An Open Letter to the Students of Penn State

Dear Students of Penn State,

More specifically, those of you who are steadfast in your support of those involved in covering up the sexual abuse and victimization of Jerry Sandusky on several children.We do not know each other.  My name is Tashmica and I am a victim of early sexual abuse.

My father was a youth pastor.  He was known to his family as a good father.  He was a dedicated soldier in the ARMY.  He was funny and charming.  People who knew him, liked him.  They respected him.  He was no Joe Paterno and staff but he was loved in our circle.
I agreed.  I have often said that my father was a great father with the exception of being a perpetrator.  He taught me to sing and I have a beautiful voice.  He taught me to walk with my head held high and to speak with intelligence.  He taught me to use a telescope and to find the constellations.  He taught me to work hard and value a good education.
Unfortunately, all of my first sexual experiences were with him.  ALL of them.
When I made the decision at 9 years old to tell my mother what he had been doing to me a year after he died, his reputation was like a wave ready to crush me.  I had no idea if anyone would believe me.  I was a little bit of a girl.  I wasn’t a liar or a trouble maker but I was terrified.
First, Mrs. Pease, my third grade teacher believed me.
*sigh*
She called a meeting with my mother.  She held my hand and then she gently asked, “Do you want to tell your mom or would you like me to?”
*head in hands*
And I told her.
And she believed me.
Let the healing begin.
It has been 21 years since I sat in that child sized chair as a little bit of a girl.  I have spent years in and out of counseling trying to make sense of how those terrible acts changed me.  I have wrestled with the question, “Why?” and I have released myself from finding the elusive answer.  I have dealt with fear, anxiety, insomnia and simple developmental behavioral issues that I didn’t get to master because I was too busy surviving.
I have no idea if or when this healing will ever be complete.  The wound is deep and splintered into so many areas.
My father was a good man.  A man like Joe Paterno, Jerry Sandusky and many others involved in the destruction of several child victims.
As a victim myself, I sat in heartbreaking rapt attention while watching this.

http://www.myfoxphilly.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=11212

Video: Paterno Thanks Students At Rally: MyFoxPHILLY.com

My skin began to itch and my eyes begin to close.  The sorrow is just now catching up to me.  I felt like hundreds of people all gathered in my front yard to cheer what a good man my father was.  I felt again the weight of worthlessness.  I am certain that I am not alone.
That will always be part of the injustice for children who are sexually abused.  It is impossible to reconcile the love and respect you have for the person who manipulated and violated you.
Tashmica, age 7

Unfortunately, your signs, your cheering and your adulation have only made it more confusing.

You have made very clear the worth of the children who were so much braver than those good men. They were not silent.  They were disregarded.
I hope this helps.  I hope that after this explanation you are now the wiser.  I hope you find your feet in another yard next time.
I would have appreciated it when I was ten years old and I had to be braver than a good man.
Sincerely,

Wedding Day Craze

Today is the Royal Wedding.
What? You didn’t know?  <~~~sarcasm font :)
I know.  It’s all over my screen too. Facebook posts about ugly hats and strange choir boys.  Tweets about the dress with photos.  It. Is. Everywhere.
At first, I took David Lettermen’s attitude when he said, “I am not sure if it’s that I don’t care or if I couldn’t care less.”
Your welcome. 
I do know that I love a good wedding.  I love brides and grooms and flowers and kisses.  I want to watch too and I may later.  I did check out her dress and I think it’s gorgeous.  The Prince looks very fairy tale dashing too.
Are you sensing the “but”? 
Well, I am not going to be the Eeyore cloud on their wedding day.  I am not going to talk about the frivolities and the reality of marriage being hard.  NO ONE thinks about that on their wedding day because you cannot know the difficulties and rewards of marriage until you are in the thick of it. 
I will say this though.  This photo was my favorite moment during our wedding.  It was the only time, other than the limo ride, where we were alone.  We had a quiet “We are married” moment that was just ours.  The clever photographer snapped a photo and then we were thanking our guests for coming, taking photos and off to the reception. 
I don’t regret the frivolities of the day.  It was indeed a celebration.  
I do hope that Kate & William, in all the craze, can have a moment like this.
Apart from being Royal, this is their wedding day and no one else’s.

Your Mother Flippin’ Experience

After writing a particularly revealing post, I always place my laptop in my husband’s lap and ask him his thoughts.  His first reaction is usually to tell me how good a post is and then he worries.  He worries that something I have written, some vulnerability will be used against me.  He knows as well as I do how awful anonymous commentators can be.  He also knows about the commentators of the personal kind that can be worse than awful.

I cannot tell you the details.  I cannot share the entire story…or stories of the people who have reached out to say what some of these posts have meant to them.  I cannot tell you why or which posts they related to the most.  I do know that my words have affected others in a way I never expected.  It’s the only reason I am not afraid of the criticisms I have received or may receive if I continue to be honest with you.

The love always seems to out weigh the haters in the end.

*shake the haters off*

If you scroll back up, you’ll see that I have created a survey.  In the spirit of inspiring, empowering and serving, I want to know from all of you what would make you Mother Flippin’ Experience a little better. The entire survey is 10 questions and should take less than 5 minutes.


Tashmica

What I Do

I suppose I have always been a writer.  When I was a little girl, I filled my journal with pretend cursive.  In sixth grade I won second place in a writing competition.  In middle school, I started to play with poetry and short stories that I showed only my closest friends.  In high school, I had a few things published in the yearly magazine of sorts.  I have even written a few songs….don’t worry, I won’t unleash those on you.

