Yesterday, I had to call Regions Bank to get my Apple Pay situation straightened out. I knew that it would take a minute to get things set up on my iPhone and my Apple Watch so I thought I would multi-task. I had been wanting to adjust my Facebook fan page’s cover photo so I started working on it while I was talking to the young lady. I started talking out loud, as I sometimes do when I’m alone and focused, and the young lady on the phone laughed at whatever foolishness I said. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it prompted her to ask what I was doing and I told her that I was working on the Facebook page that links to my blog site. Either out of courtesy or true curiosity, she asked what I blog about. I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t be ashamed of my story despite the fact that I almost died during that journey, so I told her it was about my fight through mental and emotional domestic abuse, recovery from a brain hemorrhage and living through divorce. She became quiet for a minute, but what happened over the next 30 minutes made me realize that the day that I stop telling my tale can NEVER come. I have to keep talking about it. Here’s why.
By force of habit, I asked her name and the likelihood of me ever meeting her is slim to none, but I’ll never forget the things she told me. I hope she never forgets what I told her either. I won’t disclose the details of our conversation because it’s not my place to do so, but I will tell you that although she was extremely pleasant and professional, I could sense her anger. I called her on it and once again, she became quiet. I waited for her response because I knew I was right. I’ve been there. When she finally decided to speak again, she told me that I was right, but that she had never admitted to everything she’s angry about. I knew that. She told me things that I’m positive she’s never spoken out loud to anyone else. I assured her that her anger was not anything to be ashamed of. She’s carrying a huge load. I didn’t ask her age, but I knew that one of the problems was that she feels she’s missing out on living the “fun” life. She told me that was true.
I asked her to listen to me without interruption and to take what I was about to tell her to heart. I said, “It took me a very long time to accept the fact that I had been abused because I had always lived under the guise of the tough girl. It took me even longer to admit it to myself. It took even longer still to admit it to anyone else. I felt like a failure, I felt like I had been misleading people because so many people were of the belief that my marriage was great and that I was too. Neither of those things was true. The day I landed in ICU because my brain started bleeding was the day my secrets began to spill out like a freakin’ geyser. I couldn’t hide the truth anymore. Everyone would soon find out that I had been battered so severely in the verbal, mental, and emotional sense that I finally crumbled. I fell hard. I was angrier than ever because I was embarrassed and in pain. I had six long months of bedrest to think about all that crap. One day, it finally hit me that everything that I had gone through and most importantly, lived through, occurred so that I could tell another woman who is caught in the throes of abuse that she can make it out. I was able to look in the mirror and see a woman who not only had a story to tell but one who was courageous enough to tell it. Consider yourself a storyteller, ma’am, because from what you’ve just told me, you have one to tell. Maybe it’s yours to help another young lady make it past this very same thing you’ve made it past. How can you tell her with certainty that she’ll make it through? You want me to tell you how? Because you’ve made it through yourself and you know it can be done. We’re not all handed the good stuff in life, but we’re obligated to help the next person along.” She had indeed listened to me. She in turn said, “I believe I was supposed to talk to you today. We don’t have a lot of calls in que and that’s unusual. I woke up mad about my situation, but I never imagined I would talk to anyone about it. Thank you, Ms. Hinton. Thank you.”
While I felt a little bad for having been on the phone with her for so long since she was at work, I had once again received confirmation that I have to keep talking. I have to keep women telling what happened to me. I have to keep telling women that the pain ends one day. I have to keep telling women that they are amazing. Had I opened up and told someone what I was going through, maybe my trials would have ended before I landed in Dallas Presbyterian Hospital’s ICU. If that would have happened, though, how could I tell you that it’s totally unnecessary for you to end up on your back? I appreciate my journey. I appreciate the pain. I’m not Super Woman, but I finally realize that I’m a super woman. I just want every other woman to know she is too.
T. Shine Hinton