Dear Stranger (though I do remember your first name),
Our paths crossed many years ago, but I haven’t forgotten you. We met on a Gynaecology ward as nurse and patient. You were one of many being admitted to the ward that day in lieu of a surgical procedure to come, and your demeanour was wrought with anxiety and nerves.
As we chatted together, it soon became clear that you had deep concerns besides the imminent operation. Before long, issues from your past poured out in a torrent like unstopping a dam.
My colleagues were already aware that I needed to give you more time than usual, so I sat quietly holding your hand and heart as you gushed forth painful memories.
And I found myself nodding my head in recognition, my own heart pierced through, stabs of pain and shame making themselves known again to the conscious mind.
You wanted to let it out and I felt privileged to be the recipient, the holder of horrors, and a burden-bearer to ease your own.
These issues cannot stay hidden. They leave a stain, a shadow cast long and wide over lives that buckle under the weight of them once awareness creeps in.
Your fears and tears mingled together. Time passed…we stayed locked in the past and forever in this moment. Silent recognition. Sisters in sympathy. Joined in time and in experience. Altered by awareness.
I was your designated nurse. We became friends for the duration of your stay. There were moments of shared laughter and understanding, your whole frame visibly relaxing as the days went by.
Soon it was time for you to return home. Yet this departure also marked a beginning. A journey through emotional turmoil and pain that would (hopefully) bring you release, relief, wholeness and healing in time to come.
I still have the beautiful card you sent me. Your letter of appreciation to a stranger become temporary friend.
It expressed gratitude for the way I had cared for you. I was deeply touched. More than you’ll ever know.
For in the unleashing of your painful past, you helped unstop mine. This was the second reminder since I’d been nursing. The second encounter that brought me face to face with my own dysfunctional childhood.
Childhood sexual abuse is something we desperately try to forget, hoping to move on and live without the memories. But they come…eventually…and they need addressing before they consume us.
More time would pass, more stuffing it back into the closet, more swallowing down, more denial, more resistance, and many years before I fully faced my own demons and overcame them.
Though it was only after much wrangling, heartache, struggle, and years of counselling that I achieved emotional healing by the grace of God.
My stranger-friend, I want to thank you for the part you played in raising awareness in me that I had to deal with this too.
I believe it was a God-ordained appointment that day. We were meant to meet and connect briefly at a deep level. It probably left both of us changed and transformed. I know I was.
My sister in suffering, I truly hope and pray that you too have been set free to live your life fully as God intends us to.
“Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance, and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs” ~ Isaiah 61:7
I’m honoured to be linking here today with the lovely Ruth Povey, and her new series:’Letter to’. This week’s prompt is:‘Letter to a stranger’. You are warmly invited to come on over and join us and read the great posts already there. The link is open all week.
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