All eyes questioned my arrival as I pulled into the pickup location for my next Lyft passenger. I started to question if I was in the wrong area because all I saw were children outside playing. Eventually, the young lady appeared outside in her work uniform with luggage. I asked her if she needed some help and began re-arranging items in the car for the rest of her belongings.
I started to wonder about her situation. While reading her demeanor, I knew she was a strong woman but a fed-up one. We got in the car and I asked her where we were headed. That’s when it all began.
I saw myself in her. I was familiar with the pain she carried without her even saying anything. Her mom died three years ago, she never met her dad and the closest family she has is her 2-month-old baby and 4-year-old son.
She was so open telling me about her life, I knew that she was someone wanting to be heard, someone tired, hurt, someone seeking love but wanting to escape the abuse of the 44-year-old father of her children.
Although she was escaping, she left behind a piece of her; her newborn who was being cared for by one of the father’s six baby mamas who she described “has been there and has done that with him,” so she was familiar with her situation. She was the seventh, and only 23 years old. Her other child resides with the godparents.
I wondered: Why me? I was only into my second ride for the day, but I knew I couldn’t just leave her. Like I said before, I saw myself in her.
We went to a storage unit where she had some of her other belongings. I helped her put her things in the unit as I asked her more about her life and if she knew anyone else that would take her in.
She finally decided to go to the shelter but explained that she has little to any money to pay for more Lyft rides, so she will take the bus. I demanded that she get the things she would like to bring along and I will wait in the car until she’s ready.
She thought she lost her independence by not having her apartment or car anymore. She felt controlled because the father of her children knew no matter what he did to her, she would always come back. She had nowhere to go. On the ride to the shelter I could only imagine what it was like to be two months postpartum, working over 40 hours a week, being asked why was I still in the presence of someone who I was in love with? He kicked her out numerous times while pregnant. After all the abuse he would call her questioning her disappearance and beg her to come back. He played with her mind and chose when he wanted to love or mistreat her.
After getting some information about the shelter and their services, I explained that I knew this was nothing she would want to do. Nut she needed to escape. She needed to be away from her abusive environment. To know that the shelter was her only option was heartbreaking.
This is when it began, when I knew I had to make a change with her life, my life, and everyone else’s life that I may encounter. She gave me passion and a reason to appreciate my life.
I may have not been through anything she has been through, but I know what it’s like to want someone to love you like you love them. I know what’s it’s like to cry out for help but not know how to ask because people would judge me. I know what it is like to not love myself enough to escape unhappiness. I know what it is like not feeling enough. I know what it is like to want change without leaving what makes me so happy. Most of all, I am a woman and I knew why she was so vulnerable. I knew why it was so important for me to be there for her because when I went through these phases, I had no one to turn to. If there were more resources for women, or people in general, her only option wouldn’t have been the shelter. If I wasn’t there, she would have gone back to him.
I know there are questions of why I didn’t take this girl and her children in. I did what I could do and will do until God tells me different. When I left her at the shelter, my heart wasn’t aching like how it was when I first met her. I saw myself in her. I knew she was strong, I knew everything would work out fine. The shelter provided a roof over her head, free breakfast, lunch and dinner, free bus passes for her to get to and from work, free laundry. As much as I wanted to make her situation my responsibility, I couldn’t. I am facing battles myself that I have to fix. I hated the thought that if I couldn’t rehabilitate her, I would fail her like everyone else has and make the situation worse.
A case worker has been requested and will be doing intervention with her situation. As a woman, I feel obligated to make sure she is in a better situation with the help of resources because. When one woman cries, we all do.