Growing From Cracked Cement: Zinnias and Resilience

Gardening was solace and joy, hope and inspiration, nourishment, connection and peace.  Spring's bare beds were full of possibility.  I grinned with delight putting seeds in the ground, chattered with excitement in the garden store selecting plants with Christian.  I lit up as the first tiny seedlings emerged new from the earth each year--and each … Continue reading Growing From Cracked Cement: Zinnias and Resilience

Full Circle, Nothing Left For Me Here Now

When I drove east on Holloway Street from Durham, the once familiar path had a detour.  The very route that used to lead home seemed to remind me that isn’t the way anymore.  Still, I followed the detour through modest neighborhoods on the outskirts of Durham, my car full of camping gear and groceries. As … Continue reading Full Circle, Nothing Left For Me Here Now

Love Rushes In/A Victory Lap (1/2)

I toss and turn amid nightmares about the race, my abuser, my dead cat and Kevin.  I wake in an unfamiliar bed well before dawn knowing that I'm not falling back asleep and that today I run the 123rd Boston Marathon.  I smile in the darkness.  When I step outside it is pouring rain. An … Continue reading Love Rushes In/A Victory Lap (1/2)

A New Name: Rising Up and Moving Forward

It won't make a difference, I thought--why bother to change my name back?  It won't undo anything that has happened.  It will be a massive, expensive pain in my ass.  I thought about it--repeatedly.  Once in a while I'd see my old last name on something and wish I could undo everything.  But I can't … Continue reading A New Name: Rising Up and Moving Forward

Rage and Bob Dylan On A Warm Evening

content warning: domestic violence, weapons, sexual assault I discuss my litany of problems with my therapist; major uptick in anxiety, more flashbacks, continued distress over Kevin.  When we dig into the flashbacks I quickly grow distraught and begin to cry, so we prepare to work with them using EMDR. First I notice resentment over my … Continue reading Rage and Bob Dylan On A Warm Evening

A Changing Mien, Conflicting Emotions and Flashbacks

I'm near the end of a six mile easy run.  The sun has set and I'm trusting the ground I can't see as I run through Durham. I wondered days ago with a friend if my abuser had left town.  It would be a big relief to know I was unlikely to encounter that person … Continue reading A Changing Mien, Conflicting Emotions and Flashbacks

Oranges and Brief Tender Moments of Shared Humanity

I fled from my home unplanned late one night because I was afraid, and in those early days I had to get used to a lot more driving than I'd been doing.  I kept a bag of groceries in my car. I had lost my home in an instant, along with my sense of safety … Continue reading Oranges and Brief Tender Moments of Shared Humanity

Hill Repeats and a Big Damned Bucket of Grief

It's an unusual training session that includes marathon pace work and then five 400m hill repeats.  Where the hell am I going to find a 400m hill?  I decide to run the marathon pace work on Duke track; my amped up anxiety and troubled sleep lately have made for some disappointing runs.  I need a … Continue reading Hill Repeats and a Big Damned Bucket of Grief

Outrunning Memories and the Color of New Beginnings

  I wake up Christmas morning with new snow on the ground.  Disgusted, I immediately gather my running things to head off the PTSD.  When I walk out the door there's more snow fluttering down, so I start my Garmin and get to work.  It is the first day of my plan for Boston and … Continue reading Outrunning Memories and the Color of New Beginnings

Holiday Flashbacks and Panic Attacks

I come home from class in Raleigh.  I'm tired, and when I walk in the door there is my spouse holding my bathrobe. "Put this on."  It isn't a request.  I ask what's happening. Apparently I am being recruited into one of his childhood Christmas memories, no matter that we haven't discussed it or that … Continue reading Holiday Flashbacks and Panic Attacks

The Power of Fire and Somatic Experiencing

content warning: domestic violence, assault I write for a while, but then I begin to read and become absorbed in it.  Hours pass, the light changes, I shift positions at the hearth--but I remain captivated and focused on Peter Levine's words.  I haven't been able to focus like this since the end of October, when … Continue reading The Power of Fire and Somatic Experiencing

First Snowfall Flashbacks and the Warmth of Belonging

I wake in the early morning and see it right away; a heavy dusting of snow outside through the small window where I didn't draw the shade.  I shrink as though seeing a ghost, my heart pounds.  My breath catches and I am afraid.  I cover my head with a pillow and pull my weighted … Continue reading First Snowfall Flashbacks and the Warmth of Belonging

Attachment Trauma Redux Versus Rupture and Repair

content warning: emotional abuse It is October 2016 and I am sitting in the sanctuary at Sixth & I in Washington DC with a few hundred other people listening to Tara Brach speak.  My spouse sits next to me.  I wonder why he came at all; as I do the work of the offered meditative … Continue reading Attachment Trauma Redux Versus Rupture and Repair

