Sunday, January 20, 2008

Think You've Had a Bad Day?

I've considered myself to have had a more challenging....well, lets just say rough start to the new year. Now don't worry---The Joy Campaign has been both a great kick in the pants, and a wonderful medicine for trying times. For that I am truly thankful. But the "message" I received this morning was unexpected jolt to reality.

I was pushing my shopping cart down the aisle at the Grocery Market down the street from my home. Most have probably been in the situation I was in themselves at one point. Where you aere making calculations in your head if you can afford everything in your basket, and what you can convince yourself you don't really want or need so you can put it back.

Then on the opposite end of the aisle from me, I saw her. A woman and her young daughter, probably about nine years old. Maybe because I am wired as a human, and that's what we do---or for some other more spiritual reason, I glanced at the woman's face. A fresh and painful looking bruise over her left eye.

Now, I believe it's the victim-mentality that lives in nearly all of us (and if it isn't now, it used to!) that has this dialouge with the logic in your head:

"Well, that doesn't mean she was beat up! She could have been smacked in the face by a door, or maybe has been in an automobile accident."

It was when I eavesdropped on the chatter of the child to her mother, that "its not what it looks like" idea was evicted.

"...When we get away from [Joe] and get our new apartment.."

Saying here that my heart sank just sounds poetic. I wish there was some way I could prove in my writing that my heart truly sank. Of course I fought the natural rescuer tendency in myself to want to approach her and say,

"Ma'am do you need help? Are you okay?

As Angela has shared, by and large we can't "rescue" people. Often it gets messy and people end up feeling violated, even though they so desperately wanted out of the desperate situation they were in in the first place. So, for natural "helpers" and "healers" like myself, it's a discipline in impulse control.

But we can allow our hearts to be broken for the pain of others. For many of us, this isn't far away from the same pain we felt at one point. We can be voices and speak for those that aren't strong enough yet to break their silence.

And when we think we are having a bad day, or "how will I ever get out of this mess?" Realize as I did, that in my case no one has beaten me today, yesterday or this month. I wasn't raped last night in my own bed. I don't have to walk around in public with the badge of others violence against me on my face. Almost more of an insult to my personhood that the first thing people will see of me is "victim".

Countless numbers of men and women woke up this morning not being able to claim that. It is sad that it seems to be a privilege to be a human being and not be victimized or abused. But sometimes that knowledge is the start that is needed to dig out of the pit of despair and that things will never change.

So, I know the next time I get caught in the negativity of a bad day, I am going to remember that anonymous woman and her child in the grocery store.

Break the Silence. Live Joyfully, Love Yourself, Love Others.