Friday, April 19, 2013

Dear Adenike

I finished reading your thesis, Restorative Notions: Regaining My Voice, Regaining My Father: A Creative Womanist Approach to Healing from Sexual Abuse. I don't know where this response will end or the direction it will go, but I begin with thank you. Thank you for being woman. Most will argue that you had no choice in that. I have rarely been most. Thank you for your Womanist, Womanish and Around the Way Girl Ways. Thank you for your voice. For reclaiming it. Thank you for reclaiming your father. I am a great admirerer, appreciator, student of your father. Though he may not know. Thank you for telling.

I never told anything. I was silent about my childhood, teen and adult sexual abuse until my late thirties. I hid it in my poetry and stories. O you should have seen me, Adenike. I was the boldest woman you ever wanted to meet with my striking bald head, layers of strong colored flowing fabric, platforms high thana mug, radio voice telling all these stories about what happened to "my neighbor / friend / homegirl (boy) / lady at my church, old man round by my sister job" the who didn't matter. Long as folks like your father, folks at the World Stage, the rest of my poetry community, anybody who mighta seent me on BET or wherever didn't think I was talkin' 'bout me. Not me. Fly and enlightened as I wanted folks to think I was. Shiiiiiiieeeeet. I tucked all that shit under my head wrap, put some lip gloss on and kept it pushin'. On to the next one, on to the, on to know.

Sexual abuse started for me at four. Girls next door who used to make me suck this dude's dick in a tent in their backyard. Pssshh. Whatever. 'Cause that's how we blow it off, right? Pun intended. Then it was one of the ministeres at the church I grew up in. That went on for years. Again. Pssshh. Imma Energizer bitch. I take likins and keep tickin'. I wasn't no bitch (up ass or down ass). I wasn't hard. I was scared. I was a fucking kid. Again. Pun intended. Then there was the rape at 22. On to the next one, on to the...

My abusers were muthafuckas my people knew. I wasn't gon rock no boat. For what? When I could just as easily pretend nothing happened. What? That's what my abusers were doing. I gave you a piece of my story to say, no, I don't KNOW (can't stand when muthafuckas tell me they KNOW) but I do SEE you, Sis.

I told my parents 'round about the same time. I had just completed this course from Landmark Education called The Landmark Forum and it was about, basically, taking the head wrap off. I did. Shit was all over the floor. I told my mother first. She was supportive. Asked some questions. She made the space easy. Easy as it could be I guess. Any violation is a hard thing for any parent to hear no matter how long ago it happened. Maybe a week later I told my father. He let me talk. When I was finished he was as honest as he could be. "I'm sorry that happened to you. I know this sound messed up but I'm glad you didn't tell me when you was little 'cause I woulda killed them. Then I woulda went to jail and you wouldn'ta had no father." I greatly love my parents for the way they gave me the space to tell. Pause. What I don't think supporters get is that after you tell, you need to talk. I'll say a million times, I know it was hard for them to hear. But I wasn't done. I told. I needed to talk.

That's where I love to the mf gristle how you and your dad pushed through it. And I know that could not have been easy pushing. One of the reasons I was afraid to say anything when I was a child was because I knew how much my father loved me. I never wondered. Joe Reed was about his daughters, his liquor, his gambling, his gun. Play wit him an' see. So of course I didn't want him going to jail. Or as my child mind would have it, I wasn't gon send my dad to jail. Nope. I can handle it. It ain't even that bigga deal. It was though.

I acknowledge you. Hats off to you for taking control. For telling. Talking. Talking. Pressing charges. Pointing fingers. Telling your story. Hats off to your father for tying himself to the back of the stove, because I know there were nights it took just that to not take matters in his own hands. I love him for listening to you and respecting your voice. I have never read anything like this before. This! This right here!!!  Imma kiss yo face when I see you again.

Love you, Sis


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