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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wounded Spirits

By Michael

One day I was taking a break from my kitchen duties in the smoking section of the all-women’s shelter where I was doing my missionary work.  One of the new women came up to sit and stare at the wall in front of us.  She was in a daze, that same look of shock and disbelief that I had seen before in the eyes of other women new to the streets, but there was something else that I recognized in her eyes.  I sensed that she had a wounded spirit.  My sympathetic instincts told me that her psyche had been injured in a way which I was personally familiar.  I broke the silence between us.  “How are you doing?”

“I don’t know,” she mumbled, “I can’t believe I’m here.”
“Better than being on the streets-at least it’s safe.”

“I know, and I’m grateful.  But I…”  She just shook her head, staring at the wall.
“You mind if I ask you something personal?”  She just looked at me out of the corner of her eye. 

“What kind of childhood did you have?  I mean . . . happy?  Sad?”  She didn’t answer.  She just stared at the wall in front of us.  “I’m gonna’ tell you something that I haven’t shared with too many people.”  I took a deep breath and let out a sigh.  “I was attacked when I was about five years old.”  She turned her head a couple of inches in my direction.  “I was goofing off in the bathroom and had made a mess.  My mom came into the bathroom and completely lost it.  She ended up putting me over her knee, she tore down my pants, and she sodomized me with a foreign object.”  Painful silence.  “I had an out of body experience.  My mind floated over what was happening.  I could see what she was doing to me. I could hear my squeals of horror.  I re-entered my body as she told me to clean up the mess.”  The woman looked at me with tears in her eyes.  “For years I pretended that I could make myself invisible-you know-if no one can see you no one could hurt you.”  I clasped my hands together and stared at the ground between us.  “I thought about suicide all the time.  Became self-destructive with drugs and alcohol.”  I glanced at the broken woman sitting next to me.  Her gaze was focused inward.  “When I got to be a young adult, when the drugs and booze didn’t kill me, I started to push people away from me.  I didn’t want them to get too close to me; I knew all they’d do is hurt me.  I didn’t trust anyone - I mean ANYONE!  You know what I mean?”  We looked into each other’s eyes as she shook her head yes.  “Did something like that happen to you?”
She  stared at the wall in front of us.  Her mouth was open, like she wanted to say something, but just couldn’t get the words out.  Finally, after another painful silence, she whispered a confession.  “My father raped me when I was a little girl.”  Tears were streaming down her face.  “I never told anyone - I was so ashamed.”

“Strange how we blame ourselves . . . hate ourselves . . . even though we were the ones who were victimized.  We have our innocence as children taken from us and we end up punishing ourselves for something that wasn’t our fault.”  All she could do was stare at that wall, cheeks wet with tears, nodding her head in intimate acknowledgment of my sentiments.  More silence.
“Well, I have to get back to the kitchen.  Lots to do.  Can you do me a favor?”  We made eye contact.  “Always remember that you’re a special person.  You deserve Love, and you deserve to Love others.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.”

She stood up with me and did something I wasn’t expecting.  She gave me a big hug.
“Thank you Michael”

I gave her a smile.  “Thank you.  Always remember that you deserve to be Loved.”
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