Yesterday was a real head trip.
I was just finishing proofing the last few paragraphs of my post yesterday morning when I became aware of the sounds around me (yeah, when I write or do anything intensively I can shut out just about any distraction). I heard a woman crying loudly, pleadingly. I heard rhythmic pounding. I heard doors slam. Then I heard silence. I sat in my chair, stunned. Did I really hear what I thought I heard? I know what an abusive fight sounds like, and unless they were doing a great imitation downstairs, that’s exactly what was going on.
For a few moments I felt as trapped as when I was a beaten woman. It’s a long time ago, but don’t think I don’t remember those helpless feelings. They’re with me everyday. My brain fritzed out and I just sat there. Then I thought ‘it’s none of my business’ followed up by a fast ‘well, SHE’S the one who tries to kick in her door at 4 a.m. when she’s drunk’. All sorts of horrible avoidance AND terrible judgements came pouring out my brain in the next 30 minutes as I contemplated what I should do. I knew if I went down there in person I’d be blown off. Like I said, I WAS a beaten woman, and I know how hard I scrambled to make everything appear normal on the surface. And I don’t even know her name: how presumptuous of me to go down and say ANYTHING to her! No, heading downstairs to talk to the woman involved was NOT a valid option in my book. So I thought. And sighed. And thought and sighed long enough my brother got up and asked me what I was thinking and sighing about.
In the end, I walked over to the police station to talk to someone there. On the way, thinking about what I was going to say, I kept saying over and over in my head that I was doing it because I know there’s at least one child in the house, and no child should be exposed to that. But then my head gave me all sorts of reasons to stay out of it:
- maybe she still loves the guy involved
- maybe the guy is the dad of the kids
- maybe the guy supports her financially and she’d be in trouble if she lost him
It almost turned me around. Almost. Until one stray thought hit me. If someone had reported my abuser, it would have made it a million times easier to leave him, and I desperately wanted to leave him. And that one kept me walking towards the police station.
The officer I spoke to was very kind, told me I did the right thing (and boy, oh boy, did I need that reassurance), and asked me to report the incident to another Dutch authority via phone. I took the number down and assured him I would call when I returned home.
So back home to explain everything to my brother. By the time I got back here it was almost 4 pm and my brother was thinking about what we were going to do for dinner. Discussion ensued, and the decision was made to go downstairs to Verhage (a semi-fast food restaurant; good stuff but basic) and bring back some schnitzel. Would I go down to order? Sure, I said. Maybe I’ll even get through a little Dutch transaction and feel good about it, I said. After all, I continued, I’d been waiting around the apartment during business hours hoping the counseling center would call to reschedule an appointment and I really needed to get out for some fresh air.
Within 30 seconds the phone rang. It was the counseling center, calling to schedule a new appointment. And the woman who was calling didn’t speak more English than to say she didn’t speak English.
I have never, ever experience such immediate karma. Never. It was like a bolt of lightening coming down from the sky: immediate, frightening, and an awesome experience (awesome in the TRUE sense of the word, mind: my mouth was left hanging open from the shock of it all). And when I recovered my breath, I realized the entire morning had been karmic for me. In yesterday’s post, I wrote about my guilt from seeing a mugging and doing nothing. It dawned on me that the morning’s incident had been another ‘mugging’, another opportunity for me to either walk away again or do something about it. This time, I’ve chosen to do something about it.
The sounds coming from downstairs yesterday were horrible to hear. The phone call from the counseling center all in Dutch was horrible to try and get through (talk about using EVERY Dutch word I don’t know!!). But somehow, I feel a little cleaner today. A little less guilty over the past because of my actions in the present. And I just can’t get this old Blondie song out of my head:
One way, or another
I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna get ya, get ya, get ya……