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The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

The endeavor to walk in the world : Colors.

They say when things get tough, that’s when you see people’s true colors.

In each of my trials, I’ve been shown the “true colors” of my friends.  I’m lucky to have so many good friends.  I appreciate all the calls, messages, shows of support, and offers to hang out now that I’m stateside again.  And, I truly appreciate my online friends as much as my in-person friends. 

Blog of many colors

Right now I’m coming to grips with how this atrocity even happened.  I was handling all that Mother Nature was dishing out; no electricity, no running water, violent storms, horrendous heat, Typhoid Fever, with a fair amount of grace I think.  And then without warning, at the end of my weakest state, John Goosen went on an unprovoked ape-shit rampage and decided to fling me around like a rag doll to make me listen to his drunken rant.

Some days are good.  Some days are bad.  That’s normal.  I write more on my good days, but lately it’s writing about my bad days.  That’s also normal.

I value being able to read through other blogs to see the uplifting and helpful information out there.  Feeling like there is a community of people who understand the process I am going through is so wonderful.  Sometimes it can be difficult for my in-person friends to understand.

And then there is always the hope that through this blog someone else can be helped as I work through everything and keep living the day to day as well.  Life goes on and this is how I’m trying to learn as I go.

All the Colors change

Once something traumatic has happened, you see the world differently.  I see the world differently.  Not better or worse, just different.  Things that were once important aren’t any more.  Things that weren’t important suddenly are.  Everything is colored a little differently.

Different or not, I’m still trying to walk through this world. I’m still trying to learn from this and become a better person for it.  I still see the beauty in the sunrises and sunsets.  I love listening to the birds in the morning and the coyotes in the evenings.  I enjoy conversations, cold beers, painting, reading, laughing.

But behind it all I’m trying to find my voice, give voice to those who don’t have it, and blaze a trail for change.

I pick at and piece through the trash pile that is the ways abusers work.  It is alarming how often I pick up a piece of that trash and think, “Oh, that looks familiar, that must be mine.”  Only to turn it over and see an Abuser’s name on it. It’s a bit disheartening to see how pervasive the blaming/ shaming way we treat victims is. 

For example, we all have heard “there’s a way victim’s walk, or hold their head, or (….) that clues abusers in that they are a good target”.

First,

and I want to scream this at the top of my lungs,

NO ONE SHOULD EVER. BE. A. TARGET. 

It doesn’t flipping matter if PersonX walks around with a real sign that says, “I let people abuse me”, PersonX should not get abused.  PersonX should not be a target.  PersonX should feel and be safe.  End of story.  Even if the sign has shiny flashy lights with arrows.

No one should be a target.

Think about that for a minute.  If PersonX has poor self-esteem, (and that shows through their posture), there are people out there who are compelled to hurt PersonX because of it.  Abusers look for people who already feel inferior, then Abusers humiliate them, isolate them, manipulate their emotions, make them feel crazy, makes others think they’re crazy. 

And instead of denouncing the Abuser, instead of stopping the Abuser from finding and hurting others, the general population looks at PersonX and says, “hold your head up more, walk straighter so abusers won’t target you”.  Everything gets shifted over to PersonX.

Why are people so afraid of Abusers that they can’t stand up to them?  I stood alone in trying to get people to see see John Goosen as an abuser.  The other people in Mozambique were so afraid to stand up to him.  He needed to work. He needed his space.  It wasn’t good what he did, but he’s sorry.  He needs medication.

Not a single person, other than myself, looked at him and called him out.  Not one person actually stood up to him, except me.     

It has been enlightening to say the least, to realize every single person I’ve discussed abusive situations with has given ways to change PersonX.

Ex:   “I’d try to get them alone to tell them I could help them if they leave the abuser.”

“Abuser has a (…) problem.  PersonX needs to be more understanding.  I mean get away, but then they need to worry about themselves, not Abuser.  Good riddance, they can deal with themselves”

“If you just tell them to leave, they say ‘it’s only one time’, or ‘Abuser loves me’.  You have to give them little examples how to leave without really saying they need to.”

“I don’t understand why PersonX would go back after that.  PersonX needs to get their head examined.”

Not a single person suggested that the Abuser needs to change. 

The Abuser straight up thought, “Hey PersonX looks (insert adjective of choice ie, lonely, sad, etc.).  If I make them a little less (adjective) they’ll take any shit I dish out.”  “If you feel bad, I want to make you feel worse.”  “And I’m going to make you and everyone else think it’s your fault.”

And everybody else thinks, “PersonX should’ve made themselves look less like a victim.”

This is what abusers do.  They work the whole scenario from the beginning.  From the initial lure to the end, everything and everyone in their environment is part of the set up to get off scott-free.

Our True Colors

I think we are so entrenched, as a general population, in generations upon generations of dysfunctional families, war torn memories, secrets, and lies that we don’t even know how to see the first red flags anymore.  Abusers have done such a trick on the mainstream psyche that when we finally see the red flags, we all point fingers at the victims.

But how can we stop the abuse from happening if we start at the end?

What do you think? 

As you’ve heard/ read my and other stories, how many times have you asked the ‘questions of change’ to the victim rather than the abuser? 

How can we change that scenario?  How can we really stop abuse if we don’t change it?

