I treat myself to the same restaurant for breakfast once or twice a month. There she is again, the same waitress with those same sad eyes. She knows my name, but I don’t know hers. Sometimes she has a bruise on her forehead or bruises up and down her arms, and I can see through her makeup.
My heart aches because even though I don’t know her, I know her. It’s pure speculation, but the signs are clear: the withdrawn, downcast eyes filled with sadness, the partial smile that can barely form, and the telltale bruises. Physical abuse often goes hand in hand with verbal abuse, the slow degradation and disrespect through gestures and words that tell you you’re worthless and nothing without him. I know these signs well.
When you feel trapped, with no way out, you rationalize and pretend everything is fine and then blame yourself for being unworthy. The nurse in me wants to hug her tight and scream, “Get out! Find safety, find your self-worth.” No one deserves to be treated this way. I finally gained my freedom, but it took years to shed the abuse. It still flickers back when I least expect it.
There is help out there, now more than ever. “Get out” is an easy term, but it carries so much weight. But it can be done. Remember the kindergarten or Bible school song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine?” It’s there, that light, I promise.
I tip her well, hoping to bring a moment of happiness to her, and finally ask her name. She tells me it’s Alina. I wish her a wonderful day, thank her, and keep her in my prayers for safety, love, and peace. My eyes well up as I get in my car and look up her name. Alina, of Greek origin, means “light.”
Please reach out. There is help out there.