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
I lie down on the massage table and fidget a little, unsure whether I should close my eyes or keep them open. My neck feels a little odd so I turn my head a few times. "Would you like a pillow?" Anna asks, and I nod. She asks if I'd like to begin and even … Continue reading Co-Regulation and The Voice Of Trust
My client lays before me on my Thai mat, having explained the various issues he's currently facing. Our conversation dissolves as he stretches his long legs toward me and attends to breathing deeply. I kneel before him, eyes closed, pausing for a silent Wai Kru. I wait for my own inner chatter to quiet. When … Continue reading Compassionate Presence and Healing Touch, A Lineage of Love
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
On Wednesday, my friends Jess and Mia meet me at the courthouse where each swears an affidavit they've known me over a year and I am a good person. They each answer in a clear, solemn voice. What seemed like a mere procedural pain in the ass turns into something more with my friends present … Continue reading Attachment Anxiety, Distress Tolerance and Resurrection
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
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
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)
I take a day completely off; no work, no engagements, my only plan to leave the house at all is my short morning run. I turn off my alarms and wake when I feel like it. The rain pours down as I run through Durham one last time. I spend hours in the afternoon checking … Continue reading With Dreams And Elation I’m On My Way
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
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
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
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
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
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
content warning: suicidal ideation I am getting a massage. My bank account balance is so low I've transferred money out of savings for this because my body feels horribly dysregulated and I can't fix it myself. All the post-concussive symptoms are back in full force--the nausea and dizziness, the light sensitivity, the eye strain and … Continue reading A Healing Relationship: Bodywork as Resuscitation
Sometimes life sucks crap. It happens to the best of us Once, or perhaps several times; Life comes as the schoolyard bully, Punches us in the face until we stagger back, And with no rhyme or reason, No regarding good or bad, No discernible sense for justice or deservability-- Life fells us where we stood. … Continue reading A Benediction for When Life Sucks Crap
I am on the phone with a local radio host for an interview about yoga and wellness for entrepreneurs. She tells me she always prays before the show to center herself, so I am silent as she thanks the almighty for the opportunity to help people, humbly asking that others be moved toward healing. Finally … Continue reading Emotional Triage and My Own Emerging Wisdom
I run and I miss him. I notice that I'm running when I've already been at it a couple miles; I'm neither enjoying nor struggling with it. I'm merely hurtling my body through space in an accustomed way while my brain runs and runs; attachment theory, core wounds, one-sided conversations and conversations we've had already. … Continue reading Comfortable With Uncertainty; The Grace I Give Myself
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
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
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
On Saturday morning I wake from disturbing dreams: of my abuser coming after me--and of my cat purring in my arms while I rub my face against her silky neck and say to my friend "I know she's died, but she feels real." Of course, Kira did die and I'm awake only a few moments … Continue reading Healing and Unconditional Positive Regard
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
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
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
Maddie arrives well after nightfall--after work and grocery shopping and the long drive to spend a night in the woods with me. Maddie, my old favorite sparring partner from Muay Thai, is full of adventure and hope. She's stood by me, though I know she doesn't always understand and I'm afraid of asking too much … Continue reading Friendship and Nature: A Beautiful Morning
I am staying at a friend's house while she's away. It is a beautiful, spacious place. It is quiet. I love it here. But after I drop off another friend who can't keep me company all day, I am indescribably miserable. It hits me the moment he's out of the car and I wail all … Continue reading On Suicide, Shame, and Small Acts of Courage
I'm pretty sure I will lose my shit if people are walking back and forth behind me on the treadmill; hyper-vigilance is tricky that way. But this is what's standing between me and running, so I stalk across the main floor looking for...
"Regular dreams or PTSD nightmares?" And then I burst into tears. I don't even know what regular dreams would be like. Maybe some of my dreams are regular dreams--but they still terrify me. I dream that I'm in a shower stall...
I hit the trail as the sun is setting; with the entire wood seemingly to myself, I push my toes aggressively into the dirt as I walk. I do not limp. I pick up pace. I feel the toes of my right foot a little tighter, a little weaker, but they comply. The remaining sunlight...
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...