I recently had a discussion with a woman and found myself listening to a very long sorted tale of her life which was filled with the very sad and depressing. She was telling me about being raped, losing her children because she had been placed in a psychiatric hospital and being homeless. She also told me that she had worked as a prostitute for a few years and she was shocked that I wasn’t shocked.
I sat and listened and it almost sounded like it was too unreal to be real. She was shocked because she told me that many had given a surprised face or immediately started talking religion and that it would be what she needed to be saved when her prostitution had been revealed. Some she said had simply become quiet and made what was a delicate topic even more difficult to deal with.
I looked at her and said that, first of all, I am not her God and I will stand here to judge her. Secondly, I have not walked in her shoes and was not faced with decisions that she had to have made. She started to cry. I felt she needed someone to ask some hard questions to shake her out of a bunch of feelings that she should not need to bear. I asked her if she would ever go into prostitution again and she said no. I asked her why and she proceeded to tell me that it was not something she was proud of and that she just would never want to do it again.
I then asked if she had learned a lesson from such a horrible situation she had been placed in and she said yes. I told her that I was not judgmental and when people are faced with different situations in life sometimes you just have to do or go along with what you would normally never do.
I feel if she learned from a horrible situation and gained a better viewpoint of something that happened to her and had moved along then the bad experience was no longer bad – it was a good experience because she learned that she was tough enough to endure where many would be permanently broken; and told her just that. She smiled. I told her to not dwell on what had been, what could have been and remember the experience as she faces her future, that if she could overcome this then she could overcome anything.
She smiled – and a single tear drop of reaction to what I had said dropped from her eye. It was a beautiful thing to have someone share with me a delicate horrible event that they experienced – it was even more beautiful to have a response like she gave me from what I had said to her.