Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Giraffe, a Booth and Me

So many things happening right now! Today I'm spending some time finalizing things for the Rise of the Phoenix Healing Support Group - agenda, rules, goals, etc. Hopefully I'll be able to finish planning our first lesson/ discussion this weekend, also. We start in just a hair over two weeks!! After dreaming of this for 6 years - I can't believe how incredibly FAST it has all come together. 

This morning I manned (womaned) the booth for the Sexual Assault Center at the Buffalo Wellness Expo. Truthfully, I was kind of dreading it even though I had volunteered myself.

  • I'm not an outgoing person. Huge introvert here!
  • I hate small talk with people I don't know.
  • I was going alone.
And the biggest reason..... people avoid anything relating to sexual assault or abuse like the plague. It's like having a booth where you give away free STD's - no one is going to visit it. I had just set up the booth when one of the administrators for the Expo came over and explained that our booth was one of the places visitors had to stop to receive a stamp in order to be entered in the drawing for the iPad mini.

 I giggled a little. Ha! You will all HAVE to acknowledge this issue today! 

Then she gave me my stamp. It was a Giraffe! My favorite animal - next to the goat. It was like a sign. A sign that I was in the exact spot where I was supposed to be today. For four hours I watched people as they started down the aisle where I was located. Some of them would make eye contact with me.....and then see the sign on the tablecloth. They looked as if they had just witnessed their parents having sex and quickly moved on only to realize I held one of the keys they needed to unlock the golden egg. They would return, almost shamefully, and ask in their most polite voice for a stamp. I would oblige, of course, with a huge smile. Ha! Gotcha! 

I actually had two people - 1 male and 1 female- make jokes. 

"Hey! I haven't been sexually assaulted in years. Where do I sign up?!" 
"I was told at one of the other booths that I can get sexually assaulted for free at your booth." 

I felt like punching them both in the throat but I managed to refrain. If they had ever been a victim of sexual violence or had a loved one who had been - rape jokes would not be funny to them. But this is how our society is. Rape jokes are 'funny'. Sexual assault is the victim's fault. Sexual abuse should not be talked about because it is shameful. Hello, People! Educate yourselves. 

This subject needs discussed because the silence and jokes only hide the issue and destroy lives. 

Others, surprisingly, were not in avoidance mode and walked straight up to the booth to grab fliers, ask about our services and support groups. I became choked up on more than one occasion when person after person came up to me and thanked me for what I was doing. 

"My daughter is a Survivor." 
"I work with several kids who use these services."
"I am a Survivor. I know this too well."
"I've never needed these services and don't know what it is like but there is more of this out there than anyone knows. Thank you." 

I don't do what I do to get recognition. Anyone who truly knows me knows that it makes me uncomfortable to be in the spotlight. I do this because I lived the shame, pain and fear. I made it through the darkness and want to help others find their way. But today it felt good to hear Thank You so many times. Every time someone said those words to me I heard a still, small voice inside say, "You belong right here. This is your path." 

This past week, I've received confirmation after confirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That every step I've taken to get here has served its purpose. That each decision I've made has been the right one. Even the painful and negative (in some people's minds) decision to cut my parents and siblings out of my life has been reaffirmed to me this past week. It never ceases to amaze me that God knows the exact time we need to hear things. 

I feel a shift happening. A shaking off of all things painful, negative and oppressive that have hung over my head for so long. There is this ball of energy I feel deep within my soul that feels as if its about to burst and I can't wait to see what emerges!