My Abuser’s Birthday; Accepting That I Am Changed Forever

I have nightmares that I'm with my abuser again.  I know that I'm not safe.  I want out.  I can't find my wedding ring.  I wail over my sick cat, begging her not to die.  I hold her to me, her fur soft against my face.  I feel the familiar contour of her little head … Continue reading My Abuser’s Birthday; Accepting That I Am Changed Forever

Where Love Comes From and Who Will Be There At The Finish Line

Trow is out of town. It’s taken some time to get out of the house for my run; I had nightmares about Kevin and my abuser and being lost on the subway in New York, trying to get home with no home to go to. I woke up panicking and soaked in sweat and then … Continue reading Where Love Comes From and Who Will Be There At The Finish Line

Displaced Delight and a Daffodil Yellow Kitchen

I love to cook.  I love taking what's in season, particularly if I have grown it myself, and combining things just right with my practiced hands to highlight the flavors of summer's first tomatoes or handfuls of rainbow chard.  I love finding out what my loved ones' favorite foods are and studying recipes in painstaking … Continue reading Displaced Delight and a Daffodil Yellow Kitchen

Fifteen Miles and Being Reminded Of My Strength

I wake when the alarm goes off at 6 am.  This time I don't struggle to get out of bed.  It is Saturday and I have a training partner meeting me in an hour; the promise of a long run with companionship lets my morning grief recede.  I prepare quietly, pulling on warm clothes and … Continue reading Fifteen Miles and Being Reminded Of My Strength

Nightmares and Intrusive Thoughts, EMDR and Rage

I dream that I am standing in Kevin's kitchen.  He's upset, bitterly ranting about how bad things have been for him since I last saw him.  I feel his pain and go to him, tell him I'm sorry, hold out my arms.  He comes to me; I hold him tenderly.  That dream haunts me for … Continue reading Nightmares and Intrusive Thoughts, EMDR and Rage

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 Searing Pain Of Failure; Interpersonal Dysfunction and Burpees

When I ran Spartan Race World Championships in 2017, it was vicious.  The altitude, the double ascent course and the sheer insanity of the amply amped-up obstacles for the occasion all contributed to the very worst performance of any race I've ever run.  Lately I keep thinking of this one moment during the race. The … Continue reading The Searing Pain Of Failure; Interpersonal Dysfunction and Burpees

Grief and Longing, Loneliness and Depression

We were supposed to have a holiday party together. Though it’s been off my calendar for weeks, I haven’t forgotten. There’s a snowstorm coming in.  We'd talked about how much fun we'd have sequestered at his place during the first snowstorm, so I am sick with grief and dread and missing him.  All day long … Continue reading Grief and Longing, Loneliness and Depression

A Bad Day, Kindness and Grace

I sit huddled into the corner of the couch at home, surrounded by pillows, wearing my oldest ugliest yoga pants and a mismatched flannel.  My eyes are twitching so hard I can hear it, my head throbs and every so often I break into great, gasping sobs. I try working; I have to fix my … Continue reading A Bad Day, Kindness and Grace

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

Reverend Brett greets the congregation and we do it all again.  This time the order of service changes slightly and the last thing that happens is LeLaina singing. "Courage is not being hard. It's time to peel back all of the layers You put between who you're meant to be And who you are And … Continue reading A Healing Relationship: Music and Community (3/3)

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

The Decidedly-Not-A-Miracle Power Of Therapy

content warning: suicidal ideation I sit with my therapist and tell her how I came to end what felt like the healthiest relationship of my life in a way that was so out of character.  I tell her about the paralyzing grief and anxiety, the confusion, my inability to focus on anything else.  She digs … Continue reading The Decidedly-Not-A-Miracle Power Of Therapy

The Barometric Pressure of Unresolved Trauma (1/2)

content warning: drug abuse, suicidal ideation I miss him and haven't heard from him so I send tender, vulnerable text messages.  His responses are terse and defeated.  In the language of marriage research, we've played out the demand/withdraw dynamic--except that I've set aside my defenses in hopes of helping my partner feel safe, and when … Continue reading The Barometric Pressure of Unresolved Trauma (1/2)

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)

Birthday Gifts and the Simple Power of Human Connection

It's pitch dark again when I wake in the middle of the night.  After a good day full of support and love from friends, I'm disappointed to find my thoughts racing and breathing shallow--again.  But I'm not surprised.  I place my hand over my heart and try to breathe more deeply, which takes a great … Continue reading Birthday Gifts and the Simple Power of Human Connection

Deflated Determination and the Edge of a Panic Attack

I wake up in the middle of the night, anxious again.  Remnants of nightmares swirl through my head--something about my abuser and something about my boyfriend.  Sleeping on a park bench. I don’t remember. My brain starts in on pointless one-sided conversations.  I turn onto my side and try to calm down--I'm not breathing right … Continue reading Deflated Determination and the Edge of a Panic Attack

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...