So, it's been a minute. And I'll get right to it - this summer has shown me, first hand, a new trauma.
In June I was invited to the Tory Burch Foundation Summit in NYC, celebrating ambitious women from all over the world. It was more than a dream come true. I couldn't believe they chose me for our work here at Emma Valentina. The best part? My bestie was chosen too, and we hadn't seen each other since the pandemic started!
But after three beautiful, life-affirming days in NYC, my life changed forever during the train ride home.
Before we left the station, police were alerted that there was a domestic terrorist who threatened to kill everyone.
And I was right beside him.
What transpired next was a flurry of police activity moving me to safety and urging us all to hide behind and under the seats. No one was allowed on or off our train car.
In total, the incident took about 14 minutes from getting pedestrians to safety, allocating a large police presence on and off the train, bringing the dogs, and arresting the culprit.
I thought for sure that these were my last days on Earth, so I live-texted the entire situation to my partner Todd while he was at work in DC (he was in a meeting, so my calls weren't coming through). I didn't want there to be any question as to what happened.
But I survived.
After his arrest, the train was cleared. And we left the station like nothing happened.
During the ride home, I focused on playing Wordle and nothing else (turns out, its a great distraction for impending breakdowns!). But when we arrived in DC and Todd picked me up, I started crying uncontrollably.
I had been so, so close.
I didn't get out of bed that weekend. I couldn't bring myself to go into a store. That Monday I forced myself to carry on afterwards, and assumed the worst was over.
I didn't realize it then, but I was no longer in control. A new form of anxiety was now deeply entrenched in my psyche and I found myself emotional, angry, scared, and prone to panic attacks at a moment's notice.
Worst of all, my period stopped, bringing a new form of fresh endometriosis hell on my body. This inescapable prison continues almost eight weeks later.
This attack on my life, my mental health, and ultimately my body disrupted everything. I have been an anxious mess since then.
I couldn't fathom interacting with anyone, opening social media apps, or doing much else other than trying my best to get through the day in one piece. I physically could not bring my body or my mind to do it.
Instead, I could only focus what little attention or energy that I had on sleeping and finding a way to turn this trauma into something better for this world. I buried myself in isolation to my work.
I don't know if this story has a clean cut, Disney ending. But I do know that today is the first day all Summer that I have felt happy and capable enough to start opening up again - on social media, with friends, and by living in the moment without the violent cloud of anxiety threatening to bring me down again.
I titled this personal essay "The Body Keeps the Score" because of the impact my recent trauma unknowingly caused on my endometriosis, not just my mind. And it's real - it's science, explored in a book by the same name.
I hope my experience can shine the light on two of important things:
1. Endo sisters - please, please be kind to yourself. Living with a chronic disease is a form of trauma that you have to fight every single day. It takes so much resilience just to *be* you, and that is worth celebrating. Despite it all, here you are.
2. If you see something, please SAY something. Had a good samaritan not called this in, I wouldn't be here. If someone is threatening violence or acting suspiciously, your courageous act could save lives.
It's taken about 8 weeks for me to recover and feel more like myself again, far longer than just the weekend I had originally planned. And I am not ashamed to admit it anymore.
Vulnerability can be a superpower.
My hope is for today to not be just one good day, but the beginning of a multitude of days full of growth and resilience.
I will do my best to honor my self, my body, and my mental health - good and bad days included. And I'll be patient when my tenacity wavers.
But my greatest hope is that you are doing the same. Together, we will continue to bring beauty into this world.