Last week I sat in a room with more than 50 women, mostly residents of the four homeless programs sponsored by NCCF in the region, mostly mothers. The invited speaker looked each of us directly in our eyes before she shared her story, carefully evaluating our individual presence, perhaps seeking access to our very spirits. With soft, intense words, this beautiful, delicate woman described her personal transformation. She had been pounded with beatings and name calling as a child, but learned to work, value school, and forgive those she loved, no matter what. She grew to confuse fighting with love, and finally found her own love to marry. But as she came to know her husband, he gradually became a “monster.” Slaps, shoves, busted lips, ….hanging from a 14th floor. Isolation, secrets, denigration. The relationship culminated in her having to run for her life, in her having to get past the trauma of knowing that
he was going to kill her.
“I am still standing,” she told us, as we cheered, cried, and celebrated her victory.
Tonight I sit trying to recover from Super Storm Sandy, and the pounding of the wind which kept me awake. Not fully recovered from the summer derecho and a week without electricity, I stocked up with non perishables and called all my friends and family members. Next door, and once again, a large tree limb hit my parents’ porch roof. My best friend in New York City gave me the horrific details of the devastation in my beloved mega city. Living repeatedly with extreme, uncertain weather is producing a new level of ongoing anxiety. The recent sunny days did not foreshadow the pending dangers, although the meteorologists did. But only some of us listened. After all, they are professional observers.
Dr. Myers, thank you for your gift of self. Whether it is the cyclical storminess of domestic violence or an environmental nightmare of incredible proportions, life can become suddenly, unpredictably dangerous, disastrous, and deathly. You reminded us that we need one another to find safety and to move past these treacherous storms. With faith, we can move past, and still standing, we can rebuild.
(Dr. Gina Myers, Director of Organizational Development for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is author of A Walk by Faith: One Woman’s Journey from Domestic Abuse to Spiritual Enlightenment).