5/28/09

Awe

I am kind of in awe right now.

I just got home from watching a domestic violence survivor share her very personal story with a television news crew. I can't begin to describe her bravery, her grit, her indefatigable poise. She was a rock star.

She did this, exposing her life and her pain and her hopes for the future, as a result of a humble request from me. She had nothing to gain but the knowledge that maybe, possibly, there would be another victim watching. And maybe, possibly, what she had to say might help that person feel not quite so alone and powerless.

But she had some things to lose. Like her sense of control over her own story and who knows about it. And now, if she chooses, late at night on a weekday after her kids are asleep, she might watch the news story that blurs her face and only shows her hands and the back of her head, in which she discloses very personal and painful and private details about her past. And as she watches this, she may feel alone and also sad, possibly reliving some of the memories of what happened to her children.

Yet she did this because she hoped it would help. She did this because she hoped it would catch people's attention and get them to listen. And she did this because I asked.

I hope nothing goes wrong. I hope she is happy with the final result, that she feels it represents her truth, and that she feels it can help change lives. I hope she feels proud of what she accomplished. I hope she doesn't regret it.

I believe each of us is a survivor of something. Something traumatic, on some large or small scale. There comes a time for many of us when we realize we have begun to think of that trauma not only in terms of its impact on our lives, but also as a tool, something we can use to help others. Reaching that point is a powerful moment. When we realize, "I am more than the very bad thing that happened to me."

I write, in part, for a living. The importance of collecting and honoring other people's stories is central to the lens through which I see the world. I have been a part of other people's moments like the one described above. But I don't remember ever being as humbled in witnessing someone's story as I was tonight. Her courage filled the room. It spilled into the parking lot. And I left there feeling lucky.

4 comments:

Sara said...

Very heartwrenching recap Carrie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and thanks for making this happen!

cailo said...

Thank YOU, Sara... It was an emotional night, yet I am hopeful good will come of it.

Indigo said...

I came over from Violence Unsilenced. I'm one of the woman who told my story, "Indigo Ravenwood".

Every time the story is told it opens a wound inside, yet on so many levels it's not pain it's irrigated with compassion and understanding...this is how you heal.

I'm in the process of writing my own memoir. Not necessarily for me, rather to answer all those questions so many have. The question of "Why did you stay?". I hope when all is said and done maybe those who didn't/couldn't understand would get an inkling of the 'why'.

Learning to live in a world of sane normals can be just as frightening on some level as the violence itself. However only one will leave you alive.

Thank you for what you're doing with the Q&A sessions. Me? I carry printed cards with my SOS shelter and the hotline on them. Sometimes you only get one chance to pass that on and hope like hell. (Hugs)Indigo

Tricia said...

I'm also in awe when I hear about this kind of strength.

You are so right and I love how you captured this because collectively, individually, we can be amazing..."There comes a time for many of us when we realize we have begun to think of that trauma not only in terms of its impact on our lives, but also as a tool, something we can use to help others. Reaching that point is a powerful moment. When we realize, I am more than the very bad thing that happened to me."