Hiya everyone...enjoying the chilly weather? I know a couple of women who don't have winter coats so for them it is a little chillier than for most. With the holiday season approaching it is a hard time of year for so many who have lost much of what they had. I have struggled myself with loss and grief but also found the joy and sweet comfort in the kindness of strangers.
Ok so this is a website run by survivors of domestic violence who are seeking to support and encourage other survivors of domestic violence - we do this through offering the monthly calendar of events as well as links to community services but we also know that it is through the stories of others that we can identify and feel less isolated. Here is one from my own life..
I left my husband in August of 2010 and my two young children and myself entered a women's shelter where we lived for the next almost six months. Despite my anxieties and fears, that was one of the most wonderful Christmases that I have ever enjoyed. For sure there were lots of gifts and treats, a turkey dinner and visiting choirs but the really best part of that Christmas, and certainly the most unexpected, was the sense of comraderie and kinship that the other women and I shared as we watched our kids open gifts (that we hadn't bought) and eat food (that we hadn't prepared). We came from all different backgrounds and cultures and our stories were all different yet here we all were, Christmas of 2010, bound together by domestic violence and the kindness of others.
Jump to the next year, Christmas 2011. I was having a really hard time at this point. I had done a great job of isolating myself from all of my old contacts and although I still attended some support groups, I was very very aware that this Christmas things would be very different. My biggest concern that November? ...christmas decorations. I had left behind everything the day I ran to the shelter, including the big box of treasured kids crafts and homemade decorations that was in the basement. I didn't have a single decoration and I found myself worrying about this late into the night....every dollar I could save was being put towards presents and there simply was nothing in the budget to meet the need.
At this time I was attending a support group called 'Lone Moms' through Lynwood Charlton Centre (a group I highly recommend by the way..free and great for kids as well as moms)and my son had mentioned to one of the staff that we didn't have any decorations. Two weeks later and I was surprised with a van load of the loveliest decorations...I cried....they had put the word out and taken up a collection. Once more, the kindness of relative strangers...
So what is the most amazing part about these excerpts from my life? What is at the bottom of what I am trying to say? Well surprisingly it is not that people can be kind at Christmas. I will be forever grateful to those who acted out of kindness and compassion to give my children and I joy but it is what I learned about myself that I hope will encourage you as you perhaps struggle with some of these same feelings: I learned what it is to take charity and to be the receiver and not the gifter. I, who grew up a doctor's daughter found myself holding out my plate at the counter for some volunteer to ladle on mashed potatoes and turkey dinner, I was humbled at the thought that people had gone out and picked out Christmas decorations for me and my kids to put on our tree, that the tree itself was bought and paid for by someone else ... I have been alone and scared and isolated and I have needed others even when I didn't want them, even when I didn't trust them.
This year I have decorations, in fact I have too many now. Do you need any? Seriously, do you need any? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is what we want to do for each other. 1 in Four is a community of survivors and you are not alone.