This is me receiving the ILA Award for my first novel, Beauty of the Broken, which I sold almost immediately after deciding I was worthy of love. I want you to understand what is possible. I want you to see that you can be something more than an abuse victim. Don’t wait for someone else to love and protect you. Love and protect yourself. You were born to shine. Shine on, sacred woman. Shine.

Last night, I went to pray on my daddy’s grave, after which I drove back to Albuquerque. The canyon between Albuquerque and the East Mountains screws with radio reception, so I listened to the only station I could get—a channel that was featuring The Delilah Show.  I actually usually really like the things Delilah has to say.  She’s kind and funny and does a great deal to honor people’s most sacred relationships and bring light into the world. 

But last night, a woman had just called in.  I didn’t hear what the woman said.  I only heard Delilah’s response. She said something like this: “It sounds to me like your partner doesn’t love and respect you, that he cares nothing for your feelings and heart and is willing to hurt you and dismiss you and take you for granted.  If everything you’re telling me is true, this relationship is abusive.  You need to protect yourself.” 

I was going, “Yay, Delilah!  I’m with you!” But then, she proceeded to tell the woman that when her partner abused her, or made fun of her appearance, or humiliated her publicly, or called her vicious names, she was to protect herself by ignoring it and letting it roll off her like water off a duck’s back.  What??? I was dumbfounded. Her advice to this woman who was being abused was, “Ignore it”? At the very end of the show, she did say, “If you’re partner doesn’t change, you’re going to have to make some tough choices.”  Ok, she hinted the woman should leave. 

But as a former abuse victim, I would like to offer that woman some alternate, more pointed advice.

Dear abused woman,

You are precious. You are sacred. You are beautiful. You are treasure. Anyone who doesn’t actively honor those facts is not worthy to be in the same room with you. Anyone who seeks to control you, who disregards your needs and desires, who humiliates you, who actively endangers or refuses to protect your holy body and heart, is a monster.  Monsters become monsters because they are not loved, but by staying with this guy, you won’t unmonster him.  He has to do that himself.

What will happen if you stay with him, if you ignore this abuse, is you will become so enraged, you too will become a monster. You will either become violent toward him or violent toward yourself, but you will become violent. 

The rage you feel when this man abuses you is not wrong.  It is the most sacred, beautiful part of you telling you that you deserve to be loved, respected, cherished, and protected.  It is trying to drive you to action.  And that action is not staying in this horrible situation, trying to ignore it and be nice, and ultimately committing violence.  It is walking. 

Walk out the fucking door.  Never look back.  Leave that man stewing in his own monstrousness, and maybe, just maybe, a light will come on, and he will decide to do the hard work of changing. But that isn’t your problem. His wounds run too deep for you to ever fix them. He has to do that himself. Pray for him. Ask that he be blessed, and by blessed, I mean be given whatever it’s going to take to make him see how wounded he is, the monster he has become, and let him begin to heal himself.

Don’t go back to him.  He will promise to change. He won’t.  True change takes years and years and years. By going back to him, you will be committing an act of cruelty.  You will be enabling him to continue to indulge in the cowardice and abuse that are destroying his soul.  Aloneness is the thing that will make him see these things, and perhaps, give him the desire to change. You are giving him a great gift by walking away. You are taking the Band-Aid off the cancer so he can see it.

It is never your job to be invisible.  It is never your job to be humiliated. It is never your job to be abused. It is never your job to be disregarded, ignored, invalidated, terrorized. It is never your job to lie for anyone, to cover for abuse.  It is your job to shine.  It is your job to tell the truth.  It is your job to protect you so you can heal and become all of the glorious wonder you were born to be.

And may I offer another bit of advice? After you walk, in the future, the very first time someone disrespects you, walk out the door. The very first time someone verbally abuses you, walk out the door.  The very first time someone ignores and disregards your needs, walk out the door.  I’m not saying don’t ever let anyone fuck up. People fuck up.  All the time. Even the people who love you best. But abuse goes beyond fucking up. And you don’t deserve it. Ever. Never put yourself in any situation where you are not honored, cherished, loved, and protected again.  The people who truly love you will do those things for you.  And there are people who truly love you.  This man is not one of them. Go out and find your true loves.

