I got a glimpse of myself tonight.
Not myself now, but maybe a year and a half ago…that was me, then.
Before I arrived tonight, I was already expecting some heavy stuff at the meeting. One of the other “professionals” who was there had sent me an email, letting me know about some recent events for this family. And these events didn’t come out of the blue. I knew their past, I knew why their husband and father no longer lived at home, though he’s still around. I knew about his temper.
The topic came up, I asked her if she would be willing to get some help now (she wasn’t ready before).
She started talking, it seemed like she couldn’t stop.
And I heard myself in her words.
The denial, the fear, the doubt that she would be taken seriously by the domestic violence counselors—it was all so familiar.
She mentioned PTSD, and in an apologetic way said that the incident the previous week had brought it all up for her again, the way any number of things can do. Triggers, I said. I knew because I was experiencing my own. I could have finished her sentences. I know about feeling unsafe.
There were some other things that were hard about the meeting, details about the “incident” that I won’t share (you’re welcome).
Something I found interesting was that though she has experienced physical violence (which I never had to deal with, thankfully), that wasn’t what she wanted to talk about. She kept telling us about the things he would say to her, the things he still says to her. She didn’t go on about the bruises he left, but she went on and on about how stupid he tells her she is, how weak, how worthless.
The one bright moment of the meeting was when, as the three professionals were working at convincing this woman how strong she is, her child told her mom she was like a Rottweiler, while he is just a Chihuahua.
I started crying when I was on the freeway, headed home. My hands shook a bit, but I didn’t go down the rabbit hole. I cried because it was sad. I cried because I remembered how I used to feel. This time, though, it didn’t feel bottomless. This time I could feel the ground beneath me.
And as I realized how glad I was that I could go home after a meeting like that and not deal with X, I thought about Chihuahuas and seemed to hear my inner Rottweiler give a satisfied little growl.