i think it all started last year when a fuck named brian pulliam killed a local woman, kirsten darlin, and her nephew. i didn't know any of the parties involved, but a sick, sharp feeling rose up in me when i heard the details. brian was a skinhead with a temper (to say the least) and a serious criminal background- he and his friends had beaten a man so badly that the dude sustained brain damage and had to learn to walk again. brian went to prison for a couple years for that. kirsten was a member of the duke city darlins, a group that does fundraising for community non profit organizations, and was into body modification and pin up style. her friends didn't like brian but had no idea that kirsten was afraid or that brian was capable of such violence. he killed kirsten and her nephew after she broke up with him. i was transported back in time to my own escape from a dangerous relationship almost 8 years ago. i was flooded with gratitude and somehow still-fresh fear stemming from those memories. i felt so lucky, because i knew kirsten's ending could have been my story too. the parallels between brian and my ex were jarring to me and all in all- i felt a deep sadness and connection to this woman whose life was cut so short. i understood her secrecy and attempts over time to present a normal, upbeat front in the midst of growing discomfort and threat. i imagined her last moments and my whole body responded- my hands shook, i tasted metal. last week i glimpsed a kitchen knife behind a client's bed- i understood so intrinsically that even when a threat is not visibly present, our traumatized minds and bodies are always prepared for one. friday i worked with a client on domestic violence issues and a restraining order. i told her that i had been through something similar and had come to the other side of it. in this business, we tend to compartmentalize things till there is time to deal with them, but i honestly didn't think anything was wrong. that night, i fell asleep on the couch. i began dreaming of HIM, my ex, and woke up covered in sweat and shaking. i pulled myself off the couch and stumbled to bed. all night i had nightmares, with different mythology and content. woke up over and over, jerking myself out of the dreams and letting my hot sheets and pillow come into reality once more. when i'm on call, i can't take the sleeping aids that allow me to go black when things like this happen. i had a nagging feeling i needed to look up my ex on the court website. last night i couldn't find him under probation and parole- my heart started thudding in my chest. is he off paper? does he know where i am? i don't always trust my intuition when it comes to myself- it's compounded by the racing thoughts that accompany my triggers. i don't trust that i am always right- when i worry and perseverate about something, it's not necessarily because my instincts are warning me. fear and past trauma play a role in all my actions and thoughts- sometimes a role of strength and pride in my survival- sometimes feeding the pain and anxiety. so anyway, i began crying- silent but tears flowed down my face. my heart beat so loudly that my chest ached. i decided i needed to reach out. that is something i find so difficult to do, but i owe it to myself and to the women i serve to be a healthy and stable individual. i emailed my boss and asked her if she knew of DV survivor groups in the area, because i am not aware of one. i want to connect with other women and learn from them. i want to know it's part of my healing to feel this stuff when i'm triggered, and it doesn't mean that i'm lost in my trauma. most of all, i want to feel like i own my feelings, my skin, my life, my experiences- that a person who means nothing to me does not pull my strings or control my fate. it's so hard for me to reach out- but my heart slowed down and i was able to fall asleep. jerked out of a deep sleep at 4:30 AM this morning. been up since, but i don't mind, cause i get to share this with the unknown, mysterious readers of this blog and i know my voice is heard, by someone. i think of that book "dont hurt laurie", about an abused girl finding her voice and calling out her abusers. i read it when i was kid and relief and hope gushed over me. someone understood. it gave me courage that carried me through the darkest days of my life. so much of my life was dark but i fought for happiness and peace. i won't give it up so easily. so now, i speak.