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My son’s barber was tired and loopy with back pain. He was getting silly and seemed to be rambling. He began to tell us a story about a girl who just happened to walk past the shop, but he trailed off talking about her mom and the mom’s boyfriend.

The boyfriend kicked the mom’s door in a few months ago. With a tremendous amount of disdain, the barber shared about the man’s abusive behavior.

“But, she keeps taking him back!” he said with an equal amount of disdain.

I like this barber.  He’s a nice guy.  He’s been cutting my boys’ hair for years, and I’ve grown to care about him.  He’s just ignorant and can’t believe what he’s seeing firsthand, perhaps for the first time.  A time will come when I can share with him that this woman needs support and help, not ridicule, but the time wasn’t today.  Not when he was so out of it.

He’s just ignorant.

But, ya know, ignorance seems to abound.

I complained on Facebook today.  I know.  I know.  If you’re going to air your dirty laundry in a public forum like that, you’re kind of asking for it.  And, I did.

I must be ignorant as well.

A young woman responded to my Facebook disclosure with her own ignorant suggestion/solution and then finally asked why my children and I can’t fall the trees on our property.  

Um, I don’t know how.  You don’t just take a chainsaw out in the woods and start cutting down large, old growth timber when you don’t know what you’re doing.  I don’t have the physical strength.  My children are, um, children.  It’s not legal for them to even run a chainsaw.  Can you imagine if R got wind of that?  What if one of them got hurt?

This young woman has had three babies in three years by two different guys and appears to think welfare is a career choice.  And, she’s asking me why don’t I just fall my own trees?  I wanted to scream back in all caps and ask her why she doesn’t just get a job.  I wanted to remind her that I’m tired at the end of the day from that concept that is so foreign to her….work.  I really wanted to mention that it is my tired, old body that is paying for her to sit on her butt all day, dishing out unwanted advice to people twice her age.

She’s just ignorant.

But, this seems to be the normative response whenever I vent, blow off steam, complain, or share.

I’ve received legal advice from a hair dresser who knew “for a fact” how the divorce process/custody battle goes though she’s still married to her high school sweetheart.

I’ve been told to just turn our lifestyle upside down in order to give myself “a break.”

I’ve been flat out told that I’m being overprotective, a bad Christian, and judgmental because I’m still trying to home school my children when I “need” to just put them in school.  Of course, they knew better than I what my real motivation is for teaching my own children.

I’ve been told I need to pursue HUD housing.  To get a new attorney.  To get a restraining order NOW against R.  To just move.  To get a new counselor for my son.  To just learn all the new skills I need to survive without a husband, father, brother, or neighbor; it’s easy.

I must be ignorant.

Because everyone knows someone who did those things or got those things or qualified for those things.  I’m not, and I’m complaining; therefore, I must be ignorant and in need of someone to tell me what to do.  These things are so glaringly obvious to them.  Why else would I not know to fix my problems with their solutions?  I must be ignorant!

Yet, it is their ignorance that is so glaringly obvious to me.

I’m not ignorant.  I spent my childhood being sexualized in numerous ways, beaten, starved, and ridiculed.  And, I still managed to remain at the top of my class up until high school.  I was a single, pregnant mother with two small children and working full time when I graduated community college with a 3.82 GPA, Phi Theta Kappa, National Dean’s List.

I raised and home schooled my children while working and barely surviving in an extremely violent marriage.  Two of those children have Bachelor’s degrees and have gone on to pursue graduate degrees.  The third started his own small business.  The fourth, the currently rebellious, driving-me-nuts kid, took a preliminary test for the Navy and scored high enough that he can pretty much do anything he wants in the Navy except nuke.  I taught them all.  Without help.  Without so much as a tutor.

I’m not an ignorant woman.

I could, in my limited time, sit and explain to every single ignorant person why their solution wouldn’t work.  What I’ve already learned to be true.  What the horrible consequences of such action could potentially be.  But, they don’t want to hear it.  They just want to spout their self perceived knowledge and see me follow their wise advice.

No more.

Now, I purge.  I’d never unfriended anyone on Facebook until a couple of weeks ago.  So far, in the past two weeks, I’ve unfriended six people.  I’m done.

I don’t mind answering questions.  And, I welcome friendly, considerate advice.  But, there’s a difference between respectfully asking why I’m not on the HUD list and telling me that I need to go get on it.

It takes me back to the barber this afternoon.  “But, she keeps taking him back!”  They all, those who treat me this way, seem to be saying that I’ve already proven my ignorance because I stayed.  I took him back.  I’ve proven that I’m incapable of making an intelligent decision because I chose to stay in a violent marriage.

May I explain?  Will you listen thoughtfully?

It wasn’t because I’m ignorant.

I felt trapped.  I had no one to turn to, no support system.  He’d threatened to take the baby from me as soon as it was born.  My family sided with him against me.  He saddled me with his debt.  For years I didn’t even have a car.  I couldn’t go to town, let alone leave him.  I was afraid.

But, why didn’t I leave when he got arrested in 2007?

My brilliant first born son and I had worked our asses off to get him accepted into a private university with a very prestigious scholarship.  No small feat for a home schooled kid from the mountain.  We were in debt, and I was nursing a one year old.  I hadn’t worked in five years.  My son was set to leave for college five weeks before R got arrested.  And, we’d made a $300 a month tuition commitment.

I knew that if I left him then, I’d be as broke and desperate as I am now.  And, my son could kiss his opportunity for college goodbye.

I took R back solely because my son needed that dependable income to take advantage of the wonderful chance he was being offered.   And, I believed that R would mind his P’s and Q’s now that he’d been arrested.  I thought he would change with help from the MATVA classes, which he did, for awhile.

I’m not ignorant.  I may be unfortunate.  I may be cursed.  I may be desperate.  I may be fleshly minded.  I may be a lot of things.  But, I didn’t get here because I’m ignorant.  And, I’m not struggling still because I’m ignorant.

Life can be brutal.  It can kick us and maim us.  It can damn near kill us.

I envy the ignorance of those who live off of the government or who have lived their lives on the solid foundation of a loving family or who have enjoyed the love of one good man for thirty years.

That isn’t my story.

Mine is a story full of sadness, tiredness, regrets, and loss.  But, it isn’t a portrait of my ignorance.  It is a tapestry of survival skills and resilience.  It is a declaration that I am not ignorant, for an ignorant child or woman could not have thought up the tactics I did in order to survive.

Let my very survival prove that I must not be ignorant.

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