Lesley Rebecca

Somewhere by the Sea

I’d say this year has felt like a marathon, but it was more akin to one of those 10k mud races with the insane obstacle courses. Seven trips, two jobs, 700 miles moved, 100+ karaoke songs, one restraining order, two broken hearts, and maybe, what, 10,000 drinks poured? And basically everybody died. I’m serious. George Michael died just after I started writing this. Then I went out for my birthday, came down with the plague, and while I lie in bed for four days, unwilling to do much more than press buttons on my remote, a woman I’ve admired, looked up to, and aspired to be my entire life passed away (That is another post altogether). Then grief took her mother.

Having a birthday at the end of the calendar year has always been interesting in that it’s always given me the gift of reflection on the year as a whole, never broken up by age. It gives my year a sense of closure beyond the date on the calendar. Given that 2017 will mark the beginning of my 38th year, a fresh move, and new job that I’m beginning on January 3rd, I’m hopeful that it will bring rejuvenation and growth. I’ve spent the last part of the year in the dirt, weeding out the garden and clearing out the underbrush so new growth can take root and hopefully soon see the sun.

This year was not an easy one, but eventually it may be looked on as a banner year in my history for having survived it on my own without any major catastrophes in spite of the asteroid field I was dodging most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. I can’t totally complain about a year that saw me living on the beach, visiting Key West and New York twice, watching one brother graduate college and another get married. I was hell bent on enjoying myself in spite of everything around me and that’s something I plan on carrying into 2017 along with some unforgettable moments. There is joy to be had, sometimes you just have to fight a little harder for it.

I’m hopeful for the coming year. I’ve cleared the path and am ready for it to bring good things without tripping over itself and spilling its basket on the ground. Cheers to a magnificent 2017 for all of us and (selfishly) a wonderful 38th year for me.

A few years ago, right before my ex proposed to his new wife, a high school student he left me for at 30, he asked me why we didn’t just run away together years before when we’d had the chance. I reminded him that I tried. He was the one that didn’t show up. 

Dear Secretary Clinton, 

I am sorry. I’m sorry we weren’t enough to stand up for you and what you’ve shown us we can do. I’m sorry we failed you. I’m even sorrier we’ve failed ourselves. However, this morning I am also hopeful for the embers I see burning in these women that you’ve empowered with your career and campaign. It’s 2:30pm and I still haven’t slept. What began as despondency last night has begun to burn in my belly like a rage. 

I will no longer keep quiet about my opinion to keep the peace. I will no longer placate people who act like the 50s were the Golden Age of American living and try to take us back there. It was also a time of obscene oppression against women, African Americans, and LGBTQ communities. We cannot allow this setback to send us backward or give us pause to falter in our convictions. We have to get up and continue the fight as I think women are uniquely capable of doing. Probably because we’ve been doing it for so long. 

I also hope with my deepest convictions that women everywhere remember their empathy as we fight for our rights and remember that ALL of us who feel left behind by this election are STRONGER TOGETHER and this was never just about women’s rights. Your legacy was to be one of a President for all people. I want to to encourage everyone to lend their voice freely when they see something they know is wrong. Nothing is going to get better by waiting for the politicians. We have to stand up and care for each other. 

We have already begun to galvanize. Even in our “secret, private Facebook” group women are reaching out, supporting each other, and asking what can be done. We are connecting with each other. Promising to continue our support of each other in the coming years. We know this is not the time to lie down and it would be a disgrace to the memory of your hard fought campaign. We are here and ready to put in the hours.

Today I vow that I won’t spend the next four years waiting. I will find causes, I will find candidates, I will find action waiting to be taken, and I will find those without a voice and help them to be heard. I will do this all, because your campaign and the women that have come together have inspired me, Madame Secretary.

Thank you, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It has been my honor. I will always and forever be #withher.

Yours in gratitude,

Lesley Smith

Proud Member of Pansuit Nation

When you’re deep in an abusive relationship, it’s easy to feel isolated. Especially when your partner is a guy that not a single one of your friends likes. Isolation means when you finally get out, you look up and think you’re alone. You think everybody left you while you were trying to dig your way out of the hole.

In the last two weeks so many of you have been checking on me. Texts, phone calls (sometimes from Australia), emails, Skype calls, reading my rambling blog posts…from close friends, old friends, and often from people to whom I thought I was insignificant. Sometimes they were quick notes and sometimes they were surprisingly deep conversations, but they have all helped more than many of you will ever realize. It has helped me remember I’m not the person he so desperately wanted me to believe I was.

In addition to people checking on me, I’ve heard from so many women in private conversations letting me know that they’d been where I was and some that still are. So many women that have told me how proud they are of what I’m doing. These women, and their stories, have done so much to bolster my resolve, and remind me that what I’m doing is the right thing. Nobody should ever be made to feel the way I did. Nobody should live with the threat of physical violence. Nobody should live in fear in their own home. Nobody should ever wonder if it’s possible they will ever be on the receiving end of the love they feel for others instead of the contempt they feel from their partner.

With all of this being said, I just wanted to say thank you. In the last couple of weeks everything came to a head and I was the most terrified I’d ever been of him. I will be eternally grateful to each and every one of you who reached out to let me know I wasn’t alone. Your kindness, love, and willingness to share did not go unappreciated.

xoxo,

Lesley

I went to court yesterday to finalize a restraining order against my ex. Due to his outright lies on the stand, it wasn’t ordered for as long as I wanted, but I got it. I’ll be scratching my head trying to figure out who the mysterious Derek Stuckey is and when we dated for the rest of my life (that’s another story). The judge only seemed to give a crap enough to give it to me for the length of time that he did because I had a recording of my ex trying to run me off the road the second time he did it. Yay, American legal system!

I’m not really surprised. Years ago I had to call the cops on another ex who shoved me from behind, face first into a brick wall. The cops arrested me for public intoxication. “Public” meant standing in the parking lot by my car waiting for them to get there and “intoxication” meant that I blew a .01 (Yes, .08 is the legal limit in case you’re scratching your head.). When in booking, the booking agent asked about the cuts and scrapes on the side of my face. The cop looked right at them and said, “I don’t see anything.”

So here I sit today, my anger over the court compounding my anger over the entire situation. I’ve been threatened by his brother, threatened with knives and firearms by my ex, nearly run off the road, threatened with death…and the judge gave me three months. By my account that’s just enough time to find a new place to live and effectively be run out of my home by these two assholes. None of that even encompasses him refusing to move out of my house or pay rent (he was claiming squatters’ rights), or just generally tormenting me on a daily basis with manipulation and constant verbal abuse. I actually feel worse for their dad than I do myself, since they now both live at home, don’t pay rent, and are well into their 30s.

Back to my unrelenting anger. I’m not an angry person. I’m actually a pretty forgiving, live and let live kind of person. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable to be me right now. I am a pent up ball of misdirected rage. I can’t let anything go.

I got into an argument with a friend about two weeks ago. It was something that I probably would have let go a few months ago, but in my current state, I literally can’t. All I can do is go back and forth between wanting to call them and talk to them about all of this crap and then reminding myself that I don’t ever want to speak to them again. And I know I want to talk to them again. Until I don’t. I don’t like it. It’s exhausting to hold on to this.

I can’t even explain the thoughts I have at work when guests get on my nerves. If my anger is misdirected towards friends and loved ones, it’s a nuclear explosion in my mind when it comes to strangers.

Next Thursday I go home for my brother’s wedding. My goal for the next week is just to meditate, yoga, write, sing, whatever it takes, and as often as I have to, but I want to be in a very different mindset when I get home. I want to be happy for, what I consider a miraculous occasion.