When I initially wrote this piece in November of 2013, my intentions were to do something I felt called to and also to begin a series that others could contribute to. After responses began pouring in, I realized that the personal aspect of sharing the story was guiding my purpose for sharing it. While I'd still like to allow guest bloggers a platform to share 'How baseball inspires their life', I'm no longer afraid of this being a platform I stand firmly on. At the time, I was also trying to make the blog more inclusive. Since then, I've returned to the basics: the blog is my voice and that's how I gained a following. Why not stick with that and grow in other ways?
In the two years that have followed I've gotten involved in more fundraising for the cause of domestic violence prevention and education for Break The Cycle. I've also written extensively on this blog about the importance of MLB creating a Domestic violence Policy, something that is currently still being developed. I trust that a decision will be made soon and look forward to that day.
There was a lot that I held back when sharing the story, particularly the physical pain I still suffer. It's difficult for me to address that part of it, but I've done so by also writing about the experience for a yoga website, and how yoga has helped to heal my body. I don't know if I'll ever fully heal from the damage I suffered in the attack, but it's something that I try to think of as a reminder of all I can survive. And it's kind of funny and symbolic that I'm known as 'Heels on the Field'. I'm obviously able to tough out a lot if I live my life in heels! SMILE
As we celebrate International Women's Day and No More Week (another organization I'm involved with via social media), I decided to share this story again. The smallest thing you do matters in contributing to the cause of ending domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States and around the world. While this is a uniquely female problem, it's also a human issue. Please remember that.
Here is the original intro and story.
...I've kept my life private, intensely guarding every aspect. I feel the same as ever. But I began to hear a kind of calling to share something with readers, whoever might be reading, that might be inspiring. We all have our stories that led us to our place in life. Moments that made us stronger or put us on a path that changed our lives forever. Baseball, sports in general, are about the person and what they're working toward, what they've overcome, and moments that defined their journey. Even when I'm covering a game, I understand that a quote revealing something about the person in a crucial moment in the game is the story.
And so, I open this to the world. For you to know what brought me to this and what fuels my strength...
One slam of a fist.
I don't remember much else after that.
It felt as if I'd left my body. I could hear my screaming, but the voice didn't seem to be mine. I can still see the walls spinning around me and the hotness of tears pouring out. But I was above it, removed, watching, and stunned.
The pain was so excruciating and the brutality of my boyfriend's actions so unexpected, but despite the severity of the moment, what I remember most was a hard knot forming in my stomach. I was changing in that moment, but didn't understand that's what was happening. I would never be the same. How much good would come from that would not become clear to me for a long time.
The next thing I remember is being on a table with lights in my face. And I remember the hardness of disbelief and suppressed anger making that knot tighten. Through the weeks of physical therapy, of being on crutches, and trying to climb the steps at school, I disconnected from my spirit. The girl that loved life, dancing, baseball, that loved to get the laugh in class and at parties, the caretaker that loved to be the shoulder to cry on, was gone. My faith had been broken. I wanted to be left alone. To sit quietly and not be bothered. I didn't want to go anywhere and stared at the wall, unreachable. My universe shrunk to a small dark place I wanted to stay in. I had no sense of my own strength. He'd convinced me I was worthless, to blame, and didn't deserve better.
I wasn't a naive girl. Growing up (in a city outside of Philly known for crime, I might add), my life wasn't ideal and I experienced a lot of difficulty. But this was different. A kind of break happened in me. I'd always overcome anything that came my way. Nothing ever took me out. My spirit always seemed to carry me, to be lit by being creative and I never, ever, stopped being a girl that loved to love. This time, I had.
Sure, I tried to stand up to him, but I stayed. I won't say I'm ashamed, because that's just how lost I was. After he got arrested for theft (what was I a chick on 'Cops?'), I tried to move on. But he'd call and threaten to kill me. I want to find the joke here, because it's what I tend to do, but it was horrific. To this day, I suffer from nerve damage in my right leg, tailbone, and foot. I was scared for a long time that he would find me to act out his threats.
Fear and self-loathing are the enemy here, not that guy, because ultimately, his presence in my life was to teach me something I didn't know, to lead me toward the person I was meant to become.
A few years down the road, going through different life experiences, I found myself pulled in the direction I'd always been going, to be a professional writer. And for reasons I couldn't fully explain, I knew I wanted to write about baseball. I had no idea how the abuse I'd overcome would play a part in that.
Dealing with baseball players, and, in my case, mostly minor leaguers, many of whom just graduated college or high school, you learn quickly how tough and tenacious you need to be. You have to have a healthy, dirty sense of humor and let things bounce right off you. If you're easily offended or scared, it's not the place for you, and especially not as a girl.
But as I went through the experience of growing as a writer, and covering games, what I was really doing was letting go of the past. Every time I walked into the clubhouse some players insulted me, made sexual remarks, laughing at me, and talked about my being allowed in there, I was exorcising a dark demon. I was proving to myself each time that I deserved respect. I felt my strength growing every moment I faced them. It was a challenge to go in the clubhouse and I wanted it. I wanted to show that I could take it, that I could take anything they did and said. Looking back, I didn't know then why I was so driven. I know now. Whenever players look at me and try to take me down in any way, a light turns on in me. I've been weakened to a beaten down girl that couldn't walk for months. You can't turn me into her again.
I didn't know baseball would be where I would find my voice. Where I would connect with so many people. And I had no idea I would inspire girls. Many come up to me, email, or tweet and say I'm a role model. This year, after being asked to talk to a group of girls aspiring to be sports journalists at Boston University, I realized something in my life had come to pass. At the moment that request came through, I actually needed reminding of why I was doing what I was.
Our faith needs to be restored again and again. We lose our way. People fail us. We fail and have to get right back up. Not always easy. But when you see the pain you've experienced as fuel, leading you to who you're meant to be and where you're meant to go, it's an incredible feeling.
That dark moment is with me still. But now, it's my light.
When I do this job, I'm doing something from a place in my heart that I've never been able to express. It's my spirit lifting off, achieving a goal bigger than me, telling players stories is my love and writing about the greatest game is my passion. Walking through fear, after what I survived, is the deeper meaning of the life I've chosen.
Please feel free to share your story ideas with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.