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Honor the Struggle

It has been a particularly difficult month or so. I have had to fight to stay present and sop the chaos in my head. We have been exhausted from our show schedule, my service dog Luna got really sick and I have experienced a return of PTSD and panic attacks. Working so hard but not getting time to paint was not at all what I needed.

Undoubtedly you have all heard the controversy in the news,the Weinstiein "scandal" the abuses of women in many industries. If you have not experienced any of it in your life you may not have the empathy some think you should. If you haven't been in it, or affected by it, you just can't understand.

I have experienced abuse since I was very small. My mother Linda loved to tell the funny story of her little girl who had an infection in her vagina. She had to take the little girl to her GYN. The doctor could not take a culture, he must not have been able to get near the little girl. So he told her to bring the child to the hospital where they could sedate her to get a culture. Linda waited in the waiting area and after a long time the doctor came out and asked "What does she do mainline in the back yard?" Confused Linda asked what he was talking about. He answered that they couldn't get the little girl to go to sleep, she was as high as a kite. Linda said "so give her more". The doctor explained that they had already given the child enough to knock out a baby elephant but that she was singing and telling nursery rhymes. So 5 people had to hold down that little girl while the doctor took a swab.

How does a 3 year old get a staff and strep infection in her vagina? This woman's reply was always, "playing in the dirt". Anyone who knows her would scoff at that. Linda is OCD when it comes to dirt. She would no more allow her 3 year old daughter to sit in and play in the dirt than she would eat it herself. Even my son Noah scoffed loudly at that when we discussed the story.

She loved telling it and I grew up hearing to the point she had me telling it. After becoming educated and advocating for children myself, I learned what the RED FLAGS were. Things to look for that clearly show something is not right in a home. I began to think about this "funny story" and all the red flags that popped out. How does a child of that age get such a severe infection in their private region? Why would a mother of a small child be waiting out in a waiting area? What caused that child to be so traumatized that she would fight to the point of having 5 people hold her down? How did she have such a resistance built up to the drugs they were using? I know I will never get these answers. But I also know that this was the beginning of a pattern of abuse for me that lasted many, many years. I also know that I am in no way alone!

I was very young when I made the decision to leave Linda. After her jumping from man to man, and not noticing the attention I would recieve, moving constantly so I had no stability, no friends and failing out of school. I know I was at the point of deciding life or death. If I stayed I knew I would be dead. I would kill myself either outright or with crazy out of control self destructive behavior. I was drowning and there was no one who answered my pleas there was no life line being thrown, so I had to save myself.I had to choose to live.

I packed up and left and began a journey. At the time I had no idea what I was looking for. What I found was my culture, my people and my voice. What I found were family with open arms and caring to give. Without learning and understanding who I am as a Native American Woman, without finding my true family and my power, I would not be here today, there would be no art, no creating or sharing of the light.

I have learned that I am who I am because of the struggle, without it I would not have been able to help anyone else who came through it after me. Without it we could not create a place for others to find their voice and teach our little sisters and brothers how to be empowered. It is time for the hurt, the abuse, blindness and silence to end. We are are the generation of Warrior Women. AHO

Brandon Buchard wrote recently "I've simply learned that you can't overcome struggle if you hate the struggle. Engage with the struggles and crappy situations of life as an opportunity to challenge yourself to be present, to be better, to grow. "

The life principle I'm working on is called "honor the struggle." My military friends would say "embrace the suck."

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