A few days after I rediscover my handstand, Kevin* sits working with his morning coffee at the kitchen table while I meet the morning sunshine with Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutations).  I feel safe and confident.

Later I drive to a meeting with other healers.  These women are kindred spirits.  Nobody in this room talks credentials or social media following or what they’ve published.  A crawling baby boy smiles playfully at us between rounds of nursing.  I feel energized and validated.

Next I go to Whole Foods to pick up some things.  It is there, with my hands full of produce and sauerkraut, that I encounter Molly, my abuser’s therapist.  The last time I spoke with her was days after I’d told him our marriage was over.  He still insisted that I go to the appointment as I’d previously agreed.  I thought maybe talking with her would help him process the breakup.  Maybe he’d calm down.  Maybe he’d be less appallingly rude to me.  Sitting there in her office, though, he launched into a speech about how he knew I was too strong to just give up.  He knew I could keep going.  I can’t remember much of what he said–I know what it made me feel: sick and panicky.  Molly looked him in the eye;

“She just said she couldn’t.”

She asked a few more questions, I think, and then suggested the two of them stay alone and work on resourcing and social support for my avoidant, antisocial spouse.  I left feeling guilty that people loved and supported me while he alienated everyone.

I’ve seen Molly a few times since then, always in that Whole Foods down the street from her office.  I’ve wanted to thank her for that moment or maybe warn her.  I’ve avoided her completely each time and then begun to shake or hyperventilate or cry, confused by why this kind lady had triggered me.  I understand it’s that memory and her link to the person who’s caused me the most profound pain of my life.

This time is different.  I turn a corner and see her standing right in front of me.  I look into her face, which I recognize as familiar.  When the realization strikes me, I blink a few times and then keep walking.  My heart beats no faster.  I feel no agitation.  My lips curl into a satisfied smirk; I feel happy and free.

*Not his real name

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