I want to tell you about someone. Someone very special. She is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met – not just in terms of her physical appearance, but because of who she is on the inside. She is kind, caring, compassionate, and so very selfless. If I needed her, I know she’d come running in a heartbeat, no doubt about it. But despite how lucky I feel to have her in my life, she doesn’t believe that she has all these qualities. In fact, she feels she is the exact opposite. She believes that she is stupid, an idiot, lazy and unworthy of being loved. It breaks my heart to say that she is a current victim of domestic abuse and violence.
I’ve always been the sort of person who wants to help others. I’ll offer my shoulder to cry on, my ears to listen, my heart to empathise. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t ever that way.
But what saddens me most about my ability to help others, is knowing that sometimes my help may not be enough.
I can cry with my friend. Give her financial and legal advice. I can remind her that she is beautiful. That she means the world to me. That she is not all the vile and disgusting things that he says she is. That she is a wonderful mother and person. That the counselling and all the advice she’s seeking is a great step towards reclaiming back her life.
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My words comfort her for a while. They make her smile. They make her feel incredibly grateful to have a friend like me. They make her feel loved and appreciated for those brief, but beautiful moments.
But my words don’t override the pain that she has to go through almost everyday – the emotional pain of his sickening words, the psychological scars that her experience will leave forever, and the physical pain that only reinforces her self-concept that she is worthless.
My help doesn’t make the problem go away. My help doesn’t make him treat her the way she deserves. It doesn’t make him the father that he should be. It doesn’t make him the husband that he’s not.
And I feel helpless. Absolutely helpless, because I know that my hugs, my words, my promises to do anything for her, can only do so much.
Sometimes just being there is enough
But then I ask myself this, “Where would she be if she didn’t have me?”
If I wasn’t here to hold her close, to remind her that she’s beautiful, to remind her that his words mean absolutely nothing, she might not even be here. Her child might not even have a mother any more.
If it weren’t for me, she might not be holding on like she is right now, determined that she can move forward without him. She wouldn’t be starting to realise that she really does deserve a lot better. She wouldn’t have had the courage to separate from him, as she has done so just recently.
So my words, as useless as they might feel at times, I know make a difference.
I can’t change the fact that she isn’t treated better. I can’t change the fact that she wants to leave but is financially unable to do so. I can’t change the fact that she feels trapped, emotionally and physically.
But I can start to change the way she looks at herself.
You can only help your loved ones so much. You can guide them onto the right path, but you have to let them take it themselves.
Sometimes, all you can do is be there.
But just being there might be enough.