This is one of my all time favorite feminist poems. After I separated from my abuser I got the words “Still, I Rise” tattooed on my right forearm. The comma is there to remind me of how much stronger I am when I remember to be still, and how–in stillness, I rise. For me, that means meditation and breathing exercises. I have 2 separate breathing apps installed on my phone as well as 3 different meditation apps.
When I was a religious person, the scriptures about stillness were the ones that resonated most with me.
“Be still, and know that I am God”.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned in my experience and fight to overcome abuse is how important stillness is in my life. During an interview I recently did for a podcast on overcoming narcissistic abuse, I talked about how when I first started dating my abuser I was meditating regularly. About 6 months into the relationship I saw a side of him that I didn’t like so I broke up with him. I ended up going back to him but only after I quit meditating. And, I didn’t start meditating again until about 4 years later. As soon as I started up again our relationship completely exploded and ended very quickly after that. The lesson here is that the more in touch I am with my stillness the more I repel abuse.
Here is a poem I wrote about how important meditation is to me and how instrumental it was in getting me out of my abusive environment.
The Meditation the meditation made me strong the meditation gave me sight the meditation opened my ears the meditation made him loud the meditation made him hurtful the meditation made me cry the meditation gave me a voice the meditation made him leave the meditation made me strong -once you see, you can’t unsee
Still I Rise BY MAYA ANGELOU You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard ’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
May you rise. May we all rise together.
Get safe. Find your voice and speak. And heal.