I have journeyed with you since I started writing in the public sphere in January 2017. My first post was entitled Watching Closely — I have done exactly that. Over three years later I have tread through the tsunami of trauma, certain I would drown. The shore slipped perilously out of sight as the fog, the waves and the proverbial wind ripped what was left of the life I built — sandcastles smashed; bulwarks brutalised; and harbours inhumanely harmed. It is insanely difficult to find safety and stability after violent victimization. The violence took on many forms: individual and institutional betrayal; fear, fracture, and falsehood; safety, sacredness, and stability stolen; lawsuits, lies, and losses; harm, humiliation, and harassment; and finally the crushing weight of oppressive enforced silence.
I have found (personally and professionally) that there is no easy path to recovery and that it is immensely difficult to find a new sense of identity, belonging, purpose, and agency. I had built a career and a life in one path for a long time — trauma changed that trajectory. “Knowing” has always been helpful to me, so grad school on the sociology, psychology, and judicial aspects of child maltreatment, along with my own engagement in trauma informed care, has been immensely helpful to me. Never, not ever, do I wish to be victimised again. Having done a lot of hard work, I believe I have learned the marks of the persuasive predator and am now capable of considerable self protection.
I have spoken to some precious people and gotten to know so much more about myself and the world around me. You have been beautiful to me, befriending me, encouraging me, and sharing your knowledge, your wisdom, your voice, and most of all — yourselves.
In turn I have offered myself.
Having raced to the graduate finish line at the top of my class, I now do not know which path to go. Surely there are choices, which many people are not afforded, but whatever choice I make, whatever path I take must incorporate the me I thought I was, and the me I have now become. The self that childhood trauma formed, and the self that adult re-victimization ruined, are currently in corporate meetings. Where does the collective me go now?
We have yet to reach an agreement.
I have decided to consult some people I respect that have some insight into each pathway. I will research the routes and compare the cost of the journey to the fuel in my tank and the cost to the people I love. Ultimately, I will need to take the time to let the accumulated silt of sorrow settle some. Even saying that makes me weep as I acknowledge the grief. It is not easy to walk on post traumatic paths. The landscape has mines, tripwires, and switchbacks.
I better bring some snacks.