I walk in nature often—I am fortunate to live within walking distance of Ottawa’s NCC Greenbelt. Most days I listen to nothing more than blue jays, the rustle of poplar leaves, or the rustle of squirrels in the underbrush. Some days, though, I must deal with peace interrupted.
One day last summer, I heard a male voice. At first, distance prevented me from understanding words, but I understood the tone. My solar plexus clenched. Slowly, I caught up with the voice, and I made out occasional words. Their brutality startled me: whore, slut, bitch, and the “c” word women detest to the core of their souls. I felt nauseous.
I saw the couple then. He, strode slightly ahead, waving his arms and turning to her occasionally to punctuate his hate-filled words. She, head down, barely lifted her feet as she followed. His tirade continued until he spat some final venom at her and then walked away, leaving her alone in a polluted smog of cruel emotional abuse.
I wanted to rescue her. I wanted to heal her and inject her with self-worth. I wanted to crawl into her head and tell her, “Run away from him! Run! You will be fine, wherever you go. You WILL make it. It will be better, no matter how hard it seems at first.”
I walked behind her for a while, deciding what to do. I’m not trained in how to deal with this, and I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt, instead of help. I finally decided that “nothing” was the worst thing I could do, even if it meant invading her privacy. I caught up with her and I said, “You’re beautiful, and you’re perfect.”
I couldn’t, on my walk and in one day, rescue her, heal her or inject her with self-worth, but I hope I helped. I hope I applied some salve to her wounded soul and planted a seed that will one day blossom into a woman reborn.