When my baby sister called to tell me that she had enlisted in the military, my heart jumped into my throat. Well, it might’ve if I wasn’t vocalizing my objections so adamantly. It was a speech of conflicting sentiments as I tried to validate her right to make her own decision while voicing my displeasure in the one she had made. I was trying to stand on both sides of the street and it wasn’t working. She passed the phone to my father who I ribbed for not preventing her enlistment. My parents are both Veterans of the ARMY and so neither of them sympathized with my plight. Please understand, I do not have anything against military service. I appreciate the sacrifices our servicemen make to protect our country. I recognize the opportunities for advancement that the military can offer for our young men and women. I also know that right now, a woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted in the military than she is as a civilian. In my current occupation, that knowledge haunts me. Marlee is 14 years younger than me. She is the darling of our sibling circle. My brothers and I all share equal partnership in spoiling and being overly protective of her. We adore her. She is ours. I told her that I’d rather her go offer humanitarian aid in a third world country or something. She scoffed that my idea is probably no safer. Of course, she is probably right. I was grasping at straws to find an alternative. After some deep contemplation, I shared my fears with some of my closest friends. They helped to talk me off the overbearing sister ledge. A couple of them offered me a few sexual assault advocacy resources that they thought would help me prepare my sister and keep her safe. One of my friends reminded me that I am fearless. Why would I expect any less from the young girl who has lived with me as her example for her entire life? Touché. At the end of a very thoughtful week, I sent her this very simple message, “Never adopt someone else’s fears as your own.” I love my sister enough to allow her to be brave too. She doesn’t deserve to carry my trepidation with her wherever she goes. I want her to have every adventure she desires. I want her to have those adventures knowing that she has the full weight of her fearless sister behind her. I love my sister and so I let her go.
As the founder & executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, Tashmica works to honor the bravery of children who have survived sexual trauma by encouraging the Mid-Michigan community to invest in the healing of their whole being. She is wife to a talented tile installer and mother to three boys made from the unique combination of thunder and lightning. Taking to the track as Nina Firecracker, Tashmica is one of more than 40 athletes playing roller derby with the Lansing Derby Vixens (LDV).