Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Woman to Woman

From my daily journal:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017:

I am in the writing center. I sit and listen as a student confides in me about a tough decision she had to make this week: telling the man she’s been in a relationship with for some time to leave.

He doesn’t support me, she says.

He’s always telling me I can’t do this (return to college), she says.

I’m 50 and this is the third time I’ve tried to get a degree, she says.

I will do this. I will finish, she tells me.

As I watch this beautiful woman’s face go from sad to determined to resigned to happy. I tell her about all the women I have met over the years whose boyfriends or husbands were unhappy with them going to college, learning, finding out how smart they truly are.

And I think back to just yesterday when I arrived at work, feeling so fortunate for being able to extricate myself from a toxic relationship. Thinking about all the women out there who cannot because they don't have a support network. Or they lack skills to find a job to sustain them. Or they are filled with fear. I wondered how I might be able to help these women. Even if in just a small way. 

Maybe this was the small way I could help the women who feel trapped--by listening to their stories. Supporting them. Letting them know where help might be found.

Are you safe, I ask.

She smiles. Yes, I am safe, she says, laying a hand lightly on my arm as if to thank me for asking.

She tells me about having her home to herself again. Enjoying the quiet. Her living room with its plants and her violin nestled amongst them. She will take violin lessons again.

I’m exhausted, she says. 

My own exhaustion tries to surface, feeling a kindred spirit just a foot away. I tamp it down. Exerting so much emotional effort to please? to placate? to avoid conflict? But to what end? 

I'm better off alone, she says.

After the student packs her things and leaves for class, I think about her. Hoping she stays strong. Hoping she believes in herself. Hoping she continues going after her dreams.

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