The truth is I am not brave. I am not courageous. I’ve done nothing spectacular to earn my spot on this earth. I survived by God’s choice, in the grace of His gift of will and tenacity.
In truth I am not fearless as I may seem when I write and speak. The truth is I am gripped with fear. Fear that someone will try to harm me once again. Fear I cannot even identify, that comes from some unknown place deep within. The truth is I fight it with every fiber of my being to not let fear control me.
The truth is I made some serious mistakes, had some downright stupid lapses in judgment, and the truth is I continue to stumble along trying to help the next person be aware by understanding how very unaware I was. The truth is I felt, on some inexplicable gut level, I was in danger and I chose to ignore those signals because I didn’t understand them, or that he, anyone, was capable.
I choose to advocate for intimate violence victims because, frankly, no one advocated for me in adequate time. All the people I knew who had experienced it only came out after I was shot to tell me their truth. Most still don’t want it to be public knowledge. Still, after all this time, they carry a shame that isn’t theirs.
I would love to do just what they did. Put it away as a most unfortunate experience, a relationship that happened. One which is so highly emotionally charged it is self-preservation to leave the story behind, maintain the secrecy, and build a new life that doesn’t include those ugly scenes.
When I want to curl up and wish it away, go about my life and leave it lay, I remember what it felt like to learn those women knew what I had lived, yet could not bring themselves to share it. I remember what it felt like to feel so very alone, not the bruised and black eyed woman in the poster, but the emotionally battered woman whose injuries were invisible and undetectable to everyone else. The one who didn’t call a hotline to report he’s calling me names again, threatening me with what he’ll do ‘if’ again, using my children to control me again.
I have a prayer. It goes like this
If you want me to be the light, give me the candle
If you want me to be heard, give me the voice
If you want me to lead, show me the way
If you want me to reach out, hold my hand, tightly. Never let me go.
The truth is I believe I survived to do something. Since I wasn’t handed written instructions that day, the only truth I know is as long as I am given the words and the voice, as long as my hand is secure, I am being called to reach for someone else’s and support them. And God will give both of us the strength. He will give each of us that strength if we don’t look away from the light.
‘And now Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you…’ BCP