Rock N Roll (Essay Winner)
The WE Conference™ is pleased to recognize
a winning submission in The WE Conference™ Essay Contest
by Rock N Roll of San Francisco, California.
Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Actually, it’s the anniversary of the day I married my first husband. We’ve since divorced and have both successfully remarried other people. Although some women would try to consciously wipe the date from their mind, I choose to stop and remember the good, and therefore infuse the date with a positive message, rather than a negative.
When it comes to my ex, it hasn’t always been easy to think with this side of my heart. We married young, married quickly, had two beautiful sons, and then fell into disarray as quickly, it seems, as the rate in which our local recycler got to know my husband for all of the beer cans and bottles that he’d bring in.
Being married to an alcoholic is hard enough without having to fight the fear of becoming an addict yourself. Hailing from a long line of Irish-Filipino drinkers, I managed to be the one child of four that successfully stayed away from any type of substance abuse. My alcoholic husband was not so fortunate.
The frequency of our fights grew in direct proportion to his six-pack consumption. Finally, after he became physical and put me in the emergency room with a few well-placed bruises, a black eye and the imprint of a leather whip still around my neck (where he’d attempted to choke me, and might have finished had it not been for the neighbor’s knock on the front door that interrupted him), I packed up the children, our essentials, and moved in with my mother.
He was arrested, but never did any time. I moved my things out permanently, filed for divorce, and enrolled in a martial arts class. I enrolled my children in those classes, as well.
I realized that I was not living as the person I wanted to grow up to be; I was living the life of a woman that I really didn’t know. I decided, for better or for worse, I was going to get to know myself better, without the distraction of trying to know someone else first. I decided to live my life as the woman I’d always imagined I could be. I somehow knew that once my inner structure was straightened out, everything else would fall into place.
That was almost 20 years ago. I am now an expert-ranked martial artist and I teach basic self-defense to women for free; I’ve published a book on my adventures as a bouncer; I’m a certified massage therapist, and my rock/funk band plays every other weekend around the San Francisco bay area. My children are grown, happy and each gainfully employed in their dream fields of filmmaking and music production. My husband and I have another young son who is quite the hug monster, and we’re celebrating our 14th anniversary this year.
But that’s only what happens on the surface.
In the evenings, two nights a week, I don the proper attire (Kevlar vest, protective gear, motorcycle helmet) and join several others for a patrol of the city streets. No, I’m not a police officer, but I do what I can to help them out.
I belong to a rapidly growing group of ordinary citizens who’ve taken it upon themselves to keep the streets of their cities safer. We are not vigilantes. We are peacekeepers. Some of us don masks, some don’t. We all help those who aren’t able to help themselves. The patrols are what we do when we’re working “downstream.” To work “upstream” we work in youth programs, lobby for the passage of relevant laws; provide environmental support and humanitarian outreach.
When we’re not patrolling, we’re involved in homeless handouts, and food, clothing and toy drives. Although we’ve been labeled “real life super heroes” in a recent HBO documentary, we’re neither super nor heroes. We’re just everyday, average Joes who’ve gotten up off of the sidelines and vowed to make a difference.
Each year, when my old wedding anniversary comes up, I stop and reflect on the good, and I give thanks for the path that’s led me to this place of positivity, of awareness. I give thanks for the chance to do something good with the bad that can befall me, and this is the greatest power of all.