Of One’s Own

So much for girlpower.

I volunteer with women, a lot.  I volunteer with college women–in a capacity that I hope reaches out to them; works with them; teaches them that they are more than what they think they are.  I volunteer at the hospital–again, with women.  I am not the woman who will tell you she doesn’t like other women.

I do like other women.  I like the company of girls.  I find women remarkable; powerful; intimidating; brilliant.

Tonight, I was at an event for survivors of domestic violence–survivors and their children.  And I was struck by the strength and humility in the room; by how well-behaved the children were; by the little girls who had an incredible sense of their own power and self-worth.

By mothers who were doing everything right.

Young women astound me.  Their curiosity; their capacity for love and their ability to take what the world has to offer them.  They haven’t yet had their hearts broken.  They haven’t yet become conscious of their bodies or had someone calling them names or critiquing their shape or their hair or their clothes.  They haven’t yet been objectified or sexualized.

These young women–these girls–they were amazing.

And I looked at their mothers on the other side of the room…women who had been through a lot; who had seen a lot.  I watched as they received gifts; as they were given journals.  As they got faraway looks in their eyes when the moderator said, “These notebooks are for you.  Only you.  Not to write about your kids, or your grandkids, or to write down phone numbers.  But to write about why you love yourself.  To write down the things that have happened to you–happy and sad.  To write down your dreams, and your joys.  To write about you.”

And I glanced behind me, in my bag, at my own black notebook.  At the black moleskine–just like the ones that had come before it–my private space…the space that my ex-husband had torn apart; savaged, ravaged…made his space.  Tried to own.

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be an adequate role model; if I will ever be enough as a volunteer because I could not maintain that room of my own.

And then I think, perhaps, I am a better role model and volunteer because of it.

Regardless of anything, regardless of whatever those women write in those books…there was something in me that quivered a bit; that surged a bit and hoped a bit when I saw the looks in their eyes–the hope in the girls’ eyes and the wistfulness in their mothers.  That made me thing that maybe things might be different; that maybe things might not always be as they seemed.

That maybe an end isn’t an end, but a beginning.

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  1. i love that you like women. my female friendships have literally saved my life. its tragic when women claim they cant maintain female friends…

  2. Judge Carbon was president of our parent organization a few years ago. GREAT woman. VERY HARD worker!!!
    ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER WELCOMES JUDGE SUSAN B. CARBON AS DIRECTOR OF OFFICE ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
    WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2010 / — Attorney General Eric Holder today welcomed the confirmation of Judge Susan B. Carbon of Concord, N.H., as the new Director for the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women. Judge Carbon was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week
    “I am pleased to welcome Judge Carbon to the Justice Department and to the Office on Violence Against Women,” said Attorney General Holder. “Bringing greater public awareness and strengthening programs to fight sexual and domestic violence, dating violence and stalking is a top priority for the Department. Judge Carbon will bring strong leadership to this important office and to the Department’s mission to end violence against women.”
    The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) provides national leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women through the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Created in 1995, OVW administers financial and technical assistance to communities across the country that are developing programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Currently, OVW administers two formula grant programs and 17 discretionary grant programs, which were established under VAWA and subsequent legislation. Since its inception, OVW has awarded nearly $4 billion in grants and cooperative agreements to communities throughout the nation.
    In September 2009, the Department of Justice launched a year long commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the signing of the VAWA to raise public awareness of violence against women, and to build and strengthen relationships between and among federal, state, local and Tribal law enforcement, advocacy, courts and victim services communities.
    Judge Susan Carbon was first appointed to the bench in 1991, and has served as Supervisory Judge of the New Hampshire Judicial Branch Family Division from 1996 until 2010. She is a member of the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence and chaired New Hampshire’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee. Judge Carbon also served as President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) from 2007 to 2008.

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