I have never considered it a hobby.  I never considered it a possible occupation beyond a brief interest in journalism in college while I was majoring in music performance.  I did consider it something I did.  Like how I bite my nails while in deep thought.  Like how I sing without realizing it and how I laugh the loudest and talk the most.

I suppose writing is still something that I just do.

Tonight I will be attending The New Citizens Press 10 Year Anniversary Celebration.  I will be attending as a writer.  It will be the little words italicized under my name.  To be honest, I’m a little anxious about that idea.

It takes courage to try; to attempt to be who you want to be.  It also takes a willingness to step over your own self doubt.

I don’t know if you have noticed but I am constantly preaching to all of you to seek, find and embrace the best of who you are.  Those mini sermons are for myself too.  I am brave. I am fearless.  I am worthy. Sometimes I am unsure if all of those things are true or if they even matter.

All week I have been thinking about why I deserve to be recognized as a writer.  Who am I anyway?  It’s not like I’ve written a book or earned a paycheck worthy of celebrating for what I do.  I’m no…well, any kind of college major degree holder.  What does this even mean to be recognized as a writer?

It means simply that it’s what I do.  It means that people reading my words find me.  They find me at the bottom of a list of things they can relate to.  They find me holding a piece of the world they want to know about.  They find me laughing at my own folly or raging at my own past.  I am making all of the same kind of discoveries.

So….after this little break, I will go and shave my legs and paint my nails.  I will put on a little black dress,

I will put on my strappy heels.

 my jewelry…

I’ll get all dolled up and be who I am. 

It’s kind of what I do.

 One more photo….Levi pushing me down the stairs.  Photo shoot over.

A Little Light

I have started another project.  I know.  Lord help us all.
My dear bosom buddy, of the Ann of Avonlea type, has started a blog called Ourselves, Reinvented.  You may remember it from my blogs of note post earlier in the month.  It was the day I put Christianity and Feminism in the same sentence.

Tiffany and I seem to always be discovering things together, so I asked if I could help by doing what I do, writing.

She said sure…

So today marks the day of my first guest post on Ourselves, Reinvented.  It’s called Washing Feet.

Many of you who follow me on Facebook, know that I discovered an upcoming movie called The Price of Sex: Women Speak about human trafficking.  I have been posting about it ALL. DAY. LONG.

So I apologize if this mini post is redundant.  This is really for all of you who choose to follow in other ways.

Click here to read the entire post.  This is my small effort to shed a little light….

We Reserve the Right

I never thought it would happen.  I never thought I would participate in Throat Punch Thursday.

But alas…

Last night I went to bed wrung out.  Nothing to say.  I watched Criminal Minds, one of my favorite shows and Blue Bloods.  My guy watches Criminal Minds for me.  He hates the gore and the reasons behind why people commit these horrific crimes.  I watch Blue Bloods for him.  I think the writers of the show have thrown every cop show ever made into a blender and hit blend.  It drives me crazy.
I had no intention of writing anything until I saw this on the news last night….
I promised long ago that I would never use this blog to talk badly of another person but this made me so mad.  Not because I don’t like guns.  I grew up in a military family where I was taught to fire a weapon at seven years old.  Now that I live in a state that holds hunting in high regard, I don’t assume I will never have to approach firearms in my parenting repertoire.  I have even thought about taking a few gun safety classes in preparation for my almost 8 year old’s legal hunting career begins at 12 (with an adult). 
It’s not that I want to pop a cap.  I just want to know how. Sucka!
We already have plans for him to go hunting with my Uncle Eric or Paul’s brother John.  Safe, thoughtful hunters and loving parents.
There are two things that had me calling this guy names all night and into the morning. 
#1 Do you know who uses the library?  Those haunting scary looking people outside are the working poor, the refugees, the unemployed, the middle class stay-at-home moms, the business students, the teens who have no place to go after school, the small business owners, the literate and illiterate looking to learn…everyone. Let’s start behaving like we should fear everyone. 

They all look scary.  I better grab my gat. 

 
#2 If you choose to make a stand on your beliefs.  Do it around your own children/teens.  Do not walk into the library my family uses and sit yourself in the children section (reported on channel 6 last night).  I will teach my children about firearms.  I don’t think I would be so pissed if he and his friends sat in the reference section.  Truly.
In this case carrying a gun is allowable in our society but not always appropriate.  That’s why we have zones where we are not allowed to carry them. Government offices, airports, schools, sporting events and libraries fall into that category.
As for the three men who are making this their cause. Guns in libraries.  Not poverty, or inner city homelessness or I don’t know, literacy.  For these three men…
I wonder if this sign applies.

*I do have to note that the library should never discriminate against race, class, sex, creed…blah, blah, legal jargon.  But they should discriminate against general douchyness.

Staying the Course

I struggle.  Sometimes it’s with my own demons and sometimes it’s with the spaghetti jar. 

My darkest struggles seem overwhelming.  They seem to go on as far as the horizon.  When I am in the midst of my own struggle, sometimes I need to hear the stories of survivors.  I need to know that the battles of others that seemed to reach into forever were survived.  I am kind of in that place now.

That is why I enjoyed so much interviewing the recipients of the Staying the Course Award given by The New Citizens Press.  Addie said God told her she would be fine and she believed.  Phyllis said that she was not managing her life well but things have gone just fine since she placed that job in His able hands.  Above and beyond the fight against illness and for sobriety I heard the story of faith and it blessed me.

Read the article I wrote.  Be blessed. Find Faith. 

Celebrating 10 Years by Honoring Two Women