Angel Walters, Social Media Coordinator at Truth In Reality
I have not always felt confident, powerful, and free to be myself. Beyond the constraints this world puts on Black womanhood, I was surrounded by the kind of people that made it easy to second-guess any power I thought I might have. The concept of “strength” is a loaded one for Black women however in general I have always felt that we each have a certain level of strength that may manifest differently for each of us. For some, their strength lies within their level of resiliency, emotional strength or boldness. Others don’t even recognize how strong they are until their strength is tested. The latter was me.
My strength was tested in a way I never envisioned for myself. My story was redefined in a series of events that ultimately taught me I was more powerful than I ever thought. In the fall of 2013 I ended an abusive relationship. Over the next few months I experienced continuous harassment, emotional manipulation, and sob stories from the ex. I knew something had to change and I was simply tired of the vitriol and stress. I told my dad about the abuse and he encouraged me to go to the police. For the final time, I made a concrete decision concerning my former boyfriend. I refused to be held “in limbo”, I did not want to be ensnarled in constant arguments over whether or not I “had the right” to demand quality treatment. I did not want to be afraid anymore. I did not want to be trapped. I just wanted freedom.
At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to tell anyone. I was still afraid. But I also knew that I needed to break the cycle. The former boyfriend was manipulative and constantly tried to control my whereabouts, my behavior and more. Even when we broke up, he attempted to resume the relationship and tried to force interactions. When I refused, and eventually stopped replying to his messages and calls, I faced attacks on my character and fear that he would show up at my door unannounced and unwelcomed. I did not want to be stalked, harassed, manipulated, and I did not want to be hit. But I was equally tired of and fearful of the depression and direction by life was heading. The fear of the latter won.
At the time I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know exactly what “relief” felt or looked like- but I knew I needed it desperately. So I pressed forward by pressing charges and attempted to get justice for what had been done to me. I immediately got a restraining order. I then began working on putting myself back together. My “RedefiningHERstory” moment had begun. I wasn’t perfect yet. But I knew that I had done the right thing. I knew I wasn’t “weak”. I was beginning to figure out what strength actually meant to me and it mattered that I stood up for myself.
Although my experience with the criminal system did not result much in the way of justice- I learned that I was resilient, I learned that I could not only say “No” but that I had every right to do so. I stopped waiting for approval from the people that had failed me. I stopped thinking something was wrong with me. This was a journey to acceptance, to freedom, and to my personal truth. It definitely has not been (nor even continues to be) without pitfalls or even doubt. There are however, significant differences between the woman I was in the Spring of 2014 and the woman I am today.
There were unique aspects I had forgotten about myself during the 2 years I spent within an abusive relationship. Somewhere along the way I got lost. 2014 was the year I spoke up and decided I deserved to take that woman back. 2015? This is the year I lay the foundation for the woman I have always wanted to be (and honestly was invisible to me before). The future? Is exciting. It is the place where I exist unbounded and courageous. Perhaps not without fear- but this time my fear is due the unknown adventures that await me instead of a partner that does not deserve me.
RedefiningHERstory is my story of personal achievement, courage, and reclamation. I redefined my story by taking control and via the uncanny benefit of rejection. I am steadily creating a person that I can recognize, be sublimely happy for, and ultimately, proud of.
Angel Walters is committed to social justice and freedom for marginalized communities of color. You can follow her quirky, random and sometimes serious discussions on Twitter at @aisha_amplified.
Share with us about how you are #RedefiningHERstory!