She was in one chair. He in another, right next to her. Close enough their elbows might touch if they used their hands to tell a story. In front of them, a cliff spilled down into a valley filled with thousands of pine trees. Maybe millions.
Behind them was me. Watching this thing happen. She sitting alone until he, and his blonde curls, claimed the open seat next to her — a folding chair covered in cartoon llamas that I had found on clearance.
And they sat. And talked, she looking at him and he at her — and both looking out over that crazy horizon, where off in the distance a fire had started. Me, framing a photo of the moment even though I’d never need to look at it to remember.
This is a story about domestic violence
It’s October, the month that’s been decided to pay attention to this destructive social problem, one that has escalated in the COVID era.
That’s fine to do this for 31 days. It’s fine. Although, the issue deserves attention all the time. It deserves a good look. A good, deep look. Because there is so much that needs work, the least of which being the court system, child services…I could go on. I have already.
This is not that kind of story.
It is a story about domestic violence, but it is a story that brings darkness into the light — the light that comes from the dark. A light I could have never predicted, one I’m beyond grateful for, one we’ve earned.
Because two women don’t go through the shit we have, in the way we have, to not find each other, appreciate each other, support each other, validate each other and love each other’s kids. We are fully aware this doesn’t happen every day, to everyone. But the universe was busy for us.
We could have continued going, unfolding the trauma we had overcome on our own. We could have. We could have ignored the similarities, pushed them down, kept that can of ugly closed — tight.
But this seems to be a more beautiful way forward. The most beautiful way. With my little him looking at her, a woman we’ve only known for a brief time but someone I’ve known much longer.
That happens when you survive the same things, the same mind games, the same abuse, the same gaslighting and stalking and insanity — from the same person but years apart.
We’ve both survived the same human. This woman and me. And thanks to a friendship neither of us could have predicted, our kids get to see the incredible things that does to people. The muscle you gain, the empathy you inherit, the boundaries you develop, the bullshit radar you hone.
Maybe that’s what Dominic was talking about with her. Maybe that’s what Amee had joked about with him. I couldn’t tell. I was too taken by the moment.
Because I remember how I felt when I first learned about her experience with the man we’ve both divorced. You don’t forget when your knees go weak.
*Entry 2 coming next Tuesday…