This year, the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is bringing Kinetic Affect out to keynote a morning plenary and run a breakoutsession at this year’s Annual Conference. Two men from a sordid past will be speaking on their true life experiences and be using their voices to help move men into a deeper state of awareness and vulnerability.

 Kinetic Affect and Speak It Forward is honored to be a critical part of this year’s Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Annual Conference. Our keynote presentation on June 7 for all attendees is entitled Personal Reflections on Male Identity, Social Change and the VAW Movement”. And our breakout session that same day will focus on the the use of our art form in personal transformation and the healing process, called “Innovation in Social Change: Empowering Youth Through Spoken Word Poetry”. It will be a true blessing to be a part of the conference this year, especially considering the pasts that we have each faced–as men in our society–and the work we do today

We would like to leave you with the words of one of our “failures.” Yes, it’s harsh to say “failure” and maybe that isn’t fully true. But when even just one woman caves in and loses sight of her true beauty, we feel the lossHere is a story that tells you why we, Gabriel and Kirk, fight so hard for women:

“Not every story has a happy ending. And I wish I could say her’s was. She stood on the stage and held her poem in her hands. Standing at the mic, she began to speak. She said five simple words, “This is for my son.” She was 16. And her son was being held by a staff member off to the side. See, she was still in lock up. And her son had made a special trip across the state to hear his mommy share this poem she wrote for him. She wanted to apologize to this little blonde-haired boy for how she had given up on herself when he needed her the most. She apologized for her temper. For her anger. She apologized for the time she was arrested right in front of him. She described the way she saw him crying as she was held there by the police on the concrete in the middle of the street. It was the day she traded in holding onto his hand for grabbing onto steel bars.

She was sorry that the drugs could run to her faster than he could. She was sorry for the time she left him because she couldn’t believe she would ever be a worthy mother. She cried for him. She cried for a boy who deserved a real mother. She cried out apologies and gripped the paper as if was to make up for every moment she couldn’t hold his hand. Or tuck him into bed. Or read him bedtime stories. Or lay there together and after tickling, dream about a beautiful future together.

And then it ended and everyone clapped. And it was beautiful. The cheers and the hug she gave to her son afterward. It was beautiful. I cried with her. Everyone did.

I wish I could say this was a success story. But it’s not. It’s a story of hurt and pain. And the power of self hate. It is a story of failure. And how we can’t stop when things don’t go the way we want them to. See, months after she told her story, she was successfully discharged and went back home. I wish I could say she could escape her past. Escape the hurt. I wish I could say that her poem and the tears were enough to change things for her. A part of me feels like a con artist for telling her that words can save lives. Because she ran away. Again. She left her little boy behind.

And what did I learn from this? That you can’t really love someone if you hate yourself. You just can’t. At least I can thank her for showing me that if I want to love my son best, I must learn to let go of my own self-hate. I think that’s something we can all take to heart. And even if it’s sometimes incredibly dim and small, there is always a silver lining. You just have to be willing to look for it. Really, really look.”

SPEAK IT FORWARD.

(To learn more about the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, please visit their website here: http://www.mcadsv.org. OR… visit their Facebook page here: http://www.mcadsv.org.)