The End of Week 2

So it’s the end of my second week at my new job. You can read about where I work here. I’m the assistant to the Chief of Resident Treatment. Basically, my boss oversees all of the clinicians at the facility. Because she has a big job, I have a big job. I have quite a few different areas I’m responsible for and it’s nothing like I have ever done before. I really like it!

My Criminal Justice degree is finally being used and the extra work I put in to earn my specialization in violent offenders is paying off, as I knew it would. The fact that I can carry on an informed and educated conversation with people who carry a PhD makes me feel really good about myself, but the fact that I have an understanding of the resident population that I work with makes me feel like it was all worth it. When I was in school, there were a lot of late nights and early mornings, many sacrifices, and it was all worth it. It’s exciting to know I still have the opportunity to learn a lot and I’m loving the work, so far.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they hate the commute. Admittedly, it’s not the most convenient route to work but it’s not as terrible as I feel like it would be to drive to Seattle every day. You have to make sure you’re at the Steilacoom Ferry dock, parked,through the security checkpoint at the dock house, and on the boat by 7:20 AM or else you’re going to wait two more hours for the next boat to come. Our boat only carries McNeil Island employees to/from the island. We don’t pay for parking or the ride over since it’s owned by the facility itself, which is nice because that would add up quickly! Personally, I enjoy the ride over to the island. The water is beautiful and I get to watch the seals, see the porpoises jumping in and out of the water, and if you’re lucky, you get to see the bald eagle. I use the boat ride home as a way to leave all of the “icky” stuff I might hear, see, or read about at work behind. The distance between the island to the mainland is plenty of time to let my day drift off of me so I don’t get burnt out by what could become challenging.

Other than the obvious, one of the unique situations is that you can’t have your phone on you at all. I have to leave mine in my car, so I don’t see or hear from anyone till I get to my car at 4:45 PM. Then I have to drive about 30 minutes home. So I’m seeing 97 Facebook notifications, 29 texts, 3 missed calls, 2 voicemails, 7 Snapchat notifications, and God only knows what else popping up on my phone. I have to admit, it’s kinda like Christmas to see all of that at the end of the day. Even more, I’ve noticed how nice it is to not be distracted by a phone at work all day. And in a place like that, you need to remain alert.

Overall, I think I’m feeling positive about things. I like the people I work with and they seem to like me, I know I can learn and grow professionally there, and I get to be on the water twice a day. For me, that’s a treat, but I’m told will wear off – we’ll see about that. So many of you have been curious to know how things have been going so I thought I’d make it easier to send out a blog post to update everyone. I would love to hear your questions since I didn’t really get into specifics. I’ll answer anything I’m allowed to. Thanks for reading!

xo,

a

 

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Pushing Through 

Violent. Sexual. Predators. 
The interview offer came yesterday and the interview was today. I reluctantly accepted after misinterpreting my own boundaries. I was nervous all day yesterday, had nightmares last night, and was terrified today.

I went anyway.

The interview was out on McNeil Island where there used to be a prison. Technically, the prison is still there but it isn’t being used but if you go on the north side of the island you’ll find their compound that houses violent and non violent sexual offenders that have completed their prison time and are being further screened to be sure they are ready to return to civilized society.

Having been a sexual assault victim, I believe I had every right to feel terror about going. Nobody knows what I live with on a day to day basis and I sure as hell wouldn’t want them to. So why go? Trust me, the idea rolled around in the pit of my stomach since the original interview offer came through. Some said I should strongly consider not going, some couldn’t understand why I was scared to go. And then there was my opinion. The only opinion that mattered.

I went because if I let myself cower down then the men that did (or tried) to take advantage of my body still win. I went because I have a degree in Criminal Justice with a specialized focus in Violent Offenders that I spent years of late nights busting my ass to graduate with honors from. I went because it was my way of winning; my way of saying, “Fuck you for the anguish you have brought upon my body, mind, and spirit.” I went because it was my chance to have a say in things. I went because I owed myself the privilege of getting to tour an intriguing and secluded location that many wonder about but few understand.

