A couple of decades ago an opportunity came into my life. Not one I was seeking. But it came all the same. And even though it wasn’t something I had ever done before.. I took the opportunity. For seven years I volunteered for a local domestic abuse center called Crisis Intervention Service. www.CIShelps.org I went to the volunteer training. I felt like I had fallen into a soft comfortable blanket. I didn’t tell anyone there that I had been a victim of partner abuse. But the things I learned helped me heal the things that had happened to me. Not only did it help me learn, but it helped me pay it forward to others who were still in abusive relationships. To help them know they weren’t alone. To help them know that others understand. To know that others will not judge them for their choices to stay or their choices to leave. I’ve been judged for both many times.
The day came when I got my first crisis call. She was crying and scared and shattered. And I opened my mouth and words of comfort and true understanding flowed from me to her. She had a connection. A life line. Even if she never called again. Even if she never left. She had all she needed. She had someone hear her. She was no longer alone.
When that call ended something powerful happened inside of me. I realized that I had been called to do this work. Maybe to heal me. Maybe to heal others. I had a nursing background. I knew about dressing surgical sites, giving injections and how to give a relaxing back rub. But I had never felt more healing take place for that woman as I had in that one conversation with her. There was a healing power in the words I spoke to her. I knew because I spoke the words to her that I would have wanted to hear in that situation.
I volunteered for seven years while I worked at the hospital. I answered the crisis line, I was on a pager for law enforcement who needed someone to help a victim. I worked in the brand new shelter. I saw so many things progress in those volunteer years. But then another opportunity came along. This time an ad in the newspaper. When I read the ad, I knew it was my job. The agency was looking for advocates to work in a new project. Outreach Centers. There would be one in the town I lived in. I called the executive director and got an application. Before long, I was in a new and more extensive training. And they sent me forth with a laundry basket filled with office supplies and a telephone. A seed was planted and it was nurtured and it blossomed. I blossomed. I thought I had found my place, when really, it had found me.
Now today, twelve years later, I packed up my personal belongings, turned off the lights and locked the door for the last time. Life is calling me in a new direction. It began as a grumbling inside of me. My passion was not fitting quite right any longer. Like a favorite pair of shoes that were once so comfortable, but had now reached the limits of their wear. The pattern is familiar, like when I became a volunteer for the agency. I have been getting my volunteer work experience completed. I’ve been blogging. There has been good feedback. Encouragement to step forward. And one baby step at a time, I’ve moved toward another opportunity.
So this afternoon when I transferred the telephones, and turned off the lights and locked the door for the last time. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel glad. It just felt like perfect timing. I’m ready for the next step. I wonder where it will lead me.