As Sick As My Secrets, Loving Kindness and Homecoming (2/2)

(...continued) I run past Cocoa Cinnamon on my right and smile when I see the Radical Healing campus.  I bring my hand to my lips and wave, my heart bursting with reverence and respect for my friend Dave and her vision.  I beam at the sweet white house with a giant pink triangle on the … Continue reading As Sick As My Secrets, Loving Kindness and Homecoming (2/2)

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

Attachment Anxiety, Distress Tolerance and Resurrection

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

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

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

(...continued from previous) Home. I lose it.  I sob bitterly, openly, occasionally swiping the tears from my cheeks.  I scan the crowds wishing for a friendly face.  A woman standing alone makes eye contact.  We look directly at each other as I approach.  Her face is full of empathy and she nods at me as … Continue reading Love Rushes In/A Victory Lap (2/2)

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)

With Dreams And Elation I’m On My Way

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

Grace Inside Chaos When The Ground Shakes

It's a sunny Wednesday morning in Durham and I'm teaching in the studio.  A few of my students are friends who've made. a particular point to come and see me before I leave for the race.  I've known almost everyone for years now, except for the one new person.  I'm walking between mats when there's … Continue reading Grace Inside Chaos When The Ground Shakes

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

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

Music and Fear; When The Earth Stands Still

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

The Allure and Danger of Following; Finally, I Danced

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

1 Km Repeats and What Made Me Choose Life

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

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

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

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

Vulnerability, Boundaries and My Totally Rational Fear of Men

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

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

1000m Repeats and Accepting Responsibility

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

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

Compassion, Trust and My Work In The World

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

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 (2/3)

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)

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)

A Healing Relationship: An Apology From My Therapist

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

Morning Struggle, Afternoon Loneliness and Night Terror

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

Training Failure and Small Comforts

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

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

Getting To Yes/Hold Me Tight

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

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

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

Fear and Attachment, Signaling a Lane Change

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

Remarkable New Friends, A Sleepover, And Cannabinoids

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

Friday Night: Bath Time and Benzodiazepines

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 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

Friendship and Nature: A Beautiful Morning

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

My Abuser’s Birthday: Camping and Existential Dread

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

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...