Since childhood, I’ve had safe spaces in my imagination.
Perhaps because reality often seemed to afford so few of them. Or because the safety of those dark, comforting nooks and crannies I squeezed into as a child to escape painful situations was so rapidly compromised. I still love being in tiny spaces, hemmed in by the edges of things, and shadowed from discovery by the dark. Now my ‘space’ is a fantasy.
It’s under my BlogWife, Beth’s desk.
Now bear in mind for a second that Beth and I have never met (BUT IT’S NOT LONG NOWWW – #September!), and that I don’t think her desk is of the traditional variety (I remember seeing a photo of a funky little stand-alone item of furniture just perfick for an accomplished author), and you will rightly conclude that the physical reality of me turning up, barging into her house and scooting under her desk before cowering, legs drawn up, until it all gets better Out There, is utterly impossible.
Nonetheless, mentally/imaginationally/emotionally, that’s what happens an embarrassing number of times per month. And bless her boots, she gives me cookies and passes me tissues then either carries on writing at her laptop, or (in times of dire need) comes under the desk too, and snuggles me while I tell her what’s wrong.
[Dislcaimer: if you think it’s a bizarre little place I inhabit in this World Between the Wires, then you’re right – I’m a writer! Carry on…]
Most of the time a short stint under the desk will ready me to face the world again, and I emerge feeling aligned, rejuvenated and capable.
This evening was not one of those times.
I scooted under the desk so fast I hit the back of it with a thud, in floods of tears, because people in my Worlds were hurting and there was not a damn thing I could do to help.
Earlier in the day I had discovered that one friend had been subject to a severe domestic violence attack at the hands of her fiance. Then I discovered that another friend had been sexually harrassed at work. I did my best in the there-and-thens to support them and offer empathy and compassion (which I variously got right and got hideously wrong and all things in between). I probably made it a little bit better and a little bit worse, but at least I was as ‘there’ as I could be.
I ranted and raved about these FUCKING MEN! and how much I wanted to slap particular individuals across the face. With a bus.
And a small part of me wryly appreciated the coincidence of such a vehemently anti-man stance being taken on a day when I came out on Facebook as ‘something of a mixture’ (just so no heteronormative assumptions remain in play now I’ve chosen to leave a marriage to a (cognisant) man I chose to have a heteronormal* relationship with). In the end I decided that just because men were the perpetrators in these instances, it didn’t mean all men were bad, and that (as I know), women can be equally capable of inflicting damage on others.
Then the aftermath hit me, and sent me triggering back into other situations where I had been utterly impotent to help people in my Worlds who really, really needed it: another victim of domestic abuse; a friend made homeless and imminently to be sleeping on the streets; the reveal of depression so deep that suicide attempts had been made; a disclosure of child abuse…and I cried and cried and cried for the wickedness in the world, the hurt suffered by people I loved, and the utter impossibility of me making any kind of headway in these situations.
Then after that, I cried for myself and my stupidity and how useless my tears were, because whether the affected person was 4000 miles or 4 miles away, the power of my upset was equal at absolutely NOTHING. I talked good common-sense to myself about ‘not my zoo and not my monkeys’, but I cried more when I realised that the not-my-monkeys were biting my heart to shreds, and that what I needed to do was learn to care less.
But I don’t want to. I don’t want to care less.
I want to love my people abundantly, generously, maybe even recklessly, and I want all the Feels which accompany such depth of relationship, because the love is worth it.
I’m still convinced that in the end, Love Wins, and I *know* we’re stronger together.
In the meantime, if you know someone affected by domestic violence, PLEASE take time to give them contact information for relevant helping agencies, and let them know that you will provide a non-judgemental listening ear if they need it, and your help in other ways if they ask it.
PLEASE….because I’m sick of shaking with anger and wanting to crawl through impossible distances (growling, with hackles raised and no plans set) to protect the people I love.
PLEASE…because too many people have already been hurt.
PLEASE…because wherever these hurting people are, they need you to be part of their Village.
And PLEASE…because it’s the right thing to do.
National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
Men’s Advice Helpline – 0808 8010 327
LGBT Helpline – 0300 9995 328
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline – 1-800-799-7233
Get out there and get building that Village.
*Well, only ‘ish’, if you’ve been following the saga of All The Things, cos yeah..