I remember a woman crying alone in a dark room. Over and over again, she replayed the day in her head. How had it gotten so bad? How had she ended up in this lonely, hurtful place? She remembered getting up that morning, determined that today would be a good day. She had gone to the kitchen to make breakfast. He asked for the first beer. She smiled. She cracked the eggs and started the coffee. She heard another beer being opened. She wanted the breakfast to be extra nice so she decided (she didn’t ask) to chop up some ham, onion, and to add a little cheese. She could hear the beginnings of a mood change in the other room, but she was determined to make a really good breakfast. Funny, making breakfast never used to make her so nervous…another beer was opened. With the food finally finished, she carefully began to place the food on the plate. Why were her hands shaking? “You really are stupid!” she laughed to herself.
Finally, the food was placed just right on the plate; it looked pleasing and appetizing. As she turned to take the plate to her mate, something inside of her already knew that this could go bad at any moment. As she graciously presented the meal, he looked down at it and said, “I don’t eat food that was prepared with an attitude.” She did not know it at that moment, but there was a part of her that was still very much alive and still did not quite know how to just “be quiet.” “I didn’t have an attitude,” she protested. Before she could understand what was happening, the plate was slapped out of her hands and food splattered all over her and the floor. What happened next are merely ugly, hurtful, and shaming details that shaped and consumed her life for the next three years. Anybody that has ever had an experience like that could probably pick the story up from there and continue the story line without missing a beat.
That woman was me. I never dreamed that one’s soul could be so eroded by another’s persistent and consistent and creative methods of cruelty. By the time I was rescued from that “relationship,” I was very much like a refugee; a prisoner of war. I no longer trusted my skills, abilities, perceptions, judgments…I trusted nothing about myself. But thankfully, I was safe. I was safe enough to learn how to live again. And as the healing started, I became safe enough to understand and accept my role in my being hit, hurt, and humiliated on a daily basis.
For me, this period of my life didn’t just happen. Looking back, I can clearly see the path to that place had been plainly laid out, as it is for many young girls. I believe it starts very early as we learn to “be nice” and “act like a lady!” We learn to quiet that primal nudge, as I like to call it. We shush that internal, intuitive voice that tells us when we are hurting, unhappy, or merely uncomfortable. So, understanding that, I understood that it was a process getting to the point of being a victim of domestic violence-and it was going to be a hell of a process getting and staying Free. So, what now is my responsibility?
Am I my sister’s keeper? To the latter question, I give a loud, unladylike and resounding, “HELL YEAH!” I am my sister’s keeper! If I say that I was rescued from that small dark existence and I have learned some lessons that I believe have given me Clarity, Purpose, and Significance, how dare I place that Light “under a bushel?” And I firmly believe that once we begin to experience the joy of falling in Love with ourselves, we are obligated to reach out to our daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends and say, “Please allow me to Love you as you start this wonderful journey to Loving yourself!” And I feel the need to pointedly say that I am not talking about loving our outsides or appearances. I am talking about getting really brave and bracing ourselves and facing ourselves. We have to reach way, way down deep to those tender, hurt, and haunted places that we barely acknowledge to ourselves-much less to anyone else. Yes, I am my sister’s keeper. So how will this work? I would be lying if I said that I had all of the answers. But I do know a few things…I know that the broken, fearful, place inside the abuser is really no match for the Light in my eyes.
This Light sees and immediately understands that his punches and cruel words are no match for the Power that I now embody! I now intimately understand that “love is NEVER better than the lover!” Hurt people give hurt love and broken people give broken love… I also know that while I may not say a word (not yet) I will make my presence known. Yep-I am looking. I’m right here. I see my sister’s bruises and I hear her cry when she thinks no one hears her. I see how carefully she walks, hoping not to be noticed. And I am going to make sure that she sees me! She will see me reaching out when she is ready-with no judgments or condemnation. I understand. It is not my immediate concern how she ended up here. I need for her to know that once she cries out from the very bottom of her soul.
“NO MORE!” the entire universe will conspire to set about making her FREE! I could talk for days about Grace and Mercy and growing up—and out! Yep, the journey to BECOMING is not for the faint of heart. I am learning how to get very still and very, very quiet…so quiet that I hear my own Voice whispering and telling me all the things that I have forgotten along the way… So yes, I am my sister’s keeper! And what an honor that is!