky. I close my eyes and listen to the sounds all around me. I breathe. I feel the air around me, pulsating with energy and the last tiny speck of sunshine. I connect to nature and I remember all those memories of catching fireflies, running through the grass and laughing.

Nothing can calm my mind better than being in nature. No medication exists to do what grounding does for me. It’s not just the sensory experience for me. It’s feeling the energy inside me and feel it wash over me from the ground, to my feet, up my body and out the top of my head. It’s this connection to the world that keeps me sane. In this moment I know I’m alive. I’m grateful to be able to feel the grass, the breeze, hear the birds, smell petrichor in my nostrils. It brings my focus back to my purpose, it allows me to know why I’m here, and in this moment I find complete bliss.

Tonight as I opened my eyes, I saw fireflies. They floated on the soft, warm breeze of summer. They blinked between the green leaves on the maple tree in my back yard. I felt completely at peace. And as I watched the neighbor’s children laugh as they ran barefoot across the grass, I remembered what it feels like to be where they are, to feel that the future is a million miles away and that summer will last forever.

 

Addicts are People

Addicts are people. They are not trash to be thrown away. Please don’t talk about them like they are human refuse. There are plenty of people who use substances who are good, kind and decent people. There are many people who use due to the trauma they have experienced or because of their circumstances. Some are born into a life where drugs or alcohol is a part of their culture, where using is normalized. Maybe a person uses drugs to treat their mental health condition, or maybe just to escape from the reality of their life. Drug addiction happens to all ages, genders, colors, socioeconomic statuses, it can happen to literally anyone. There are many ways in which people start down the path of addiction, no two are the same, so don’t assume that because you know “one worthless drug addict” that everyone struggling with addiction is the same. That’s called overgeneralization and it’s not fair to do to any group of people.

Some addicts commit crimes. So do normal people. When you are someone with an addiction, some of your time is spent feeding that addiction. Many of your behaviors are focused on satisfying your need for the substance of your addiction. The normal cycle is use, come down, buy more. Sometimes in trying to get drugs, a person becomes desperate and uses whatever means they are able to in order to get what they want. Sometimes this results in crimes like robbery, check fraud, panhandling, prostitution, and, in extreme cases, murder. While I am not justifying any of these crimes, I’m telling you that there’s a reason these crimes are being committed and why someone fighting an addiction might see it as a means to an end. Once again, these can be desperate people. This is also why some people choose to make or sell drugs. It means that their own use costs less and they are able to even have an income on which to base their lifestyle if they sell enough. I once had someone tell me “I can make $3,000 cash in two days selling meth. Why should I ever work 40 hours a week to make $400 at the end of it and then wait another week or two to be paid?!”

Some addicts struggle with completing drug treatment, and some normal folks struggle with finishing EVERYTHING. Where there are drugs, there’s demand. Where there’s demand, there’s drugs. It’s an unending cycle. You can’t incarcerate people fast enough to stop it, and you can’t treat addicts quick enough to stop it. There’s no good cure for the drug addiction plaguing our country. Incarceration of addicts doesn’t cure them of their addiction, but then again, sometimes neither does treatment. There are some really good treatment centers out there, but they don’t have a 100% success rate. There are people who go to all the meetings they possibly can, have a sponsor, have a good social support system and who still relapse. Recovery isn’t perfect. There are really two ways out from addiction: death or successful treatment. One of those options doesn’t have a 100% success rate, the other does.

Some addicts have priorities which are not the same as yours (so you refer to them as “the wrong priorities”). Picture yourself living the life of an addict. You need to choose whether to buy food or drugs. To me this is probably one of the most difficult choices a person could possibly make, but many people think it’s easy. Most people don’t understand why addicts would choose drugs over food, rent, medical care or their children. Drug addiction is a sick and twisted thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s hard for someone struggling with addiction to hold down a job, especially if using leaves them unable to function properly. “Desperate times call for desperate measures”… as the saying goes, once an addict loses their job, the result is desperation to meet EVERY need, not just addiction.

Let’s not pretend for a minute that all addicts are breaking the law. Alcohol is legal. A person can drink themselves stupid as long as they don’t drive, be drunk in public, etc. There are very few laws related to drinking at home. Alcoholics are probably the most common addicts, and yet they are somehow viewed as “better” than people who use meth or heroin, probably mostly because they are not breaking the law. But alcoholics break the law all the time. There’s many people with violations due to drinking and driving. There’s many assaults, including domestic violence and sexual assault, which were escalated due to alcohol. So how is this type of addict somehow “less bad” as compared to a hard drug user?

