Sunday, February 22, 2009

010. Moving up and moving on

It's been a while, hasn't it? I have been very busy and vaguely stressed with work and training.

Work has been going well. I go in each morning, do my creative thing, and come home at night. The new roommates are fantastic, and we have been getting along quite well. Jerri is very quiet and shy, but pleasant; Leslie is funny and happy. We each do our part, and things have been going smoothly.

I've started volunteering on weekends at the local rape crisis center. I am enjoying it. It's tough, but I feel like I am helping people. I am glad these programs exist, and I hope people can find them.

So, it finally happened: I ran into Catherine on the street. I was at the bus stop waiting to head home when a little blond thing passed me. I almost didn't recognize her (she looked very pale). We made eye contact, and I know I must have looked strangely at her as I tried to place her face. Part of me wanted to call out to her, but she sped off so quickly in a huff.

Sometimes, I wonder what she thinks about all that happened. Is she ever sorry? Was she ever hurt by him? Did she feel like she was betrayed by me?

I guess I will never really know.

There is a happy hour this week for alums that I'd like to go to with Lane. I hope I can convince her to go: she has her own issues with Jay and Catherine following an ill-conceived friendship with benefits.

You know, I got a comment on this blog recently about moving on. I think about that a lot--I feel like I should have just moved on by now. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. There aren't too many nightmares anymore, but the flashbacks continue. Anything can trigger them: the smell of a certain cologne, booze, the face of a man wearing glasses or a voice. Soldiers suffer from PTSD well into old age, and so do rape survivors.

We deal with flashbacks and the triggers in our own ways over time. Some survivors compartmentalize: the break their story into little boxes and store them away in the attic of their mind, taking them out only when appropriate, like old photo albums. Other survivors talk incessantly about the rape, they seek out potential triggers, read books, watch movies. Survivors may ping pong from one extreme to another over weeks and over years--healing can take a lifetime, and there are many, many ways to cope, none of them wrong and none of them right.

Think of it like this: every survivor has a toolbox filled with hammers and nails and glue and wood. You can take those tools and build something beautiful, like a birdhouse or art. You can also take that hammer and smash in someone's skull, most likely your own (figuratively speaking). Surviving is figuring out what to do with those tools, and you will very likely smash your thumb a few times before hitting that nail just right.

I am not going to give you the information about my local crisis center, but I strongly, strongly urge everyone to visit the national resource at least once in the near future: RAINN.org.