Audio from the following speech, “A Tale of Two Women”:
If the woman I was at 30 were in the same room with the woman I am today, she would be scared to death of me. If you view self-esteem and confidence like water, they seek their own level. The woman I was at 30 was no more than a zero. Today, I am a solid ten. There is no way we could have ever connected.
You see, that woman was a victim. It wasn’t her fault her mother married five men and moved her 26 times by the time she started sixth grade; the first four being violent, abusive, alcoholics. This poor girl was dealt a really bad hand.
I want you to see a moment in her life … visualize a three-year-old girl with curly blonde hair on a warm Las Vegas day. As she is walking to visit her friend around the corner, a car pulls up. It’s her step-dad. He said “get… home… now…” as he squealed his tires and drove off. She had no choice, she knew she had to go home. Imagine what this little three-year-old tummy is feeling with every step she takes back to her house. When she gets home and goes to open the door, she finds he locked it. She has to knock. Moments later the door opens up. A large arm reaches out and grabs her tiny arm and pulls her inside, holding her in the air with one arm while the other smacked and slapped her. This was just another day in her life. The summer before 6th grade, her mother shot her fourth father, paralyzing him from the waist down. As he was lying in a puddle of blood, he told them that he would find them and kill them. This was the last day of violence in her childhood.
With her fifth and last step-dad, she lived in the same house through high school. To the world, she looked “normal.” Inside, she was broken and damaged. After graduation, she would move out and continue to surround herself with other zeros. Her life spiraled further and further down. She was living recklessly, not caring if she lived or died.
Somewhere deep inside, she had a sense that it didn’t have to be this way. The only problem was, she didn’t know how to change her path. Miraculously, she met him on an airplane! He would be her knight in shining armor. He would rescue her from her life and move her to Ohio, thousands of miles away from her family and friends. What she didn’t know was, wherever you go, there you are! Once she settled in, it was clear to see, she married to a zero!
As the days would go on, he would often threaten to divorce her if she disobeyed. He knew she was scared because she didn’t know anyone in Ohio! He kept her under such tight scrutiny; she couldn’t even begin to enjoy her life in Ohio. She found herself crying herself to sleep more and more with each passing day.
It got to the point where she couldn’t take it anymore. Living in this house became so painful, because of his insecurities, she knew it was time for her to get a weapon. So… she went to the bookstore! She found two books she would start reading immediately, “The Cinderella Complex” and “Looking Out for Number One.” As she lay in bed at night, now reading instead of crying, she started finding her power. She promised herself that the next time he threatened to throw her out and divorce her when she was bad, she would leave.
They went out to a karaoke bar for dinner one night. She loved to sing as in her previous life, she was in a band. After she sang her first song, people in the audience were sending up requests for songs they wanted her to sing! When they got home that night, he asked if she had a good time. She was in heaven. He said, “Good. The next time you sing in public, we are getting a divorce.” That night she went to bed and for the first time in years, she slept like a baby. She knew what she had to do. The next morning he went to work, she moved out.
The next few years were the hardest she would face because now she was in the middle of two worlds. She had one toe experiencing strength and power yet the other foot was still firmly planted in chaos and dysfunction. She refused to fall backward and give up her fight to be strong. She had an amazing counselor who helped her live through the childhood abuse over and over again until it took away the sting. Over time, she finally shed the cloak of her past. She no longer resented anyone or blamed them for anything. She now lived only in the present and learned how to let go of things she couldn’t control. She was in charge of her life. That’s when I emerged.
Turning my life around was the hardest thing I ever did, and I know most people are not strong enough to do it. It took me 35 years to undo the bad choices my mother made during my childhood. Most people would never be able to go through the transformation I went through. It was incredibly difficult.
What children see and experience during their youngest years is the only existence they will know taking them into adulthood. When they see abuse and hear the word love, it’s what they will associate with love. It’s all they CAN know! They won’t be okay!
So… what do we do about it? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. Can we ever get to the point where we will require a license to have a child? Probably not. I think the best thing we can do is to educate people. If stories like mine could be in the hands of women, like my mother, who choose to stay in abusive relationships, just maybe they might reconsider bringing a child into the world. I feel it’s my job to share my story.