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
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
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
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
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 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
I wake in the early morning and see it right away; a heavy dusting of snow outside through the small window where I didn't draw the shade. I shrink as though seeing a ghost, my heart pounds. My breath catches and I am afraid. I cover my head with a pillow and pull my weighted … Continue reading First Snowfall Flashbacks and the Warmth of Belonging
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
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
Last year around this time I was at the tail end of a brief relationship with my old favorite training partner. I wasn't even a year out from leaving my abuser, I hadn't been dating; I was terrified of male attention. Scott and I had known each other for years. We ran together all the … Continue reading Repetition Compulsion and the Heart’s Quest for Home
(...continued) content warning: suicidal ideation I love Kevin*. I think he is a miracle, but he is treating me like I don't matter and our relationship isn't worth the effort--and I am letting him. I kneel on the floor and re-read our text exchange from yesterday for maybe the thousandth time. I begin to type … Continue reading The Barometric Pressure of Unresolved Trauma (2/2)
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)
It's Friday afternoon. I have one more class to teach and Kevin* said he'd call me. My head hurts, both eyes are twitching. I'm exhausted, anxious and nauseous, unable to think about anything else. I tried to look at some emails; I didn't care and my eyes twitched harder. I barely kept it together to … Continue reading Attachment Avoidance, Love, Death and Dignity (1/3)
Exhausted, frightened and overwhelmed, I walk up to Christian's door lugging a bag of groceries, a plant, and the suitcase I'm still living out of. I open the door with my key and he looks surprised to see me; after not sleeping last night I guess I forgot to tell him. I explain that we … Continue reading DUSA Progression Run as Emotional Support
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
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 remember how I felt as a child after I was lucky enough to have a friend over to play. I would say goodbye at the door. Invariably, the moment I was alone would feel like all the air had left the room. Though I was a bright, articulate little girl I'm quite sure I … Continue reading The Truth About Anxiety: I’m Afraid of Everything
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
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?
I had an odd midday meeting between classes, and now I have an hour before I need to be at Durham VA to teach. Coffeeshops make me uneasy now, so I figure I'll get some work done in my car. I park in the lot facing traffic--I can't tolerate the sound of it behind me, … Continue reading Why Showing Up Early Is Terrible and Wonderful
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...
How am I having flashbacks now from a trigger hours ago? Why are pull-ups triggering me? This never happened before. I start to hyperventilate and then...
What is it, then, that makes me hyper-vigilant with a hug from Scott or a smile from the guy in the grocery store? What makes me shudder when I get a stray...
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...
I told my husband our marriage was over last night. I lope back toward the house, and daffodils line the roadside. It is the first time I've seen them. The daffodils mean...