I have now reached the end of my therapy. Well, at least the intensive stuff. I have learned a lot about PTSD and myself. And I have healed more then I thought would ever be possible. This is the story of that journey.
In the beginning . . .
I grew up the youngest child in a lower middle class family. I had a carefree childhood, spending my free time with friends at the beach or NYC. My family went to church every Sunday and took road trip vacations all over the country. My father was the epitome of the Protestant work ethic, never missing a day of work. My mother spent her time caring for us and anybody else who was in need. There was not a day that I did not know how much my parents loved me. They gave me a very strong foundation in the importance of faith, work, love, family, and helping others.
I went away to college and discovered and experimented with the other side of my bisexuality. After graduation I was offered an entry level job, an aide to an aide really, but it was in my chosen field so I picked up and moved to an unknown city where I knew no one. I met my two closest friends working in the same department, our first jobs out college, alone and away from our homes. We became each other’s family and took care of each other. We still do.
I lived in public housing where I met a woman, Jean, who became my mentor and friend. I became very involved with tenant's rights and advocacy for the poor. She taught me about the dignity of all human beings, how to work through the political system effectively and the importance of building and maintaining bridges between people. Every time a professional or personal relationship stumbled she would simply say to me “go make it right girl.” The importance of reconciling relationships has kept me working on those connections ever since.
Then I started graduate work the local university where I met Daphne. A beautiful, uber smart woman who literally had me at “hello.” I had loved before. But this was LOVE. To the bone, soulmate, fireworks kind of love. Daphne and I lived together for almost three years. We both had our individual work and passions that kept us busy, but when we were together it was . . . well, something very, very special. Dirt poor but deliciously happy, our lives were just beginning to unfold.
This point in time is frozen like a shapshot for me. I had everything. Supportive family. Satisfying job. Rewarding volunteer work. Great friends. A phenomenal lover. It was the most joy filled time of my life.
And then 3 or 4 hours one sunny afternoon changed it all. In one brutal attack I lost Daphne. I lost myself. I lost everything.
I spent the next few years in a black hole, retreating from a world I was now terrified of. But I didn’t really lose everything, although it took me years and years to realize it. I never lost the love and support of my church, family and friends. They were just always there. It was this foundation of love that got me through that first year.
And the memory of Daphne, who in her worst moment of anguish during that assault, looked at me and said “do not let them win.”
Do not let them win.
I was never completely certain what she meant, although not a day went by when I didn’t think about it. It took a couple of years but at some point I realized that in order to honor the love we had, and continue with the things that were important to her and to us, I needed to get myself healthy.
And not let them win.
So began my journey to be able to live and love again. And to find those things I lost. Remarkably, this past year I also found Daphne. And most recently, I have begun to find myself. It has been a amazing journey. I am smiling . . .