Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth. – Liu Xiaobo
Amendment XIX. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
We continued to explore women’s history month and notions of freedom this week through the poetry of poet/activist Audre Lorde, the words of activist, critic, and writer Liu Xiaobo, the story of suffragette Susan B. Anthony, and amendments of the constitution guaranteeing free speech and voting rights for women. We are no longer in election season but using writing as a tool for expression and self-exploration is a continuous political practice and exercise of our rights. We take the time to examine our thinking and tell our story as a method of connecting to one another as well as a way to link our needs as human to our rights as citizens.
In the pieces below you’ll see the candid reflections of the writers inside. I will let their words speak for themselves.
SAVIOR OF THE SURVIVOR
My mother’s name is Dawn.
She is the woman who inspires me.
Change and love is what she has shown me.
We don’t always get along.
We have hurt each other.
Finally she realizes what life is like without me,
after I had a mental breakdown that
almost killed me,
she stood up in front of cameras
on a path to defend me,
showing me she loves me.
She gave me hope,
shined a light on this depression that seems
to haunt me,
a little hope was all I need.
I was surprised she did all that she did for me.
She gave me hope that someone in this earth loves me.
I haven’t cut in two weeks.
She is my mother, my hero.
She saves me from the agony others watched drown me.
She is my mother,
I am her daughter.
No corrupt judge is going to keep us apart.
There is only one truth:
That I still belong to you!
For a relationship that was broken.
Proof all broken things heal in time!
“WE WERE NEVER MEANT TO SURVIVE”
If we were never meant to survive than what do we live for? So many ways to live and yet even more ways to die…How do you even begin to make sense of it all? Which way do you go? Which side do you choose? Do you live to die, or do you live to survive? For so long I thought I was living. I know now I was closer to death than I could ever be without a heartbeat. Every single little blue pill was one less breath that I took in my lungs. Every single prick of the skin was one less chance that I’d open my eyes to reality and take in my surroundings. Every time I didn’t remember took away the presence of that sweet little boy’s face that should have been enough to stop the madness that I called home. Yeah, that’s what I called living. I was living to die without a care in the world. No one mattered but me. Destination: cloud nine. See if you can stop me. I dare you. It was a game of hide and seek…what was hidden was my sanity, self-respect, love, patience, and anything good that remained. I didn’t seek it and guess what? I never found it. What is lost will remain that way if you choose not to look. I mean I’ve never been fond of games but I did like a good story every now and then…so how’s this?
Once upon a time in a place far away, this girl was living to die. She lived in the dark and played with the monsters who haunted her every day. They soon became friends and did lots of things but no one else wanted to play.
Then one day the girl got in trouble and had to go away but her monsters, they just couldn’t go with her so they waited outside and promised her that they’d be waiting for her when she decided to come back and play.
While she was away the girl thought real hard and decided that the monsters weren’t the friends she once thought they were. She didn’t want to live to die anymore. She wanted to survive, so she did. The monsters never went away but she tried not to look out the window and listen to them when they waved and said, “Come out and play.”
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but what happens if the person who is beautiful doesn’t see their own beauty? What if that person has been abused for so long that they are repulsed by their own reflection in the mirror. Internally, I am the most insecure and self-critical like I’m not good enough, pretty enough. But on the outside I’m cool and confident. Nobody knows the turmoil I endure deep within my soul on a daily basis. Thanks to the trauma I went through I despise the stranger who stares me in the face. I get all the compliments I could ever want but it doesn’t resonate like the horrible words/names that were spewed and the bruises that were inflicted throughout my life. My mind is in a constant battle with the good that people say. If I’m so beautiful, why was I cheated on or beaten, given up for adoption or sexually abused? If I am so great, why do I hate myself so damn much still don’t understand the logic behind that statement? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I normally would here and say I’m afraid of nothing, cause if I stood here and told the truth, I’d look weak and small. But then I remembered I’m learning how to not care how I look to others as long as I could tell myself the truth, and the truth is I’m afraid of so many things that to think of them all would send my bipolar into a downward spiral. My biggest fear I’d say is to be alone throughout this life and to not be loved but then I remembered I gave birth to four boys whom I love unconditionally and they love me. My partner also fills this void now that my children are older and not with me. But that brings me to more fears; afraid of trusting and being abandoned like I have known before him. They say time heals all wounds. Well, I am still waiting. As I sit here in this hell hole, I also fear the unknown and question my strength on the challenges. I’ll be faced with in the upcoming year and I’m so afraid of messing up and taking ten steps backward. Gotta stop cause thinking about all this is stressing me out…Just think, Karen, you’re a survivor and have faced many demons and come out on top! This too shall pass!