Ad Astra Per Aspera: Through adversity to the stars


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“How are you?” – it’s a, pointless question with an already desired response. Because you see, nobody actually cares what’s on your mind or in your thoughts; it’s nonchalance. They’re trying to be polite but it’s small talk they want, a, meaningless conversation with no hesitation, people simply saying, “I’m good how are you?” Whether it’s false or true, you’re not allowed to be you, constantly hiding behind a mask, because, 

Society doesn’t like to feel vulnerable, because, 

Authenticity scares them, because,

It makes them feel human, so,

They avoid the truth, so, – what’s the point?

Point is, we all have concrete stories, just waiting to be shared and if it wasn’t for the fear of being judged and embarrassed, there may be less tears and nightmares, because, we’d be facing our pain, removing the stain and be embraced by sunshine, rather than rain. So let it start with me on this stage today, let me say I wasn’t okay and face it, I’m a human being, I had feelings and I will embrace it, while kicking that elephant out of the room, and the stigma, we can erase it… this, is my story:

We used to be inseparable like the country and the plaid, I was his princess he was my dad.

I copied all that he did whether it was easy or complex, but my life went downhill, it became a mess, you see, he lost his mother, his world, at 35 – I was 5 when she had cancer, the doctors had no answers, but Dad, what is cancer? You can’t explain that to a child, what is death?

She died in July of ’98, I remember the date for it is the beginning of my fate. It was the 16th of the month, I was now 6 and lost, because, Dad was too. Remember I said I’d copy everything he’d do? – Well, not this:

Dad was trying to move on but losing your mother I’d imagine is hard and so he discovered his pain could be covered with strong liquid like rain flooding a room. From that day forward his life went sour, powered by nothing but alcohol that he chose to consume – or at least that’s the only origin or cause I can assume.

It would destroy him to hear this but it’s the truth, I lost my Pops that day, I couldn’t shake him loose – but, “what’s your story?” – don’t ask me that question if you’re not ready to hear it – that’s not a suggestion, my story cuts deep and soon you’ll see, my life is a mess… or is it?

“but there’s no bruise”– that’s no excuse

It is said that God knows our name, our story, our pain, before it even happens. So it happens with reason, even my lesion, he knew it would exist before I was bleeding! Put down the blade, it’s been a decade of struggle, of pain, you know my name, but you don’t, know my story.

A broken home, or so it felt; dysfunction; plates thrown at the shelf, or the wall, you think I don’t recall because I was small? Believe me Dad, I remember it all. And all because dinner wasn’t hot enough, ready or good? But anger improves nothing, it never should. Emotional abuse, “but there’s no bruise” – that’s no excuse, just cut me loose, I want out! I was only 18, but I wanted to shout so I had to move out!

Something I struggle with daily is trying to understand how a man can criticize the vulnerable and not care at all. It’s one thing to be angry at life but why take it out on your wife and your son for no reason at all? Especially when they have no control, they’re vulnerable! Then to become angry at your daughter for correcting her father, after he just made fun of his own son for his math and lack of comprehension! God can’t you help my father see? Grant him some serenity, my brother can’t read because he has a learning disability!

I can’t even remember a time in my life that my parents’ weren’t fighting; and let me tell you, for a child that’s frightening – it’s like thunder and lightning. Fighting and drinking can’t be the right thing, but it became my normal. But, “what’s your story?”“is it filled with sorrow? Will you tell me tomorrow?” I can’t even say my grandmother’s death is the reason for his incomplete feelings and his drinking because as I’m digging and reflecting, I’m told the next thing, “your father started drinking long before your grandmother was sinking, into the depths of her illness.”

The cycle of abuse, it’s nothing new

Living at home was like electrical activity; peaks and valleys like and EKG. The heart monitor speaks truth, “who’s ruling the roost?” – “certainly not you, because it requires math!” – you laugh but it’s sad! “You don’t understand math like your daughter and I” – now brother and mom begin to cry; feeling not good enough, it’s rough and it’s tough but it’s not over because tomorrow………………..he’ll apologize!

The cycle of abuse, it’s nothing new, I knew this route before it was taught in school; from teachers like you to kids like me, can’t you see stereotypically? Yes I learned it in school but life experience has been my fuel, because real life rings true when he consumes Labatt’s Blue, or the like, but “what’s your story?”

It’s not like the movies – sure it’s an addiction, but he doesn’t die for it, rely on it, desperately cry for it. He’s not controlled or told he just wants his Black Label cold, funny when a child’s memories involve beer – Dad’s requests that were met, “get me another one, dear.”

But let me tell you this, because I insist – he can be a good father. Like you and I, he has questions and suggestions he prays for some blessings to conquer his pain, his unfathomable stain, disappear from the darkness, the steady hard rain, he just wants to be heard.

