STRONGER TOGETHER: The Emergency Prompt Roundup

Content warning: rape and abortion

I’m not really sure why but these roundups always make me think of a lasso, cowboy hats, ponies & a ride into the sunset. Anyhow, this goofy lead should reassure you that I’m either okay or I’m still medicated. The correct answer is just 😉. You came together when I was in a state of emergency, pulled me out of the deep trench of self -hate, shame, self-doubt . Your words revived me, springing me back into my messy, quirky, complicated self!

Last week was pretty awful for me. It wasn’t about my health (for once -which, as usual was so awful you’d think I made it up–I wish I had) but rather something I shared several months ago after a political debate.

My greatest fear wasn’t talking about my rape. It was sharing the abortion. Speaking up served a purpose, but clearly not enough. I was empowered, but sharing my story didn’t get any less  terrifying 

I don’t think that it will ever be enough.

 

It’s not any less terrifying because now I am not in a crowd. It’s me. Readers can meet me & see me but I can’t stop their assumptions or change their judgments. Whatever fits their narrative of rape or violence isn’t going to fit mine to a T. There is no such thing as perfection.

Contrary to popular belief, uniting doesn’t mean foregoing all differences. It doesn’t mean building walls. Hate is divisive. A cry for war by calling out immigrants and refugees using the same words in a steady loop won’t turn me into a terrorist . It won’t make me fire legal immigrants trying to do what my father did for us, if their paperwork passed the governments inspection I won’t take a deeper look. Trump may end up as our POTUS . If that day becomes a reality I will bear it while our country disinegrates.

This my homeland . My country. My birthright . I love being a natural born American. A well educated, open-minded woman who grew up with “privilege.” My experiences as a member of a unique family will be shared in upcoming issue on family. I hope you will read with an open mind.

 

I knew that at some point someone would ask me to consider that choice. A choice I strongly , unequivocally KNOW is up to the person facing that decision. It’s not up to Congress or my neighbors. I respect everyone’s choice and feelings on this matter without judgement. I cannot bear being judged because judgment was bad enough. Not going there. I won’t.

When I wrote those words that were published in RAWr magazine, I only agreed to publish to stand in solidarity with others. In fact, I never wrote them for public consumption. I wrote them in a series of texts. The piece is a real conversation , publishing it took all the red I was seeing. Took painful trigger, changed it into a moment of empowerment . 

When I launched Open Thought Vortex it was a natural fit to have my heart on the page. Whether it was a bleeding heart or having a good time I needed to write.  Simply put, I was not brave enough to  meet my keyboard when it mattered the most. Why would I give up on Journalism or writing (I excelled enough at this to get a full ride scholarship competitively ) when I had a platform? 

Trauma. I simply couldn’t get past my trauma.

I thought I had. I paid for therapy. I got private medical help, took antidepressants but I never spoke in public about what trauma(s) I kept locked inside me. Many writers inspired me within the writing community.  I had been reading so many on my newsfeed, secretly using a Twitter account I started to observe & read most of you. I was looking for permission. Permission to tell or even acknowledge my story let alone yours. I couldn’t do it.

I tried to write privately for months. I tried prompts. I even used a syllabus. Many shared their work, many of you shared your work. I began to fork real connections to others. I was led intuitively to writing that mattered.  I believe God, at least had hope that I would open up because I did have a voice, not just a story. Surviving was the biggest part of my story.

I want to tell you that what you all did this last week & with every word I have read is incredibly healing. My fear was that if I spoke up I would have to tell my entire story–a series of events that unfolded so toxic that much of that story remains untold. It is secretly hidden in unfinished drafts waiting for something to trigger my anger that these things STILL happen (along with the stigma related to them). I have no doubt society as it degrades will force me to share those unpublished stories.

By coming together like you did you created a safe path to walk. And not just for me. You came together for all of us. My fear was no longer blinding. 

The reason I don’t share everything or publish is because the target on my back isn’t one I can handle. I don’t want to be asked how I feel about abortion. You are the ones who wrote. You lent  me enough courage to ask questions before hiding.

Guess what? Laura McGowan (@Mile_by_Mile @Skinnyandsingle) both reached out . At one point Laura took @Milr_by_Mile to task asking questions , taking all the burden. As many of you know Laura was a huge part of out a great community who gave me permission to write . OTV & #ToughAsTeal don’t want to raise awareness for Sexual Assault Victims . 

I strongly believe I should help educate those that I can. I’m willing to bet that many have had circumstances like mine but never spoke about it for the very same fear that struck me then froze me up. I thank Laura for getting me to the table. The context of what riddled with me fear turned out to  be a curious writer who wanted to understand. Not pass judgement. Each of you has done this throughout this year. We will shatter the stigma. We will change the world . Empathy is out cure.

#ToughAsTeal is so important because of the mutual respect we all share. There is unspoken respect between us. True friendship. Most importantly, it solidified my belief that where there is hope, there is love. Please check out the response roundup below.

If you don’t see your link here, please drop it below. I want to include you. Thank you for showing up!

Embrace the Uniqueness of Yourself and Others by Thomas Ives

This is Why Girls Don’t Tell by Kim Jorgensen Gane

My Response to #LinkYourLife Prompt: Fear, Compassion and Community Action by Tricia Barker

Being Disabled in an Able Constructed World by Charlotte Farhan

Courage to Care by Charli Mills

Getting Personal with Scars by Tracy Rivera

Breaking silence is work: On fear, compassion and community action by Stacia M. Fleegal

You So Need to #LinkYourLife by Drew Sheldon

Don’t Do As I Drink and Other Lessons My Father Unintentionally Taught Me by Ned Hickson

I Will Not Be Afraid by Rachel A. Hanson

Believe in You by Colleen Tews

The Time I Screamed but Nothing Came Out and Gone Girl by Darla Halyk

Love,

Shareen Ayoub Mansfield

Follow @ShareenM & @OTVMagazine on Twitter .Join #ToughAsTeal on Twitter.

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