Addicts are people.

They love, they live, they contribute to society. They play music. They create art. They work. They play. They have families. They have spouses and significant others. They own property. They rent. They care for others. They teach. They learn. They have skills. They are kind. They can sometimes see the best in others. They are smart, sometimes bordering on brilliant! They are resourceful, much more resourceful than I will ever be. But most of all they are someone’s family member or friend. They have people who care about them and love them.

So before you say something unkind about someone struggling with addiction, think about how you’d treat someone you love who was facing this struggle. Each of us contributes to this world, and there’s enough negativity in it already. Be kind.

 

Mother’s Day

It’s the week I dread most in the entire world. The week that rubs motherhood in my face and makes me feel utterly devastated every year. I’m happy for those who are mothers, but completely jealous. I try not to be bitter, and I apologize if sometimes it feels that way, but it’s hard for me.

You can tell me all day “your time will come” or “you’ll be a great mom” but it doesn’t help the pain. I’m grateful that my partner understands and when I tell him “It’s gonna be a hard week” he gets it. It’s gonna be a hard week, and every year it gets worse.

It’s hard to look at (what I view as) “the success” of others and feel failure in my own story. I know that this is an irrational thought and I shouldn’t believe it, but it has sunk so deeply into my soul that I’m worried if I never have kids, it will just break my heart to the point of being broken forever.

For those of you who don’t know, I had kids who called me mom before. When I was married, I had two sons. They called me mom and I knew them from when they were 2 and 3 until they were 9 an 10. These boys meant the world for me. It was my true crowning victory at the time. I know those of you with kids will understand the joy that having a child brings to your life, and this feeling (I’d imagine) was the same for me. I felt my life was complete and my family was whole. When he and I divorced in 2008, my whole world came crashing down. At first he told me he wanted to allow me to interact with the boys. He sent me letters they had written and I visited them a couple of times during the next year. Soon after, he got another woman pregnant and she harassed me into submission. I had to let the boys go. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get to see them one last time, and I didn’t get to tell them why. It wasn’t ok for me to do that.

A couple of years later, I (very hesitantly) started dating another man with children, a ten year old boy and a three year old girl. After he and I had been dating 6 weeks or so, he wanted to introduce me to them. From the second I met them, I loved them. They were the kind of kids that just wrapped themselves around your heart and didn’t let go. For about a year I stayed at home with the kids, mostly the three year old while the boy was at school. I bonded with the kids, and once again I felt at peace with my life. But I wanted a child of my own, and the man I was dating didn’t want that, so eventually the relationship ended. Once again my heart was broken. He and the kids moved away, so I couldn’t stay in their lives at all even though my ex would have been ok with it. About once a year he sends me photos of the kids. While I’m grateful for this small, kind gesture, and I appreciate it more than he’d ever know, sometimes it still hurts. It reopens that deep wound and I feel the loss again.

Some people will make comments like “I know you’ll make such a good mom one day” or “you are so good with children”. They even say things like “your time is coming, it’ll happen”, but the more days that go by, the more those words hurt as well. I’m impatient and I would like that day to be here already. I’m not getting any younger, and I’m worried about my ability to get pregnant as I get older and become “high risk”. “You can take mine for a few hours and then you’ll never want kids again!” Really?! You think a few hours with your children will stop my desire when I’ve spent years with caring for both my own and other people’s children. I love naughty, challenging children. They are so undervalued. I’m as ready as I will be. I know there will be challenges, but I enjoy problem solving. I’m already exhausted many times, and I am eager to accept these sacrifices in the pursuit of my dreams.

What’s the worst is when they mention any of “my kids” like “you were so good with them, it’s just proof you’ll be such a good mom”… Ouch. It’s those words that cut me to my core and break my heart.

Yes, I am good with children. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education partnered with 12 years of experience in that field. I’ve always been good with children. I love their sense of creativity and wonder. I love their ever-exploring and questioning minds. I relate to all the questions they ask, it drives me to never stop learning.

You’re right, it may happen some day, but what if it never does? How will I accept that fact? How will I deal with that “failure”? What will motivate me to continue my life and feel successful? How many hours will I weep the day that I really know my window is gone. Yes, there’s always adoption, and I have always been open to that option. I’d love to become a mom to a child who needed a compassionate and safe caregiver. I wouldn’t mind an older child that others consider “damaged” or “traumatized”. I’ve done work with trauma survivors. I know it’s challenging, but I feel I would be understanding and possibly a good fit, depending on the child.

