September 13, 2005

Anger, fear, and healing

The crowd gathered around 8 pm, mostly women, some talking to each other, some milling about to look at artwork for sale, and some picking up pamphlets that explained the function of a women's shelter and a rape crisis center. I arrived early to talk to the other poet so we could coordinate our poems and to doublecheck with the organizer about how long we should read. EveningPoet, a survivor of incest and abuse, planned to read poems about her childhood. Then women from the crowd would be invited to the microphone to tell their stories. And I would finish with poems about healing.

The event was a fundraiser for the Women's Shelter in Snowstorm City. But more importantly, it was a gathering of survivors, a place where women felt safe telling their stories, a place where women felt supported by each other. Many of the women cried as they read or listened. Because the room was crowded, we ended up sitting jampacked together, elbow to elbow. The physical intimacy of all these people crammed onto benches and arms of chairs mirrored the emotional intimacy in the room as women spoke into the microphone, sharing anger, fear, rage, and sometimes triumph.

I had expected to feel drained but the energy in the room, by the time I took the microphone, was hopeful, relieved. Always it is better to break a silence. I read poems about healing, poems about the body, poems about meditation, massage, and reiki. When I introduced one poem, I talked about a friend who had had to leave her marriage and her home, leaving behind - among other things - her garden. I told the story of how a group of us women descended upon the yard when the ex-husband was at work, digging up all the plants and moving them to gardens where we could keep them safe for the friend.

Driving home, I thought about the courage of all the women in that room, what difficult paths so many of them have had to walk. I thought about the people who volunteer at the Women's Shelter, making sure we have a safe haven for women escaping abuse. I admire the work they do, day after day. So often, I think, when a national disaster strikes, we want to help in some way and are frustrated if we live too far away to help. Sometimes I think the best solution is to turn to the people in your own community who need food or shelter, a safe haven or a helping hand.

10 comments:

ccw said...

jo(e), I'm weepy over the garden. What a touching and caring thing for you all to do. I can only imagine how much that meant to your friend, to have her garden saved.

Amazingly the greater Cincy area only has one women's shelter. I only wish that I had the money to create another safe haven.

Scrivener said...

Beautiful post. And good advice, too. Thanks.

peripateticpolarbear said...

you are so wise. and wonderful.

Running2Ks said...

What a caring and loving post. I used to be a therapist, and I worked with battered and raped women. It was a real sisterhood of strength.

Purple Hydrangea said...

I also love the garden "party" ... Early last summer, my father, brother and his lady friend came over and tilled my borders and planted probably hundreds of bulbs. We worked for what seemed like an eternity. Well, those bulbs had just started coming up when my husband mowed everything down to the dirt. Only a few survived his destruction. People seem to know exactly what to do to try and destroy things that mean so much to others.

What you and that group of women did was so self-less, in a selfish society. KUDOS!

Friday Mom said...

Beautiful.... I'm so glad you're part of that. I don't doubt your words help with the healing....

Writing Instructor said...

This is a wonderful example of how women (and men) can come together in a spirit of unity and healing. I'm glad you were able to do this, Jo(e) and for your willingness to share it with us. Thanks!

halloweenlover said...

Beautiful post. That story would have brought further tears for me, I am sure it evoked the same in others.

RussianViolets said...

Oh, Jo(e), you write the most beautiful things. I love, love, love your blog.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I deeply wish I wasn't so far away and could have been a part of all this! I love the love with which you write about these things! XOX Mary