I’m driving home from a long day. The road is busy and my body is stiff with fear. Still, there’s something different in my countenance. I’m afraid, but full of determination. I turn over some of the words that have been spoken to me this week—the validation, the affirmation, the support and the love.
I see Lisa, my therapist; her face animated and blue eyes full of sincerity as she tells me I inspire her. I have terrible attachment trauma, one of my biggest difficulties is being alone, I knew a solo camping trip would be difficult—and I did it anyway. She says she isn’t sure she could do that.
I see Dr. Miller, the optmetrist I visited earlier in the day, tell me she sees how much I’m struggling with convergence and that it must be very difficult to deal with as long as I have. She says it’s no wonder I have such continued trouble driving. I tear up again thinking about it; this woman sees me.
I see Barbara, warm, generous and motherly. She tells me that she liked me right away. That she was impressed how, teaching yoga to a class full of anxious beginners, I created such a sense of safety.
I see my student John, a tuft of his white hair lifting with the breeze. His voice asks “How is morale?” I hear his care and concern and take in his assurance that I’m one of the strongest people he knows.
Brave. Inspiring. Generous. Magical. Fucking magical. These are the words people use to describe me. I drink them in like a wilted tomato plant in a summer rainstorm. I turn their words over and see myself as other people see me.
Ashamed and frightened, I compose a Facebook status update which tells everyone I know how I’ve been abused and re-traumatized by the court system, how I’m afraid and need help.
Knowing it likely will not change the outcome, I stand outraged and shaking in court at my abuser’s weapons hearing. I read my prepared statement about his violent and abusive behavior. When the judge scolds that my initial paragraph repeats incidents from the previous hearing I pause briefly, scan down my statement and continue speaking more loudly then before. I make damned sure they hear about the weapons involved threats my lawyer neglected to bring up. I shake so violently that the table I’m standing at trembles. I’m choking on my rage and my tears—but I read that statement.
I teach a yoga class outside for a photo shoot. Though I was desolate a mere hour earlier, I grin with the sheer joy of my students’ beaming faces, the grass beneath my bare feet, and the moments when we find green inchworms trying to join the party.
Less than a year after leaving my abuser, I raise thousands of dollars for the Center Against Domestic Violence. I run the New York City Marathon. I qualify for Boston.
Unable to walk on my stress fractured foot, I crawl between my students as I teach, not caring if I look ridiculous.
There isn’t a job opening I’m aware of for “full time teacher of yoga for trauma survivors in a clinical setting”. I know that there should be; I believe in what I’m doing and I’m certain that this is my purpose. I don’t know how or where I will create this job for myself but I talk about it with anyone who will listen.
At a pool party with new friends I find a live honeybee floating in the water. I cup it in my hands and take it to the pool deck where after its safe delivery it continues drifting toward the pool. Gingerly, delicately, I coax it back into my hands talking gently all the while. I take it from the pool, deposit it carefully on a flower, and watch it recover as my friends continue their conversation.
I am brave. I am strong. I am relentless. I am determined. I am fierce. I am generous. I am compassionate. I am talented. I am loving. I am joyful. I am worthy.
Tears roll down my cheeks but I hold my head high and remind myself who I am. There is a divine spark within me which cannot be extinguished; I am love and light. I am truly unstoppable.