An Abuse Survivor’s Tale – How my mother taught me to Survive

The things that our moms teach us throughout the course of our lives never reveal themselves until we need that energy…

I say a lot about what we moms teach our children. Right now my two best friends on this planet, April and Dannie, are both in flux, and like me, both are facing issues that their own mothers might not ever have had to. Yet, even as the three of us each has our own horror stories of what our moms did or did not do, I think we, to an extent, would have to agree that whether it was our moms being overly-cautious with us, but not with who we were (begetting who we now each are, of course) in so far as how we would feel about ourselves in relation to them, I must say that whether our moms were too watchful or not watchful enough in any capacity, be it physically, emotionally, mentally or Spiritually, they taught us each to survive. On that measure, I must give them props.

While I cannot speak for either April or Dannie, I can say that the two of them knows well the things that I have gone through with my own mother, and while some of those things hurt me, those same things taught me a whole lot. One of those things that Ma taught me was to do my best at all that I do, no matter what it is. So, when I set out on my own personal Path to the healing of the Bones of The Soul, the only thing that I knew would be the thing that could even come close to the medicine that would help me heal the things that raged in my memories, the thing that made me know that there was a signature “thing” that was mine, that was not only the ability to reach out to others, not only the gift that is “Sight of Soul,” not only the respect that I have for the beliefs of others…not only what it is that, on the outside, and to the unknowing, make me who I am, but more, for always telling me that no matter what, even without saying the words, that I am a special person, with special abilities, and am someone who does not ever give up.

When it came time for me to, and at the behest of the therapist whose name equates to “Angel” (no joke), I found that there was meaning to my pain, that there was something that, through that pain, would be the healing energy that I so very dearly craved, and more, and unbeknownst to me, required. When April told me…I don’t know…maybe…oh say…6 or 7 years ago, that Hula would never NOT be a big part of my life, and when Dannie told me about 4 years ago, the very same sentiment, but wrapped beautifully in that sultry Proper Southern Lady manner and drawl of hers, I did not realize what they were each telling me, and what they were each telling me, on this day, spoke to me about the thing that our moms teach us. The one thing that I know that my mom taught me, that Dannie and April have both taught their own kids, and that from day one I have made a point to teach my own kids, is that no one has the right and neither the ability to tell us who we are, that we are not all “one size fits all,” that very dearly, who we are is not what other people tell us and how we deal with stuff is not someone else’s to make ours by their standard.

These were very dearly important lessons for me that I have learned through these last almost 5 years. These were the things that I was reminded of, by my two closest friends in the entire Universe. They reminded me of what Ma never could put into words, but that she could always put forth in energies given, and for that one ability to “heal thyself,” it is because of my mother. It is the mother who puts themselves in harm’s way, and the mother who always tries her hardest to be as best she can at a job which does not include an instruction manual. I cannot even begin to know what went through her mind the moment that she knew I was being abused, but I can say that I know what goes through my own when I think that same thought – that “What if this happens to…” and I perish that very thought because I know that from my own experiences that my own daughter will know what to do in the event that she will have to survive an ugliness that no mother wants to know is her kid’s temporary reality…

Na Hula O Ka Wahine ‘Ui

Nah…this isn’t a plug for my Healing Halau (which is spawned from Mom telling me to “do what is right” for me, even if that means she won’t like it…), but rather and only a plug and a shout out, props and an “okole maluna,” (Bottoms up and glasses raised) to my mom. The lady that a lot of people know as “Sister Sheila,” and who more know as “Auntie Sheila,” but to a select few, my siblings our children and myself, the few who are Hanai (adopted into our Hawaiian Ohana) …this simple woman who has never allowed us to be less than who we are, even if we hated the idea that the “Church Lady” (think Dana Carvey and you have my mother haha) was looking at us and inwardly thinking “dat keed needs Jesus…” No matter what, my mom, for all of her churchiness, meant well when she taught us what she did. While she may not have ever thought for a moment that the oldest of her three kids would grow up to be a domestic violence Survivor, I know that she knows that the creative way that I chose to heal myself and refer to as “medicine” …that was all her.

It was she who taught me appreciation for my own creativity through my love of culture and ancestry, and it was all her who told me that when I dance, to make it all mine, and I did, and even though she might not think of my way of doing a lot of things makes sense, she also knows that the reason that I love hula so much is because of her. I was brought up the same way that other Hawaiian kids were, but in my case, because I had a problem with authority figures who were just way over the top with their own perceived power, she sorta just left me to my own and let me figure out how best to use the thing that I call medicine to heal myself and my life. That one thing was not writing.

That one thing was, is, will always be Hula.

So, for what it is worth, to all the other moms of Domestic Violence Survivors, I have this to offer you…

Your kid is not stupid, she or he is just creative, and they learned that from you. You were the one who taught them, no, not how to get beaten up, but rather and only how to survive that which may visit them and that which might be the very thing that anyone would think would kill them. I promise you that it doesn’t kill their soul, that no matter what, your kid was not ever sitting there accepting what was happening to them or to their lives – they were doing the best that they could and they were employing the methods of survival which you are responsible for having taught them. While it might seem sort of …I don’t know…crazy when I say this next thing, the reason why your survivor of a kid is so bad ass is because you taught them to be the best at everything, and the greatest test of that Greatness came in the form of an abuser, came in the form of someone who, for the very life of them, does not know how to heal themselves, does not know what it means to survive, for they are still hurting inside, and that is not anything that also was not taught.

For what it is worth, they are thinking about you today and wondering what you are doing, and for what it is worth, they want to know that you are well, even though you worry about them. Your worries are valid, Ladies, but your Love is as valid, and I know that they Love you as much as you Love them, no matter what. And unless it is that their own heart is yet to be healed from the scarring and marring that visited their lives, they know, without a doubt, that everyday you think about them, wish for their safety, want them to come home to you. They know this. They live this. This is theirs. They know that you pray every night for them, and they know, too, that one day, you will be able to do as my mother has, look them in the eyes, and know for sure that this version of you is the way that they are – strong, like the reed which is able to bend, and everlasting, the love they have for you, much like the constant turning of the tide, the presence of the moon even when we cannot see it, the warmth provided by the sun, and the earth beneath their feet.

For what it is worth, to all those mothers, and yes, even a whole lot of fathers who are raising kids who were not brought to this lifetime on their own, a blessed day of celebrating the lives that we have, in some way, honored, have gifted others with, have lived, loved and learned from.

Ma, I Love You!!

Happy Mothers Day
I Love You All

To learn more about the area’s ONLY Healing with Hula program, “Na Hula O Ka Wahine’ui,” please visit The Sisterhood of the Soul’s website at

The original Southern Plantation Preacher Lady, Rev. Vel-Danielle Gambrell and her Kindred Souls of the South’s Facebook page can be visited and “liked” by going to

For information or to set an appointment with either Rev. Roxanne Cottell or Rev. Vel-Danielle Gambrell please send an email to either of them here in facebook by going to:

Rev. Vel-Danielle Gambrell  :
Rev. Roxanne K. Cottell :

To contact Rev. Roxanne Cottell (Reverend Roxie) please send an email to

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