I celebrate two birthdays.
The first, the day I was born, some thirty-something years ago on a September evening at the Port of Spain General Hospital. The second, which I’m celebrating today, 15 December. I turn one today, on my second birthday. I celebrate this second birthday today because FemmePowered is one year old.
There are certain life experiences that forever change us. They become like milestones or even landmarks that represent certain periods of our lives. For me, the catalyst for FemmePowered is such. Today, I mourn not the second anniversary of that final beating from my ex-husband that landed me at the St. George’s General Hospital and then the operating room to reset broken bones; I celebrate the richness and this new beautiful life, this brave, bold and empowered me that since emerged.
Six months after that final incident I was driving in my car on the way to church. I was reflecting on how I could use my story to help raise awareness of domestic violence and how damaging it can be. I really wanted to dispel some thoughts around not just domestic violence but abusers and survivors. As I drove the name came to me, FemmePowered. I can actually remember where I was in the road at the time too, oddly enough. I repeated it a few times to ensure that I did not forget it, and when I got to church, I wrote it down in my journal and registered the web address the moment I got home. As I thought more about it and prayed on it, I got some clarity of what FemmePowered would look like and whom it would serve.
As I worked through my physical and emotional recovery and regained my power, I knew that I had to share my story, share what I learned along the way, and hopefully, empower and inspire other women. So I started blogging. Sharing not just on domestic violence but also on matters that affect women because at the heart of it, FemmePowered really is about empowering women, no matter their story.
Then I started writing for online magazines and blogs and sharing those on social media. I think that’s when the blog really started getting traffic. And here, is where I say thank you. You see, it is the support from the people who visit this site that helps keep me going. The people who inbox me on Facebook, call me or email to say thank you, to share their story, to empathize, to ask my advice, to connect. I started this thing as an outlet to share the things on my heart and then it became so much bigger than me. I absolutely love this. I love this because it means that it’s transcended me and now serves others. For me, to be invited speak at your event, coach a private group, write for your magazine, have meet-ups and host workshops for you and just connect with women on a one-to-one basis is a tremendous and humbling honor. Thank you for letting me be a part of your story and journey and thank you for allowing me to share mine.
So much has happened in and outside of me since I launched. I’ve become stronger, bolder and a lot braver. I met myself again and in the process became whole. I told my truth and in the process got the opportunity to speak, teach and share. I launched a new community, through Sisterhood In Motion and in the process of all of this, the sting from that fateful day two years ago was broken. That thing that should have buried me, became the seed to something so much greater than myself. For that, I am grateful. You can choose bitterness and brokenness or you can choose forgiveness, bravery and vulnerability. I went with the latter.
It’s been quite a year. Today’s birthday won’t involve cake and wine but a somber reflection on life and purpose. As I celebrate today, I will remember my friend Marsha, who died a few years earlier at the hands of her ex and I will think of all the women who did not get a chance to begin again, like I did. I will think of you, too. And how your encouragement and support makes me feel brave and bold, open and fearless. And I will think of what lies ahead for FemmePowered. I’ll also give thanks to God for His grace and mercies and for allowing me to reach this place and I’ll hug my mom closer and love her a little harder, because today too, is also her birthday.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.