By M, a survivor
Heard of the Knights at the Roundtable? Well I call my experience a night at the REACH table.
There’s always a seat for you at the REACH table.
You know the story, valiant Knights fight together for a common purpose. At the end of the battle, or before a major decision, these Knights sit at the table, where they are all equal and all ideas and suggestions count. No one was better than anybody else and they were always welcome at the roundtable.
Similarly, that is a philosophy for REACH.
When I was first put in contact with REACH, I really didn’t know what to expect, what to say or how to interact with them, or even if I could trust them. Over the first few weeks and months and subsequent years REACH turned out to be my lifeline, my sounding board, my emotional support, and a collective group of people rooting for me.
I certainly had my emotional ups and downs. Eventually my grip on REACH loosened, and I started trusting myself and my ability to function and make decisions. I was given the chance to be me again, to laugh again, and live a life without constant fear.
In short, I became independent and REACH became part of my self-care.
There was nowhere in my circle for the first two years that I could talk about my physical and emotional scars. Even now, years after, I cannot bring up examples of abuse to my mother and other close relatives. When I tried to open up to a family member I was literally cursed out for being weak. I was blamed for everything from dating him, to not listening to others, for ignoring the red flags. Even as recently as last month when I brought up a text I had received from my ex, I reopened Pandora’s Box of insensitivity.
Dealing with that brings me down, it makes me question my choices and makes me wonder if I can ever be trusted to be in a relationship.
But when I walk into REACH and sit at the table, I am a whole person. I am supported and I am understood. I can bring up my past, my events in court, my communication – or lack of good communication – with my ex and there’s no judgment. Not ever. Not even once in all my interactions with REACH staff.
If the doors to REACH were not open to me after a long period I am not sure who would give me this validation. I would not be in contact with other survivors that have come through the other side. I would not know that Survivors are able to smile, to have careers, buy a house, go back to college and most importantly, laugh and have true joy.
I’ll end with this: In my second round of support group, I was still deep in my stage of crying, being emotional, and lacked the ability to manage my life. I sat across from a beautiful woman with long blonde hair. She had decided to return to support group after a long hiatus. 10 years, I think. She sat across from me, and I heard her story. I heard that she had a future, she had become self-sufficient and was still navigating the court system. Most of all, I heard her jokes, and her laugh was a piece of healing to my soul.
That person at the table gave me hope. That was the first cognitive remembrance of restoration. I subconsciously saw her attitude, her behavior and her joy as a hope of things to come.
I now recall what she said, “There is always a seat at the REACH table.”
Thank God for that. Thank God for her.
Thank you, REACH, for keeping the door open and a seat open for me at the REACH table.