Remember the neighbor thing? Yeah. Not going to forget that any time soon.
Well, several weeks ago, I was ambushed at the big hive mailbox at the end of our street – by my neighbor's mother and stepfather. Ambushed is probably too strong of a word, but they did follow me slowly in their car and then leap out and surround me when I was trying to gather my mail and leave. (Note to self: this is why, in the future, you might bother with putting on a bra and shoes before going to the mailbox.) So there I was, barefoot, pretty much in my jammies, answering questions about why letters from court were coming to their house, what happened that night, and so much more. It was hard core, y'all. This girl's mother had NO IDEA the extent to which things spiraled into hell that night. No idea of the police and the ambulances… she knew nothing except that something bad happened and that her daughter wouldn't talk about it. (I learned that since that night, the mother and step-father have moved into the house with the girl and the boyfriend and the baby.)
I was faced with this spontaneous, weird sort of confusion and guilt. Obviously, the young woman didn't want her mother to know what happened. Obviously, I know nothing about their family dynamic. But on the other hand, a code of silence didn't seem like a good idea. Does it protect her to say nothing? Or does it further insulate her from getting help?
Her mother told me about the boyfriend and the things in his past and present that terrify her. She cried and hugged me while her tiny grandson slept in the car. I was just sort of bewildered. We were having a moment – a big, emotional, movie-worthy moment – two strangers, right in front of the mailboxes, in the middle of the morning, on a random weekday.
I didn't keep quiet. I told her the whole sordid story. I gave her all the Safe Place information. And let me just say, telling a mom the details of how her daughter had the shit beat out of her is not on the top of my list of favorite things to do. But I did it. I don't know if it was right to do it. But I did it.
So… fast forward a few months.
Since The Great Mailbox Debriefing/Cryfest I've had no contact with anyone next door other than a few furtive nanoseconds of eye contact between me and the young woman, and a smile or two shared from the stepfather. The boyfriend has been skulking around, but I don't see him a lot. I've seen the girl's mother once, getting out of her car.
A few days ago, a friend of mine was over and as she got in her car to leave the young woman next door came over and started to talk about that night – mistaking my friend for me (the plight of the short, curly-haired woman). I was inside going to the bathroom (of course) and my friend was like, "Ah! No! I'm not her!" trying to convince the girl to come over and talk. But my neighbor wasn't having it. My friend said she seemd to kind of lose her cool after the mistaken identity – and I haven't seen her since. But I did see that somone has moved out of the house. I don't think it was her, because I've seen the baby. But maybe? I don't know. Hopefully, they finally got that awful boyfriend out of there.
None of it is my business, and I worry for them all, but I'm glad she tried to reach out. I'll still be here when she works up the nerve again.