Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I Rise - One Billion Rising

I have been graced with the opportunity to be a part of One Billion Rising Salt Lake City from the ground up. I have encouraged women and men to share their stories of why they rise. But I've been fearful to write my own story. There are so many reasons why I rise that it makes it difficult to identify just one. I've written and rewritten several posts, accounting the deep dark secrets that lie in my heart, and the cobwebbed mazes of my brain. But I am realizing that the real reason that I am moved to rise - is because I can. I have a group of friends and supporters that are stronger and more supportive than I've ever had in my life. I've always been scared of being "that girl" or labeled a feminist. Guess what? I am one. I am tired of pretending that women are treated equally in hopes of being treated equally myself - it doesn't work. I will stand up and say that it is not ok to say "you learned from that didn't you?" instead of "that was wrong, what he did to you is not acceptable and I stand by you."

We as women are called man-haters if we breed natural distrust and fear from being beaten & raped. But we are also playing the victim if we admit that infidelity, sexual assault and domestic violence has shaped our outlook on the world. This fear of judgment and constant minimization plays its own part in perpetuating the cycles. We don't get the help we need. We sit in the corner crying when the lives we want to live seem out of our reach because we can't control the demons in our own mind. So today, I'm breaking my own fear - and telling you why I will RISE!

I rise because it feels good.
I dance because it lifts my soul.
I strike because inequality exists, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because I didn't rise up homecoming night 2000 when I was assaulted by a friend's brother whom I had also trusted with my first kiss. When my PTSD from my early childhood became so strong that I didn't fight back. For years, I accepted this complacency and fear as guilt and my own personal culpability.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because I never had the chance to kick the ass of the boyfriend I trusted to be my "first" who cheated on me and left before I spent 4 years, 2 surgeries and 5 biopsies to clear myself of the cancer he left as reciprocation for my trust and fidelity.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because I didn't rise up when my 350 lb husband had difficulties with his mental illness, picked me up and threw me into a chair while I kicked and clawed and tried to escape. Only one of the many times I feared for my life in my own house. I will rise because I lived in the shadows for too long, believing my mother in law that this was my fault and I was culpable for every mistake he made, dollar he spent and his own life that he took.

I will rise on February 14, 2013 because my education is as good as those possessed by men. I studied as hard, read the same books, held a full time job and cared for my family to afford to pay as much as the men who graduated with me. I dare say I might have learned more from it, because I also had to learn how to work in groups that didn't want to "be 'the team with a girl'" when "I don't even LET my wife have a credit card, I just bought her a new minivan - she should be thanking me" was what I heard on the first day of my program.

I will dance on February 14, 2013 because on August 6, 2010 I learned what it meant to be in a community of women for the first time. As a widow at 25 I learned to trust, confide in and depend on other women to heal me, help me and share in my joy and sorrow. I learned friendship and the power of women. I have never met a more powerful and passionate group of women than those who have endured the loss of a spouse and still wake up to greet the new morning. 

I will RISE STRIKE and DANCE because I am a vibrant, beautiful and strong woman who isn't about ready to take any more crap and smile and say thank you. I learned that for myself - and I want to share it with women everywhere. WE DESERVE MORE. I want to change the world so my little sister, and eventually my daughters don't have to worry about what NOT to wear so as to stay safe when they go out with friends or walk home from school. Instead I will teach my brother and my sons to treat people fairly and be cognizant of the words they use, and always stand up for what they believe. And when I remarry it will be to a partner who values my safety, who respects my voice, hears my soul and loves who I am.

If you would like to be involved with One Billion Rising please go to If you are in the Salt Lake area please connect with us at and We will be DANCING on the University of Utah Campus (Feb 14th noon), we will STRIKE the Ikea Draper store with a flash mob (Feb 14th 7pm) and we will RISE with a reception to fund-raise for a great cause and connect women and those who love and support them on February 15th. Please look up the information and support us. Support me. It would mean a lot. You might be surprised how it might empower you.

With love and light,


elysoteric said...

This is beautiful, and I'm so glad that you're able to throw yourself into such a positive movement.
-a fellow baby widow

Jess said...

Thank you for your comment. It always feels good to have support from other baby widows. Especially when I venture out of the "widow specific" realm. Thank you. It means a lot to me.

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