Living In A Women's Shelter

I am safe.

A lot has happened since my last post nearly three weeks ago. I have been insulted, threatened, yelled at, cursed at, ignored, pleaded with, and love-bombed. Psychological violence, you know. Same old, same old.

My daughter and I moved into this women's shelter on the 11th of February 2022. It was a Friday. It snowed out of nowhere as I scrambled to pack my dearest possessions. I was so scared that my husband would suddenly show up and stop me from leaving. It is again Friday today. That would mark one week of being here. 

I am writing this from our room. It is my safe space. I have lots of beautiful ceramics and paintings here, each having earned their spot after much trial and error. There is no clutter anywhere. Everything has its home, in classic Marie Kondo fashion. In a way, I cannot afford to have clutter around, because I have enough going on in my life. My room looks and smells lovely. I really love it here.

We have breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus coffee and tea) in the shared kitchen/dining area. It costs X amount of money per day for all three meals, but it really isn't very much at all. I just help myself to however much I want to eat for each meal, buffet style. I especially look forward to dinner because the residents take turns to cook, and it is always refreshing to see what is new for dinner.

I made dinner for everyone yesterday. There were about 10 people. Some had young kids. In a way, coming to a shelter is a dream come true. How else would I experience cooking for so many people, in a relaxed, I-just-want-to-feed-your-belly-and-soul kind of way? A girl with a special name became my trusty kitchen assistant. We had fun making beef meatballs, Bolognese sauce and spaghetti, based on a recipe in my handwritten recipe book. I smiled when people came up to me after they had eaten and said 'tak for mad' ('thanks for food' in Danish). They all said that it tasted really good.

It was lovely to be able to cook for people again. In a completely different kitchen too! As you can perhaps imagine, I opened every drawer in search of the right knife, a pair of tongs and salt. I was also proud when I noticed that I must have gotten really good at cooking, because I was able to 'just do it', without much stress at all. I am looking forward to next week, every week, where I will have another chance to cook for everyone.

This women's shelter is a giant house, with two kitchens. The one on level 1 is where we usually have our meals. The one in the basement is where we cook our own food, and where we keep all our own pantry supplies and ingredients. Each family/person has their own shelf and plastic box, to store our purchases from the supermarket. There are also quite a few fridges and freezers. If I store anything in the fridge, though, I have to write down our room number on the item, to minimise conflict and confusion.

I have come to know a handful of the ladies here. It is lovely waking up and saying good morning to a whole bunch of people. I love it. It is also pretty awesome to be able to cry anywhere in the house and to have someone come up to ask me if I am alright. My toddler also enjoys the company of the other children. 

The adults have a fancy TV room with a tall ceiling, with plenty of light coming through the windows on a sunny day. The TV is gigantic and I started to watch American Psycho on it. There is a woven basket full of cosy blankets. That room is also where I meet a bunch of new people from the Danish system, who seem to really want to help me.

I really appreciate how much thought has gone into making the women's shelter a fun place for our children to be. The kids have an even bigger play room with an unbelievable amount of toys. Colour pencils, paint, balls, rackets, puzzles, board games, musical instruments, workshop toys, children's kitchen with tons of ingredients in plastic, dolls, child-sized prams, cot, etc. You name it, we got it. I even began learning how to play the piano. I have always wanted to learn. I know how to play two children's songs now. Starting to learn my third :-)

We have a garden outside with its own lake. There are children's bikes laying around, both indoors and outdoors. You can be sure that Hannah will ride at least once a day. There is also a playground with a swing and a sandpit outside. There are coloured chalks to draw on the brick floor, right outside the kitchen. But I think more than anything, the kids enjoy the big trampoline. A 6-year-old kept begging me to jump without stop, so she could keep flying upwards. 

It is also very interesting to see how other parents bring up their children. Some of them are so dependent on technology - kids walking around with iPads or being glued to a children's show during mealtime. As for me, I asked the staff to take away the TV in our room, since we already have access to the giant TV in the lounge room. The result - Hannah goes to bed early and so do I. Usually at 10pm we would be knocked out. (Tonight, in order to write, I am making an exception.)

My therapy sessions will be paid for by the government. I cannot wait to start. I got an appointment for a body massage therapy next Tuesday. How nice. I look forward to them both. 

I still have lots of words, but I am tired. We have been going to bed around 10 and it is now almost 12. I just want to say thank you to Julian, Qi Wei, Celine, Maria and Lyndsay for holding onto me and telling me that I deserve better, all at the same time. I love you guys. I wouldn't be here in this safe space without my friends' support. Thank you!

I feel a little icky at the thought of sharing too much on this blog, after I have moved into the women's shelter. I don't know if I will continue to write on the blog religiously each week. I have been writing down everything that has happened since the 1st of February, on a private document that I plan to publish as a book/novel in due time.

I will be sharing the reason as to why I am in a women's shelter soon, over at my newsletter. I have decided to make that particular letter private, so only my subscribers will get to read it. Hop over to subscribe if you haven't already. All future writings about my current, sensitive situation will be made private on my newsletter.

See you when I see you. Don't worry about me. You can be sure that I will be doing what is best for me and my child. I am incredibly strong. And I am only learning that now. 



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