I walked into work..
and there they were.
Fifteen crimson love buds crowning softly through a veil of deep green. Sweetly fragranced, perfect, declawed… silently shouting
I halted in my tracks. Instantly.
For a domestic violence survivor like me, roses have spoken the floral tongue of I’m sorry I hit you.. I’m sorry I threw you around.. Hope you don’t remember last night, because I sure don’t..
Roses, especially red ones.
I don’t know why abusers give roses the day after, but in my world, they have – without fail.
A drunken punch to the eye = a rose and a house full of lit candles. Extra roses and a sprig of baby’s breath if you were violated verbally, emotionally or sexually.
Therefore, I detest the damn things.
The love buds napped patiently throughout the day across the room, soaking in a cup of seltzer water, as I attempted to focus on work. By lunch, I was simmering with mixed emotions and the reds were bundled in my arms, dripping slowly onto the carpet. Although I wasn’t hungry, my mind was famished; it was feasting on my rampant thoughts, trying to make sense of it.
Nothing bad had happened.. in fact, it had been an extraordinarily romantic first date of FIRSTS.
First kiss, very gentle, sweet, honorable, and respectful of boundaries. The first time I had been held in three years and not felt queasy. The first time I didn’t feel like running for my life. The first time I didn’t feel forced to show affection. I had a first successful date without PTSD triggers in nearly three years.
The biggest first.. I felt beautiful, and loved.
I cried quietly for a few minutes by my desk, roses still in my arms. My thinker was done chewing on its argument, and the final answer of satiation ran down my cheeks. They were love flowers.
Later that day, fourteen roses were handed out that afternoon to fourteen women who were victims of domestic violence. These women work in my building. I see them, I see their faces.. every day. The fear, the despondency, and the resiliency that keeps us getting up out of bed to face another day, is etched deeply in the lines of most of their faces, mine included.
Each woman was told she was beautiful and deserved a beautiful rose. It was not hard for me to hand them the rose or say the words honestly- but for some of the fourteen, they paused hesitantly before accepting the token.
We were able say we were beautiful women, without expectations. We were able to accept it, with a glimmer of belief we were. One woman broke down and cried as I held her for a moment. It had nothing to do with her receiving a rose. It had simply been so long since she had been told she was beautiful.
By the end of the day, a single rose remained.
My rose, my love flower. I was loved and beautiful.