I arrived at the crisis center for my weekly volunteer slot juggling coffee, a bottle of water, and a bag with my laptop and other things I didn’t really need but couldn’t be without. Mina was waiting for me, beaming as usual.
“This is me,” she said. “This is my real shape, my real body. If I ever come in here and I don’t look like this, something is wrong. Because this right here, is me.” I’d been mentoring Mina for a few months. I knew the grittiest pieces of her past, but little else. I knew she had two children whom she hadn’t seen for years. I knew she’d been sleeping on a bunk bed in a domestic violence shelter down the road. I knew when the cops found her a few months before, she was wandering the street with a broken leg. The doctor said the fracture was weeks old. Mina hadn’t a clue how it happened. I knew that every morning, Mina turned on worship music and “worshiped with her tears.” Pain brought Mina to the center. Pain brings every woman there.
Mina’s body was recovering from substances I couldn’t name because she didn’t share the details, and I was fine with that. I’d been witnessing her transformation every Tuesday, but on this particular day, she wasn’t looking at how far she’d come. She wasn’t rattling a plethora of plans or goals she aspired to reach. Mina was paying attention. She was naming her exact spot on the recovery timeline, recognizing the curvier body that felt more familiar. Her body was finding its balance, its homebase, and she was content to be right where she was. In fact, she was delighted.
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This piece was featured first on Fathom.