I don’t really know what I’m doing in the world, or how I’m contributing to it. I do know that it isn’t what I imagined it to be. I always thought by 32 I would be receiving my PHD in writing and rhetoric and I would be single with no kids. It would be at this time that I would open myself up to committing to a relationship (maybe) and eventually a child or three (possibly). I walked away from those kind of dreams when I was 23. 24? 22? I had them all at my fingertips and just left. I flew across the country and moved in with my boyfriend who, at the time, recently became my fiance. We were just kids. We had no real plans. In fact, we broke up often. We had a long distance relationship and barely ever saw each other. When we did, we locked ourselves up from the rest of the world. We knew that we wanted each other. We knew that we were in love with the other. We didn’t know, truly, how the other one really interacts with the world.We only knew our lives together, not our lives mixed as one. There was his reality. There was mine.
I had the opportunity to become a TA and continue my studies. Continue on the path of making a true difference in this world. I was working toward my M.A in Composition and Rhetoric with a focus on personal traumas and responses to personal traumas. In that program I was learning mostly how to translate that knowledge into being an effective teacher in the classroom, but I was also studying to become a victim advocate. I was going to help the women that needed it the most. The women that were in their darkest hour and had no one to call. I had one final day of training before I left. I actually would have completed that but something happened with the instructor that pushed the final assessment back a couple of weeks. Funny how timing is really everything. When you say yes to this, what are you inadvertently saying no to? And why are you saying no.
My boyfriend proposed to me over my spring break. It was a simple and sweet gesture in uptown Charlotte. It was beautiful, actually. A grand gesture would have been phony to him and to me. I do remember that he didn’t get down on one knee, he just asked. He was nervous, but it was rainy and I know that’s why he didn’t bend down. I said, “sure.” He remembers that. I said yes to us and yes to knowing that he really hates getting his clean clothes dirty. Rather than requesting that he move to school with me until I finish the program, I just stopped my life and moved into his. I didn’t even make it a discussion.That was my crossroads. And that choice wasn’t anything like me.
I think back to this often and wonder why I gave up. If I would’ve stuck with my passion who knows what I could have accomplished. But it was dark work. Learning about responses to personal traumas and listening to testimonies and experiences and seeing the faces of those that survived rape, domestic violence, all the underbelly in our society–it can be draining. It was draining. I needed a break. And because of that, because of that dark cloud over me when I immersed myself in those studies, I walked away. I never fully left it, but I walked away from the research. I chose happiness. I chose to be that girl that puts down her brain for a bit and follows love into the unknown. Totally cliché, but I owned it.
Luckily it has worked for me so far. I’ll be 32 tomorrow and married to the same man almost six years. We have two boys who are the breaths of fresh air we both needed. I wouldn’t change anything that led me here. But now that I had that break from all that gloom, and added purity and confidence and (dare I say it) wisdom, I need to get back to voicing my beliefs. Sharing my experiences and observations and reasons for my thinking and allowing others to hear them and take them as they come.
This world is a crazy and beautiful place. Leaving the culture of academia didn’t take me away from staring into the effects of personal traumas. The world keeps moving. Now we have the likes of Brock Turner. The public figure of date rape, or assaulting of an unconscious woman. Both apply to him. But the ONE thing that I can find the silver lining with in a scumbag like him is that people know Brock Turner. People know that the guy next door is capable of raping someone. The blonde haired, blue-eyed dork is just as self-serving (yes, self-serving. Power hungry. Habitual abuser. whatever) as the creepy stranger in the alley. He is capable of taking advantage of an unconscious women. And we also learned that there are good samaritans that will stop and help a victim. We love them. While on the flip side we also learned, or were reminded, that there are so many people who would not stop. There are so many people who wouldn’t even think twice about his behavior. We learned there are parents out there that can sum a sexual assault to “20 minutes of action” and we learned there are actual judges who will take his well-being into regard above all the women. Just all the women, period. And while all that was happening so many were curling up in their beds, pulling the blankets up to their chin and remembering the guy that did that to them. They were thanking the survivor in this case for writing such a powerful statement that caught national headlines. That even got congress to listen to the public for a moment. And there were the women that, for the first time, finally realized and/or admitted to themselves that they were not wrong. They were raped. They were taken advantage of and it was not their fault. And they’ll always remember that impact statement. Brock will be the name that triggers that memory, no matter whose face shows up. And just when they think people may actually be catching on to the fact that there’s a rape culture that needs dismantled, they’ll hear about the judge in Canada that didn’t understand why the girl (in a separate case) couldn’t just keep her knees together or her hips tilted back. Canada. The country so many regard as peaceful and safe. As they cringe it’ll make them wonder what the fuck is wrong with this world all over again. And they’ll hear about the university football player that was told to just be careful with drinking and these girls; and it’ll make them remember why they believed staying silent was their best option in the first place.
And it’s with all this that I truly realize that I may have walked away from the university and earning my PHD by 32, but I didn’t walk away from my passion. I didnt let go of what I believe is important in this world. I didnt give up. I took a break. I went down a path I never imagined and acquired a husband and children. I married a man who is as disgusted in all these scumbags just as much as I am. Someone who was appalled to learn that California just now, in 2016, made it illegal to have sex with an unconscious person. That wasn’t a law before? Do people seriously have to be told that? I married a man who will help me raise two boys (as much as we possibly can) to know the difference between right and wrong and how to treat a lady. How to treat all people, really. And this is my new journey. I will somehow take note in all this shit that is happening all around us and somehow raise things of beauty. It is a definite challenge. I wont raise them to be blind, no matter the issue, but I’ll raise them to have a voice. To use whatever privilege they may have and speak. Make a difference, no matter how small it may be. I’m glad I chose this path at the cross roads. There’s so much work that needs to be done.