Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Past of Loss, A Present of Hope

This week was an incredibly painful week for me.  I lost a friend, an organization I had dedicated two years of my life to, and people I had once believed were my friends.  It has shaken me more than I could have expected.  The loss of my relationship with the Listening Ear, I expected to deeply rock my life.  The loss of my friend Rosemary Myrick, I didn't expect.

Have you ever met someone who was so kind, they would give you the only five dollars they had if they knew you had none?  The kind of person who would do anything to make you smile?  The person who would go out of their way to make someone's life better?  That was Rose.  I worked with her for a while at a previous job.  She came in every day with a smile, a kind word, a loving gesture.  She brought out the best in people.  She brightened the world around her with her generosity and love.  One day, she saw a family of dogs that were left outside.  And as days went on, she would notice them outside, over and over.  The dogs were not well cared for, abused and alone.  She rescued them.  She found them homes.  She gave her love to all.  And this week, fate has ripped her away.  From her family, her fiancĂ©, and her young daughter.

I will never understand the cruelty of the world.  That this power of fate, or whatever you will call it, takes the good ones.  The people who make the world a better place.  The people who change others for the better, and leave the world with the assholes.  The people who would destroy it.  Who spread hate and evil and spread toxic energy.  I know the world is unfair.  I am well aware of that.  But it hurts.  It hurts to know a beautiful soul is gone.  That a child will grow up without her mother.  It angers me.  It makes me fucking mad.  But I'm powerless.  I cannot bring her back.  I cannot change the fate of the world.  So I am left with this.

Also lost to me this week was my relationship with my volunteer organization.  I came to the place in spring of 2014 to heal myself, to process my assault, my depression and anxiety, and my drinking problem.  And I did heal.  I met people who I believed supported me and cared for my well being.  I became a trainer, worked as statistician, was a staff board member, became board chair, and went through sexual assault counselor training.  Since my assault, I have been very invested in learning more about sexual assault and helping others through the same trauma.  I believed with a program like SAC, the organization would be dedicated to combating sexual violence and making a safe space for all survivors.  I was wrong.

One of the people I became close to, who I helped train with, brought to my attention that there were three registered sex offenders volunteering there.  Then I found out that others in the organization had known and chose not to disseminate the information to the rest of staff on the basis of confidentiality. I felt sick.  I called an emergency board meeting to bring this to the board's attention and resign.  I said my piece, my friend said his, and we walked out.  We knew we would be unsupported and talked down to, and in the end, we were right.  An email was sent out the following night throwing us under the bus, completely misrepresenting everything we brought up and shaming us for not staying to talk about it.

I'm in utter shock that information like that would be kept from all of staff, particularly in an organization that attracts sexual assault survivors looking for a safe place to heal.  When I learned the information, I wanted to throw up.  I didn't have a good night of sleep for a week, intermittent eye twitches, and had a panic attack at work.  I even shared a shift with one of the offenders who did to someone else what was done to me.  How do you reconcile that with yourself?  With your own sense of safety?  It's utterly humiliating and violating.  But to others, that didn't matter.

I don't even know what else to say.  I feel so betrayed, by people I considered friends and mentors.  I felt violated by the presence of these individuals and the information being withheld.  I am so lucky to have the support of friends and family through this whole mess.  I have also had support from many present and former volunteers who are outraged at this situation.  It's nice to know that some people still have consciences.  But this loss, compounded with the loss of my friend, have been very difficult.

All I can do now is move forward.  I have hope.  I know the world is cruel.  But it is also beautiful.  Sometimes we put our faith in the wrong people.  Sometimes others will destroy your confidence, your safety, your light.  But it does not mean you should never trust again.  Because there are people worth your time.  People who will support you and be there for you in your darkest times.  Hold onto them.  Spend time with people who make your life feel worthwhile.  Take risks.  Go on adventures.  Trust people, and even if they let you down, know that you were the bigger person.  Spend time with people who make you laugh, smile.  Love people.  Tell them.  Be kind to everyone you meet.  Let your heart be kind.

Rose, you will be so missed.  But I promise to live my life more like you every day.  To be kind to people.  To love with my whole heart and share that with others.  You will live on in those who you leave behind, dearest Rose.

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal." -Richard Puz