I say all of this because I know.  I have been you.  I started removing abusers from my life about five years ago, when I came close to losing my life to abuse.  That was my wake up call.  I am still learning what healthy relationships look like.  I am still removing abusers from my life.  I am still learning to protect, honor, and love myself.

But since I started doing it, my life has become a miracle. I travel the world.  I sell books.  I teach at universities and colleges and conferences.  None of this was happening when I let myself be abused.  Because every time I let myself be abused, I sent the universe a message saying I was worthless and unloved.  And because the universe responds to our thoughts, that reality perpetuated itself again and again. 

Now I am careful to take only actions that send the universe the message that I am beautiful and precious and holy and worthy of love.  I refuse to walk through a door unless I know I will be protected, cherished, loved, and honored on the other side of that door.  You should do the same.  Because you ARE worthy of love.  You are a miracle. Do the world a favor and protect the treasure you are. You have something wonderful to give us, and by giving your sacred soul to this abuser, you are stealing from all of us.

So much love and light,

Tawni Waters






Me in Sicily, staring in wonder at one of the cathedrals there. (I don’t remember the real name just now, but I do remember our tour guide constantly referred to it as The Cathedral of Roger, as it was built by a monarch named King Roger.)


I’ve just returned from two weeks teaching in Sicily for Rosemont College’s MFA program.  I can’t even begin to describe how magical my time there was, but I will try in forthcoming travel essays. If you want to see/hear more about my travel experiences, please feel free to friend me on Facebook at

We spent a good deal of our trip visiting ancient temples and modern churches, so my mind was stuck in myth-mode. I dedicated a day of my teaching to the exploration of myth and had my students write myth-based pieces (which were incredible).  I started this poem while in Ortigia and finished it this morning, in a hotel room in Philadelphia, where I slept off the jet-lag after arriving back in the U.S. yesterday afternoon.

This poem is based on the Sumerian myth of Inanna, who descended into the underworld, giving away pieces of her royal garb (and her power) as she descended. It’s a complex myth, and fragments are missing, but she was eventually killed and hung from a hook there. She ultimately achieved victory over death and ascended again into the land of the living. (In the early myths, the death/resurrection gods were not always male. They had female counterparts.)

The myth is seen by many as a mirror of the process a person must go through to achieve enlightenment and peace, descending into the morass of one’s own darkness and fear, losing everything one thought one knew to discover truth, undergoing metaphorical death and resurrection.

This poem shows Inanna taking back all she has given away during her horrific descent and ascending her throne in the land of the living.




If you ask me to leave, I will

plead. I am divine, but I am not too big

to beg you for your life.

I am, after all, first and foremost, a love goddess.


But if you insist on raping my blessed body

blaspheming my sacred soul

when I go

I will pack up my bag of magic.


I take back my ring.


I do not curse.

That is not the way of Light.

I simply take back my birthright

and leave you with what was yours.


I take back my necklace.


I call of every particle of Elysium back to my body.

I re-swallow every pretty blessing I gave

let the rainbows of them swirl in my belly

make their magic in my intestines.


I take back my undergarments.


Back in the land of the living, I will

continue to shit out miracles

more than ever before because

the heaven I gave you is mine again.


I take back my dress.


But you dear, dark clones

will become the shimmerless drones

you would have been

had you never met me.


I take back my cloak.


Slowly, my helium will leave your bones.

Wilted balloons, you will sink back down

meet cacti, pop,

shatter, shredded, on thirsty ground.


I take back my crown.


Take what is yours and leave what is mine.

Return to the trailer park from whence you sprang

as the bard sang

unwept, unhonored, and unsung.


I emerge from the cave.


I wailed for you.

My mourning is done.

I will go down in history.

You will just go down.


I ascend my throne.


Inanna, taken from Myths and Legends of Babylonia and Assyria, by Lewis Spence (1916)