You are welcome to ask me to care for your children. If I’m able, I’m happy to do it. I won’t always be able to do it for free, but I’m also open to hanging out with you and having your children around. I don’t mind. I’m happy to give you a break from the stress of being a parent. I know you (and your partner maybe) still need time to yourself.

Finally, yes, I was an amazing mother to those kids (both sets) and I have every intention of being that kind of parent for my own kids, if and when that time comes. I still love those children with all of my heart. They are now going on 17 and 16, 16 and 10. As time speeds by I think about them and all the milestones they are experiencing. I try not to focus on the fact that I’m missing them, but rather that they are growing up so fast, and I’m glad they have fathers to raise them to the best of their abilities. Yes, sometimes I wish I was still a part of their lives, but I try to remember that I was a good mom to them, and that they loved me very much. I like to think they remember their time with me fondly or still may care about me, but I may never know it.

So I want to send my love and light to those that feel like me. I want to give you all hope and support. I know I’m not alone. I know there are others who have lost kids by divorce, death, termination of rights and alienation or many other ways. I want to let those of you who long to have children that you’re not alone. Those of you who have loved children and lost them, there are people who understand that pain, myself included. I want to encourage you to not listen when those irrational thoughts come creeping in if you want to be a mother. There are ways regardless of age, relationship status or income. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You can choose to be patient, or you can take matters into your own hands, the choice is up to you. It’s your life. Do what you want with it and don’t worry about what others think. Sending you much love as you also struggle to celebrate Mother’s day. And please know that if you feel like you’ve been a mother in any capacity, this day is for you too.

 

This is my story

At first I wasn’t scared of him. He was sweet and we fell in love very quickly. By 6 weeks into the relationship I was staying at his house many nights of the week. We were sleeping together and most of the time we used birth control. I was in college and my grades started to slip. Eventually I moved in with him after about 6 months at his parent’s house and dropped out of college. Things were good. We were in love, we spent time together and I believe he genuinely cared about me.

I remember very clearly one night after one of our first fights his dad told me “You need to get away from him. Don’t get stuck in this family like I am.” He was a very wise man, and I remembered his words long after he passed away.

Eventually we moved out of his parent’s house and things changed. He wasn’t as sweet sometimes. He didn’t buy me gifts or flowers, but I assumed it was because we had more bills to pay now. We’d fight and he’d get in my face and scare me. But we were still in love and happy most of the time, so I stuck it out.

About 2 years into our relationship things really started to escalate. When we fought he would say really vile things to me like “You’re just a whore with her legs up in the air” or “You’re an ugly cunt”. But I stayed because I was working a job which wouldn’t allow me to have my own place, I had no other supports in the area, and I didn’t want to be a burden on my friends. They would ask me if I was ok, and I’d lie and say that I was fine, or blame some other reason I was upset or in a bad mood. He’d tell me my friend was a “bad influence” and tell me to stay away from her. I’d listen to what he was saying about her, and at the time it made sense, so I stayed away. About this time he started really scaring me. I’d lock myself in the bathroom to get away. He’d tackle me or shove me onto the bed. He’d grab my wrists so hard it left marks or bruises.

3 years into the relationship things started to fall apart. We fought a lot, probably more than we had good days. But he had asked me to marry him: center ice of a hockey game. It was so romantic and he planned the whole thing by himself. That tiny piece of compressed coal on my finger was accomplishing a goal I had wanted for so very long. We started planning our wedding, the stress from wedding planning weighed heavily on me. He wasn’t happy with the wedding my parents could afford, so I felt less. I felt like the wedding I had dreamed about wasn’t good enough for him. His mother offered to help pay for things, I reluctantly agreed. We planned a church wedding and began marriage counseling, which led to more fighting. He’d yell at me for disclosing that we’d fight or the things we’d fight about. He’d tell me that if I made more money our finances wouldn’t be so tight. I was working my ass off as it was, and going to college at the same time. Fights continued to be physical. He’d slap me across the face, and sometimes punch me in the head or ribs. He left marks and did not care. I hid them from my coworkers and friends (so I thought). I was careful in everything I did not to upset him. I avoided my friends. I didn’t interact with anyone at work or school unless it was necessary. I learned to wear a mask to hide what I was going through.

