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Wow.  I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last engaged.  It’s been over a year since I created a blog post or even just a Facebook post.  It’s not because I lost faith or became bored with the project.  I still very much believe that this project, and everyone who contributes to it, can help to make a positive impact in the fight against sexual assault.  I haven’t posted in over year because, well, because I had a year. 

A friend of mine sent me this image leading up to New Years Eve 2021, and it really captures my thoughts:

Seriously. WTF 2021.  You were bad in a way no year was bad before.  You were bad because I expected better from you.  After 2020 you were supposed to be better, and you let me down.  And that is all I will say about that.

But I do not want to spend my first post in over a year writing about the shit show that was 2021.  On to 2022, which opens with the husband of one of my closest friends being diagnosed with a very rare, rapidly progressive, and invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorder.   When I say rare, I mean one in a million rare.  And 85% of the time it’s called a “spontaneous occurrence”, i.e, pure fucking bad luck.  It’s heart breaking to see people close to you go through something like this.  And it’s terrifying to know that it’s happening simply because they drew the short straw.  It makes me feel unsafe and sad in a way that I have been privileged enough not to have had to experience before.    

As I’ve been watching the progression of this cruel disease, I’ve been thinking a lot about memory and how fragmented it can be.  He is losing his memories in a way that very much reminds me of my grandmother’s progression through dementia, except at warp speed.  The past and the present merging into a place within his mind where time has no order.  But there are always those sticky bumps that don’t melt into puddles with the rest of it.  The bumps of significant joy and of significant sorrow, and the bumps of trauma. 

I took a workshop last year on how yoga can help people process trauma.  One of the things the facilitator said during that class was the line “neurons that fire together, wire together”.  And this line just made so many parts of myself come into focus.  Why a smell or a look or a phrase can suddenly make my chest tighten and my anxiety take off.  Because that stimulus was wired in with trauma in the body.  Trauma doesn’t write itself into your memory banks the way most memories do.  It attaches itself in the brain and the body in snapshots and pieces that most of the time cannot be recalled as single picture after the event.

I’ve also been thinking recently about how to make contributing to the Impact Project more accessible.  I get that it takes time and mental energy and emotional energy and just all the things to sit down and write out all the ways that your experience has impacted your life.  But it doesn’t have to look like that.  This is your voice and your decision how much or how little to contribute.  You don’t have to write all the things.  Maybe you only have the capacity to write one thing.  One snapshot.  One fragment.  A single sentence or even a single word.  That is ok.  You can still contribute it to the image.  We welcome ALL submissions in whatever form they come in.  And if another sentence comes to you 3 months from now, submit that too.  This project is designed to help with healing and that will look different for everyone.  It’s ok to contribute however much or little is useful for you, right now, in this moment.  Because something I’m really learning these past few months is that every moment is precious.  They can all too easily be taken away.

So here goes, I’ll go first.  If I were just to write one sentence about how my assault has impacted my life it would be:

I cross the road to avoid walking past groups of teenage boys.

And in this moment, that one sentence is enough.

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