Not long ago a friend of mine, an attorney, called and asked if I would speak to one of her clients. Another woman, a victim of domestic violence, whose partner was being investigated for child pornography. She thought I could provide some insight into the investigative process, and what might lie ahead for her.
I wasn’t sure I would have anything of merit to say to her, other than, “you’re not alone.” We talked for a while, I answered her questions, and I wished her healing.
This poor woman. She was so shell-shocked. She had sat there, curled up into herself, while I answered her questions. She took up so little space.
It occurred to me after the fact that this conversation was subtly different from previous ones I’d had on the topic. I had spoken to her and said, “This was my experience.” Was. Past tense. It felt like stepping over an invisible line.
Days later I found myself still thinking of this woman. She was worth so much more than she’d been led to believe she was worth. Why hadn’t I told her that?
* * *
This morning I had a dentist appointment. I lay in the chair staring at the ceiling and trying not to drool while a hygienist scraped my teeth. After about forty minutes, the dentist came in and poked around in my mouth, too.
When he was finished, he got up to take his leave, and then turned back to face me. “I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through. It must have been difficult, but I admire your strength.”
I was caught off guard and blinked a couple of times before responding. “How did you know?” I asked.
“We saw it on the news.”
Ah, of course.
He bid me goodbye and I paid my co-pay and walked out to the car.
I’m so used to people who live half way around the world knowing my story. But people in my town? I’m always surprised.
It felt good, though, to hear that. It made me feel less alone and more connected to something other than my immediate world.
The power of words.
* * *
I’ve a ways to go yet before I can really look back upon everything that happened with objectivity and understanding. Distance provides perspective and a softening of the edges. Things that were unrecognizable from up close begin to take shape.
There are times, though, like this morning at the dentist’s, or when I spoke with the shell-shocked woman, that I feel the subtle sense of pages turning. That sense of movement is delicious.