Finally my friends had enough. Two of them invited me over to one of their houses on the premise that we’d be doing a makeup or pedicure party or something like that. Once I got there, they sat me down and had a kind of “intervention” about my fiancé. They told me they were scared for me. They said I might be killed. They told me they would support me in leaving him. They said I could stay with them until I found my own place, or become their roommate as one of them had a 2 bedroom apartment. These were my closest friends in the world at the time, and I hadn’t seen them in months. To this day I am thankful for this interaction, but at the time I minimized what I was experiencing. I was only 21 and didn’t know what a healthy relationship really looked like. I had seen my parents fight. I argued that every couple has fights. I defended him. I gave excuses and I lied to my closest friends that I was fine. Inside I told them if things got bad that I would leave him.

I left that house with so many mixed emotions. I was angry at my friends for saying such horrible things about my fiancé. I was hurt that they would say that. I was confused as to what to do. I knew they were right, but I had no place to go and no money to be able to leave with. My parents would have helped me, but I was to proud to ask them for help and embarrassed to share what I had experienced. I thought it was my fault because I let it happen. I didn’t know any resources for women like me. I was stuck. My friends had planted a seed which sprouted almost immediately into doubt in the relationship.

At about the 4 year mark that seed had grown significantly. He had lost his dad the previous year. Wedding planning came to a complete halt. His mother was a wreck and he asked for us to move in with her. We spent most evenings at her house keeping her company. The nights we didn’t, we fought about things. Mostly we fought about the usual things, but sometimes also about how much time we spent with his mother and sister’s family. He began to drink. At first it was only a little. Alcohol wasn’t the reason he started getting physical, I knew that, but things got so much worse. He’d threaten to kill me if I called the police. He’d call me names and say hurtful things about me. He’d chase me around the apartment with a knife. He’d hold me down on the floor with the knife in my face. When I hid in the bathroom he’d pound on the door and shove the knife under the door saying terrible things about what he was going to do to me. I was terrified and feared for my life.

 

The next time we fought was when  I started to fight back. He had me pinned down on the living room floor and was screaming and spitting in my face. He lifted his hand to slap me and I punched him right in the face with my left fist. The engagement ring that I treasured so much made a jagged cut in his cheek. He stumbled back while grabbing his face and I ran into the bathroom to safety. He started crying. He cried at the bathroom door while pleading with me to please forgive him, and that he was so sorry. This was the first time he had ever said something like this about the abuse. Eventually I opened the door and he cried in my arms and we made up for the last time.

His mother threw me a wonderful (and very elegant and expensive) bridal shower. I was happy and it felt so good to see all my friends and all his family members. My family wasn’t really welcome and was only invited as a courtesy. Invitations had been hand made (by me), addressed (by me), and sent (also by me). I was finishing up last minute duties having to do with the wedding.

The next week we had our last counseling session with the pastor who would marry us. We had a big fight about an hour before the session. He didn’t come home the night before, and I thought maybe he was cheating on me pretty strongly. My car window had been broken a few days before, and he told me some story about this woman at work that was crazy and may have broken it. He told me he wasn’t going to attend the session because he was busy and wouldn’t give a reason or tell me where he was. I screamed that I would go on my own. I left for the church. He called my cell phone about a dozen times in the 15 minutes it took me to get there. I ignored every call. Eventually I turned off my phone. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stand him lying to me or hurting me. I couldn’t marry this man who didn’t trust me and who had nothing good to say about me. I went into the pastor’s office and just broke down in tears. He asked me what was going on and where was my fiancé, I told him everything. I told him about the abuse, the threats, when I fought back, everything I could tell him. The pastor said “Jodi, I’m afraid I can’t marry you after hearing about all of this.” I nodded and told him I understood, and that I didn’t want to be married to him.

About a minute after I finished, he walked into the pastor’s office. Regret instantly hit me like a ton of bricks. He was so angry already. He changed his face quickly and sat down. He asked the pastor what we were working on this week. The pastor said he needed to cancel the session and that he thinks we should take a break from our relationship or end things. He said more, but I couldn’t hear him over the sound of my own breaking heart. This man hurt me both emotionally and physically. He beat me on a nearly daily basis for the past 2 years, he threatened to kill me, he held a knife to my throat and I was still in love with him. It hurt so deeply. I remember leaving the pastor’s office, he grabbed my arm and practically dragged me out of the church. He screamed at me across the parking lot, but I didn’t hear any of it. I got in my car and he said “We’ll finish talking about this at home.” and drove off.

