If this year has showed me anything, it's that none of us are promised tomorrow. Nobody knows what will happen the next day, week, or month. In the last six months, besides my health diagnoseses, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 Ovarian Cancer, my sister was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer, and we lost our nephew to an overdose. Therefore, I didn't listen to the naysayers about it being too early to decorate for Christmas. I went into full-blown holiday mode November 1st. 🎅🤶 We will be hosting several smaller gatherings in our home instead of one large one, still mindful of COVID. But, the intrinsic joy of the season is what I need, so I won't let anyone begrudge or delay my celebration.
Decades later, here you are, your victim costume tattered and worn. You squeeze and tug and hold it together even though it fits too snug and the material is frayed. Elevate yourself, scream and shout at anyone who will listen. Words of woe about those who didn't ingest your venom with gratitude, accept your abuse or give as much as YOU thought they should. Lay blame of your circumstances at others' feet, spit poison in their faces and try to recruit others in your hate campaign. Wake up call. I've been in your shoes but rejected the uniform. The world didn't owe you anything. It never promised to be fair. Not even family members OWED you anything. Your life. Your choices. You spent your decisions poorly and sprayed your noxious attitude over your children. When you have taught your children that family doesn't love them and has never done anything for them, YOU have failed. Children are your greatest gift and YOUR highest priority. If not a single other person on this planet reaches a hand to help, you claw and you climb and you carry them on your back. You pull them tighter into your embrace and love them enough for a thousand people. Put on your suit of armor and deny the victim's ensemble. Hold your children's emotional well being above your pride, jealousy, or disappointment. If you want someone to have a relationship with your child and you think that relationship will be beneficial NOT harmful to their development then keep your mouth shut. Sealed. Stem the flow of bitterness and hostility. Speak ill of no one, or speak of them not at all. Honestly, even if you don't support a relationship between them. Either way, in seeking sympathy and coconspirators for your perceived wrongs, you damage yourself and your children more than anyone you point your finger at. You sew the threads of a matching victim's suit those children will easily slip into when they find excuses are necessary and readily available.
Copyright Marie Drake
That song comes on the radio.
Back in time, our minds go.
First spark, first date, first dance;
A smile, a touch, a glance;
A breath, a whisper, a kiss;
A step, a spin, a dip; our hearts aflutter;
Falling in love all over again.
Copyright Marie Drake 2021
I am pleased and proud to be featured in the International Women's Writing Guild Annual End of the Year Newsletter for my response to a "Between the Lines" prompt.
The New Me
by Marie Drake
This year has been strange, indeed. The Corona Virus upset many things. My husband faced unemployment for six months, waiting to see if his company would reopen. It did not. He’d transported people with disabilities, and those people were no longer able to travel, meet, or gather. The uncertainty led to a job search; finding work in his field that paid similar to what he’d previously earned proved a difficult task, but we didn’t want to wait until the unemployment benefits ran out to decide what we’d do. He gained employment with a different company that doesn’t involve the transportation of people but products. It involves travel, and so there is an adjustment I must make, we must make together.
My husband and I have a blended family; we each have two children, and the last one living with us happens to be my youngest son. He recently procured a job on a path to his career, a grown-up job with benefits. Hooray. However, the company is farther from home than he wants to commute, so he decided to rent an apartment near work. He’s ventured from home to live in college dorms, but there’s a finality to this move. It’s the end of something. I devoted most of my life to my children. Mom: That was my title, my badge of honor. Many mothers have tread these heart-breaking waters before me and more will struggle through those waves after I have steadied myself on the shore, I know.
I’ve written several books, and there has always been a question in the back of my mind: If I had more time to devote to my writing, would I achieve more success? My quiet house beckons me to write something, anything. But, what if I write more now and I find no further accolades? Will the new me be enough? Will I enjoy writing if nobody notices? Will I need to search for fulfillment elsewhere? I must cast aside fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. I have to embrace the opportunity to concentrate on my writing. I should give myself as much encouragement as I’ve showered on my husband and my children. Be braver than I’ve previously been. Stand taller, accept recognition, don’t be afraid to state my accomplishments. I can be proud of myself. I must only be enough for me.
Here is the entire newsletter if you'd like to check out more fabulous content:
One in every four women and one in 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Men and women who have suffered from domestic violence or any form of abuse are probably familiar with the fear their coworkers or superiors will find out what happens in their personal life. They also may worry that the abuser will reveal the true nature of their relationship, or their behaviors may flow over into the workplace affecting their productivity, their promise of promotion, or wage increases. The first time I remember this happening to me, I worked in a grocery store. My significant other showed up there, often interrupting my shift. I pleaded and placated him; visitors weren't allowed; I didn't want to lose my job. For some reason, he acted like I attended a party socializing with a group of guys rather than putting in an honest day's work to earn a paycheck. One day he brought flowers. The flowers were a symbol. First of all, he'd done something horrible the night before, and of course, he apologized and swore it would never happen again. Secondly, those flowers meant I had somebody, and I didn't need any other male employee's attention. He paraded through the store with the giant bouquet and made a show of giving them to me. The jealousy grew, the harassment increased, and finally, he'd been escorted off the property and not very gently. That only made the consequences I'd face from him more severe. Coworkers also started to ignore me. My boss reduced my hours. At the time, I felt like I couldn't blame the company. They didn't want to deal with it.
Another example: I became a business owner. Now, this is where it became trickier. By this point, my significant other thought it was an excellent idea for me to work from home. No reason to be jealous or controlling, right? Wrong. If a person has the mindset that they want to control and abuse you, there is no perfect situation where it will never happen again. My fear, my anxiety became tenfold. He knew how to use it against me. He knew I didn't want clients to find out how he treated me, what went on in my house behind closed doors. Walking a tight rope to accommodate all his wishes and run a business successfully, so I didn't lose clients was too much. The most important reason I got out of the abusive relationship will always be for my children's sake. But, I could never have been anything more than his wife and remain firmly under his thumb, and still, I'd have suffered the threat of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse.
Do you feel like workplaces should have programs in place for victims of domestic abuse? Does yours have one? Perhaps, domestic violence policies could be put in place with the employer's acknowledgment that domestic violence happens; it may impact the workplace and that employers will do what they can to accommodate those experiencing it. Supervisors or HR could learn about domestic violence, how it affects the workplace, and where to refer people for the help they need if they admit they are victims: legal, health and medical, community outreach, and social services. Most companies these days have sexual harassment training, so why shouldn't a company include domestic violence awareness in their orientations? Maybe have a counselor on staff to specifically deal with domestic abuse victims as well as possible offenders.
People don't want to suffer abuse from an intimate partner, and they don't want it to interfere with their career. The workplace could be the platform to get them the help they need to break free.