I am so happy to introduce today Kelly Shackelford, who is sharing her incredible story with us. I'm not kidding- INCREDIBLE. What a remarkable woman.
We all know the story of Dorothy and her famous red-ruby slippers that with only one click and a wish could whisk her back home. Well, my slippers were pink and fuzzy, and they too led me on my journey to home. However for me, home was not the place I lived. The place I was beaten. Home was the shattered shards of my soul. Home was the lost girl huddled, hiding in my battered body. Home was a person I could only dream of having the courage to be again.
Yes, I was one of those women. You know, the woman you claim you would never allow yourself to be, until you become her: a battered wife. I prefer the term “functioning hostage” as that was my plight. Sure my chains were not physical. They did not have to be. The mental chains are the ones made out of titanium.
A few years after my father's suicide and after I had birthed my fourth child into a dysfunctional marriage, my only shoes were a pair of cheap flip-flops. Well, as fate, sweet and wonderful as she is would have it, one strap broke. I taped it. Nope. I glued it. Notta. I even drove a bent nail through it. Sorry chicka.
I had no shoes.
So, my abuser purchased a pair of the fuzziest, pink house shoes you can envision. It was his way of ensuring I went very few places. Yet one more link in that chain, and the first notch I would shatter to build my yellow brick road back to home.
Secretly, I had applied to Floyd College in Georgia. I knew education was my ticket out of hell. Where I could learn of Einstein and equations and how to find home. I knew within those walls held home.
A few weeks before classes started, the financial aid office called. I needed to come in that day and clear something up, or my aid would not go through in time. My heart pounded in fear. I had yet to tell him I was going to college. I was prolonging that beating.
After the call, I loaded up my four babies and headed off to the college. Pulling into the parking lot, I saw a group of young, beautiful girls. Dread filled me. On my feet were not fashionable flip-flops or flats or sneakers, but pink, fuzzy house shoes. On my feet were his chains.
Sitting there a minute, I steeled myself before climbing out of my junker with all four kids in tow. As we started through the parking lot, the group of girls turned and sneered at my Raggedy-Ann state. My stomach knotted as I have never been so ashamed. I ran with the kids back to the car and cried until there were no tears.
And then I knew I had a choice: go home and be a victim, or walk that long walk to financial aide and be a survivor. I could not be both. I had to decide. I could begin to pave my own yellow-brick road even if it meant doing so in pink, fuzzy slippers, or I could go home and wait for him to kill me one day.
So, I forced a smile and climbed out of the car. Holding my head high, I trudged on, forging a way. Showing my kids that home was a beautiful, strong, and vibrant woman not a broken soul.
Yes, I was laughed at. I was ridiculed. I was talked about. But in the end, that walk freed me. Each step, each sneer led me on and gave me courage and gumption. It ignited a fire deep within me. A burning desire , a primitive need to find home. Later that night when I told him I was going to college and he beat me, it did not hurt.
After a few years in college I left him and found me. I went on to build a stellar career as the first female project manager in the largest metal building company in the United States, and I have raised four great kids. Now, my closet bears shoes of every shape, size and color, but I treasure one priceless pair above the rest, my pink, fuzzy house shoes. Sometimes I slip them on, not to remind myself how weak I was for allowing a man to beat me, but how strong I was for finding home.