When I arrived home, I called the police. I knew that things would be bad, and I thought this would be the end of my life. I didn’t want to die at the hands of this man, so I called the police to help me leave safely. When I got inside I went straight to the bedroom and started packing as much as I needed and planned on staying with a coworker for a while until he and I figured out what to do about the apartment we shared and dividing everything out after the breakup. He wanted this to be a true break, and wanted to maintain contact, but I told him I didn’t want that. I was terrified that he might hurt my cats, but I couldn’t take them with me.

About a week later he called and told me he had moved everything out of the apartment he wanted and that I could live there. He signed papers with the apartment company saying that I was taking over the lease. I had no idea how I was going to pay for the apartment. I didn’t have living room furniture and the bed I had was a piece of crap. Everything reminded me of him. I felt conflicted because I knew we shouldn’t be together, but once again all those emotions came rushing back both good and bad.

Three days later I was served with a no contact order listing him as a victim. It said I had to show up to court and that he was claiming I had abused him. His mother had also filed against me citing that “her husband died” and “Jodi threatened to hurt me” and “She’s much bigger and weighs more than I do, so I fear for my safety (she had criticized my weight the entire length of our relationship, so I knew this was a dig at me being “fat”).

I was terrified at court. I brought a friend with me to court who was male. That didn’t go over well, I could tell he was furious as we sat in the hallway. I was shaking on the witness stand, and crying so hard, he was giving me dirty looks and I could see his fists ball up and his shoulders tense. The judge was kind and patient as I gave my testimony. I don’t remember what he asked, but I remember crying so much and seeing my ex’s angry face at the desk. Then I had to listen to my ex talk about how he was scared of me. He cited the time I fought back and showed the judge the scar on his cheek. He told the judge that he was the victim. He blamed me for the abuse. He lied. The judge dismissed the order and arranged for us to exchange the things I had left at his mother’s house.

Finally it was over, but it didn’t feel real. I was terrified to see him out in public. I avoided where he worked, and everyplace he went on a regular basis. I was still scared for years. For the first 5 years after we broke up, he messaged me about once a year to berate me and try to hurt me. He’d say terrible things, but as time went by I wasn’t scared as much anymore. Sometimes I’d cry, but it got better.

12 years later I realized how much I have healed. That’s why I chose now to share my story. In my work as an advocate, I’ve seen similar stories to mine. I’ve spoken to victims about the reasons they want to stay and how long it will take to fully recover. I’d like to tell them how long it takes, but the truth is that I still have times when I’m weak as well. But I am not the woman that I was then. I will not be his victim anymore. And I will no longer let this story hold me back from whatever I want to do!

So here it is, my story and I hope you will learn from this that you’re not alone. It’s ok to love your abuser. It’s ok to miss the relationship. It’s ok to remember the good moments and forget the bad. It’s ok to stay and it’s ok to not call the police if you don’t want to. There’s things that people in your shoes do that many people wouldn’t understand, and that’s ok. You do what you need to do to stay safe and serve your own needs. But if you are ready to leave, there’s help, you just need to reach out. There’s people like me who know what it’s like and can support you through the changes that will come next. There’s resources available for people who need them. Best of all, there’s hope.

Life of an Advocate

I wake up. I try to come to grips with the fact this today will be busy, but I will make it through – I have a 100% statistic so far in my life of getting through the day.

I slept like garbage last night, I’m exhausted and I no longer own a coffee pot. I also don’t have the money to buy coffee or the time to make an extra stop on my way to the courthouse.

I throw myself together in 5 minutes and hope that I look presentable enough for court. (Hey, I showered and brushed my teeth, I’m wearing clean and professional clothes, so that’s great, right?)

I arrive at the courthouse and drive around for 10 minutes before finding a space 2 blocks away.

I run to the courthouse so as to avoid being late and accompany my client. Things go smoothly.

Finish my first appointment at late 10am and my next one starts at 10am… across town. I’m definitely going to be late.

Run to my car and try to obey the speed limits as I’m driving, but it’s so tempting. I think to myself “Getting a ticket will make you later and broke.”

Client doesn’t show after all that rushing. Oh well, on to the next. I shake it off.

I return to the office and it’s an absolute mess from yesterday and all the work I did. I clear enough space to start working.

My phone is ringing off the hook and I have 8 phone calls to return already.

