The phone rings. I freeze and my legs go wobbly as I listen to the voice on the other end. I sit down. Through sobs or sometimes rushed, clipped words, you trust me with your stories and I pause to hear you.
Sometimes it's an email or a text, but the response is the same. My heart breaks every time.
Most of the time, it's from a stranger. A faceless name that shares with me their inner most secrets and hurts. And I listen and hold their words.
But sometimes, it's from someone I know all too well. I've kissed their baby's cheeks or sat their child in time out. Sometimes I babysat them when we were kids. Sometimes they babysat me.
With every story, my world crumbles just a little more. The reality of the consequence of choice slaps me in the face once again. But, once in a while, I hear a story, that rocks me to the foundation. It breaks my heart all over again. It is a story from the people I am the closest to in the world. The hardest ones are the few who made me feel so safe and loved. My world isn't filled with very many safe people who came before me, so those are the stories that I feel crack my foundation and I'm left once again repairing the damage that someone else caused.
Early on after D-day, a dear friend told me to watch out, being open about my story would draw others to me and I would be asked to carry their stories as well. I heard her and recognized that possibility as an unintended but necessary consequence of my own healing path.
My D-day was just over 5 years ago and I'm still hearing your stories. I take them all and hold them sacred in my heart. Each one has a place and a reason. Sometimes I shed a tear, every time I feel your pain and once in a while, I have to climb back in bed and lay in the silence of the dark. It's the price I have to pay for shouldering the sacred responsibility of helping to carry your pain.
I'm in no way asking you to stop. I'm acknowledging that I hear you. What has happened to you is not your fault and holding your story is a sacred responsibility and one that I will always make room for. Even if I find myself wrapping up in my childhood blanket and crawling back in bed.
According to Webster's Dictionary, the word 'redeem' means "to free from the consequences of sin." Although, it was not my sin, I still desperately need to be freed of the consequences.
"Redeemed women of God have tender merciful hearts, backbones of steel, and hands that are prepared for the fight." - Staci Elderidge
"Even though my heart has been broken at times, I want to retain a tender merciful heart- the kind of heart that is vulnerable, open to all emotions, and engaged in honest, intimate relationships. If my heart is hardened, no matter the cause, I cannot live to my fullest potential.
By setting and holding emotional, physical and spiritual boundaries and standing up with courageous determination to what I know to be right, I continue to forge my backbone of steel.
As women, I believe we want to fight against evil, and we have power greater than we've ever imagined to aid us in that fight."
- Rhyll Croshaw