 

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Graceful movement

Graceful movement

As I laid quietly, I began to feel something under my hands, something with hardness and warmth. I tried to feel my abdomen but it was no longer there. There was movement, an undulating, left, right, left, right. I tried to figure out what I felt. It wasn’t a horse, but it had that type of rhythm and movement to it. But the shoulder blades were different, more pronounced, a different angle. The gait was different, but similar. As I let my mind wander, I realized I was no longer lying down, but rather, sitting up and riding a still-unknown animal.

As I quickly ran through several animals it could be in my mind, I heard, “Just look down”. And there, below me was a magnificent and lustrous giraffe. Her long, strong neck was just ahead of me. I looked down past her shoulders, past her neck, to watch the ground move smoothly under me. Graceful.   She was so elegant and graceful. As she bent down to get a drink she told me to scoot further back that I shouldn’t fall forward onto her neck.

I marveled at the course, yet thick soft hair, at the beautiful angles of each spot on her, and the strength that was so obvious with each movement she made. She raised her head and I hugged her neck as we continued on. I felt her smile.

A piece of my soul that had fled during my time in Mozambique was found.

Before my beautiful spirit animal sent me back into this reality, she nuzzled my face and neck. She let me feel her face and we saw each other.

I came quietly back into consciousness with such a peaceful feeling of strength.

It has been 6 weeks today since I was brutally attacked. Each day brings more healing, more strength, more resolve, and more opportunities. I am grateful for the journey that I am on now. I am grateful for my strength. I am grateful for friends who support and encourage me.

And for those still struggling with what to say, or not to say, ask, or not to ask, it’s all ok. Do or say what you are comfortable with. I am fine. I am strong. I have many more wonderful stories of my travels than the one of a pathetic little man with an abusive mentality.

There are so many more stories of times with friends, trips to beautiful places, teaching beautiful children, and the wonderment of new places. I have had an incredible last 3.5 years and plan to have many more travel stories in the future. I can’t give up the travel bug. I’m already beginning the processes for next spring. I love being out there in the world.

I need to write still about the situation, how I see the situation, etc. I need to write it, to let it not dictate my future. Much of what I will write will be to have a final send off, a sort of farewell. It’s one thing to free yourself of the emotional attachment to these traumatic situations, but you also have to let go of the story, stop retelling the story in your head. And for me, I stop retelling it in my head, if I write it on here.

And I can hold on to the stories I want as I write them on here. Who knows, maybe someday I could forget about the dream with the giraffe, except now that I have written it, it becomes more deeply etched in my memory.

Life is really good. In the words of Kid President, “Go be Awesome!”

 

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The Surreal moment I just had

I just had a beautiful but surreal moment.  I went to the Washington Middle School 8th grade Graduation.  I was able to witness every one of the students I’ve been working with walk across the stage that not only completes their Middle School education but begins their High School career.

Only 12 days after my own graduation, it came at me like a wave of surrealist paint.  Like Paul Fleet’s An Eye With A View, I felt like I was looking at a scene of looking at a scene.  Another UNM graduate spoke at the ceremony, a UNM graduate who had once attended WMS.  She spoke to them of trying circumstances and not being asked to join groups during High School, but rather having to take a leap of faith, put the goal in front and just go join the Honor Societies, the soccer team, the academic clubs.  She had to take the initiative and because she did, she’s now a college graduate.

She spoke of the statistics these kids are bombarded with from every direction.  Half will drop out, 1/3 will become unwed parents, 2/3 will be arrested for something before 18.  I saw many not so dry eyes, because some of these kids are the first in their family to make it this far.  Some are the first to be headed to High School in America, the land of opportunity, as long as you’re not Mexican.  These kids are fighting the odds put against them, and winning it right now.

It made me think of all the things people said to me when they first found out I was going to teach at Washington, largely known as one of the toughest schools.  Wow, really, are you scared?  Oh my gawd are you trying to change placement?  Make sure and bring a whistle, it startles them.   These children are pre-teens, barely teenagers, and they are faced with obstacles that would make a lot of different people drop out, but they are doing it through those circumstances.

I know students who live with distant relatives because those relatives live in the US.  Their parents still live in a different country; Cuba, Mexico, Chile.  I know students whose parents are in jail, dead, or not part of their lives for various reasons.  These kids are just kids.  The various reasons they are in the situations they are in are not their fault.  But they are dealing with the stereotypes, the people telling them they can’t, the biased tests telling them their not smart enough to, the families that can only offer so much, and making their education important for themselves at the same time.

I see my own Middle School experiences, my lack of High School, and now my struggle and triumph with college.  It was hard, really hard for me.  I had to fight for every moment in College.  But I did it in a society that accepts me simply because of the color of skin I was born into.  I can’t help the skin I was born into any more than they can.  I can’t change the fact that there are privileges I have, that they will rarely have, for no other reason than being born with fair skin.

I too was born into a low income home.  I too dealt with abuses.  I rarely found moments in which I felt supported.  I often raised my siblings.  I didn’t finish High School, dropped out in 10th grade.  I was married too young, had children too young.  I connect to these kids on more levels than they will ever understand and fewer levels than I can understand.

It was surreal, these many thoughts running through my mind as I hugged every one of my students after they received their diploma.  I don’t know if I was technically allowed to, but I stood at the foot of the stage stairs like one of the faculty and hugged them all as they came down the stairs.  I know that life is about to hit them harder than they’ve ever known.  BUT I also know that this group has an outstanding chance.  Maybe it’s my bias because I taught them, talked with them and learned from them, but I feel like this group is really going to go somewhere amazing. They are fighters for their own education.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 24/05/2012 in art, being a student, teaching

 

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