The past Wednesday night, everything got exceptionally real. I went to an open mic at a bookstore owned by my friend, Jessica. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and this is the third year that Jessica has held a fundraiser for our local women’s shelter.
I’ve participated before, donated items before, etc. But it was different this time. This time, Jessica was in her new space. Her physical bookshop is on Main Street with all of its neighborhood people and traffic, a small epicenter of art and literature between our local university and the hill that rolls into downtown proper.
And yet, it was a million miles away from everything. People came and people spoke and people read and shared their stories. People who in any other setting may be divided by age or assigned gender or socio-economic factors. But not here.
This was a safe space. This is a safe space.
The energy in a packed room of humans who understand the need, the gap, the void, the silence was cohesive and galvanizing.
I know we have awareness for everything – disease, politics, etc.
But this was not your billboard, ribbon-wearing, lip-service awareness.
This was truly coming to an understanding of the far-reaching effects and consequences and lifelines of Domestic Violence. Not everyone makes it out alive. This was aware and awake. This was community brought together by love and concern and support.
Jessica lead off the event with her own amazing, personal poetry – she also provided tissues and a patio to escape to if anyone became triggered. And she held space for all of us. In the largest, truest sense, she held space.
I left when the first break came. I should have stayed, but I read and let myself be open in front of strangers. I felt unzipped, naked and fearless. And then I felt exhausted.
It was selfish of me to leave. When I got home, I tried to zip myself back up. Fill the rest of the night with happy. I turned on “The Secret Life of Pets”, but I had to shut it off. The thought of a small, animated dog lost in a city without a collar was too much. He was not in a safe place.
I know, pushing 50, that my scars are old. I don’t trot them out and put on a show. I see beauty, I see hope. I feel loved. But I don’t forget how those scars came to be. And how they shaped the woman I am now.
I am so grateful for the privilege of having been in that space at that time Wednesday night. I am lucky to have Jessica as a friend. She is fierce. She is exactly the kind of person who deserve all the good things life can deliver.
The link to her store is below.