I Am My Own Sovereign
Rachel is someone I feel a connection to, though I am only just getting to know her. Her blog name, The Misfits Of A Mountain Mama, caught my eye being an Appalachian girl myself. And her words, the way she writes, is melodic and intoxicating. But more than any of that, she’s tough as nails. She’s real. She’s a survivor. I am honored that she is letting us share her story here today. -Gretchen
At 34 years old, I still flinch when a man yanks his belt through the loops of his pants. The clattering sound a buckle makes causes every muscle to become tense. Each time, I feel the fear. I’ve reconciled this feeling will never go away. One feeling finally did stop after three decades. I stopped craving death. I no longer invite the black masked soul stealer to take my life. He was an invited, welcomed guest since the age of 5, and I begged for his mercy.
They called it ‘spankings.’ I call it beatings. When a belt was hastily torn from my father’s pants and looped in the palm of his hand, I knew what was coming. My hands went up as my only defense. These same hands type this story today.
The lashes received depended on the anger, on the rage visible through his stone cold blue eyes. They never stopped at one. They went until his anger was released and he threw down his leather strap in satisfaction.
My earliest memory after being beaten was hiding in the tiny bathroom floor between the shower/tub combo and a bare basin sink. I curled up as a child aching to return to the womb, and I prayed in between the sobbing breaths.
“God, it hurts. Make it stop. Please take me away. Please take me back. It hurts. I don’t want to be here anymore. Take me back home. Please, make it stop.”
It didn’t stop until I was 17. The last time my father cornered me and smacked me across the face, I pulled a large butcher knife off a counter. Maybe it was God, maybe it was my own self awareness, but a voice spoke to me. It said, “You aren’t this kind of person. God wouldn’t like it.” I laid the knife down, put my fist through a window, and was able to leave the room.
A few months after this incident, my father kept trying to find an argument with me. I wanted to go on a bike ride. He argued with me about the time as it was early afternoon. He ranted about which bike I should ride. On this day, he wanted something to control.
Where I am from, this is called “itchin’ for a fight.”
I didn’t have a lot of fight left in me on this day. I screamed and yelled and tried to fly from the moving vehicle. I wanted away from him. I wanted to avoid an argument. He called me “incorrigible,” said I needed to be committed.
I said my prayer again. But this time I didn’t wait for God to answer.
I swallowed every prescription pill I could find.
My mother busted through a locked door and I was taken to our hospital’s Emergency Room. They shoved a tube down my nose and it scraped the back of my throat until it found the corridor into my stomach. I watched every pill I swallowed float back up through that tube along with the black charcoal.
Charcoal stains the stomach. It stains a soul leaving black memories. I sat on cardboard hospital linens giving death the middle finger. My father won this day. I was committed to a mental hospital for a week.
Abused women will often seek abusive men. I understand this now, but in my twenties I called it “love.” At 21, I met a man. I loved him more than any other. He loved emailing other women. All his emails had the same subject lines reading “Hey Stranger.” Through this mental abuse, I became obsessed with hacking. I hacked his emails, his MySpace page, and other sites I knew he visited and used to talk to other women. It was yet another form of control by a man.
After reading one perverse sexually explicit email, I went looking for death again. My thought pattern centered on one statement, “no one will ever love me.” Dull knives only leave light scars. They don’t provide a proper death. I hid again in the bathroom as he raged out of our attic apartment. I wrapped my bloody wrists and decided to call that hotline. This was the smart way, I should talk to someone. I shouldn’t be alone.
After speaking with the suicide volunteer for half an hour, she asked me to hold on for a minute. The line went dead. My last attempt at help had hung up on me. Vodka and more pills knocked me out on this night, and death didn’t take me.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I stopped caring about hacking emails that I started rebuilding my self’s worth and my self esteem. During this time, I stumbled across these words online. I can’t tell you where I found them as I don’t recall. Since the very moment that I read these words, I immediately stopped seeking death. Those words told me:
YOU ARE YOUR OWN SOVERIEGN.
I am my own sovereign. Men don’t rule me. They hurt me. They have done their best to tear me apart. They will not be my demise.
Sovereignty was granted to me in surviving. With these words, I answered my own prayers. I didn’t need to go away to make my hurt and pain end.
I am strong enough to rule my kingdom, the one that is my life.
Rachel E. Bledsoe is an Appalachian Mama and Misfit. She writes about her adventures, heartaches, and details her life’s journey on the blog, The Misfits of a Mountain Mama. She also enjoys long walks on the beach, puppies, and Marie Antoinette biographies. Be sure to follow her by visiting The Misfits of a Mountain Mama’s Facebook page or join her on Twitter @MisfitMtMama.