One of my 2018 goals is to stay booked and blessed — and I’m off to a great start! Recently, I was guest speaker at SPEAK LIFE: A Women’s Empowerment and Vision Board Workshop in Orlando, Florida.
I’ll be honest: the whole week I was consumed with buying my new house! (More on that to come. Yay!) So, by the time the weekend rolled around I was like, “What in the world am I going to talk about?”
Each time I typed a few sentences, I’d hit erase.
All of my rough drafts proved to be useless on the day of the event. The host, Reshell Smith (follow her!) wanted me to talk about abuse, my former marriage and how I got out. I had no plans on going there, but God really knows how to throw you a curveball, doesn’t he?
As I started talking, the words flooded the room. People shook their heads, clutched their chests and muttered unintelligible sounds of disbelief.
“Duh,” I thought to myself.
This is what you need to tell everyone. Everywhere you go. Every event. Tell them that you overcame.
It’s easier said than done, though.
I left my husband in June 2016. Sure, people heard whispers and had their assumptions, but no one knew the real reason why until more than a year later. It was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I saw a post from a fellow journalist, Kristen Pierce, about her past abusive relationship. I thought, “Jazmin. You can’t just sit here. You can’t just act like this isn’t still impacting you.”
You know, #MeToo.
I won’t lie. I had an extra dose of motivation. A friend shared with me that my ex-husband and former abuser was bragging about how “classy of a woman I was” to not have shared all the details of our marriage with anyone. I was floored. How could he honestly believe I was still protecting him? If anything I was struggling to sort out all the details of how I ended up in that situation in the first place. I was angry with myself for staying. I was embarrassed that I didn’t love myself enough to leave.
But that’s when I realized someone else likely feels the way I felt: powerless. Someone feels like they’re in a dark hole all alone. Maybe they don’t look like Kristen. Maybe they don’t follow her. Maybe they’re looking right at me wondering if someone on their timeline will understand.
“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” – Oprah Winfrey
I didn’t have Oprah’s words back then, but she’s right. Truth is power. So, I posted the video on Instagram but I never put it on Youtube where I’d gained just as many followers in the months prior to meeting my ex. Why? Someone told me not to and I listened. Screw that.
This blog was built off the principle that bold words empower; the idea that my stories and (someone else’s) can help others win. So in 2018, I’m challenging you to not be fake. To not lie and pretend like life’s issues haven’t impacted you. Maybe you’re not ready for social media, but if there’s a conversation about something you’ve dealt with and overcome, join it. Speak up. Release the words you’ve held inside for so long. But before you do, here are a couple things to keep in mind:
1. Truth doesn’t need to be sweet
I made a video about my marriage (and a blog post) in June 2017. I posted the video on Youtube for a couple of hours and then removed it. Why? It was sugar-coated foolishness. “We were arguing and then this happened,” or “We didn’t date long enough to get to know each other and that’s why…” were just some of the random things I threw in to make it not “sound so bad”. It was all factual information but the truth is, none of it excused his behavior. If you’re a victim, be a victim. Say what you have to say and move on.
2. Social media is not your journal.
Don’t put ALL your business on Facebook! I sound like my mother saying this, but it’s key! Post-divorce, I wrote some truthful, but very detailed things in my journal. I soaked the pages with tears….and I would never post the end result on social. Transparency means easy to perceive. Keyword: easy. Take the Dr. Larry Nassar accusers, for example. The narrative was that young gymnasts were sexually assaulted in their doctor’s office. Many came forward saying from a young age, Nassar would inappropriately touch them. We didn’t find out until court that some of that inappropriate touching meant digital penetration. Digital equals hand. You get the picture. My point is, Dr. Lassar was still charged without these women sharing every detail with the world. People have brains. They don’t need explicit explanations.
3. Prepare yourself: People may not agree
My first video about my divorce was up for about 20 minutes before some idiot decided to comment explaining all the reasons I was at fault. He believed that had I followed my ex-husband’s demands and not “gave him any lip”, I wouldn’t have been pushed or shoved, I wouldn’t have been called out of my name or threatened. Shame exists, but it’s only real if you accept it. It’s a choice. Delete the comment. Block the user. Walk away and wave goodbye.
4. Your truth impacts more than you
I’m not the least worried about my ex’s feelings, but I do often think about my family and friends. The people who stood by my side, even if from a distance because he’d driven us so far apart, and who likely feel some sort of guilt for not stepping in. I’m sure that if my words have caused them to gasp, cry or want to fight — your words will create a reaction in the people around you. You don’t need their permission to share, but you may need to reassure them when the truth is out. An “I’m okay”, “I’m really happy I posted it” or an “I’m not mad at you” text will go a long way.
5. You just might go viral.
When I posted my video on domestic violence, I didn’t really know what response I’d get in terms of likes or shares. It didn’t matter, either. If your only goal is to go viral you’re doing the world a disservice and your words are likely tainted with desperation. That being said, becoming a viral sensation is a possibility. Be prepared for the followers. Be prepared for the direct messages of love and light. Be prepared for opportunities. I’m a firm believer God makes everything work out for your good; even a devastating situation. It’ll open doors once you open your mouth and speak.