I had a very strange encounter the other day at the pool and I haven't been able to shake it from my mind... so it gets a blog post.
I was in the locker room post swim when a woman I'd never met before approached me and asked me, out of the blue, "Would you stay in an abusive relationship?"
I was sort of taken aback by the question... seems sort of odd to be asked that in such a random environment like that... but I did not hesitate with my answer.
"Not for one day."
The woman clearly needed someone to listen to her. She needed to vent. She needed help. So I stood there in the locker room and listened to her story. She told me about how her husband of 17 years had stabbed her, knocked her down, broken her ribs, beaten her with a shovel... how he had been in and out of jail and was homeless living in a beach park if she didn't let him come home... she told me about how he was mean to her and how he was really overweight and missing a front tooth and couldn't care less about being intimate with her... but then she cried and told me how much she misses him when they're not together.
Ok, I just could not relate to this situation at all. I told her she needed to get OUT. Immediately. I told her that she was worth more than that. That she didn't need to put up with ANYONE treating her like that. I told her that I didn't care of he was a GQ model with $2 billion in his checking account... No woman should stay in any relationship that is abusive. Period. No ifs ands or buts.
She looked at me like I was telling her something she'd never heard before. Like she'd never met any woman who was so headstrong and unwaivering. She asked me how I was so strong. I told her I had a good mother.
She told me that she watched her dad hit her mother. And that her mother is still with her dad.
That's what this woman has known her whole life. I cannot get over how sad that is.
My interaction with this woman lasted about 30 minutes. We ended the conversation with me telling her that it's time for her to start believing that she is worth MORE than that. That it's time for her to start taking responsibility for her choices and her actions (and inactions) and only allow people who are a positive influence to be a part of her life. By the end of our conversation she was thanking me and told me that I had changed her life. I don't know if I did or not. I hope I did. If anything, at least she saw that it is possible for a woman to have self-confidence. It's possible for a woman to believe in herself and her self-worth enough to know that she does NOT have to put up with a man who tries to take any of that away from her.
I left our interaction with a renewed sense of my responsibility in teaching Moana these same lessons. I do think that they will come naturally based upon what Moana sees and feels every day... but wow, what a huge an important role we play as mothers... not just in our daughters' childhoods, but for the rest of their lives. This is important stuff.