121. A Meeting Place

        I was on the golf course the other day and met a woman who grew up in Wisconsin; had her children in Idaho, and now lives in Washington. When I asked how she came to be there, she said she left an abusive marriage and had a sister in Washington who supported her.

           I had a similar experience which I didn’t feel the need to share, but it mirrors what I was writing about this week and can be used in this week’s writing assignment. Twenty years ago, when I was overwhelmed with memories and could not work, I chose to move to a small town in Saskatchewan to heal. I knew my sister and her family were there so I would not be totally alone. I knew there was a sexual assault centre there for support but my experience told me there was also a house of shelter that women use in domestic abuse situations. I had used it a few times.  You could go there twenty-four hours a day; stop in and someone would listen.

         I knew it also had different programs for different needs. There were structured lessons of self-esteem and empowerment, where women would convene at a certain time, congregate for learning to confront situations they had never dealt with in their lives.  Here they try to assemble a new life, where there were new rules of engagement.  Sometimes it was a place to congregate with other women, carry on discussions about children or make a date with other women to share grocery shopping and cooking together or find ways to get to an appointment when you had no car and no money for a taxi.

          I lived in that town for six months and spent many a time going back and forth to that shelter.  Many women listened to me. I learned a lot. One of the neatest programs was they found a volunteer who would meet with me outside of the shelter once a week who would listen as I shared what I needed to share. When I left to go back to my life of work in the big city, I wrote a poem of thanks which I’d like to share.

Help,                                                I   need someone to listen
Is what inside me said
As I deal with all these feelings
That used to be just dead
You weren’t afraid to see me cry
As I spilled out all the hurt
You never turned away from me
When I felt like I was dirt
You were there as I got rid of
Pent up anger rage and tears
You listened to my child inside
As I dealt with buried fears
I know you wish the best for me
As I go to make it on my own
I thank you for all the comfort
When I was feeling so alone
I think of you as family
In the best sense of that word
Cause you were always there for me
When I needed to be heard. ( 1995)

                                                        That is still what is happening here, and I thank you.

                                                        November 23, 2015


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