I don't want to go to the first rehearsal after therapy; I'm exhausted. Still, I said I would sing with the small ensemble. I go to rehearsal. The 11 of us sit at the front of the sanctuary. He talks us through the section divisions in the music, which we flip through until the end. … Continue reading Music and Fear; When The Earth Stands Still
I’ve barely danced since my wedding. When my spouse came back from deployment I found this salsa night I really wanted to go to. I asked over and over again, couldn't we go salsa dancing? He never would--though he'd later leave while I was sleeping to dance at Legends. I don't care so much about … Continue reading The Allure and Danger of Following; Finally, I Danced
content warning: suicidal ideation First I don't want to get out of bed at all--again, and I lay there for a long while, willing my breath to slow. Eventually I get my running clothes on, make it to the track and struggle through my workout; 8 1 km repeats at threshold pace. Long speedwork takes … Continue reading 1 Km Repeats and What Made Me Choose Life
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
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
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
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
There was a little nagging feeling when I first met him. I wasn't sure quite what it meant, except yes I was. It was the sense of a man who wants something I don't want to give him. It was the feeling given off by the man who raped me in New York. It was … Continue reading Vulnerability, Boundaries and My Totally Rational Fear of Men
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
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
I'm at the track again after another night of crap sleep; for the last month or so I wake myself repeatedly choking in my sleep. As I warm up, I worry. I'm gonna have to keep it together for 1000m repeats and I'm not feeling confident at all. I'm exhausted. I'm sad. My grief over … Continue reading 1000m Repeats and Accepting Responsibility
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
I'm tired and unhappy when I arrive but one of my students is waiting for me; I feel better when I see her. While I'm checking in my class, another student I haven't seen in months appears at the doorway. Delighted, I come out from behind the desk to hug her. While I check her … Continue reading Compassion, Trust and My Work In The World
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)
I always did arrive extra super neurotically early to prepare for performances, so I show up at 7:45 for an 8:15 call time. Only Kevin the choir director is there ahead of me setting up microphones. I say hello to him and perch on the piano bench to hunt for a part in the music … Continue reading A Healing Relationship: Music and Community (2/3)
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)
content warning: suicidal ideation, self-harm I hear the voice of my therapist saying, "Can you honor your anger? You've described a man who gave every indication of skillfulness and emotional maturity. You've also described some really hurtful behavior. Have you seen that skillfulness and emotional maturity from him when it really counts?" Get angry, I … Continue reading A Healing Relationship: An Apology From My Therapist
I go to morning service at ERUUF. Arriving late, I don't see my friends so I sit alone and it is brutal. Afterward my friends hold me while I cry and they try to reassure me. One of them tells me she knows I love him and that she's sorry, but that shutting me out … Continue reading Morning Struggle, Afternoon Loneliness and Night Terror
I'd be pissed that it's Thanksgiving morning, but I'm too tired and and defeated to be pissed. I'm foregoing one of my most beloved and gratifying personal traditions this year because I'm simply too depressed and exhausted; I can't. I'm really sad about it and I've gotten another night of terrible, fragmented sleep so basically … Continue reading Training Failure and Small Comforts
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
It's Tuesday. I'm finally going to talk with Kevin* an entire week after this started. I can think of nothing else all day. Though I do work at the computer, I stop and cry several times. I keep getting confused mid-task, and I'm terrified I'm going to make a mistake. Finally I finish the time-sensitive … Continue reading Getting To Yes/Hold Me Tight
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
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
I remember vividly how it felt after my car accident when I was finally cleared to drive. I got in my new car, turned the key in the ignition, and shook violently with fear. There was no choice but to drive on busy roadways. I was terrified, but drove myself to my friend's house. Since … Continue reading Fear and Attachment, Signaling a Lane Change
I deliberated over the prescription question with a few trusted friends. When I sat down with Marty, who is a nurse, we brainstormed about alternatives to psych drugs over brunch. I reminded her that I already meditate daily, that my anxiety is beyond what I can slow down with mindfulness practices an alarming amount of … Continue reading Remarkable New Friends, A Sleepover, And Cannabinoids
It's Friday night, and I walk away from my evening class alone, with no plans. I am exhausted and frustrated to need to drive before I can rest. I don't want to cook for myself; I'm too tired. I don't want to drive; it's stressful. I walk across Greensboro St and get pizza from the … Continue reading Friday Night: Bath Time and Benzodiazepines
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
It’s my abuser’s birthday and I am pissed. I’m pissed that I married a manipulative, lying shitbag who ruined my life. I’m pissed that I’m still struggling with the many, varied and terrible repercussions of living with and loving a person who figured my worth lay in propping up his fragile self-esteem. I’m pissed at … Continue reading My Abuser’s Birthday: Camping and Existential Dread
In the morning, I startle out of a dead sleep and feel immediate dread. I arm myself before leaving with a pair of scissors. He has guns, I have scissors. Still, I hold them inverted, poised like a dagger, livid as I...
I only get twenty minutes and I have to go slow. My closest friend goes with me. I'm occupied chattering with him and then there are these girls running the trail ahead of us. They're slow. I'm supposed to be running slow--I should stay behind them. I try to...
Ray hands me my computer, some papers. I take my pillow from the bed and we try to move to the next room. He's too close as I try to pass. "You need to step away from me," I bark out in a strained voice. I shouldn't have told him...
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...
Sitting down in the room, I felt sick and anxious. My heart was pounding. I stared intently at my right quadricep covered in brightly colored yoga pants, reminding myself to breathe. I told them...