It’s Valentine’s Day…have you seen the posts from Sojourners about joining with One Billion Rising in speaking out against violence against women? I have and am writing as my act of solidarity with people around the globe to demand an end to gender violence. Particularly as a person of faith, I want to speak out this weekend about the ways in which we have been silent and complicit in the promotion of sexual violence, domestic violence, spousal abuse, misogony, homophobia, etc.
Will you join with me?
You see- I have been pondering this topic since last V-Day when I almost wrote about what love has come to mean to me…and not just because thinking about Andy brings tears to my eyes…not just because for the first time in my life these last few years have been ones where I’ve actually let myself love and be loved in return by many friends and family…and not just because two of my lesbian friends are getting legally married this weekend.
It is for these reasons, but it is for so many more that I have #reasontorise.
- It is because of the conversations I have had with my girlfriends as they have shared of the sexual violence they have endured.
- It is about our bodies that we have hated, not known what to do with, or been deeply uncomfortable in.
- It is an homage to the tears of pain in the wondering if we would ever be loved for who we are.
- It is because of the women who have been beaten by their fathers and spouses…both verbally, emotionally, sexually.
- It is for my sisters who never believed that they deserved more.
- And it is for the women who do and must stay in the relationships that continually devastate them…and still they endure and survive.
This is for my grandma. It is for women I have never met who have been trafficked. It is for the queer. It is for everyone who believes that there is nothing lovable in them.
It is for the silence endured. It is for the survivors. It is for those who are suffocating. It is for the convulsions I’ve felt as I’ve read and witnessed stories of violence.
It is the altar of remembering– of naming and of not forgetting.
And it is about my story- my #reasontorise.
- It is about how I have been stalked and was so terrified that all I could do was stutter.
- It is about the ways in which violation of my person still makes me want to overeat and disappear.
- It is about a faith community that kept me entrapped below a glass ceiling.
- It is in solidarity with a younger version of me who ran after men who treated me like sh*t because I believed I was, indeed, worthless and unlovable.
And this rising…this coming to life…it is a claiming of ourselves, our names, our stories, our voices, our lives, and our bodies. It is the beauty of the song “I Know Girls (Body Love).” It is about the power of Mary Lambert telling her AND our stories…and of her reminder that we ARE….
not because we are “wanted”
not because of our size
not in spite of our shame
but WE ARE because we say that we are- this lyric evidences the radical act of self-naming…and of standing together in solidarity as we stand against violence and stand for ourselves and for a humanity in which we are all seen and valued and free from abuse.
How do I write about this– about the friends I have seen pick or stay with partners who don’t love them or, even worse, actually abuse them? How do I tell you that the tears I’ve cried and my anger and disappointment when you give up and go back…that this anger is really because my heart is breaking… because I know your story and because it is too close to my own history- the story where I go back again and again to the same system and the same men. And it about how I went to hell and back to get where I am- I fought (and fight) tooth and nail to believe that I deserved a different life. It is the story of a woman who spent about two years almost leaving Andy because I was terrified by his kindness…because I didn’t believe or trust goodness.
Or that even while I live in this beautiful life I’m creating- that I am often still waiting with bated breath for the other shoe to drop…whether with Andy or with any of you…the shoe that reminds me that this life (and the goodness you are to me) is too good for me. And yet I keep rising and fighting to believe that life and that love is a gift for everyone…including me.
And so love has demanded and invited me to show up.
Love has pushed me further into myself and further into actually loving myself and my body and others around me. It is a love which demands my vulnerability- but always leaves me more alive than I was before.
And this is the love that I wish for everyone-
A love that is free from abuse and a love that uplifts and heals.
This Valentine’s Day I STAND because I want you to know that love and abuse are incompatible.
I want to tell you that you, my friends- are the most beautiful mess of amazingness that I have ever met.
That your sexy wonderfulness and beauty is a gift to this world.
That YOU ARE LOVED.
May we rise together
and re-create the world
as one where no longer are 1 in 3 women are victimized.
Valentine’s Day is my #reasontorise.
Will you join the #1billionrising and #rise4justice?
Join in at http://www.onebillionrising.org.