The Price of Other People’s Secrets; Trans Pride and Trauma

The flag fluttering against the June sky unexpectedly takes my breath away, its stripes of white and pink and baby blue at once a promise of liberation and a trauma trigger.  I feel brief shame that a symbol of hope for people who very much need and deserve hope has provoked me.  I remind myself … Continue reading The Price of Other People’s Secrets; Trans Pride and Trauma

A Barrage of Flashbacks–and Pendulation

content warning: domestic violence, weapons I’m charging down the American Tobacco Trail when the apprehension hits. My mind is swirling with the stories of women I’ve seen posted to social media as a rash of abortion bans has inflamed the nation.  A procession of small children approaches on the trail. I move around them into the … Continue reading A Barrage of Flashbacks–and Pendulation

Easy EMDR; The Edge Of Attachment Anxiety

It's been weeks in therapy where we mostly just talk like normal people who like each other except that we focus fairly exclusively on me.  "What do you still need from this?" Lisa asks me, "What would you like to focus on?" We've processed with very little complication my reaction to the Durham explosion, the … Continue reading Easy EMDR; The Edge Of Attachment Anxiety

Light Pours In: The Healing Power Of Loving Touch

My clothes hang over a hook on the door.  The room is sunny and decorated in pale blue with images of the buddha and a picture of Rev. Dr. King.  I climb onto the table and cover up with a thick blanket.  There's a table heater; it is comforting.  Anna comes in and asks if … Continue reading Light Pours In: The Healing Power Of Loving Touch

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

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

Boston Buddies: Getting By With A Lot Of Help From New Friends

During another shit day I'm barely surviving I remember how if I'm running Boston I'd better figure out how to get myself there.  It's been months of slow, disappointing training runs after I seemed to be doing so well.  I remember squealing jubilantly in the morning as I got my confirmation from BAA that my … Continue reading Boston Buddies: Getting By With A Lot Of Help From New Friends

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

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

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

Bad Memories and The Power Of Secure Attachment

The week of the Kavanaugh hearings I have flashbacks.  I'm lying on my yoga mat in my boyfriend's bedroom while he works downstairs. I'm driving as I catch sight of my abuser strolling toward me near the courthouse.  Bile rises in my throat, my knuckles turn white, and my heart is pounding so loudly it … Continue reading Bad Memories and The Power Of Secure Attachment

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?

I Honor the Light Within Me; I Am Unstoppable

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 … Continue reading I Honor the Light Within Me; I Am Unstoppable

A Brutal Catharsis, and the Victory of Whipping Cream

I take a deep breath and direct myself onto highway 40 going West.  I carefully manage the space cushion around me the whole drive, except for once when a big Jeep speeds up too close behind me.  I begin to hyperventilate, my heart racing, and as it pulls into the next lane I see spots. … Continue reading A Brutal Catharsis, and the Victory of Whipping Cream

Do you want an order of protection?

content warning: domestic violence "Do you want an order of protection?" asks my advocate at the Compass Center after I spend some time ranting about how a year should be enough time for my abuser to calm down and leave me alone.  Of course I want an order of protection.  Of course, after everything I've … Continue reading Do you want an order of protection?

See the Light

After a few minutes, I begin to feel the pain of longing for the home studio I left when I fled my marriage.  My head throbs slightly, and tears pour down my face into my ears and hair.  Breathe, I exhort myself, and lie there with my sorrow and resentment.  I breathe and remind myself...

Being Loved

Oh my god.  That's really bad.  I've just broken up with him.  I can't engage with him over his choices.  I stand in the kitchen, my chest tight, swimming in grief and agony.  It's Valentines' Day.  There is nobody I can call, nobody I can talk to, nothing...

Moving On: Part 1

Not long ago, I held that white box again.  Almost everything I own has been in storage these 11 months since I left.  I held that box and cried again at that relic of once great hope now lost forever.  What on earth could I do with it?  I couldn't stand the idea of...

Healing In Community

I remember teaching that class, lying on the hospital floor with my students, noting with growing alarm while cueing them to observe the sensations in their bodies that my own body was clenching and that I couldn't stop it.  I began to panic.  I wasn't ready to talk about it.  I asked them to lie on their bellies with their foreheads on their hands--a position I'd always noticed this particular class loved.  I told them I would be silent for about a minute.  I struggled not to cry...

Here Comes The Sun

That's not an unusual morning--some ugly dream and then I wake up feeling awful.  Naturally, I want to go back to sleep and try again--maybe I won't feel so tired and desperate.  I understand that each choice I make will either take me deeper into that black pit of despair--or out of it.  The coming out won't be fast, it won't be painless...

Face The Day

Running is like breathing to me--as natural, as simple, and as necessary.  Without it I often feel like I can't breathe--a great deal of my best coping happens as my feet beat a steady rhythm on the trails.  In the woods, I feel powerful and fast--that pushes back against the anxiety and fear. I've let out a lot of anguish in the shelter of the trees.  I've passed so much joyful time...

Letting Love Carry Me

I ran my marathon in November--and my community helped me exceed my fundraising goal well ahead of schedule.  It was really moving for me.  The thing is, I wanted that to be the end of my lesson in asking for help and trusting the universe.  Asking for that money was uncomfortable, and vulnerable--but initially, I couldn't even admit...

A Wounded Healer

I struggle with deep shame over my mental illness.  Though I'm very clear it is not my fault, though I know that this is a response common to trauma survivors--the shame is very real, very persistent, and very convincing.  It tells me that I am too powerless, too broken, that I will never recover or experience healthy love.  I am so afraid that these things are true, I'm tempted to stay silent in...