A Preface to Legacies | 2013 in Review

I spent the beginning of my 2013 year on an advocacy role. Within the first quarter I had spoken at the historic Poet’s Den Theater in Harlem via RAINN for the Dove Musical. I filmed Why I Rise. I was flown to Texas to not only sponsor and film “Welcome Home” but I was also one of the keynote speakers! My address was on “Getting Back to Your Authentic Self”. Ujima Magazine even did a press write up! My first point in that address, “Deal with Your Tragedy!”

“We all have our tragedies, but if we don’t deal with them, by acknowledging them and working our way through them that stuff will come back up. It didn’t die when you buried it. That thing is a zombie and its going to come back and its going to bite the shit out of you,” Sheena LaShay

You can watch the video recap here.

April brought Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month. I always write blog posts during this time as part of my advocacy efforts. Posts included:

  • The Mother of a Monster She stayed and gave him more children. And one of those children took something from me. Something so precious. Something I’d never get back. What do you say when someone who played a complacent role in your child abuse apologizes?
  • What the Magic Is | The magic is that trauma doesn’t have to stay an embodied experience. The magic is You. Magic can never be taken or destroyed. It will always burst through the cracks and find the light. You are what the magic is.
  • Let’s Talk About Sex | Many people can’t fathom talking about sexual acts in an authentic, honorable and yet pleasurable way, so how the hell are we supposed to be comfortable talking about molestation, rape, incest, forced anal sex, and street harassment? …. The way that you live embodied in this world sends energetic clues as to how people process sexuality and sensuality as it relates to you.

And to round it all out, in the fall, I even staffed the RAINN table at the Spirit and Flesh Magazine event which was actually a fundraiser for RAINN onboard the Hornblower New York Infinity Yacht ful of models, celebrities, media peeps and industry peeps supporting a great cause. The event photos can be found here!

Awesome year, right!?! Really getting the message out there and supporting things and giving speeches and helping people and evolving and transforming and not letting my abuse define and deflate and take my spirit away but moving through it to thrive and all that jazz.

Well, something I wasn’t expecting happened. Something I hadn’t planned for. Something that wasn’t in my calendar for charities and advocacy events. I got an email in May of 2013.

 Sheena,

T***** here, how are you my friend? Are you still in the big apple? If so, I would love to get together with you maybe grab a coffee or tea. There are somethings I would love to chat with you about. Specifically regarding the article you wrote “an open letter to the members of TTM”. I found the letter while doing a random google search on my dad and the old church. I must say that the article was very enlightening and it revealed some things that has started me on a quest to know more about peoples experience at ttm. If you dont want to meet i completely understand. This will be a completely objective meeting and I promise “no witnessing”. : )

The back story is that you need to CLICK HERE and scroll down to “Exhibit D”.  He is exhibit D.  (It is okay to pause reading this, click that link, scroll to Exhibit D and read. It will answer some questions, you already have.) Short version. He is the boy I grew up with who I hadn’t seen in a decade, and despite my nerves….of which I had to write a journal entry to calm myself down, I went to dinner with him and his wife and daughter in 2010. It was so nice. Then that facebook ish happened. And he got all “holy” on me and he dismissed me.

What else is to be understood is that that journal entry was titled, “The Son of Hitler” in which I mused that while Hitler was a monster…certainly if he had children… to his children, he was simply…..their dad. I used that metaphor to make sense of having dinner with this man because he is the son of the pastor that holds responsibility in my childhood abuse. (Maybe read THIS) He and I never had conversations about it though. He never knew my story. We just reconnected after 10 years and had a pleasant dinner. Then he got righteously pissed at me, in the name of Jesus because of f-cking facebook and dismissed me. And I just let that shit go. I thought, maybe it just ran in their family.

And THREE years later in May of 2013, I found that email quoted up above and I knew something had happened.

I went to that breakfast even more nervous that when I had dinner 3 years earlier. Instead of catching up knowing he knew nothing about me…this coffee meeting was going to involve talking about his dad, the church, my ex step father and the abuse. I had no idea what he was going to say. I had no idea where he stood. His dad could have been lurking in the corner ready the condemn me to hell. But, I needed to go for some reason. I was too curious and figured the risk was worth it.

I think all the details of our conversation are personal to the two of us and whomever we’ve privately shared it with but there are some things I can share.

1. He is not his father. At one point he even apologized on behalf of his father. In choked tears and a humble posture, he apologized for his father. Its a nice gesture but he also bares no responsibility for what happened. My ex step father and the pastor are the two men who should be held accountable.

2. Always seek the truth even if it hurts. He asked some hard questions. He wanted to know what my experience had been. What his father had said to me when the two of us were alone. He wanted to know what happened after we left. As he promised, it was an objective and inquisitive meeting. He was searching for something and he needed to listen to the stories of others. I never felt like he was defending his father, the church, or religion. And just as importantly, I didn’t feel like he was lambasting and condemning church, religion or his family. He simply wanted to listen and to hear my experience to fill in the missing gaps of the truth.

3. Mend what actually is broken. 3 years prior, I was nervous around him because all I could think about was his father. And I don’t know. It was just confusing. However, I knew during our present day coffee conversation that the only thing broken between us was his dismissal of me. The abuse, the church, his father….for us to have a friendship…that actually wasn’t a part of the fabric of our story…but we did need to address the “facebook apocalypse of 2010.” Sometimes when we’re trying to reconcile or talk things out, we start adding all this other stuff to the equation and creating all these stories in our heads and sometimes none of that other stuff is even the thing. I was hurt by him and for that I did want his apology. And for that he did apology. It seems small considering all the other craziness but that was the only broken thing between us.

4. Shit is complicated. After asking my questions, listening to my story, crying, apologizing and literally blowing my mind, he then shared his story. He shared his childhood, his experience in the church when we were children, what happened once he grew up and his current situation and you know what?….Its always bigger than you. Sometimes you think your tragedy is the worse or no one can understand your specific strand of pain and hurt. And you feel alone and silo-ed and people just don’t get it. And you know what? You are not alone. We ALL have our tragedy. We all know suffering. From different angles….but we all know it. And its just complicated. You want to be mad because you were dismissed. You want to be cautious and scared because his dad did bad things. You want to mount a horse and a soapbox and sing the “me. me. me.” song and its just all so complicated.

5. There’s a preface to legacies. There’s the present story. And there’s the afterwords. He is his father’s son. His father’s blood runs through him. And his father’s father. And more. And there is an energy that travels through our blood lines. And maybe sometimes it predisposes us to things. And people will mummur about the past. And maybe you’ll be stigmatized. And you’ll struggle to not be like your mom or your dad. And maybe you’re revolt or change your name. Who knows. The way I see it, everything that happened before me and before him was a preface. It’s in the book of our life…but its just a preface. I get to write the story. He gets to write the story.

6. Healing, Reconciliation and Hope is always. It can transcend pain, suffering, and brokenness. It connects us, strengthens us and empowers us.

I did a lot when it came to my advocacy efforts. I wrote more of my story. I filmed a dancer sharing her story. I gave a speech. I evolve and grew and healed some more. I did have that panic attack at a church but even still I grew some more. And also, I had coffee with the pastor’s son. I may not know all the details and meaning now, but something about that matters.

 Photo Credit: Grace Brown of Project Unbreakable

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