I work in a testing centre at a community college.
The OW that broke the back of my marriage was what you would call Native American. Here they identify as First Nations or Aboriginal.
Today we had a woman come in to take an English test to get into a program called Indigenous Studies.
She was a little younger than me (I'll be 60 this year).
She came to the counter after the first section of the test, in tears, saying "I froze".
I'm a history major and have studied what happened to her ancestors, and it was not pretty. The residential schools were still operational into the early 90s, so it's quite possible she was a victim of some kind of awful abuse in a school setting
I just got a sense that she was triggering badly.
So I calmed her down a bit and told her she needed to remind herself to be proud of taking the first step to go back to school as a mature student. That is a huge accomplishment.
Then we walked over to the Aboriginal Education office where they have soft lighting, tea, snacks and welcoming people who help usher these folks through the system.
When we were outdoors she seemed calm enough. As soon as we walked into the building again she seized up and started breaking down again.
We just took a moment to stop and breathe.
She was SO traumatized, it was really moving.
I felt really good that I could help her get to that place where she could face her fears and take the next step, not letting it be a barrier to her forward progress.
In spite of the fact that the woman who helped destroy my life five years ago was of her people, I was able to work around it because SHE WAS HURTING MORE.
What a revelation!
I asked her to come and check back with us to keep us informed of her progress. I know she can do this, and I look forward to seeing her again.
Onward people, onward. There is always someone who is in more pain than we will ever know....