My daughter, her friend and myself were invited to SistaCare 2017, held at the Exodus Foundation. Rev. Bridget Perkins-Ocean organized the day, along with a bevy of helpers. Students and teachers from Ultimo Tafe did hair and makeup for the ladies in the church. It was a delight to see the women and girls see themselves through fresh eyes.
Dress for Success Sydney gifted the women from the Exodus Women’s Group new outfits, and boy, they looked gorgeous! Dress for Success is an amazing initiative, dressing and styling ladies who are looking to get into the workforce, or need outfits to attend weddings, funerals etc. The ladies then see themselves through fresh eyes, imagining all they are capable of. What was inherent and hidden, buried under trauma and life events, has been reclaimed. My girls were thrilled when asked to lead the fashion parade!
Reverend Bill Crews was there to greet everybody, and both the beauty school at Ultimo Tafe and Dress for Success gave a talk about their services. It was then time to eat, something my two models were very much looking forward to!
Two very brave and inspirational ladies then told us of their pasts, the details of which were gut-wrenching. To look at their radiant smiles, you would never know what they have endured. Women need to tell their stories to one another; to have a circle of mighty and courageous souls to depend on. I would like to thank everybody who made this event possible. To walk into the food hall and see it so lovingly decorated, was glorious. I was the first seated and it gave me such happiness to see the look on their faces as the guests entered. The tables were set for them, resplendent with china tea cups and flowers. The first step to having a woman recognize her value is to treat her as a precious, valuable person. Giving her back what was once taken. The Exodus Foundation, Dress for Success, volunteers from Ultimo Tafe and the speakers did just that.
I would tell my younger self to hold on tight. As a teen, I had to fight to retain my sanity, my heart and my life. I refused to put up with nonsense, nor manipulation. I would walk away, and if I couldn’t leave, I would fight. Fight for the right to live my life in the way it was ordained by the moon and stars before I had even arrived. When one is having continual operations and intensive periods of rehabilitation from such surgery; when one can’t work because of the above, you find yourself vulnerable. Grateful that people are willing to chat briefly to you, grateful for a lift or an invitation to dinner. My boundaries were blurred and I was overwhelmed by any crumb of kindness shown me. I would say to that girl, ‘honey, you can trust your instincts. You have a right to leave any form of cruelty, and run from any lack of empathy. It isn’t worth the pain you will suffer by staying. Trust your first impressions, and measure the benevolence or otherwise in a person’s conversation. It’s laid bare on the table, and your ears aren’t deceiving you. Years of your precious life will be squandered on trying to understand the intricacies of toxicity if you don’t run.’
Groups will be disbanded, and you will move in new circles. People not meant to be in your life will leave, not before offering a few sharp scratches to your already scarred psyche. As you grow older, you will tolerate less nonsense, and savour the real people. Those who weep with you, hold your hand, laugh with you and are present. They want your company for no other reason than that they celebrate you. No masks required.
I wish I could erase the memory of the walking wounded who caused you more pain. I wish you had turned away, no explanation needed nor offered. You didn’t, and its okay. You have resurrected that teenager, the one who was selective about who received the key to her inner world. You have given out multiple copies of the skeleton key. Happily, those who have received this gift unconditionally love you. There is no more hurt to be had. You have yourself, first and foremost. You can love the whole world, without letting it all inside the inner sanctum. Some will appreciate the chandelier, the candles, the frankincense oil, the violet walls, the poetry and art, whilst others would only try to disassemble the sanctuary. Careful with yourself, young woman. You have to firstly love yourself in a manner that will then mirror how others love you. You have yourself forever.