I wanted to share a treasure I've had the great honor of knowing since the day she was conceived. This treasure I named Hannah, which means grace. I am a rape survivor who became pregnant as a result of being sexually assaulted in my own home. In shock for nearly the first four months of my pregnancy, I felt emotionally paralyzed and alone. I was attending regular group meetings with the rape crisis center and getting help for all these feelings that I didn't know what to do with.
Only one person in my circle of family and friends knew that I had been raped and became pregnant, and that was my ex-husband who I told right after it happened, and then when I found out that I was pregnant three weeks later, he was the first to know.
I am sharing this dark time in my life because without it, one can not quite grasp the depth of why she is such a treasure to me.
I went to group sessions at the rape crisis center, and then when they all saw that I started to show, they were no longer comfortable with me being in the group. They had no idea I was pregnant as a result of my assault, and it was far too emotionally difficult for the women in the group to cope with my belly growing. A few of the women in the group had also become pregnant and chose abortion and it was very disturbing to them that I wouldn't follow suit and get an abortion.
Now more than ever I felt even more alone, bewildered, and really pissed off. The group was the one place where I could relate, and now it was gone. I finally shared with my family what happened to me, and when I was six months pregnant, I made the decision to keep her. I didn't know if I could do it in those early months. All these feelings I had, never seemed to translate to hating the child growing in my belly, and then, a flutter. I could feel Hannah moving inside me.
Over the next two months I would make the decision to keep her. She was not the result of a crime, no, she was that precious gem of great value that is only found in the deepest parts of the dark earth, like a rare opal. A treasure is rarely found easily, and you have to dig deep to find one so precious that all you can do is cry at its beauty and perfection.
That's Hannah. An opal, filled with light, deep complex colors, fire, and ice. The outside might seem rough and hard, but I assure you that this treasure of mine is anything but.
She's known about how she came into this world since she was 13.
Hannah was 10 pounds and almost 24 inches long when she was born. Her birth was about as violent as a birth could be. Because of her size, her shoulder got stuck behind my pelvis and required the doctor to put his arm up inside me and twist her to get her out.
It worked. She was stuck for so long and when she arrived, her head was so distorted, her face so swollen, that she looked to me like Jabba the Hut. I joke to this day about it because the image was seared into my brain forever.
Her skin was the softest skin I've ever felt in my life. The huge fat rolls that enveloped this newborn's body were like billows of soft butter. I couldn't keep my hands off her delicate dark skin. Yes, she was born with a tan.
As she grew, she walked early, was an escape artist, but didn't talk. She didn't talk until she was nearly three years old, but when she finally opened her mouth, she spoke with complete sentences.
My little treasure. Silent, stealth, and totally heart melting. At a very young age she had this way about her that would make grown men cry when they just looked at her. They couldn't help themselves. They would be so moved by her presence that they couldn't help but well up with tears.
Hannah is a hardcore introvert, who observed the world at a distance. She was always more comfortable with one or two close friends, and being out in nature. She also loved to get into my craft supplies and create wild outfits for her and her dog.
She has a fierce independent streak (all my girls do), finishing up high school a year early while venturing out on her own. She left my nest at 16 years old and I would get a call from her every now and again after she finished high school that she was on the west coast, or down south in Virginia, or off on some other adventure.
She moved to New Mexico seven years ago and began reaching out for a closer relationship with Dom and I.
The one thing I've never done with any of my children was to force them to communicate with me. Some of them can go three months or more before giving me a call. I can't be one of those pushy people asserting my will over them and then calling it love and concern. What I can offer, however, is a listening ear, and my guidance IF they ask for it. No one wants advice if they aren't ready to receive it.
I've always let my children know its okay to fail, to try new things, and to change their minds.
In my relationship with Hannah, it started with, "Mom, you're not going to like this but..." and then comes her own self judgement looking for affirmation that she's bad, or wrong. I could not offer judgement, but I could offer a listening ear, an open heart, empathy, and advice if she needed it and I had it to give.
