I am hungover today. No. Not the 'I drank a bottle of wine and finished myself off with a Scotch' kind of hangover.
This one's emotionally driven. And not because my eldest daughter left yesterday to return to Vancouver where she is now living. No, it's not of the separation anxiety genre. Though I do miss my daughter and am sad to say good-bye, I am excited about her journey, the future bright and sparkling on her path. I am not sad for my daughter.
This hangover is of the 'I'm so sorry you're hurting. How can I help you when I know your pain is so deep you can't breathe... What is wrong with humanity?' kind.
It's of the, 'I remember those days when I was catatonic. Numb. Terrified. Immobile...' genre. This hangover comes from not being able to process what I heard, what awoke within me, and what I cannot change.
This hangover will pass, as all things do. But, for the woman who sat in my office yesterday and cried and insisted she didn't know what to do. Who spoke of dark places and ending it all, 'this' will not pass quickly. 'This' will take time. If she gives herself the time to find herself beneath a lifetime of abuse, bad marriage, shame, fear, and self-loathing. If she gives herself the gift of healing.
"But how can I heal when I have to find a job. Go clean someone's house so I can have some money in my pocket. Find a way to connect with my children. Deal with my ex-husband. Go to court. How can I heal?"
I remember those times. Those days when the darkness pressed against my skin, compressing air, pressuring time. Release me. Give me up. Give up on me. Give me a break. Break me. I am broken. Broken into so many pieces. Scattered. Shattered. I cannot think. I cannot find my mind. I cannot. I can. Not.
I remember those days. And I breathe.
That was then. This is now.
In the now, there is a woman in pain. She is crying. Sobbing. She cannot hear me. She cannot hear. Anyone. But the voices in her head. Screaming at her. Whispering. It is the whispering that kills. The whispering that sucks the lifeblood from her veins, twining about her ankles, sucking her into despair. Her body leaden. Her mind heavy. the whispering sucks her dry.
I do not have the tools to help her. I can only listen. Prod here, poke there, like a scientist searching for life on a distant planet. She is far away. Lost. Alone. Frightened.
Please let me call one of our counsellors, I ask. Let me help you by finding someone who can help you, right now, right here.
Finally she agrees and I call one of our counsellors and she comes and they agree to write a contract that she will sign and check-in with her every week. She'll take professional help, she says. Anything. Please. To make the whispering go away.
It's in your head, I tell her, but I know she cannot hear me.
It's always in our heads. And the only way to stop it is to, Stop It. To not listen. To bring our will to bear.
It is the will bringing that is so hard to bear. After falling down for so long, standing up is hard.
and yet, we must. We must stand up if we are to live our lives without fear, without abuse, without believing we are worth nothing.
We are each and every one of us worth so much, but only we can find our only value. Only we can stop the voices in our heads that would have us believe -- there is no purpose for us here on earth.
I am hungover. This too shall pass. I know that her journey is not my journey, though for awhile, her journey awakened memory of a time when my journey hurt so much I wanted to die.
And in its passing, I am left knowing -- I have great value. I have great worth. I am worthy.
In its passing, I am grateful for the story I told one day in a classroom at a homeless shelter about a time when I was lost. In its telling one human being awoke to the belief that maybe, just maybe there was hope. That maybe, just maybe there was a possibility of change.
I cannot change her journey, the choices she makes, the paths she takes. I cannot clear her mind, or wave a magic wand and 'make it all better'. She can. She has already taken the first step. 'Baby steps,' I told her yesterday. 'Baby steps.' In walking into my office yesterday, she chose to reach out and that is the beginning of hope rising that for this woman, this too shall pass and she will find her worth, recover her joy.
I am grateful to have heard one woman's cry for help.