Updated: Jun 26
“When we understand love as the will to nurture our own and another's spiritual growth, it becomes clear that we cannot claim to love if we are hurtful and abusive. Love and abuse cannot coexist. Abuse and neglect are, by definition, the opposites of nurturance and care...For most folks it is just too threatening to embrace a definition of love that would no longer enable us to see love as present in our families. Too many of us need to cling to a notion of love that either makes abuse acceptable or at least makes it seem that whatever happened was not that bad.”
And how else can I measure the depth of my love, if not for the tears - the sound of shattering everywhere. Everywhere. Inside. And nowhere at once. I tried to find peace in confines of silence to shelter my grief, and yet, all my heart did was cry and scream. I didn't know that the heart could swell with so much pain it would rather break my entire body than to drown in its own restraint.
So let this pain become a dam that surrenders to the river rising, an injured bird aiming for the sun anyway. I let it be a wound as deep as holy wells where I learn to drink from the overflow of faith.
How do you love someone who hurt you?
I tell them it is easy. I forgave my father. I love my mother despite -
or is in-spite of the lineage of suffering we bear?
I searched in his eyes the relics of our love. And when I found nothing but bone and charred fabrics, I prayed until I found a god to worship. Again.
I prayed to God and all the gods, my ancestors and spirit guides for him. For his health, prosperity, joy. And that he would change, that he would wake up and love me better.
One morning, I awoke afraid for my life.
I was at the point where I felt there was nothing left to lose. I was drowning in debt, neglecting my health, about to lose my job, had no time for my creative pursuits, let people down, I could barely pick up the phone to tell my friends I loved them, I couldn't see the light in my nephew's eyes. I was so disconnected from everything that I thought if he did kill me, it would be a relief from living this life served at his altar. There was nothing left for me to give and yet he wanted more. So I prayed and prayed for myself - for love, health, prosperity and joy. And I never desired that man again.
I prayed to God and all the angels,
Pleaded to the saints, confessed to priests and cried to pastors learned other faiths to speak to their gods, walked barefoot in pilgrimage, sat silent for 30 days, burned incense and lit candles, plucked feathers and drained red the necks of fresh offerings, sowed, reaped and harvested, sang to the moon and drank to the sun, and still,
I walked with palms empty
to your heel, face bloodied
with memory of the first night
we whispered love
now torn with weeping. Witness how I made slaughter of my body, this life I laid at your feet.
I didn’t want to go public about the abuse I experienced. I wanted to move on with my life and forget about what I’ve endured in the name of love, of understanding. I knew I ran the risk of not being believed, of people not caring, of people saying I should just have stayed quiet.
I wanted to be quiet and that option was not given to me. The peace of moving on quietly was not given to me because I have to see my abuser talk so publicly about our relationship. I addressed it once, with kindness and as much respect as I could afford someone who I loved so deeply and who hurt me.
My avenues for justice are limited. I’ve seen the police do very little in intervention and even less for supporting men in getting the mental health support that they truly need to prevent further violence. I went no-contact and asked people from our shared communities to keep us separate and to respect my privacy.
I will never get tangible justice equivalent to the suffering I experienced. He will still get work, he will still be booked for festivals and performances, people will still support him and his events. His life will continue. And so will mine, but I will never again walk through life with the hope and innocence I once did.
Beyond the fact that this relationship drained me emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially. I had to move interstate and find a new job. It's been the most fucked two months of my life. And beyond the fact I had to experience domestic abuse, I couldn't even heal privately because he decided to spin the story that I abused him. Can you imagine the cruelty? That I came into this relationship with nothing but love, only to find out he was setting arguments up so he could record my reactions? Receiving that phone call about what he was doing broke my fucking heart. And if I didn't have the friends and chosen family that I have, I don't think I would be here writing this down.
I'm taking everything one second, one minute,
one hour at a time. I hold grace for my rage, my mistakes, my shame. I forgive the part of me that chose to hold love and abuse in the same hand. I grieve and let die that part of me that loved without discernment. And in that death, I let the light in to grow something new.