He’s upset, full of regret, he’s hurt and he doesn’t forget how did Dad was powered by nothing, but alcohol. So, it’s chronic, long term, not absurd, but explainable, retraceable, thoroughly understandable – but I’m going to break that cycle before it becomes tangible!

My dad’s a good man, but he struggles with pain and to be whole again he’d have to admit that he’s hurt, but he won’t. Despite his pain, he raised me well, strong morals and values, time will tell – I’m unique. Despite the dysfunction, the worry, the pain, he loves me a lot and is a structured man. But, with emotion he struggles, he’s troubled so he juggles to show me he cares, there’s no tradition there, it’s a condition of this world I’m living – but Dad: I JUST, need, ….a hug.

I wish I could say alcoholism is where it ends but that’s just where my story begins. Dad rooted so deeply, always trickling back, like his cases of empties I had to stack, it’s an attack of, aggression.

So since he is an alcoholic, is it ironic or iconic, that my very first cut was with broken glass? But not just any glass, I broke one of his empties and carved into my own emptiness, and bled. I created many scars, you can’t see them from afar, most on my heart but some on my arm, but “what’s your story?”

I just wanted him to care, to understand my fear and the nightmare of trying to sleep when your innocence is obsolete! The pain is deep, I warned you, my story cuts deep but you still ask – “what’s your story?”

But if you insist, I’ll grant your wish, my story is this, it’s not filled with bliss, it’s just a lengthy list of, broken promises. Promises I made to myself, I’d keep the blade on the shelf, I was unsuccessful, I hurt myself because, nobody cared.

Respect her wishes, she said NO!

To the caretakers;

You need to watch your children; it doesn’t matter how many million people say it’s okay to be a room away – “aslong as there’s noise they’re okay, they’re just playing” – no, that’s just a saying! Because, explain to me, what does playing doctor mean at first glance? Is it just kids being kids? Or is there a chance one has been asked to remove their pants? – That’s not how you play doctor.

To the parents;

If you ever send your kids to camp and you receive a phone call with the bad news of what happened to your doll; don’t let her return as if nothing happened at all. If she won’t talk to you, you need to intervene – find her a counselor of course she’s not talking, she’s only 13, she doesn’t even know what her feelings mean!

To the men in the room, yes all of you:

Know that when a woman doesn’t consent, you don’t get to decide what you think she meant; it doesn’t mean “I don’t know” or “maybe so” or that “you don’t have to go” – IT MEANS NO! Respect her wishes, she said NO! And if you can’t understand that, you’re not a man.

To the fathers, listen up:

If your little girl is ever hurt and wants to talk, let her. If you don’t have the words to say that’s okay but just stay and listen. She just wants to be heard, I assure you it hurts, so just, give her a hug.

But what you shouldn’t do; 

Is minimize her pain. Don’t tell her that “it’s not a big deal” and to “move on and just heal” because “it’s not a significant ordeal” – I get it, you just want her to be happy. But that’s not the way and your words will stay and she might be up speaking about you on a stage one day. Because those words they hurt, they cause you to feel weak for letting tears shed your cheek over what’s supposed to be just “no big deal.” Hey Dad – Sexual Assault, IS a big deal, it’s been more than 10 years and I’m still trying to heal. Because I realized that when the one person who you want to care isn’t there, it’s worse than a nightmare; leaves you feeling as if you have no one at all, almost hurts more than the men who made the call to take away my innocence as if it meant nothing at all.

I’m a survivor, and that’s my story

But thanks to a Major Case Detective, and his analogies; I’m learning to stop be so affected by Dad’s words. And let me just say, I learned from him that day – it’s okay to not be okay. I became a little more open to healing, it hurt but the reward was appealing – the thought of not hating my days, was a mirage in so many ways, but now I’m up here on this stage talking to you today I made it through and I’m doing okay!

So, please God, continue to grant me the serenity so that I can see you’re here to help me. Help me learn the precept so that I can accept and learn the concept that there are just some things I cannot change. And it’s a pain to stay this way so let me recognize you and the courage I have to changes the things I can do under your faith I surrender to you. But please Lord, bless me, but address me, so that I have the wisdom to know the difference, help me be persistent so I can go the distance, but in addition to your wisdom, help me realize I have a decision, to be strong; a choice; don’t ever let someone fool this for weakness, this is nothing but strength taking control of my voice.

After all, as the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche likes to think and as my permanent reminder in ink; there lies a tattoo – it says, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” and it means the world to me because it depicts resiliency, I’m no longer a victim you see, I’m a survivor, and that’s my story, of growing stronger.

Click here to watch Alyssia perform this spoken word piece.

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