Yesterday I met a wonderful woman whom I shall call Samantha.
I know very little about Samantha other than she requires a support worker to enable her to live her life. Psychologically, she is damaged. Life has been harsh.
As someone with a passionate interest in mental health/welfare I looked forward to meeting with her and have agreed to become one of her team of support workers.
It transpired that my foray into Equine Assisted Therapy was well timed, for Samantha was in her element at the thought of being able to spend some time with horses.
She is well-aware of her own issues and one of her major difficulties is Establishing Boundaries and Holding Them.
Now if you are not ‘mental health aware’ this might sound like a load of old guff! And thats fine. but for a lot of folks who struggle in life, establishing a safe space to be themselves, is a luxury. they feel they must ‘Be’ what is expected of them. they must be ‘nice’, ‘polite’, ‘calm’, and ‘quiet’.
Samantha has no friends. For, as she says, who wants to be friends with someone who has nothing but horror stories to tell; is triggered to tears by even the mention of certain words, and who cannot bear to be touched? It certainly makes being a pal pretty tricky.
So Samantha creates. She is an artist. She can spend hours (for she lives alone) on a piece of wire-sculpture or a painted montage. One piece in particular caught my eye yesterday, a small collage of letters on a hand-painted board which said quite simply
‘Her Voice Is Silence’.
This lady, whose voice can become little more than a whisper when she is triggered into memories and fear; this lady who feels invisible and vulnerable without someone to validate her existence -hence the support workers- can articulate so wonderfully, her inner turmoil in her art.
To me, she is not mentally ill. She is not broken and in need of fixing; she is instead suffering from the trauma of her life. A life I know little about, but can already understand. It matters not to me Who did What, all that matters is that, to Samantha, life is frightening, the future is horror filled and her mind is full of terrifying memories that keep her prisoner in her own home.
I am privileged to be asked to walk alongside her for a while, and look forward to learning more about Sam’s world and helping her to maybe, overcome a few demons and allow her to once again, find her own voice.
But this journey is not mine. It is not for me to want a certain outcome. I cannot set my goals for Samantha’s progress, and this is a challenge for me. It is a new experience to give all of the power to another, to simply facilitate their wishes, whilst maintaining the vigilance to keep her safe.
But in my heart (secretly) I want so much to give Samantha back her voice. To let her come out from beneath her cloak of invisibility and feel safe enough to be seen. I would love nothing more than to take her on top of one of our many hilltops and give her the space to SCREAM loud and proud: ‘I AM HERE!’
Yes! That would fill me with so much pride, and, I know, it would make her smile, once she got over the shock of her own volume!
I see a wonderful wild woman hidden beneath the body of a victim. But Sam is no victim. she is one of the bravest people I have ever met.
She has already given me so much. Her trust. Her acceptance. Her time.