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Through the Amy's Courage Fund, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) provides emergency financial assistance for victims of domestic violence and their children as they flee abuse and rebuild their lives.
During the month of January, Amy's Courage Fund is in the running for a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. This grant would make a huge difference for victims in need of emergency funding.
Amy's Courage Fund recently helped Kimberly, whose abuser slashed her car tires and broke the windshield of her car. Without a working vehicle, Kimberly had no way to leave; but with help from Amy's Courage Fund, she brought new tires and replaced her windshield. "I couldn't have done it without the help of Amy's Courage Fund," Kimberly said. "There is life after abuse."
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by Stephanie Doty on Monday, December 27, 2010 at 11:57am
Monday, December 27, 2010
Today would have been my father's 91st birthday and it's all but impossible for me to believe he's not been an active part of my life for the last 34 years. My father and I had a very complicated relationship, although when he was alive I did not perceive it as complicated, but rather tortured. I may (and was deeply) confused about my feelings for him, but I never doubted his love for me or mine for him.
When I awoke in the wee small hours of the morning and realized that today was Dad's birthday, my mind drifted back over the years, over so many experiences he and I shared, but, above all, to what his actions did in forming the woman I have become. i read a great deal about love, compassion, forgiveness and letting go with love and compassion on these Facebook walls and over the last several months, I have experienced a healing journey that embraces these concepts and have resulted in my feeling a freedom and love of life I would never imagined.
In the early summer, I revisited a past that was fraught with rage, indignation, confusion and, above all, betrayal by the one person in my life who was my strongest supporter and advocate. I had buried those long ago memories very deeply and for over 55 years refused to plumb the depths of my feelings out of fear that I would be overwhelmed and incapable of moving forward. Indeed, I did discover this journey into the past was the most painful I could have imagined possible. But, I also knew that until I acknowledged, owned and freed myself from those feelings, I would never fully realize the full potential of who I am.
As I reflected on these experiences, I also recalled reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye back in the early 70s. I believe it may have been her first novel. I was moved beyond anything I had previously experienced prior to reading this particular book. The story was about Pecola Breedlove, a little black girl who dreamed of having blue eyes like the little white girls in her life. Pecola was firmly convinced that if only she was like them, she would be visible to the whole world and her entire life would change. This little girl wanted nothing more than to be seen and loved for herself. Of all the people in her life, it was her father Cholly who 'loved' her. Yet, he was the source of her betrayal through his expression of his 'love' for Pecola. Not unlike my father, Cholly did not have a ghost of a notion how to express his love so that his daughter could grow from it and evolve as an emotionally healthy woman. This mythical father, not unlike my own, robbed this young child of her innocence as a consequence of his own tortured existence.
Young Pecola succumbed to madness as a result of what happened, "a madness which protected her from us simply because it bored us in the end." The ending of the book has stayed with me over the years since Morrison wrote so eloquently of love and what can happen when someone 'loves' us who does not understand how to love. I share the final passages:
. . . . And Cholly loved her, I'm sure he did. He, at any rate, was the one who loved her enough to touch her, envelop her, give something of himself to her. But his touch was fatal, and the something he gave her filled the matrix of her agony with death. Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe. There is no gift for the beloved. The lover alone possesses his gift of love. The loved one is shorn, neutralized, frozen in the glare of the lover's inward eye.And now when I see her searching the garbage -- for what? The thing we assassinated? I talk about how I did not plant the seeds too deeply, how it was the fault of the earth, the land, of our town. I even think now that the land of the entire country was hostile to marigolds that year. This soil is bad for certain kinds of flowers. Certain seeds it will not nurture, certain fruit it will not bear, and when the land kiills of its own volition, we acquiesce and say the victim had no right to live. We are wrong, of course, but it doesn't matter. It's too late. At least on the edge of my town, among the garbage and the sunflowers of my town, it's much, much, much too late.*
I, unlike little Pecola, may not have succumbed to madness, but my entire adulthood was informed by that long ago betrayal. It was not until this summer of my 62nd year that I finally had the courage to face my demons and dragons of the past -- the demons and dragons being my negative, hostile feelings for my father. Since I knew my father loved me, it was all but impossible for me to voice the rage, anger, disappointment, confusion and betrayal I felt as a consequence of what he had done.
These were the feelings that I buried for well over 55 years, refusing to acknowledge how they may have been instrumental in shaping my fear of men, my fear of being betrayed by the very ones who professed to love me. So many of the decisions I made as a young adult grew from that fear, not the least of which was my refusal to have children. Of course, the men I chose to bring into my world (and I was married twice) were not suitable candidates for fatherhood, thus playing out a dynamic that began in my family of origin. But, I was not to have that clarity of thinking until my 62nd year.
Needless to say, when I finally, but finally met someone who I would have liked nothing more than to share my life, it was far too late for me. I could no longer have children and I could not, in all good conscience, pursue a relationship with him since I felt certain that, in time, he would want more children than his one son. It was the most achingly painful reckoning of my entire adult life. But, in time, when he made the decision to pursue another, I finally realized that was the only sensible decision to have made.
Yet, as painful as this experience was, it provided me with invaluable lessons and the opportunity to further plumb my past in an effort to unearth even more buried feelings that I was wholly unaware had cast a dark shadow over my entire adult life. When I finally had the opportunity to go through the fire of that experience was when I finally learned the power of completely letting go of the past. Yet, I could not do that until I had become stronger, fortified by my love of self and sense of my own worth.
Today my father would have been 91. It pains me grievously that I am not able to give him my ultimate gift of forgiveness--borne of understanding, compassion and love. I could stand beside him, take his hand and say, "I know you did not mean to hurt me all those years ago, but you did. I now understand. I am now able to love you with all of my heart, as I have learned to love myself. Dad, I forgive you." I think there is no other gift I could have given him that would have meant as much. For, he, too, needed to learn how to love himself and forgive himself. At 62, I have become a woman that I believe would have been someone my father could have loved unconditionally, without reservation. Today, I have my father to thank for my ultimately becoming the loving, compassionate and forgiving woman that I am.
Until next time, sd
*Morrison, Toni (1970). NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., pp. 159-60.
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