Every once in a while, God hands you an opportunity to realize just how lucky you are to be living in your own skin.
I am thankful I had a chance to experience that sensation this past Monday.
Through a group I'm a member of, I had the chance to help throw a Halloween party for some children who are living in a battered women's shelter.
These are all kids who had to say goodbye to all their toys, favorite clothes and neighborhood friends when their mother packed up the car and drove her little family to safety, driving towards a frightening unknown that was safer than the brutal familiar.
These women had to close the books on a life they spent hours dreaming about and working for. Establishing themselves at jobs and in neighborhoods, painstakingly picking out curtains and whipping up dinners, trying to find the perfect recipe for the American Dream. Unfortunately they were building their lives with a deck of cards - an unreliable, irrational, angry partner who would unleash the most venomous names and most painful punches until blood or tears rushed out of these hopeful women.
These women somehow found the strength to walk away, no, run from the painful circumstances of their tattered lives for a chance to bring hope to their future and that of their children.
I cannot even imagine the insecurity, fear and uncertainty that goes along with this wrenching situation.
I cannot fathom a life where I live in fear of the person whom I love most in this world. A life where every day brings a new set of obstacles and challenges - Is it alright if I ask him for money to buy groceries? Is he going to break a bone next time? Is today the day he is going to start beating my children?
God, those kids...
I thought of them huddling in closets and under beds, places I would sometimes hide when I would hear my parents arguing in the kitchen. But my mom always walked away from those fights healthy and safe and still respected by my father. These children were wedged in situations veiled in complete uncertainty, utmost fear for their own safety and that of their mothers.
These children were observing and memorizing a life pattern that all too often repeats itself: boy starts beating his own loved ones or girl gravitates to others who are violent. It's a cycle that's hard to break unless someone, a mother, is brave enough to strike out without her own cash, her own career, her own confidence.
And so, for a few hours, I put on my crazy ass pink wig and some silly disco shoes and a sparkly scarf - trying my best to look like a rock star - while my fellow volunteers and I threw a little Halloween party for the tiniest victims of domestic violence. We brought them costumes: bumble bees/princesses/ninjas/Hershey Kisses/you name it. We brought bags and bags and bags of candy, enough to rot all these little kids' teeth, and we brought silly games like Twister and bags full of strange things like apricots and spaghetti (bags of ears and monster brains - at least that's what we told the kids).
And we didn't forget their brave moms.
Someone in my group arranged for a masseuse to volunteer his time and give these strong women neck and back massages. Someone else found a stylist who gave the ladies fun little hairstyles they could learn to do themselves.
It was a simple evening for us volunteers, but it was a little escape - an opportunity to forget about the brutal reality - for these children and women.
I am so lucky to be safe. I am so thankful to be bursting with happiness and confidence.
I am so grateful God gave me the life I have.
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If you or someone you know is caught in a situation of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.