Brave to Share, Brave to Change Things

Recently I participated in a spoken event to help raise awareness, energy, and financial support in the fight against gender-based violence. Each person who stood at the microphone and podium shared their personal story with our audience. Our expressions in poetry and prose emitted daring honesty to reveal a time we had been powerless yet are now brave and confident.

Heartfelt words of encouragement from others gave me a level of pride, that yes, each of us can make a positive difference in our communities.

My personal experience with this issue comes from a dark point in my journey. As explored in my debut book, coming out soon, choices, and then consequences of those choices push me to the brink of changing my life for the better. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I’m faced with one more hurdle. When at this spoken event, I described this hurdle in my spoken prose.

An excerpt from “Living on a Fork in the Road”

I had no idea how to define [him] but had nodded anyway to their comment. I’d gotten my college degree in June [2010], then in April, still without a career job, I left Seattle with him. I had no family to help. We’ve traveled from Seattle down to San Francisco, east into Arizona and Utah, and west again, through Nevada. Six months out from Seattle, my goal now is to survive.

One woman at that campground had told me, “My husband and I can take you to a women’s shelter.”

Homeless shelters don’t keep people forever. That’s why I went with [him]— I believed it would lead to something permanent, unlike temporary solutions from agencies. He jumps another pothole, then swings his right arm towards me. I’m afraid in his reaction, but then he stops mid-air, damn-near hitting my face. “Ellie, why did you let me break the trailer door? Why?”

We bounce deep into a graveled stretch of road as he grabs his steering wheel for control.  I hadn’t noticed leaving pavement. Cacti and pine trees keep the world out. I can’t rule out he can pull over and kill me. He’s strong enough. And mad enough.

Dust kicks up. I grab my door handle for leverage, not that we’d crash into another car.  There aren’t any other cars [on our road].

He demands, “Stop that. Now, look—you’re upsetting Manny.” (Manny was his dog, at twenty pounds of white matted fur).

He swings his right arm again, this time pushing me deeper into my seat. He corrects his driving one-handedly, screeches to a stop, turns the ignition off and pockets his keys. “I hate you, Ellie…. I (expletive word redacted) hate you, Ellie.”

What difficulty has personally touched you? How can you share your story with others? What will you do to create positive change in our community? Please share in the comments.

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