I once stood before a young woman who was on the verge of ending her life. I stared into her eyes and watched as she drowned herself in tears of pain, shame, and hurt. She looked directly into my eyes and I felt the weight of her helplessness and confusion. She cried out in desperation, asking for an explanation as to why her life had been filled with so much anguish. She thought about the nightmares that were her constant nocturnal companion, not allowing her to forget. She remembered waking up in rumpled, sweaty sheets, feeling the cold, gripping fingers of her memories as they violated her again and again; the cold tentacles of terror that came over her each and every time she relived the agony of being dishonored; every disgusting touch, and every brutal strike. Even though she held her hands up to cover her ears, she could still hear every dreadful word ever spoken to her, the voices echoing against the emptiness of her hollow heart. No matter how many tears she shed, they couldn’t wash away the suffering of her soul. The weight of abuse became unbearable and too much for her to carry alone. The woman I saw was me, peering into a mirror.
There I was, at a rest stop. Homeless. I remember thinking, there was no place for me to truly rest. The fatigue that I felt was beyond my physical body, it penetrated my soul. When you endure such an event in your life, you have to wonder- what kept you? For me, it was hope and the legendary voice of the one and only, Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive.
I remember listening to those words while I slept in my car, with nothing but the weight of abuse wrapped around me. I couldn’t quite understand the depth of the words and what they would mean in my life, but I became certain, I would survive.
I have the privilege of calling, the woman behind the voice that became my life compass, friend. But she will forever remain my northern star.
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