Message in a Turtle

Peter and I are on vacation with two of our grandsons this week, on the coast of Georgia.  I’ve been getting up early each morning so that I can begin my days with long walks on the beach. Today I got there just as the sun was coming up and as I approached an entrance to the beach something felt different and looked different. There were a half-dozen or so people standing at attention in a large semi-circle. As I walked behind a few of them and peeked to see what had captivated them so, I was amazed at the sight before my eyes: a large loggerhead turtle was slowly making her way from near the sand dunes through the beach, to the ocean. She was amazing. And the experience, with each observer respectful of her space and silent, felt sacred.

I was particularly moved by the simplicity and determination of her focus as she neared the ocean, walked in, and kept going until we could no longer see her. A turtle, doing her turtle thing, being a turtle, doing what turtles were born to do. A woman commented that the turtle didn’t lay her eggs because she didn’t feel safe with people around. I don’t know if that’s true – don’t know how long the turtle was there; don’t know how long the woman was there; don’t know if she knows much at all about loggerheads. But I do know that the experience became a meditation for me. I kept thinking about a blog I wrote in May for Psychology Today. It was for survivors of sexual abuse; it was about the importance of telling someone what happened. A reader sent me a long and painful response to that blog and described how telling didn’t go well in her or his situation, but rather it made matters worse; much worse.

How I wish that when ready to tell, each abuse survivor could be heard with reverence; with undivided attention; with appropriate boundaries; and with the kind of support that encourages the survivor to be who she or he is, unencumbered by the projections of her or his perpetrator!

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