I was a bit of a mess as I got to the dock to ride the boat. I fumbled through getting my visitors pass. My mouth was dry and my eyes bulged. I smoothed my hair about 10 trillion times. Finally, we set sail and it was a beautiful ride across the Puget Sound. I think it calmed me as I have always been drawn to the water. The more time I spent on the island, the more at ease I was. I needed to see what it was like in order to make an educated decision as to whether or not this was somewhere I would want to work every day. I needed to go for me.

xo,

a

Bumps in the Night

The kids were at their visit with their bio mom. Mitch was asleep because he had to get up in a few hours to work the graveyard shift. I can’t begin to remember what I was watching on Hulu. It was 5:15 pm on Thursday night. I was supposed to have the night off from the crisis line but I eagerly picked up an extra shift at the last minute. The phone was on, charged, and ready to be answered.

*Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing.*

“Hi, this is Aubrey.” It’s the answering service. “Hello. I have a caller named Bob* that didn’t want to give out his information and said he’d like to speak with an advocate.”

The answering service connects the caller to me and within the first 1.5 seconds, I froze. It’s my dad. I haven’t heard his voice since my wedding day on August 2, 2008. Irrational. Irate. Infuriated. Ranting. Raving. Screaming. Swearing. Spitting. And this is about the time during the call that things start to go black for me.

If you’ve ever been to “da club” or “clubbin” or seen raves on TV, then you’ll know what I mean when I say how jagged people look when they’re dancing under a strobe light. It’s a bunch of 1 second stills, then it goes dark, then there’s another 1 second of light but the picture is different and so on. Jerking. Jostling. Jumpy. That’s what this call was like in my mind.

He’s yelling about how pissed off he is. He’s so angry and talking so fast that I can barely make out what he’s saying until he says, “I’m just going to kill all of them or maybe myself!” He has been unstable my whole life, so I’ve heard this from him before, but does he really mean it this time? How do I know? What do I do? I know! I will get him to calm down. Deescilate the issue so we can talk this out. I’ve seen my mom do this with him. I’ve tried to do this with him. I’m experienced in trying to deescalate my dad’s temper. These are all coping mechanisms a small child should know nothing about, but I know it all too well.

Me: “Bob. Bob…Bob, I need you to listen to my voice, okay? Bob. I need you to listen to my voice so you can take a deep breath, okay? It’s okay for you to be angry right now but I need you to breathe for me right now, okay buddy?

Bob: “Fuck you, you dumb bitch! You don’t have a fucking clue, do you?

Me: “Bob, you will not speak to me like that. I am trying to help you, but you are not going to speak to me like that again.”

My voice is firm. He calms down. 

Me: “Bob, I need you to take a deep breath for me and tell me what your location is.”

Bob: “I’m at the convention center. I’m sitting on the bricks.”

Me: “Okay, now I’m going to ask you a question and I need you to tell me the truth. Do you have a weapon on you right now?”

Bob: (irate) “No, I don’t have a fucking weapon on me, I’m not going to hurt anybody!”

Me: “I’m going to call to have someone come pick you up. What are you wearing?”

Bob: “Nobody here takes me seriously, nobody is coming to pick me up! That’s why I’m just going to kill every one of these assholes!”

Me: “Bob, I’m sorry but I have to take these kinds of threats very seriously so I need to call someone to come get you. I have to hang up now.”

It took me 3 different transfers to get to the correct city 911 operator. When I get to the right gal she tells me they are very familiar with this guy. I give her the full details (many omitted for privacy reasons) and we hang up. I called my boss to let her know what transpired. She asks if I’m okay and I tell her I’m totally fine. We get off the phone. I go to the bedroom to check on Mitch since I’m sure I woke him up by accident.

He asks if I’m okay. I crumble. 

