Moonstruck. I was eight or nine when my mom and I watched that movie together. I was anxious throughout the whole thing. I hated that people could cheat each other like that, but nothing could have prepared me for the sheer panic that would ensue partway through that film. There’s this scene where Cher follows Nicolas Cage to his apartment and an angry, passionate love scene develops. I’ve forgotten exactly how it begins, but I can still see him sweeping the dishes off a table and knocking it over as he grabs Cher and starts to make out with her. My mom had to pause the movie because by this point, I was in hysterics.
She calmly brought me upstairs and lay in bed with me. “Is there something you want to tell me?” she asked and it just kind of spilled out. My mom was an absolute super star. Her voice was unwavering as she encouraged me to reveal the details of this incident that I had long since repressed. As I concluded my recollection, she made sure that I wasn’t leaving anything out, then she kissed me goodnight and gently closed the door behind her.
What I didn’t know was that she was absolutely terrified. She called my dad who was driving and had to pull over because he was in a rage. Once they had both calmed down, they made a plan to handle the delicate situation at hand. They called the parties involved and got the individual who was responsible, the help he needed. We figure it’s been about fifteen years since the abuse happened.
It’s been a long journey but the purpose of this reflection is not to dwell on the pain but to speak to the triumph. I can say with honesty that this hiccup in my history is now the source of immeasurable strength that propels me forward every single day. I have chosen to study nursing in the hopes of eventually becoming a gynaecologist after going to medical school. I want to help women realize how precious and beautiful sexual health is. Perhaps I am naïve in thinking that I can make an impact, but I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who lead me to believe that I could change my little corner of the world if I put my mind to it. And change it I will.
Please don’t ever sink into the tempting belief that things won’t get any better because I promise that they will. You will find people who can love you in the exact way that you need to be loved, the help you need is accessible to you when you’re ready, and the community of survivors with success stories is enormous.
"She was the first.
She was a yank in your stomach
and an ache in your bones.
She was a galaxy sleeping next to you,
a swirling mess of stars and dust and light,
and she was home when you lost your way;
her arms strong and steady,
her chest warm and familiar.
She was the first yawn in the morning,
barely awake but beaming,
her lips soft on your shoulder,
and you could never,
you could never have imagined
you would ever love someone
quite like this.
She was the first that made you cautious
but the last to make you worry,
and There. There is where you love her.
There, in the lull of the evening,
when her hands had made their way
idly to your hair
and you felt a tug at your heart
and a hitch in your breath
when she kissed your temple.
She treaded lightly while you stumbled,
she was grace when you were mayhem,
she was the calm of the storm
when you were lost out at sea.
She was the fire you felt in your lungs
and the guilt that rooted itself in your chest
because she was too good, too good, too good
for you, and you knew it all too well.
She was a fleeting moment,
brief, passing, momentary,
but she was also an eternity,
and when someone asks you
what your favorite number is,
you will say Her,
because she is still your favorite infinity."
I’m trying this new thing where I’m not as treacherous to myself as I usually am.
Today I feel beautiful. Not because I look it - in fact, I’m sure I look dreadfully anemic after spending this last week living under my rock. No, today I feel beautiful because I’m heading into an exam that I am positively going to annihilate. Sure, there is empowerment in dressing well and looking fabulous, but today mine comes from excruciatingly hard work that has paid off. Anatomy and Physiology, it’s been a dream but I am so ready for this, our last dance together! And after I’m done, I will keep dancing until it’s summer time!
"Everything is spirit. The reason things live is because they have spirit. When you remove the spirit they die."
Gordon Raine Plains Cree Elder