Fearless. . .a word I don’t use in my vocabulary very often. I’m fearful of just about everything, sometimes all in one day. There are snakes, dying, going to prison, belts, drowning, not being liked, heights, my car breaking down, being left behind, and so on. However, whenever I think about raw bravery, three women from my past come to mind.
In my 30’s I found myself in an eating disorder support group with three other women. One was anorexic, one bulimic and two of us with overeating issues. All of us had abuse in our past. The primary purpose of this group was to be available to listen to each other’s story.
Julie was a beautiful 20-something who could very easily have walked down a runway for a living. When she shared in our group she peppered her words with laughter that rang clear and contagious. She brought to the roundtable a history of incest and when reporting about her week trying to starve that demon out of her body, a new persona appeared—a blond, blue eyed little girl who needed someone to notice her pain. When our facilitator asked if she could touch her hand or put her arm around Julie, that’s when the tears would flow and the pain would ease. At that moment a calm would descend on our group.
Every week a fellow overeater named Catherine arrived with a 64 oz. Pepsi from the 7-11 and told many stories about the endless responsibilities of being a mother of five children. As she expressed her fatigue, boredom and her food binging, episodes of verbal abuse by her parents aimed at Catherine’s parenting skills would surface. She never cried in front of us.
We made Barb the matriarch of our little sisterhood because she was almost fifty and that seemed ancient to us at the time. She’d been practicing bingeing and purging since high school, through the years of her marriage, motherhood and a divorce. Her honesty about her disease and the laundry list of its effects on her body as she entered midlife were sobering. I’ve not forgotten her ability to cry and smile and rage all in one group session.
Each week we would drag our baggage into the session and back out again afterwards. That was before the advent of suitcases on wheels. When we left we had a heightened sense that things might work out. Looking back, I remember them as three imperfect, hurting women but unwilling to give up, fearless.
Sunday Scribblings' prompt this week is the word fearless. See more bravery here.