For a good 20 minutes I’m hyperventilating on the bed, in my chair, on my back porch, and back to my chair. My legs feel week. I can’t stop crying. I HATE THAT I’M CRYING. The strobe light of memory lane flashes glaringly in my mind. My dad, all 6 ft 1 of him, towering over us in the middle of the night as we all quiver in the bed we’re sharing – begging of him to leave us alone and let us all sleep. The room is as black as his eyes but his casted shadow and his foaming mouth burn through us with the heat of 1,000 suns. He says the most awful things to the 3 of us. He is scarier than the monsters in the horror films I grew up watching. He is THE monster.

Maybe you’ve guessed by now that the guy on the phone wasn’t my dad, but his voice sounded just like my dad’s. It’s like I heard a ghost and when that happened, when that ghost kicked in the door, busting the frame, like he had time and time again, I instantly traveled back in time. Panicked. Shocked. Disbelieving. Yet, there I was, on the phone, trying to hold it together to help this guy calm down enough to get a description of what he was wearing, whether or not he was armed, and where he was at so I could report to police in the area he’s in since I have no tracking information like a dispatch center would.

I was truly terrified tonight. More terrified than I can remember being in years. It was a full on PTSD flashback and it completely drained me. At times, I couldn’t figure out if I was standing on my back porch or if I was hiding under the covers from the monster that my dad was. Thank God Mitch was here. He did such a great job at soothing, helping me breathe, refocusing my attention on that stupid tree in the back yard that I could barely see because it was dark, but dammit, he was going to get me to focus on ANYTHING other than the trauma I was reliving.

He grabbed my work phone, he called my boss, and he told her I couldn’t finish my shift tonight. She was extremely understanding and I appreciate that. I have been a crisis line advocate for a year now and this was the first time a call triggered my PTSD. I should also mention that the man I spoke with tonight has called multiple times before, and I truly like the guy. He’s a good man with a hard life. I think part of my tears tonight weren’t because of him, but for him. My heart cries out for where he feels insufficiencies in his life. Regardless of what the outside world perceives to be true or not, he speaks his truth to me when we are on the phone and his rage is not unfounded – it just came out in a different way tonight. I feel sad for him. Sad because I think he’s lonely and sad because, in his mind, his world is so chaotic and scary.

I really don’t know what I would have done if Mitch wasn’t here. I’m so glad the kids were on their visit with their mom during the call, but when they got home…oh, how I hugged and loved on them like no other. Not just because it made me feel happy to do so, but because it’s important for kids to be hugged and kissed and doted on by parents (or parental figures) in their lives.

Mitch, just as in many other scenarios, you were, once again, my hero tonight. Thank you so much for all of your courageous and heartfelt work to try to understand what it’s like for me to live with PTSD. Thank you for loving me when I’m sure I’m hard to be loved. And to anyone else reading this – thank you for reading, for not judging, and for continuing to encourage me to share whatever it is that’s on my mind through the written word.

xo,

a

The Beginning of the End

2016 was probably one of the most yo-yo years on record for me. The best thing that happened to us was definitely our sweet girls. Another highlight was all the fun parties we had at our new home. We had “just because” parties and holiday related parties, we had Bunco parties, birthday parties, anniversary parties. All kinds of fun! I can’t wait for summer so we can start planning round two. 

On the flip side, I had (have) some major struggles and hurdles to overcome. I began to see a counselor in the spring and that’s when I was diagnosed with Chronic/Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I implore you to learn more about this by clicking here. Once the diagnosis came, my counselor and I began the long haul of work ahead of me to peel back the layers of the things in my past that still haunt me every. single. day. I learned that who I thought I was, how I thought I came off to others, how I thought I was acting/reacting, the emotions I thought I was feeling, and so on, weren’t that at all. As you might be able to imagine, this was and still is very difficult for me to process. When you go about your life a certain way for 30+ years you think you know yourself. I hadn’t a clue.

