Let’s reDress This.

I remember everything about being terrorized and abused. And, I am grateful I do. Because those feelings and smells (because fear does have a scent) call on me to be vulnerable when triggered, tough when required and present always.

I started reDressed as yet another way to remain present and to address this epidemic that encourages its victims to cower behind shame and ridicule. An epidemic that has become quite systemic in the very places and spaces it should be resistant to, our loverships. An epidemic that is so insidious that it looks like you, me, him, her and that literally touches us all despite race, gender, class or education.

I remember surviving and wanting, no, needing to make sure my outsides looked way better than my insides felt. I remember needing to get, well, dressed up in an attempt to mask the tears and scars that riddled my soul. I remember reciting and reminding myself each day to “act as if…” or “fake it till you make it…” I remember the moment that the clothing was no longer a shield around my pain, but it had become my statement of survival. My expression of celebration. I remember when I was no longer faking it or acting, but I was living… strong, confident, defiant and healing.

reDressed addresses this need I know other healing survivors will possess. I dedicate my resources: my time, my shoulder, my words, my tears, my experience… and clothing, beautiful clothing to these survivors.

Next week, I will be part of a two-panel conversation that focuses on survivors. I will be joined in that conversation with Taylor Miller who will discuss, in part, the exhibit Stitches of Strength, which is a collaboration between the Paul Robeson Galleries and the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance and is currently showing at the gallery. I am looking for a few survivors to join me (because of the nature and size of the gallery attendance will be controlled by and at the discretion of the gallery’s staff), so get in touch with me via email: emailme@letsaddressthis.com and we will discuss. Tell me your story. Or, if we meet, look into my eyes if words fail you… we will recognize each other.

I would like to dress you for the evening.

Diane, Please Take Your Seat. Here.

Today I graduate.

I am not sure in what hour of doubt, despair or dire need of more strength, more words or more energy to keep on going I realized that I already possessed what I needed to continue on and that truly, simply all I could do was all I could do. But, it was. And, I did. I did all I could do. I gave all I could. And today, I give thanks to God.

I finished. Strong. In my GPA. In my spirit. In my soul. I finished. Strong.

Marvin Sapp has a song and today I use it share with you some of my sentiments. Here is his, our, My Testimony:

So glad I made it,
I made it through
In spite of the storm and rain, heartache and pain
I’m still alive declaring you
I made it through
See, I didn’t lose

Experience lost at a major cost
But I never lost faith in you

So if you see me cry,
It’s just a sign that I’m
I’m still alive
I got some scars, but I’m still alive
In spite of calamity,
He still has a plan for me
And it’s working for my good
And it’s building my testimony

So glad I made it,
I made it through
In spite of the storm and rain, heartache and pain
I’m still alive declaring you
I made it through, I didn’t lose
Experienced lost at a major cost,
But I never lost faith in you

I made it thru’
Oh, so if you see me cry
It’s just a sign that I’m, I’m still alive
I got some scars, but I’m still alive
In spite of calamity
He still has a plan for me
It’s working out

Monday night I received this email from Hunter College. It was full of details, but I wanted to share with you the start that wrestled tears from my eyes and gratitude from my soul.

Today I graduate. I knew all I could do was all I could do. So, I did it. All. Love.

On Behalf Of…

I will graduate in exactly two weeks from today.

As that day draws nigh, the number of academic and social events and celebrations have ramped up. Last Wednesday I was inducted into the English Honor Society chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Beta. This past Monday I met classmates for a end-of-semester (theirs; mine ended at the end of the Winter session) celebration and today, the English department is hosting a soiree for all graduating honor students and award recipients. Before graduation on the 29th there will be other reasons to get together popping up here and there.

But.

Last evening I spoke with the winner of the Glory dress raffle I initiated and funded. As you may remember this was my way, before leaving Hunter, to honor my dear friend Gloria who passed away during the Fall semester of 2017. The raffle was drawn at the start of the induction ceremony and a young lady by the name of Nicolette won. Yesterday we spoke about her style preferences, favorite color(s) and size. The process officially begins. Today I will start scouring my favorite boutiques and consignment shops and I will find her a beautiful graduation dress… on behalf of Gloria.

I hung up the phone after our call and immediately disintegrated. I loved what I was attempting to do. I hated that there was a reason to do it. I should not be doing anything on behalf of Gloria. She should be here. And, she and I should be looking for our own dresses. Together. The 29th should be, was to be a day we celebrated side-by-side. Our majors were different so we would not have been sitting together at Madison Square Garden, but we had planned to absolutely embarrass each other with our shouts when each other’s names were called. We had planned to celebrate together afterward. I thought we had already paid our dues in life and crossing that stage on that day would be the Universe’s “Job very well done. Here’s to you!” acknowledgment. I had no idea there was more to pay. I could never have imagined her cost would be so great.

I will dress Nicolette. On behalf of Gloria. I will cry when I need to. I am crying now. And, when I hear Nicolette’s name on graduation day, I will scream and embarrass her. Nicolette will not know why. But my friend will.

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