Learninghope.org is a work of love and the brainchild of Jennifer and me. You may not have known that Jennifer and I live in different places and until this past Friday, we had never actually met.
Jennifer found my blog through a friend of a friend in 2009. She commented on some different things I had posted and I asked her if she would like to do a guest post. After giving it some thought, she agreed to do it; and it was a great post.
Whenever one considers sharing his or her story, there are many factors to consider. The person has to consider, first of all, whether or not to share at all. Many people chose not to tell, anyone, ever. Then how much to tell? What is the right time? What if people don’t believe me? What if they do believe me? What if I’m the only one? What if I’m not? Am I ready for this? Am I ready to be public about such a painful thing?
One good or bad thing with sharing your story on a blog, especially on the blog of someone’s blog you haven’t actually met, is privacy and anonymity. There is some safety to being an anonymous person behind a computer screen. But it can also be a lonely experience. There isn’t anyone there, in the room there, to hold your hand if you are in a place you can accept that kind of response. You put your story out there and wait for a response, or a criticism.
You wonder what your family will think, because even though it is your story, it touches them too. Your pain and your hope touch your friends. It touches people who walk down the street past you, because even though you may not speak to them, the message you put out in the world changes the waves of the universe.
That sounds big and dreamy, and I sometimes wonder what gives me the right to think I can change the world. Then I wonder what gives me the right not to try and change the world. I cannot fix, save, or help everyone. In the moments when I think I can save the world and then I read the newspaper and see the atrocities still occurring ever day, it would be nice to give up. It would be nice to hide in the garden and be thankful that I survived and wish other survivors luck, on their own, to do the same.
But I can’t do that. I can not be silent. And last Friday, I was reaffirmed in my believe that Jennifer can not be silent either. The world may not be ready for us. I was reaffirmed in my believe of this also, as we were seated at a tucked-away table in a swanky, but excellent restaurant on Chicago’s North Shore. We sat and talked, shared stories about our lives now, our lives before, when things were pretty painful, and talked about trafficking survivors. I can’t say for certain, but I’d say these aren’t topics discussed every day in that particular setting.
I also felt myself being reaffirmed that our partners back us up 110%. It might not be their fight, but they are behind us as we fight it. I love Jeff more for that and love Jennifer’s soon-to-be spouse for it as well.
In my lifetime, I do not realistically believe that we can completely end childhood sexual abuse. In my moments when I let fear overtake hope, I do not believe I am doing a single worthwhile thing that will help end childhood sexual abuse. I believe that I’m just talking to myself. On days when my head is a little more clear, I think to myself, “What if we actually are making a difference?” How completely scary and wonderful might that be?
I read an article on “The Daily Good” today. I think this paragraph may teach Jennifer and I much and inspire us, and I hope teach and inspire you, onward in your journey to hope, to love, to be whole.
“What if we could offer our work as a gift so lightly, and with so much love, that that’sreally the source of fearlessness? We don’t need it to be accepted in any one way. We don’t need it to create any certain outcome. We don’t need it to be any one thing. It is in the way we offer it, that the work transforms us. It is in the way we offer our work as a gift to those we love, to those we care about, to the issues we care about. It is in the way we offer the work that we find fearlessness. Beyond hope and fear, I think, is the possibility of love.”
Jennifer and I multiplied life by the power of two on Friday. Actually, I think we multiplied it at least by the power of four, but that isn’t in the song. We have each walked our own journey and will continue to do so, but our paths have joined and together, we’ll keep on walking and fighting, not knowing where this road will lead us. And I hope, you walk this journey with us and know that you are not alone.
This is one of my favorite stories. I heard it almost every week when I worked with Habitat for Humanity.
A young woman was walking down the beach at sunrise. In the distance, she saw a figure. The figure, though far away, appeared to be dancing. She continued to walk, mesmerized by the motion of the figure. As she got closer, she saw another young woman picking something up from the beach and tossing it back into the water. As she went closer still, she could see that the woman was picking up starfish that had beached overnight and was tossing them back in the sea. She said to the woman, “There are millions of miles of beaches in the world and there is no way you can save all the starfish. What does it matter?” The other woman, startled by another’s presence, said, “Yes, you are right. I cannot save them all and to many it would not matter.” She picked up another starfish, considered it and said, “But it matters to this one.” And tossed it back into the sea.
While the stories and the pain of surviving childhood sexual abuse may not seem to matter, please know, that to Jennifer and me, it matters. You, your pain, your story and your healing matter. We hope you find this a place to keep learning hope.