I had the fortune in attending Mary Lambert’s concert Friday night. I learned about Mary’s music after hearing her perform with Macklemore on the VMA’s. Her voice was incredible, but I could also sense a spirit about her that I connected with. I met another woman recently that I also connected with in a similar way. Without words we both knew that somewhere in our lives we had encountered abuse. We never talk about it, but we can see it in the way that we both embrace and look at life. I felt that same kinship when Mary Lambert walked out on the stage; she had yet to sing, but I could feel it in the aura she exuded. Sometimes when others learn I suffered from domestic violence, their faces turn to sadness, almost pity. Yes, I would never wish an abusive husband on anyone, but I don’t choose to live my life as the poster child for domestic violence; rather I would prefer to be the poster child for perseverance. Having walked out of the darkness, I want to dance, I want to sing, I want to laugh- as if I won’t wake up again tomorrow.
I realize it may seem odd to others, but having been held down for almost twenty years, as if a pillow was constantly held over my face, I learned how to breathe again and I now want to savor every breath I take in. I laugh at silly things, I laugh at how Anchorman 2 paid homage to Ice Castles – that made me laugh hysterically even to the dismay of my teenage children sitting next to me. Everyone needs a little cornball in his or her lives; yet, I even laugh at the darkness. That was my favorite part of Mary Lambert’s concert – she could leave us in tears with a song about rape, but in between she would have us laughing at the most random things. I didn’t walk out of her concert feeling sad for her; instead I walked out knowing I had just witnessed a strong woman who had turned her own darkness into beautiful art. My laughing at the darkness doesn’t mean I am minimizing it. My laughter and my perseverance are sending the darkness a clear message – it won’t control or hold me down ever again. The darkness is isolating and gray, but my light is full of potential and hope. I am not naïve that the darkness won’t sneak in, here or there, but I refuse to allow it to ever take me over again.
Immediately after Mary sang her first verse about abuse, I was drawn in, but I never had a chance to really take in what she was singing because out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed my friends and family on both sides of me sneaking glances with their watchful eyes. They were worried how the song would affect me. I loved their concern, but what I wish others could see is yes, maybe the song would have made me cry, but tears are okay, they are therapeutical, but no song or words will ever break me again. Instead I was overcome with joy that a woman would be brave and stand on a stage and sing about abuse and rape and body image.
Darkness wins when we stay silent. Abusers, rapists, bullies win when our voices are hushed. Laughter, joy, support, happen when silence is broken, and each of us stands up and throws off our chains of oppression. My abuser no longer hurts my children or me; it is the complacent people who walk by with blinders on that cut me to the core. Yet, it isn’t my job to judge them either; we all grieve or heal in our own way and time – maybe they aren’t ready to walk into the light yet – until they are, I can only hope that women like Mary Lambert will continue to light up a path to freedom for all who are oppressed, whether it’s due to race, gender, sexual equality, political freedom, and so on. Holding hands, our light will out shine the darkness; my hope is that it will shine so bright that in turn the darkness will learn from us and walk away too.