Yesterday I had the morning to myself, it was lovely. I sat for a long time with my cup of coffee, looking out the window into my backyard. My thoughts meandered over a hundred topics before I really started to pay attention to what was happening outside. I realised that I had been witness to a peculiar spectacle: about a hundred little black birds were swooping out of the east, flying low over the rooftops, to land in my cherry tree and eat the seeds. They would only stay about 10 seconds before taking off again yet 10 minutes later they would be back, eat the seeds and leave again. This happened over and over...why?
Rational thought would say "Hey, you found a good food source, why rush off? Why waste your energy flying to the next tree when you could just relax, eat your fill and then move on?". That's rational thinking for you, it's the logical thing to do but the problem with rational thinking is that it becomes completely useless once self-preservation kicks in.
I think those birds never felt safe enough to rest for more than 10 seconds at a time, for them, movement means safety and to sit in a tree is to be easy prey for hawks. As I thought about those birds, I realised that I can parallel some of my own experiences.
I used to be really into thriller books about international intrigue and spies. I loved the thrill of the main character having to escape across Europe, using all of his skills and intelligence to stay one foot ahead of those who pursued him, a real Jason Bourne kind of thing. I always imagined that I could be just as savvy and clear headed if it ever came down to it and I had to flee for my own safety. That was really put to the test one night as I found myself running on foot, trying to get away from my angry husband who was after me in his truck. I was terrified and in a complete panic. I couldn't think straight at all and in fact I ran blindly down streets, desperately scanning for a safe hiding spot and not seeing anything that I felt would work. At one point I even stood behind a tree which wasn't even close enough to being big enough to hide behind, that's how unclear my thoughts were. In the end I ended up lying in a ditch alongside a pedestrian path and though he pulled the vehicle up and shone the lights along, he couldn't see me as I was too low down. I lay there for an hour or so until I felt that it might be safe to venture out and move on. It took me another hour to find my way to a variety store and call a taxi to take me back to the shelter. So much for clear headed rational thought. The only thing I could think of was to put as much distance between us as I could and to find somewhere to hide. Interestingly enough, I was running through a residential neighbourhood, there were houses everywhere, people who I'm sure would have been glad to help yet I didn't reach out to any of them. I was isolated and alone.
I know I'm not the only one to have felt this kind of fear. Domestic Violence is a nasty, horrible reality for so many. I am sharing this experience because I want it to be out there, to in some way encourage others to know that they are not alone. This kind of thing really does happen, it's not the stuff of thrillers or Hollywood movies, it is happening around us all the time. I can identify with those birds, I know what it is like to never feel secure enough to be able to take a deep enough breath and relax. I'm grateful, so grateful for the peace I have in my life now... I still endure abuse from my ex-partner, it's just that I am no longer as accessible. Please know that you can experience that peace too, and it starts with a phone call. I had to go through a lot of unpleasant experiences until finally I was ready to call a crisis line and talk to someone about what was happening. Take a look at the numbers at the top of this page if you are at that point in your own life. I guarantee you, it's a good call to make.