A New Begining Begins
Hi. I'm back. It's been quite an adventure. Since I left D. and there was no room in the shelter, S. and I were in the "underground railroad" system for six weeks. It was exhausting. We were constantly moved from place to place. Now we are in a town away from where I used to live and I have a little apartment behind a big house. It is just right for S and me. S turned one year old while were were gone. I got her a little cake with a candle on it. That was the first thing I could do for her on my own. It felt good. Now that we have our own place, she sleeps good at night and doesn't cry as much.
Me? Well, I am still have some trouble. I was having nightmares during what little sleep I could get and during the day I was irritable and on edge. I didn't know why and I couldn't seem to stop it. I was constantly looking out the window between the curtains that I always kept closed. I would practically jump out of my skin if a siren like a police car or an ambulance sounded. I thought I was going crazy. (1. POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) IS VERY COMMON IN ABUSED WOMEN. MOST THINK IT OCCURS ONLY IN THE MILITARY BUT ANYONE SUFFERING SUDDEN INTENSE TRAUMA OR PROLONGED INTENSE TRAUMA MAY SUFFER FROM PTSD.)
Thin I got set up with this counselor. Her name is P. She was in a violent marriage, too. P really understands what I've been through. (2. OFTEN THE BEST COUNSELORS ARE THOSE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THE ISSUE THEMSELVES.)
She told me that PTSD is really JUST A NORMAL REACTION TO AN ABNORMAL SITUATION. She said because my sense of safety and trust were so shattered it was easy for me to feel crazy. She said it wasn't until I was safe that I had the time to feel crazy. I smiled. It had to be the first time in years.
Over the next few days she had me tell her in detail every violent and hurtful event. I cried. I yelled. I even threw a book that was on a nearby table. I berated myself. I called myself stupid, and ugly and worthless. I let it all out. All of it.
"Now," she said when I was done, "It's time to take all those fearful, unbalanced feelings and thoughts and replace them with thoughts feelings and actions that are balanced and positive instead of destructive."
"The first thing to do at this stage," she said, "is for us to do all that is possible to keep you safe and for you to feel safe. He may try to find you. You know my husband stalked me for two years before he quit. And then he only quit because he found someone else. Well, we do know that your husband went to your Auntie's house several times after he found you gone pounding on the door and threatening her. She and her neighbors called the police but they were always gone by the time they got there."
"What!" I shouted jumping up and ready to bolt out the door. He can't find me! He'll kill me if he finds me!" Panic poured out of my pores in bucketfuls.
P stood up and took me gently by the shoulders. "Right here, right now you are perfectly safe. Take a deep breath. That's it. You are safe and we are going to make sure you stay that way. OK?" We both sat down. (3. STAYING AS MUCH IN THE PRESENT MOMENT AS POSSIBLE HELPS TO ALLEVIATE FEAR OF THE PAST AND FUTURE. REMEMBER, WHEN YOU BRING THE PAST INTO THE PRESENT, ALL YOU GET IN THE FUTURE IS ;MORE OF THE PAST. EASIER SAID THAN DONE IN THE BEGINNING.)
"We also know that he was arrested for being drunk and causing a fight somewhere. He is in jail now but we don't know for how long. So, in the meantime, this is what I want you to do:
1. I want you to set up a SIGNALING SYSTEM with the older couple in the front house. You can use your porch light, for example. Tell them that if the porch light goes, that means D had found you and they are to call the police immediately.
2. Also, it would be best if YOU AND S CHANGED YOUR NAMES. It will be harder for him to find you that way. Don't make it a legal change 'cause he can search public records on the internet.
3. In addition, you need to work. You'll need money. We have found you a job nearby with a company that is willing to help us. That is, he will hire you WITHOUT YOUR HAVE TO SHOW ANY ID OR ANYTHING THAT IS PUBLIC RECORD.
4. Just like J told you before you left, HAVE ANOTHER BAG PACKED just like the first and tucked away just in case you and S have to leave in a hurry should he drive up. and ALWAYS KEEP YOUR WINDOWS LOCKED when you are not home and especially at night. Keep THE DOORS LOCKED whether you are there are not.
"Can I call Auntie now? Just to let her know we are OK?
"Yes, but DO NOT TELL HER WHERE YOU ARE OR GIVE HER YOUR PHONE NUMBER. He can't make her say anything she doesn't know. Well, all of this should give you some much needed self confidence as you take charge of your own safety. I've written everything down for you. Do you think you can handle it? It isn't too much for you right now, is it? You are comfortable?
"Yes, I said taking the list. I'll be just fine. Thank you. See you next week."
Thanks for listening everyone. I'll let you know what happens. Just keep breathing, I tell myself. That's all I have to do right now. Just keep breathing.