I saw the counselor P the next week. After talking about the safety things to do which I did, she said to me, "You've been depressed for so long you don't even know you are depressed." (1 DEPRESSION IS COMMON IN DV. DEFINITELY AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED SO SHE DOESN'T STAY DEPRESSED AND GO BACK OR FIND ANOTHER JUST LIKE THE FIRST.)
"I want you to take 20 minutes a day and practice being the happiest you can be."
"Put on some music and dance, for example. S would probably like that, too. Just a suggestion. Whatever you do, start getting happy."
I tried the dancing thing. At first it was the hardest 20 minutes of the day! But then I began to remember how good it felt to feel good. I had forgotten. S liked it too. I would hold her and we would swing around. She laughed. I laughed. God, it has been so long since I laughed. I've been dancing and singing with S for about five months now. It is so much fun. (2 GOOD WHOLESOME FUN IS A GOOD THING.)
The job I got is with really nice people. I am doing a job I never thought I could ever do. I am surprised whenever my boss compliments me on how well I am doing. I think I am actually gaining some self-esteem. I'm starting to feel like a real person. Does that make sense? (3 WHATEVER IT TAKES TO REGAIN SELF-ESTEEM IS ANOTHER GOOD THING)
I still have some trouble at night. Sometimes I wake up and find myself standing outside. Or I hear noises at night. I immediately jump out of bed thinking D has found me. What's with that?
P says it take a while for all the years of fear to subside. She said all the work she and I do is a PROCESS not a cure. She said to expect PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION for quite a while.
Now, with P's help, I am working on CHANGING THE STORY IN MY HEAD. I pay as close attention to my thoughts as I can. OK, I can do this probably 10 percent of the time. Still...when I hear myself talking fear thoughts in my head, I replace them with happy thoughts. Like I'll find myself thinking "he is gong to find me and kill me." I replace that with "I am safe right here, right now. Or I say to myself, 'is that true?' 'Are you sure that's true?'" Then I laugh 'cause I have no idea if that is true."
Tonight I was missing Auntie so I called her. She sounded real happy. We talked and laughed and she teased me about the new name I had chosen for myself. It was so good to talk to her. She said I sounded happy, too. The happiest I ever sounded since my mother died years ago. I told her about my job and my sessions with P and about how S is now 2 years old. I met some people with little kids so S had a real birthday party with four kids and their Moms over.
She told me D had moved away and she didn't know where he was. I felt a knot in my stomach and quickly told myself this is a big country. That doesn't mean he is here. Still, I called a new friend of mine who is a police detective and asked him if he would track D on his computer. (Yeah. I know. You are wondering...I have gone out with him a few times. I am surprised that I don't even care that he isn't particularly handsome. He is very nice to me and S. S is crazy about him I'm taking it r e a l slow though. Not rushing into anything.)
B, that's his name, called me a few minutes ago. He found D living very far away and working for some construction company. B said according to public records D filed for divorce and because no one knew where I was, the divorce was granted without me being there. What a relief! He even gave full custody of S to me. I know that child custody is usually a big power control thing so I am glad that he didn't pursue that. That would have been really horrifying. I guess he just wanted to be done with the whole thing. Works for me.
As I said in the beginning, I am 24 years old now. I am happy, working and S just started school. We are doing great. I've done it! I've broken the cycle of violence! No longer am I a victim of abuse. I feel happy and strong and for the first time in my life I actually like myself. I sneak a look up into the starry night sky. I swear I see my Mom smiling down on me.