Recovery Is A Staircase

[CN: rape, self-injury]

Nathan’s First Selfie #proudmom

The first time I told the story—or, rather, tried to tell it—was in 2001, twelve years after the rapes themselves. I had a psychotic break afterwards, where I heard a voice in my head telling me it would kill me before I talked again. My left wrist still bears scars of the stitches I required before that day ended.

The second time I told the story wasn’t until October, 2013. Afterwards, I stopped being able to sleep in the dark. For the next fourteen months, the only sleep I got were catnaps at dawn and dusk. Sometimes I tried drinking myself to sleep by mid-afternoon, anything to make the day be over.

In 2014, the morning of April 30, I got a call from the rape crisis center where I’d put my name on a waiting list, informing me that my first appointment would be later that week. Panicked at the thought of telling the story to yet another new person, I ended up slicing my leg open, an inch-deep trough running up the length of my calf. I lost close to a pint of blood.

Tonight, I told a roomful of people an aspect of the story I have never said out loud before. Afterwards, I stood a long time in the hallway outside that room, afraid to come home. Afraid even to move.

And then I did move.
And then I did come home.

Once back at my place, I cuddled my cat. I ate a peanut butter sandwich. I wrote this post to share on Facebook. Then I decided to share it on my blog as well.

I’m calling it:

I did good tonight.

When he is not the photographer, Nathan bores quickly.

[“Recovery Is A Staircase” is part of an ongoing memory project.
The entire series can be found here.]

56 thoughts on “Recovery Is A Staircase

    1. aww, thanks! I appreciate the support!

      This is why I think periodically reflecting back is so important: it’s too easy to overlook the progress made, and the work it took to get there. Until I assembled this particular list, I hadn’t seen the pattern — and so couldn’t recognize the pattern breaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m amazed at the layers and spirals that are part of recovery… it takes the time it needs to take. Congrats for each step forward- and also- I’ve come to embrace the two steps back that can happen in between. Part and parcel of it all, I’ve found. Thanks for always so bravely sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Spiral” — that’s it exactly. Nothing ever leaves us, but hopefully we can learn more each time we revisit. Thanks for all your support and encouragement, as always!


  2. Everyone else has said everything so eloquently, Alice… what can I add other than a hug and a scritch for Nathan, and the assertion that you are beloved and integral and meaningful and a blessing to those around you…?

    You are strength embodied, friend. Keep on keeping on, Alice…!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “beloved and integral and meaningful” — what more can a girl ask for?? ❤

      btw, Nathan appreciates the scritch you sent, and would like to offer an affectionate laceration of your hand by way of thanks. (Claws AND teeth — he must really like you!)

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I realized belatedly how tasteless that comment was… I apologize, and am thankful you realize by now that my foot permanently resides on my mouth, lmao!!! =)


        2. lol! Tish, sweets, you do recall I’m the one who described this cat to you as eternally torn between wanting to love me and wanting to murder me?? Your comment pegged him perfectly. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Have I told you lately, Heather, just how much I value your friendship??

      I keep the Holiday Gingerbread Pooper Man toy thing you once sent me on the shelf right next to my keys. So at least twice a day I am reminded of your awesomeness and your humor, your wish that I find sweetness amidst the crap I encounter — and your very sage advice: “whatever you do, DON’T EAT THE CANDY!!”


      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d like to thank you for taking that first step back to the life of your own – the one you own, that no one can take from you. And I cry for you, a cascade of emotions felt deeply and cruelly new each time the scar is bared to the world. But that’s how it is cleansed, made clean, healed. Slowly, with pain, with sharing – and love to help you, hold your hand or bring the cuppa or fold the blanket down.
    I’d like to tell you that you are not alone, but that does not help.
    I’ll tell you I love you, and others love you, and there is more love in the world that you can imagine. Sometimes, that helps. Sometimes not. It is true.
    Your cat loves you. The truest, most pure love. Does the cat care if you have purple skin or tangerine eyes? Does he care if you don’t shower today, or if you work in a pit or a plane or a truck? No. Your cat loves you, as I love you, as one of the true hearts in the tenix wires of this form of community/communication. That is something to remember, to feel as a true thing. I am not alone in this, as you are not alone, as the people who read your words are now no longer alone.
    And they will thank you; some today, some tomorrow, some later. Why? You have changed the world for not just one or two, but for many. You are meant to be part of this world because you are one of the people who matter. You are a piece of the community, a person who cares and feels and shares and helps.
    I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please stay with us. Please.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You have captured perfectly what I love most about being part of this weird world of blogging: the connection, compassion, and grace I continually find within this community. Thank you for your words. Thank you for your caring soul.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. These are the things you did for me, after I read Fcuk Pretty. It took me from a voyeur to a participant. I began to ‘feel’ real, thanks to your words. My soul was brought back from the brink of emptiness – and I have you to thank for that, so the circle continues. You rescue me, I rescue you – isn’t that a song?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. If it isn’t, I’m sure it deserves to be!

          I am so moved to hear how that piece of mine resonated for you. [You may have told me something similar already? In which case, please forgive me: I’m afraid I was too overwhelmed by the sheer number of responses people wrote to “Fcuk Pretty” — so many of them poignant, heart-moving stories of their own — that I don’t have a clear sense of just who said what.] I am so glad to know this now. I am so glad to be part of the circle with you.


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