Let gratitude be your guide

I have been back from Colorado for two weeks.

The dust has settled.

For a moment there, I was wrestling things of the past. I was barely eating. Insomnia was back with a vengeance. I was on a Netflix, business, fill every second binge that ended with a crying jag on the way to a superhero movie with my husband.

I’ve filled my fridge (and my body) with healthier food. I am still struggling to get back on a legit sleeping routine but the tension of struggling to disappear from my past is lifting. The acceptance is coming back to replace the struggle to make it not be.

I’ve been having trouble deciding how to explain the experience of the trip. I’m still not sure how to write it all down. Regardless, I started today.

I sat on my porch and enjoyed a sunny morning of writing.

As a side note, the wisteria I planted has decided to stay. It’s little green vines are hugging the railing on my steps. I think we are going to be good friends.

Today, for you, I’ve decided to start in the middle.

I am going to start at the most important moment.

When the words that I had been holding behind my back the entire time I’d been in Colorado stumbled out.

I am going to begin with the moment I reached across the table for my teacher, grasped her hand and said,

“You saved me.”

Me, Rue and the hands of my past teacher and my recent contemporary, Lisa Griffin.


I’ve been holding this photo quietly.

Jena quickly snapped this shot and sent it to me after the meal. It’s one I couldn’t share right away.

It was such a profound moment for us all.

For those of you who don’t remember, I went to Denver, Colorado to see my teacher Lisa Griffin (formerly Mrs. Pease) and kick off the beginning of the Soulfire 2015 Calendar for The Firecracker Foundation. She was the first person I told about the sexual abuse I had suffered at the hands of my own father when I was just 6 years old. It continued until his death when I was 8 years old and I disclosed to her when I was 9.

You can read more about that here, here and here.

We were eating at an authentic Korean restaurant that is reminiscent of one we both loved to dine at when we lived in El Paso.

The conversation was deep and heavy. We had a private room and the memories unfolded. The dark parts of who my father was and how he treated me were shared. We discussed my telling her and how she reacted. Lisa* told me things I didn’t remember about that time.

She said of my mother,

“I could see the horror on her face.”

The horror.

I don’t think that phrase will ever leave me.

She gave me heartbreaking insight into some of my father’s behavior that made me ugly cry in a room full of people and inspired her husband to come place his arms around my shoulders to remind me that I was safe.

I was safe but sometimes when you step into your past, you forget that you can just as easily step back into your beautiful present.

The trip began with excitement and lightheartedness.

I was a little surprised at how emotional the undertaking was.

Probably because deep down, I truly do believe that I can handle anything.

Ha. It’s true I suppose but that doesn’t make it easy, grasshopper.

As of today, I am unpacking all that I experienced. I am looking through the photos and thinking of all of the ways this experience has changed me.

As I was wandering through Denver with friends new and old, drinking mimosas, taking funny pictures, eating delicious donuts, hiking in the Rockies and skating with a different team, I kept saying one thing to myself.

Let gratitude be your guide.

As I contemplated what brought me to seek Lisa out, I thought about how perfectly she was placed for me. I thought about how it was impossible to know at the age of 9 that she was working to serve survivors and that she was a survivor herself. I thought about our connection and how much her laugh, her sense of humor is still the same. I was grateful that my heart was tied to my teacher’s in a way that made me bold.

I have said thank you and in that expression, I have learned much about my past and in some ways, I believe I have learned a lot about my future.

Follow your gratitude. Find the people, the places, the things that have served you and honor them.

Tourist like a boss.

Whisper through smiling tears, “You saved me.”

In your words, you will inspire people to continue to make their difference in a world of people you may never know.

Thank you. You saved me. I felt rescued.

Words that encourage the rescuers, the saviors, the finders of the lost and the healers of the broken.

Say them. Write them.

Make a record of the rights in a world of wrongs.

It’s safe to go back for this kind of baggage. It’s appropriate to make this kind of upgrade.

I promise.

With gratitude,



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