When One Window Opens

I wouldn’t say it’s been an easy two months. As much as I’ve tried to focus on the positive and take the space for recovery, there is a lot of healing to be had. Happiness is a fleeting moment. The toxic stress of uncertainty lies underneath its glimpses of hope.

But as I’ve told countless family and friends, even with this drastic change, my life now holds more meaning than it did just a few months ago. My everyday feels meaningful, even without purpose. Because for the first time in the societal reigns of financial liability, I am free to just be and re-learn all that once defined my childhood joy.

That doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven myself for getting into certain situations. This is part of my healing journey, and as my best friend so aptly reminded me, often a symptom of trauma. We blame ourselves more than the abuser, and it’s a cold, little heart. But rather than focus on the trauma, I choose to focus on the frame of opportunity.

Some days are easier than others, but just a few weeks into this new path, Norm – the six-year-old tabby that continues to astound me with his resilience – gave me a window of hope. Continue reading

The Day I Decided I Needed a Pet

“Oh my god something shit on my bed,” I remember telling my roommate on the phone. I was living in the Little Italy neighborhood of Baltimore, and after an eight-hour day at my contractual position at the university, I came home to find a pile of poop on my $20 Target comforter. I was planning to move in a few days.

Of course upon texting both my roommates, they responded with inherent laughter. I didn’t think it was so funny. Once I removed the comforter and ruined sheets, I realized the shit had stained the actual mattress. I’d had this mattress since I moved into my first apartment four years prior. What did I know of mattress protectors?

made bed next to window

“Did the landlord let her dogs in here? Why the hell would she let them shit on the bed and leave it?” I didn’t consider myself a bad tenant, but maybe I had done something to make her mad? I would have categorized this instance as beneath her, but I also knew she could be vindictive.

I considered throwing the comforter in the washer. God knows it had survived a few drunken vomit episodes. But nah, I was moving soon, and it didn’t seem worth the dry cleaning. I threw it in the trash. But what about the mattress? I had already sold it to the next tenant. What could I do?

I opened the window and sprayed some Febreeze. And then something came crawling out from underneath my bed, seeming completely terrified. A cat. Continue reading

Norm Is Looking for a Boyfriend (But He Doesn’t Know It Yet)

I’ve been thinking about getting Norm a girlfriend or boyfriend (I’m leaning more towards boyfriend). Even though my roommate and I each work from home once a week (on different days), Norm has not been pleased with the 8+ hours he may spend alone each day (or at least that’s what his increased “launch attack” initiatives tell me).

And let’s be honest. This apartment is a kitten’s paradise. Norm can spend hours rolling around on the carpet, chasing his tail around the living room, hopping from chair to couch to table and back again, and climbing a vast array of window sills. In addition he likes to spend his days sunning in his tree or hiding on a shelf in one of two walk-in closets. He spends his evenings catching hair ties and mini soccer balls or dragging his “bird on a wire” toy from the closet archway to mom’s bed. Continue reading

The Ones Who Survive

I can feel the tension in my knee building. I look at my watch: 26.07. Okay, I tell myself, I just need to make it up and down this hill, and then on the straight and narrow path home. If I can run 30 minutes today, that will be sufficient, and I shouldn’t put too much strain on my IT band.

Since September, I’ve been undergoing physical therapy because I couldn’t run seven minutes without being in extreme pain. Even with stretching, resting, and strengthening, I could not seem to surpass this hump that started at 20 minutes, then 12, and finally seven. Frustrated, I gave up and called my doctor. I invested more financial resources than I’d like to admit in attending physical therapy sessions twice a week.

I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Work was stressful. I had no social support system. I needed to run. And it’s not like I’m a good runner. I could be in better shape. I usually run when I feel the need to blow off some steam or stretch my legs, but I wouldn’t say I do it consistently. But now that my life seemed to be shredding before me, I felt the need to do it more often.

So after a month of physical therapy, I could run 20 minutes without pain, and then after six weeks, I could run 25. I felt stuck at that number and started to think maybe I would just have to live with short distance. I no longer pushed past the pain. I wanted to be able to run tomorrow, too. This day was no different from any other. Continue reading