“When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision—then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid," Audre Lorde.
Sockless, I slowly attempted to step out of my warm bed; however, my feet suddenly immersed themselves in ice-cold water. The freezing sensation fully woke me up immediately. Next to me, my co-dependent partner of the moment, gently snored, still knocked out from a night-filled fest of cocaine, alcohol, and weed.
Living off the grid in Brooklyn, I looked for love and companionship anywhere I could find it.
Sadly, I did not know about his drug habit until we were living together. As I looked around the flooded apartment, still a bit high from the night before, the frigid water inched closer to the electrical sockets. After our apartment flooded, we moved in with his mother. She was controlling and thought her son could do no wrong.
Fortunately, I realized I was in an unmanageable situation. It was too late. I tried to leave, but my boyfriend physically attacked me. Amidst my screams for help, I could hear his mother yelling back at me to stop screaming in her house. Once again, I was forced to run, this time catching a taxi to a friend's house as my boyfriend raced to attack me from behind.
The dynamic of intimate violence between partners was prevalent in my family tree way before I was born. It infected and affected every aspect of my development and my worldview. Both my parents told me stories of their parents and their partners separating because of this issue. My first memory was of this pattern unfolding between my parents, which was then learned by my brother and me. I saw my father repeatedly hurting my mother before I could even walk properly.
During my college years, I focused my academics on a self-designed major that dissected and showcased my life story via a semi-autobiographical play that went on to win many awards. My inquiries regarding how my family situation unfolded this way allowed me to travel to Goree Island off the coast of Senegal to research the slave trade to understand how this system contributed to the intergenerational legacy of abuse and its impact can traumatize a family for generations.
I have finally bridged the past gaps to the present and the future regarding my family's history of violence. In doing so, I found my mission to help other survivors. I believe that positive change is possible in one's life if you consistently ground yourself in a spiritual practice that sustains your life force. As a part of my daily routine, I focus on self-love, self-care, and mindfulness while grounding my life in clarity, awareness, presence, acceptance, and gratitude. I intend to publish my memoir Sista Survivor: An Immigrants Spiritual Journey to Legitimacy, sometime this year to continue healing and to share my story with the hope of helping other marginalized women like myself who are struggling to self-actualize after domestic violence.
Claire Jones is an ambivert and a practicing Buddhist of 30 years. A survivor of childhood domestic violence and a high school dropout, Claire's writing and scholarship journey began in Barbados, where she was born. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins Scholar in 1999 at age 36. The program helps non-traditional women whose educations were discontinued during earlier years. Her mission is to help marginalized women self-actualize and her message of self-healing, love, and light through her writings and art. She is currently working on her self-help/art book ClarityIsJustSoHip! and memoir Sista Survivor: An Immigrant's Spiritual Journey to Legitimacy. Website: clarityisjustsohip.com