A safe space for women

April 25, 2018Carlana Charles
I started a support group for women. This is something that’s been on my heart for a while, and I finally decided that it was time. It’s amazing how things happen when we are ready to work with the Divine. The moment I decided it was time to begin, the calls started coming in a matter of days.
A friend reached out on behalf of her co-worker who had attempted suicide. Her boyfriend had beat her again and in desperation, she tried to fill her stomach with pills. Unfazed, he told her to call 911 and walked out of the house. She is still trying to make the relationship work, though he is not interested.
Then another call came. This time from a woman who was planning to exit her marriage. After nineteen years of emotional and financial abuse, she decided it was time to leave. Over the weekend I got a third call, this one from a divorcee. Although divorced for a few years, she was still reeling from the impact of the betrayal that led to the divorce. She shared that she was also struggling to come to terms with contracting an incurable STD from her ex. He caught it from one of his lovers and ended up infecting his wife. The fact that he had moved on with another partner was hard for her to process. She felt dirty, and fearful that she would never be able to have another relationship.
There are so many brokenhearted and hurting women. Many grappling with the consequences of loving and committing to the wrong man. Some are angry while others carry a quiet shame and heartbreak within them. Some are stuck in their story. 
To be stuck in a story is dangerous. I’ve known women who lived and died at the place where they encountered brokenness. The story of their lives defined by what happened to them, and they have never moved past it. I never wanted this to be my situation so I worked hard to forgive myself, my ex, and find my healing. I made it my goal to write a new story for myself, one where I rose out in victory, the heroine of my story.
I am hopeful for the women in my group. They are all beautiful inside and out, and they have so much to give themselves and the world. But they have to believe it, and they have to make room in their hearts and minds for healing. In time, I hope they too can write a new chapter, and navigate a beautiful plot twist to their story. But I understand that it is a process. Lord knows it didn’t happen overnight for me.

How Is Your Heart?

How’s your heart? I ask this question at the start of each meeting. Asking about their heart gives them an invitation to let it out, even if they aren’t ready to let it go. Letting it out is a start. Sharing our stories with others who can identify with us is precious. The empathy, grace, and knowledge that we are not alone are comforting. So we talk, and talk, and talk some more. Sometimes we use colourful language, too. And we laugh, cry, unravel, pause to reflect, explore solutions and ponder next steps. Even if we are not ready to make them.
I trust that in time, all the women will be leading intentional, authentic, wholehearted lives. But for now, we free ourselves from the weight of our histories and we lighten to load of the things we carry within. We also take comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone in our suffering, pain, and shame. For us, this is a big thing. It’s a start.

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