The individual in this story has asked for anonymity at this time; due primarily to the fact that this incident is very recent. This may change in the future, but for now, it is too soon. She is someone very close to me, and so this has hit home.
The mother sat across from me drinking her tea as she shared her story with me, and as it broke my heart.
"I NEVER WANT ANYONE TO EXPERIENCE THIS,"she says.
Her story goes like this:
"The nearly incoherent voice of my daughter was on the other end of my phone that early morning; and I had to concentrate hard to understand the words that were coming in between her gut-wrenching sobs," she begins.
“Mom?" she cried, “I need you…”
“I’m right here,” she replied as she mentally braced herself. For the next long minute, she listened to the voice she loved so much choke out words no one should ever hear. Her daughter was the victim of a violent crime; she was raped by someone she knew, and for that eternal moment, the world went black. "How she made her way home is still a mystery only God can answer," she says, "but when she did, I took her straight to the police."
The next 12 hours were a blur of police officers, detectives, reports, and forensics. At one point, this mother realized that the cherished child she had brought into the world only two short decades ago was – for that period – a living, breathing, crime scene.
She described the primal animal that was inside of her screaming to be unleashed; to tear a path of destruction with the tidal wave of emotions she was feeling. But this was not possible, because immediately, her sole role was to be a soothing, stabilizing, and unflappable pillar of strength for what was certain to be the longest road ahead. She caged the animal and assumed her role.
DAY ONE POST-INCIDENT:A night of no sleep. Options were presented to her precious survivor: Counseling…group therapy?“No, no, no,” she said, “I don’t want to hear the stories of others. I don’t want to hear about all of those who are still waiting for justice or about the ones who have walked free. I never want to think about it.”
The timeline is hers. The choices are hers. She did not choose the shoes she now stood wearing.
The most important task for my friend was to ensure her daughter didn’t stay in the black pit indefinitely, while allowing her to move at her speed.
DAY 3:My friend wanted to lace up her running shoes and go for a run, but she couldn’t move with the fatigue. She wanted to eat but her stomach curled at the thought of food. She wanted to sleep but her brain kept her awake. She wanted to be alone, but could not stand the quiet. She wanted the quiet, but could not stand the noise in her head.
And I am only on the periphery,she thought, how could I even fathom what my child was feeling?Her mind replayed the words her daughter had repeated over and over in those first hours “I just want to disappear…I want to disappear.”
With pain in her heart, she thought about this and wondered "Will she ever again feel normal?"
DAY 5:“She's not yet ready to meet with a counselor or attend a group therapy,” she says, “but she is also not comfortable in her everyday life.”
She needed something in between the two — a place to get out of her head even for an hour or two. She needed support to stop the tidal wave that was rising within and threatening to take her down, but it had to be in an environment that would not overwhelm her. One that would not break her budget. She had already spent money on medicine to prevent HIV, and clothing that would replace all she could no longer bear to wear.
“A soft place to land,”I thought as I listened.
Those words were spoken to me by another friend when I told her about the fire in my soul to create a place of healing unlike any that can be easily found – a place for individuals in need of comfort and a place to refuel. A soft place to land.
DAY 7:“What do you want right now, sweetheart,” she asked her strong and beautiful daughter? She looked at her mother with eyes that used to have so much light behind them. "A room with the sounds of a waterfall and infused with lavender and eucalyptus,” she replies without hesitation.
My friend shares this with me and I see it as an opportunity. "Ask her a few more questions and let me know the answers," I prompt her.
“People or no people?” she later asked her daughter.
“People are fine but I don’t want to hear them. It must be a silent room,” she responded. “They can bring headphones if the water is not enough to keep them silent.”
“What else?” she asks, adding, “How about a guided meditation room or a yoga room?”
“Yes,” is the response “Both.” She hesitates for just a split moment, “I also want to color.”
Creative expression. Adult coloring books. Easels for painting. Also, quiet rooms to sit and reflect. I know this vision, I have seen it in my mind. I also see a garden in my mind. Tended and nurtured by the community members who are drawn to this place. I see a circle of support that allows a person to move at their own pace; nonlinear, and I see that support pulsating within the community gathered and extending outward to those who have yet to come. A place to heal; a place to turn to before turning to the medicine that makes us so comfortably numb.