When your child, regardless of their age, comes to you with a secret joy, a secret pain, a terrible loss, a happy moment, be fully present, forgetting about your own hangups or how your kid is "doing life." Focus instead on the fact that they are actually sharing something that is of great value to them. Isn't that what its all about?
When we first become parents, we have this laundry list of things we want our kids to be in life, and when they start to stray from that course we designed so carefully, panic sets in.
How does a parent prepare themselves for their child becoming a burlesque dancer? I'll give you a hint...
You support him or her. That's how you prepare. You listen to their heart song, watch the excitement in their eyes. They love their craft and how each dance tells a story.
And when they ask for you to go to their performances? Would you go? (I hope your answer will be a loud resounding yes).
Did I go? You're damn right I went. I took pictures too. What? You wouldn't go to your daughter's dance performances if they were a little sexually charged?
Does she take off all her clothes? No. But even if she did, I would still go and support her. Dancing makes her happy, fulfilled, and helps her stay in her body and be fully present with her feelings and emotions. This is just one form of dance, but one that evokes her power and often centers her.
How many times have we told our children, "You can be anything you want in life if you work hard enough at it." A true statement, right? How many of you have said this to your children? Now, what if that child worked extra hard at developing a dance troupe, costumes, set design, spent hours and hours practicing while holding a full time job, and would call you to talk about how excited she was to perform in the coming few weeks, and wanted you to be there. Would you go? Even if it was burlesque?
Some parents would find this disturbing, but I don't. I told her she could be anything she wanted, and now I'm supporting her choices. In the process, I get to be a part this magnificent creature's life as she grows, expands, changes, writhes in personal agony, and finds deeper treasures within herself.
She works full time, put herself through school to become a yoga instructor, plays many instruments, and has a soulful and haunting singing voice.
She dwells in that alternate world where people love tattoos, body piercing, suspending from hooks through their flesh, and body modification. I have met her circle of friends and the only thing I can say about this crowd she calls her friends, is that you truly cannot judge a book by its cover. Just like her, her friends are some of the most generous and loving people I've met.
This treasure of mine has allowed me into places of her heart that few parents get to go or experience.
Is this a phase of her life? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm cool with it either way.
Today is her 26th birthday, and I want to celebrate all of her. Her accomplishments, her passions, her life, and her enormous beautiful heart.
I see this warrior with the spirit of fire and I am overwhelmed with joy at every part of her. Her love is deep, at times dark, and yet so filled with grace. She is grace.
She has this funny streak and an infectious laugh.
She is a stunning beauty. I love when she has her horns on!
And when she takes out her whip.
Modeling can often bring out her fierce side.
And her softer side.
Yes, she is being suspended from hooks. I have been to her suspensions also. She is an artist, always exploring new avenues of creativity, pain, and pleasure.
She recently purchased her first motorcycle. Oye! Of all the things that might seem to be difficult for a parent to adjust to, this is by FAR the most difficult for me to grasp. You see, everything I've shared thus far with you all is within HER control. She decides how far to take her art, but with a motorcycle, its not just her on the road.
She loves all animals. She loves watching little baby animals eat and sleep. Who doesn't right?
The love of Hannah's life weighs about 2 pounds soaking wet. Camille is not really a dog. She has been called a hairy lizard, and even a tiny fawn, but never a dog. They have been together for 7 years now.
She loves her family, and someday would love to have children of her own.
She was the quiet one, full of fun yet devious ideas for other kids to do while she sat with the sweetest of smiles watching as others broke the rules or did something they shouldn't have. Did she partake? Not usually, she just enjoyed quietly from a distance.
Happy Birthday Hannah! I love you so much. Thank you for being that deep treasure filled with beautiful color, timeless perfection, and of value beyond compare. You are precious to me. Thank you for filling my life with your love and amazing spirit.