"If a woman can only succeed by emulating men, I think it is a great loss and not a success. The aim is not only for a woman to succeed, but to keep her womanhood and let her womanhood influence society." - Suzanne Brogger
Heroine of the Week
Book: The Legacy
In my twenty-two years of life, I have seen and suffered things no one should have to. Having been raised by an alcoholic mother and an abusive father, childhood had been nothing but miserable for me.
From the age of six to twelve years old, when other children were laughing and playing and sharing secrets with their friends, I was a woman-child, barely surviving and telling my secrets to no one. In the afternoons after school when I should have been busy at the business of being a child, I was subjected to the screams of my mother as my father beat her. And at night while other children were safely tucked in their beds and sleeping, I was forced to endure the sickening presence of my father in my room as he abused and defiled me.
One day my mother finally found the courage to leave her husband. She packed our things while he was at work and we moved from Charlotte back to her hometown of Asheville. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, for my life had been permanently scarred. And it didn’t help that every man who came into our home and lived with my mother seemed to think I should be part of the deal.
Throughout my whole life I felt dirty and cheap, but more than anything, I felt alone. There was no one I could turn to and share my painful burdens. Later in life, that loneliness guided me to make decisions that only added to my misery and brought even more shame upon me.
A single tear slips down my cheek as I painfully remember the days and nights of endless partying, each one filled with drugs, alcohol, and sometimes immoral conduct. When I was younger, my father made it his solemn duty to tell me repeatedly that I was worthless and only good for one thing in life. It seemed his comments found a permanent place in both my mind and my heart. My father had foreseen my future and had helped as much as he could to make that future happen. But I know in the end, the choices had been my own, just as the choice to finally change my life had been.
I smile, melancholy coming over me as I remember the day I made the decision to abandon the self-destructive lifestyle. It was a little over a year ago. I had just gotten home from work. I was tired, my feet were sore after working all day waiting on table after table, and I was looking forward to a tall can of beer and some rest. I had just sat down when there was a knock at the door.
When I opened the door to the braid-wearing teenage girl donning heavy makeup, a dirty mini skirt, and scuffed up high heels–one of them broken, my first words were, “Sorry, no customers at this house.”
She gave me a teary smile and replied, “I'm not looking for a customer . . . I'm looking for a way out.”
Tears slip down my cheeks as I remember how my heart had instantly gone out to her. I knew the life she'd lived and what she'd suffered before reaching this point in her life. I didn't know her, had never seen her before, but I knew, because I had been there, myself. I invited her in and listened as she talked, my suspicions about her abusive childhood confirmed. I fed her and gave her some clothes to change into. Taking the tips I'd made that day from my purse, I called a cab, took her to the bus station, and put her on a bus to Raleigh to go and live with her aunt. Arriving back home, I sat on the sofa, closed my eyes and cried. Nothing I'd ever done in my life left me feeling as much peace as that one act had.
I immediately threw away every bit of alcohol in the apartment, vowing to never take another drink, pop another pill, or smoke another joint for the rest of my life. I stopped partying and made a commitment to change my life.