"My daughter will be a voice for this one day," she says, "but not yet.
DAY 10: "She is ready to speak to someone."
She told her mother she was ready to speak to someone and immediately referred to the circle of safety she found in the professionals who were assigned to her in forensics; namely the nurse and advocate. Her mother calls them and they are relieved to hear from her. "It's an excellent sign that she wants to speak to someone," they say, "Unfortunately, the wait for the free resources available by the State to victims of a crime is longer than a month." A waiting list!Two thoughts cross my mind as I hear this. The first is that my friend's daughter is a survivor, not a victim, and the second is a repeat of an earlier thought. “Where does one go in these immediate days?”She is fortunate. She has insurance and the means. Many others have neither.
This was a few days ago.
A LITTLE OVER A YEAR AGO,a vision came to me for a much-needed resource in our community. I obtained a 501(c)(3) designation for the development of a Healing Center. It crystallized in my mind from the many years I spent working with our homeless population and witnessing repeatedly that no amount of life’s necessities (food, clothing, etc.) fueled a spirit as much as becoming aware that there was still hope in their lives; and gaining an understanding that there was an abundant Source of it from which they can draw, available to them any time. Their history or life’s journey did not matter, their station in life did not matter, which manner they worshipped did not matter. Everyone has access to this Source. It's just so hard to call upon it when a spirit is exhausted. It’s time like this when we need to surround ourselves with community in a non-clinical environment.
TODAY: I check in on my friend.
She tells me that her child has lightened her hair and it’s hard to tell if time or the change has brought some of the light back into her eyes. Whichever it is, I can hear the relief in my friend's voice and I marvel at the resilience of our spirits.
“I’ve been looking at the profiles of therapists online and they are all so clinical,” her daughter says.
“Look up EMDR,” I tell her. “It’s a therapy that uses eye motion to address past trauma. Let me know what you think."
An hour later she calls and says, "It’s mind over matter, isn't it? All it is is mind over matter.”
I think of the program that I’m on the brink of launching titled “I am The Chooser,” and I say “I believe it is training your brain to rewire itself to understand and exist in the safety of the now. To remove what is not needed and replace the dark memories with the light of joy. But that is so hard to do alone.”
THE HEALING CENTER
My vision is to create a place to help support our community members - not just rape or trauma survivors, but for anyone who is seeking a safe and soothing place to refuel the spirit. My goal is to use natural methods to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety.
Mental wellness should not be financially out of reach to anyone. I see this as a place that is not only accessible to those with the means but one that is accessible to all. One that is run BY community, FOR community, and helps remind us that everything we need to thrive is already inside of us.
I see peace. I see hope restored.
I sat at my computer and went to work. I didn't leave it for days. The result is Light to Heal : A soft place to land (see below). The initiative will go through the 501(c)(3) so all donors will receive a tax deductible receipt.
Help make this simple vision a reality and let's begin to create a community that everyone can be a part of. While we will start in one city, our vision is to expand all over the nation.
MY VISION (link):
LIGHT TO HEAL: A soft place to land
WHAT THE MONEY WILL BE USED FOR
$150,000 is our starting point, it will take more than this. However, with this money, we can:
-- secure a lease
-- convert the rooms to a center
-- purchase supplies for the center
-- promote the program for funding
-- create product
-- start the garden
-- begin a social enterprise to perpetuate funds
-- rinse and repeat
I have already gathered a few enthusiastic volunteers to help start this, I need a lot more AND donations.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
-- Donate money (tax-deductible)
-- Donate items: yoga mats, diffusers, essential oils, garden supplies, art supplies, candles, inspirational artwork, and more
-- Host a small group
-- Volunteer your time
-- Inquire with your company about matching
-- Help us connect with potential donors
-- Share and share and share
-- Tell your story so you can inspire others
-- Help me find venues to tell my story and vision
-- Do this for someone you love who is suffering
A FEW STATISTICS (link):
By the numbers
Thank you for your gift of time, effort, money, or love.