A Healing Relationship: Music and Community (1/3)

content warning: suicidal ideation I arrive at ERUUF early for my final pre-membership classes.  The sky is dull and gray like my mood.  Inside the door is a stand of name tags; my eyes immediately find Kevin's name.  My lips press tightly together and I stop breathing.  Holy shit, I miss him.  I stand there … Continue reading A Healing Relationship: Music and Community (1/3)

The Comfort of Home and the Fundamental Truth Of Love

Before he stopped responding to me, I had one last good phone conversation with Kevin*.  We talked about my housing situation.  I have been without a permanent home ever since leaving my abuser--it's coming up on two years.  My mailing address is with one friend, most of my things are in storage, and what I … Continue reading The Comfort of Home and the Fundamental Truth Of Love

Disappointing Pharmaceuticals, Nightmares and Another Missed Run

I send a volley of emails back and forth with the concussion specialist that amounts to; "I can't do this anymore.  Please prescribe all the drugs, I am desperate."  He doubles the Prozosin that's supposed to help with the nightmares.  I take my new dose--and Advil for the headache I have most of the time … Continue reading Disappointing Pharmaceuticals, Nightmares and Another Missed Run

The Barometric Pressure of Unresolved Trauma (2/2)

(...continued) content warning: suicidal ideation I love Kevin*.  I think he is a miracle, but he is treating me like I don't matter and our relationship isn't worth the effort--and I am letting him.  I kneel on the floor and re-read our text exchange from yesterday for maybe the thousandth time.  I begin to type … Continue reading The Barometric Pressure of Unresolved Trauma (2/2)

Attachment Avoidance, Love, Death and Dignity (2/3)

(...continued) content warning: suicidal ideation, graphic imagery I don't want this life; a life that's difficult and lonely.  I don't want to keep on with my impotent love, struggling for something I can't have.  I was so stupid and naive with my hope for this relationship and my own healing.  I want to die.  I … Continue reading Attachment Avoidance, Love, Death and Dignity (2/3)

Sanctuary; Where Is My Safe Place to Fall?

It is Sunday morning, the day I was supposed to attend an event with Kevin*.  We've been talking about it for over a month.  We haven’t spoken in almost a week--a week of panic and grief, confusion and anger.  A week of troubled sleep and half-eaten food that tastes like dirt. Christian is meeting me … Continue reading Sanctuary; Where Is My Safe Place to Fall?

Attachment Trauma, Misattunement, and a Sleepless Night

I'm ready to fall asleep and he is not, so I lie down with an eye mask and close my eyes.  I drift off for a while and then I hear the running shower.  I drift off again, and this time he's coming to check on me.  I'm tired and I groan.  He teases me … Continue reading Attachment Trauma, Misattunement, and a Sleepless Night

Anxious Attachment and Failure to Communicate

I keep feeling this sense of unease, and I've been judging myself for it.  Anxious attachment, I notice when Kevin* pulls away slightly in bed and I grow distraught.  Or when he isn't holding my hand quite as much as I think he did last week.  Or when I think he's giving me just a … Continue reading Anxious Attachment and Failure to Communicate

Accidental Exposure Therapy and Breakthrough Moments

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 … Continue reading Accidental Exposure Therapy and Breakthrough Moments

Startling Power and Perspective From Upside-Down

My ability to invert fully has not been a high priority in my recovery; it's been months since I even bothered trying.  One effect of my post-concussive syndrome is that while I retain my ability to handstand, an attempt results in nausea, dizziness, disorientation--or a crazy-feeling bout of crying just because I feel weird. I … Continue reading Startling Power and Perspective From Upside-Down

Sunrise With Steadiness and the Promise of Flight

I sleep fitfully on the cot at my friend's house.  I dream that I am lying in bed with Kevin*, relaxed, my hand on his chest.  Except rather than his solid, muscular body I'm feeling the thin frame of my abuser.  Somehow I wake up annoyed--but unusually unruffled.  I roll my eyes.  Not today, motherfucker. … Continue reading Sunrise With Steadiness and the Promise of Flight

Sticks, Stones and Perspective on First Date Kisses

My abuser used to joke about me being a shitty kisser.  He'd needle me about how he put up with it on our first date.  We met for coffee, which turned into hours of talking and then dinner.  He wore a leather jacket and gave me his arm when we walked.  He made sure to … Continue reading Sticks, Stones and Perspective on First Date Kisses

Sexual Abuse/Assault/Violence; Does The Label Matter?

content warning: domestic violence, sexual assault I wake in my friend Erin's beautiful Lakewood house before morning's first light.  Her dog doesn't even stir from his spot next to me in bed.  I brush my hair and teeth, put some clothes on and meditate, and we walk around the neighborhood with the first flickering of … Continue reading Sexual Abuse/Assault/Violence; Does The Label Matter?

Healing In Community: I Am Safe Here

It's my last morning at Danielle's house.  I wake, meditate and go for one last run along the Eno River, slower than I'd like.  I do pull-ups in the master bedroom. I feel heavy and weak and irritable, but I am determined and I get them done.  Pixie the cat paces around me while I … Continue reading Healing In Community: I Am Safe Here