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The story so far (in chronological order):

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Friday morning arrived – a whole week after that horrible night. And it was time for action. I needed to finalise the AVO so Andre could never come near me again.

My body still doesn’t feel as though it belongs to me. And I’m terrified, utterly, that Andre will turn up to the court.

For those unfamiliar with the Australian AVO process, it goes something like this. The person making the complaint obtains an emergency AVO with valid reason as decided by a magistrate. The person about whom the complaint is being made doesn’t have to be present at this point, but the emergency AVO is only valid for a week, or until a hearing can be organised at which both parties can be present. However, the other party doesn’t have to turn up – this is simply an opportunity for them to do so.

I have no reason to think he won’t turn up, and I have no idea what I’ll do if he does.

For seven days, I’d lived with broken glass in my front door, and I didn’t want that reminder any longer. So I’d emailed my landlord and asked for contact details of any glaziers they used. And at 7am that Friday he was coming to make that scar invisible, if not forgotten.

Right around that time, my mother was due to turn up at my place. Prepared for war if need be. There are definitely some things my mother is great at, and one of them is playing the avenging mother in times of need!

As if in a dream, we’re walking to my normal go-to-work train station. Except today’s destination is the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court, at the ‘toff’ end of town. Despite the official nature of my trip, the best I manage to dress myself in is jeans and sneakers.

I am clutching print outs of pictures I made my sister take. Pictures of my face all bruised and beaten up. A black eye, an extremely down-trodden look in my eyes. And the front door, with its jagged edges silently whispering of the violence that has been. I have purposely not worn any make up so the marks Andre left on my face are plain to see.

We board the train and I feel like I have a secret – one that all the other people on the train couldn’t guess. And I look around at my fellow commuters. Those I would normally be going to work with.

Being the yogi that I am, I’ve been contemplating the nature of human suffering in my attempt to understand what happened, what’s still happening to me every nano-second.

And then I see it.

I truly notice the faces of everyone on the train. I see them more clearly than ever, as if my own pain has sand-papered away my air of indifference.

Everyone around me – everyone – looks utterly miserable. Or angry. Or upset. Or bored. Or… And I think – wow – is this what they look like every day? Is this what I look like??

Quick as lightning, I realised that when on public transport, everyone is in their own zone. Doing their best to ignore the too-closeness of other people packed tightly around them. And because of this, their thoughts turn inwards. And for many people this is not a happy place. Whether they are thoughts of self-hatred, physical or emotional pain, anger and so on, it is suffering. The human condition of suffering. Right there in front of me, plain as day. Unconcealed.

This was an “ah-ha!” moment – where I first realised that suffering is an every day, moment to moment experience for everyone. Previously, my idea of suffering had been that people suffer over an incident, like being assaulted. But I what I saw made it clear that everyone is suffering all of the time – unless you are enlightened ofcourse! Others may beg to differ, but in my philosophical understanding of the world – it made sense. It still does.

And wow, did that put where I was at into perspective. Despite what I’ve been through, I am no different than anyone else on this train. I felt my heart open up and melt into… I have no idea what! Actually, the sensation is one of expansion, incredible expansion.

My train trip transformed, I was still terrified, but no longer feeling so alone at that moment. It was the first major descent of Grace following the assault.

Luckily for me, Andre didn’t show up – for which I was extremely grateful. However, being in court for two weeks in a row still wasn’t my idea of a good time. I still shook, I still cried and I still had to tell another magistrate I didn’t know what had happened. I had to show my shame and my fear in public to ask for protection, and that sucks. I offered my face up for scrutiny. I showed her the photos, which made me feel both strong and miserably weak. But I got my AVO in place. And finally, finally, I started to feel a tiny bit relieved.

Since that day, I always try to catch people unawares on public transport. I try to read what their faces give away. And yep, it still stands true. It’s not always every single person on the train or the bus. Occasionally there’s a being that looks truly happy, serene and content. But they are the exception rather than the rule.

My response is always the same – to feel my heart opening/expanding, and try to send the energy of love as much as I can to any and all of my fellow transiting folk.

Peace be with you all.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

~ Svasti

(Next: Quietly Devastated)

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