I have 3 clients with financial needs waiting for an answer and my director has still not responded.

I have 12 emails in my inbox and most of them require a response today.

I shove a snack into my face as I try to call back a client, no answer. I leave a message. I pray to God my garbled message is understandable. I make a mental note not to eat when I’m calling a client, but who knows when I will be able to get lunch?!

I have a client at the front desk wanting to speak to me and an appointment in 5 minutes.

I’m stressed out to the max and my stomach is growling so much I’m worried someone would be able to hear it through the phone.

I needed to pee at 9 am and still haven’t gone, it’s now 1pm… my bladder may explode.

I’m sitting in a meeting when I get an email from the accounting department about a client financial item. They are issuing checks today… right this minute…and if I don’t get my request in now it won’t get paid for another 3 days.

I leave the meeting and run to my desk and then downstairs to accounting. I run back up to the meeting and try to regain focus.

I shove some food in my face between phone calls. My phone continues to ring off the hook as I’m on the phone and trying to eat.

I have an appointment in another hour. I’m sure she has a lot which needs to be addressed and I know my workload will get worse before it gets better.

I suddenly wonder what it would be like to work in the corporate world again. It would be so nice to have predictable hours, predictable needs and predictable workloads. I can picture my life as boring and average. I wouldn’t be helping people in need, but my skills would still be in high demand. My day would be filled with , human resource functions such as staff trainings, creating documents, running reports, employee files, background checks and interviews.

I’m bored at the simple thought.

Would my life be easier doing many other jobs? Of course it would! But I wouldn’t ever want them. As stressful as my life is, it an be very rewarding. As hectic as it can be, it can be filled with client victories and progress towards risk reduction. As ever-changing as it is, it can sometimes be boring and mundane still. As much as I may travel and it annoys me to “waste my time” on the road, it’s not wasted because it’s bringing vital services to clients who need it. I’m making outreach in rural areas which need me. I’m assisting some of the most vulnerable people on this planet with vital services. Is it sometimes challenging? Absolutely. Is it sometimes very sad and hard to listen to the stores I’m told? Hell yes. There are days where I wonder how someone could hurt another human being like that. But as hard as it is, it’s important to listen to victims. It’s crucial to their story and it’s a huge first step to getting their needs met.

Being an advocate can be hard as fuck.

But I wouldn’t want anything else right now.

Baby Birds Leave the Nest Eventually

I’m a domestic violence victim advocate. We don’t always have good days. Some days feel like failures. Some days are hard.

I wanted to write today about one of the most amazing and beautiful days I’ve had in a long time. I’ve been working with someone for a while now, and she’s had struggles, triumphs and everything in between. I’ve been with her every step of the way. I’ve celebrated with her, I’ve tried to help her plan when things didn’t go as planned. I’ve watched as her children grew. I’ve felt her pain and her joy. I’ve calmed her fears and I’ve watched as she slowly learned that she needed to do something to protect herself and her children.

Today was the day she metaphorically left the nest and moved on from my services. We met at a gas station to say goodbye. She thanked me for all I had done. I wished her well. We cried in that gas station parking lot. We hugged one another and we cried for all the times we’d been there together. I didn’t care that she’d been busy living her life and hadn’t showered in 2 days. I didn’t care what other people thought. This woman is one of the strongest women I have met to date, and I wanted nothing more than to wish her well, comfort her one last time and send her on her way; to allow her to leave the nest by giving her the last gentle push she needed to keep moving forward on her journey.

It was heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time. This woman has seen so much more evil in this world than some can even imagine and yet here she was, still here. Still moving forward and still with a positive attitude. It was time. She was ready to move on to the next chapter in her life. And I know she’s going to do great things with her life.

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Women like this are why I love what I do so much. I can’t save everyone. I know I can’t. I can’t put all the injured, vulnerable and unsafe victims of domestic violence in my pocket to protect them. But I can empower them to do what they need to do. I can connect them to what they need. I can help them reflect on how strong they are. I can show them all the progress they have made and help them acknowledge that. I can be with them in their good times and their hard times when no one else is. I can be someone to talk to when all their friends have gone away because of their partner or former partner. I can make them laugh when they need a smile. I can believe them when they share their story, and there is so much value in that. I can support them in their choices.

THIS IS WHAT I DO. I ADVOCATE.

I’m not a super hero. I’m not a savior. I’m not a miracle worker. But sometimes, just sometimes, I’m able to do something amazing. And that’s all that I can do.