I had to reevaluate everything in my life which meant my job, my friends, relationships with my peers, and most difficult, myself. I had to reevaluate something I already have a hard time with – who I can trust, so only a select few knew what was going on. For those of you that I could truly trust to see me through some of the darkest days of my life, THANK YOU for your love, space, and understanding. I’m so profoundly proud of myself for the changes I have made thus far. I can feel my heart, my mind, my temperament, and my vision changing. It may not have been easy but it was necessary and as hard as some days can be for me, I know it won’t always be like that. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. 

I gave up New Years resolutions years ago, but I replaced it with being mindful of things I’d like to personally grow from or into. I guess it’s a resolution of sorts. Maybe I just don’t care for the word “resolution” so I use something else that makes me feel less committed. These mantras are a part of my daily life and year after year, as I continue to grow, those mantras mean something different than they did the year before.

Always be moving forward. Always strive to be compassionate. Always strive to be better than you were yesterday. Always strive to find peace in all things. 

I hope that 2017 brings you joy and love in every interaction. I hope you find peace and make the conscious effort to take good care of you. I wish you prosperity and personal growth in the year to come. To all of you here on Earth and to those no longer with us, Happy New Year. May we all find what we’re looking for. 

xo,

a

I am never good at this!

I should just start every blog off by saying, “Sorry it’s been so long…” because, as I always say, I’m terrible about consistently blogging. I’ll try to keep the update brief by being vague, but not so much that it makes you feel like this entire post was written in hieroglyphics.

A lot has been going on lately. Work is picking up and my days are getting longer and longer. It’s time to get ready to travel the country again for work, and I am looking forward it. I am able to see new places, to give of myself, to be more exhausted than I thought humanly possible, to work alongside some of the most wonderful people on the planet (participants and staff), and I get to be inspired by them to do and be more. My travel schedule is below.

August: Michigan 3-Day

September: Seattle 3-Day (Okay, so I’m not traveling for it, but it’s worth mentioning!)

October: Philadelphia 3-Day (walking) 

October: Atlanta 3-Day

November: Dallas / Ft. Worth 3-Day

It’s been so hot here. Ugh. We Pacific Northwest people aren’t here for the heat! It used to be that July 5th was the first day of summer here and it was MAYBE low 90’s for a couple of days, but that was it. People! Global warming is a thing! Don’t get me wrong, I love the beautiful summers that we’ve been having, but I like heat to stay outside. I probably wouldn’t bitch about it at all if I had air conditioning. Dare to dream, right?

I’m feeling my anxiety and stress levels increase over the last few weeks. There are some things going on in the background that I won’t share here, at least not now, but I’m finding it very difficult to open up about things. I know, I know, that’s not good. For some reason, I’m feeling useless lately. I don’t feel like I’m reaching goals, I feel like I’m kind of just stagnant. On top of that, I’m feeling like I’m not doing enough for others. I’m annoying myself with my personal pity party.

A few really good things to mention are coming up! I went to my friend’s cabin over the weekend on Anderson Island. I love it out there. I get to go once a year and it is NEVER enough time. Fun, friends, food. What more do you need? Gracie, thanks for always inviting me! Our friendship and the friendships you have introduced me to are priceless!

Stephanie and the kids are home right now! Mitch and I got to visit with them today. We had a picnic at the spray park and it was really nice to chat for a while. I couldn’t help but smile inside knowing that the place where the spray park is located used to be the location of our old high school before it got torn down. How funny that we were reconnecting in the very same place where our friendship started. I love that girl.

Saturday will be a fun-filled day. Me, mom, Sandra, Yvette and a few other folks are headed to Cheney Stadium for the Color in Motion 5k. I’ve never done a color run, so this should be interesting and hilarious! Afterward, Mitch, mom and me are having a BBQ at mom’s house. We have spent so much time with my mom now that we’re back in Tacoma. I think she likes having us close by. We’re only a mile down the road, so it’s two shakes of a lamb’s tail and we’re bumping into each other. It’s been fun!

I think I’ll wrap it up right here for now. Maybe I’ll blog again soon…but don’t hold your breath! 😉