As part of my job, I frequently call people who are clients of the company I work for. It’s one of my favorite pats of the job. Yesterday, I had a very memorable and touching conversation with a woman in her 70s who had recently (three months ago) lost her son in a car accident. Talking about her son’s death, and how the loss was affecting her wasn’t the purpose of my call. Discussing the annuity she had chosen to purchase with the proceeds of his insurance policy was. She said at first, that she had a limited amount of time to visit because some friends were meeting her for lunch soon, but we made time to talk.
We managed to review the annuity purchase, but we also spent a lot of time talking about lessons she has learned from her sons death and even more. She described how losing her only child made her give much greater thought to taking steps to secure her financial well-being, because even though she is married, she now feels “more alone.” She talked about how surreal it was to have spoken with him at 2 pm that Sunday and know that he died at 5 pm the same day, halfway across the country. And then she revealed who her lunch partners were. They were women from her church that she had known for years, but she had never known that they had lost children until she spoke aloud about her son’s car accident. As a result, they have become even closer and had become a circle of support for each other.
As she spoke, it struck me how our social networks, our communities, our churches, synagogues and mosques are wonderful vessels of support for things that we can share with each other. “I’ve known these women for many years,” this woman told me,” and I had no idea that they had gone through this too. And now here they are, picking me up for lunch today.”
Afterward, I thought of a quote from Nelson Mandela that was posted on our own Learninghope Facebook page, that says we will not put an end to abuse/rape, until it becomes an acceptable table topic….something we can discuss and acknowledge it the same way we discuss and acknowledge other topics at the table.
When someone in our family, workplace, social group, or religious circle shares a story of sexual abuse, we often want to take the story out of that circle and put it where we think it belongs, in a therapist’s office, private place to talk, or away from our group altogether. As Jackie once pointed out to me, “we want to take something that happened in a dark, secret place and only talk about it in another dark, secret place.” Learninghope.org is trying to change that. We are trying to provide an open, public, safe place where those of us who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, or who love some that has, or who ministers to those who have, can support each other, hear each other and learn to hope and heal together. And the great thing about our forum is that you can receive this open, public support whether you want to remain anonymous, or not.
The last thing this dear woman said to me on our phone call was, “I’m sorry for monopolizing the conversation with talk of my son’s death and my grief process, but it’s what is most on my mind right now, so it just spills out when I talk.” I told her I was honored to have heard her stories. It not only helped me understand why she had chosen the investment she did (which was germane to my call), but I had also learned great things from her that day and I knew that it had helped her to be able to speak about it.
Learninghope.org is a safe place. You can share the pain and the lessons here. You can discover how much you have in common with other survivors, and you can help all of us by telling your story.