“How are you different a year later?” was the question my counselor recently asked me to reflect on. In striving to answer her, I found myself taking inventory of the countless moments strung together that made up the last twelve months.

There are so many life events we plan and prepare for: choosing a college, a new job, marriage, the birth of a child, re-locating, etc. We ready ourselves, as much as we can, for the changes that will occur and we greet them as they come. Trauma is one of the exceptions to this rule. Trauma doesn’t come like the gentle change of the tide, it’s a tsunami. Often, we don’t think it could happen to us. We don’t prepare for how we’ll handle it when it comes because we hope to God it never does. Trauma crashes into us and leaves behind it a wake of devastation and destruction.

Reflecting on all that has happened and looking ahead, I find myself in my favorite season of the year: Autumn. Greeting Fall 2014, though, has come with mixed emotions. August 27th (the anniversary of the eve of my assault) initiated a string of first year anniversaries that will last me into the New Year. The one year anniversary of the assault, the period of emotional numbness, seeking counseling, talking with a legal advocate, reporting the crime to the police, telling my family and friends for the first time, the pre-trial horror, and so on. With each passing anniversary, I find myself in awe of how far I’ve come and with great relief and gratitude look forward to leaving each painful and terrifying event behind me as I move forward into a year untouched by the shockwave of heartache and havoc left in the wake of the crime.

This year is like a fresh clean slate awaiting all the wonders I’ll write upon it. This year will be filled with endless memories that I will greet the anniversaries of with joy, this time next year. This year I begin my Master’s in Forensic Psychology. This year I invest in the relationships, new and old, that I was incapable of investing in last year. This year I will witness a miracle as all of the darkness of this past year is turned to light and that light is brought to others as I begin to volunteer in victim services.

No doubt this year will still hold its struggles and difficulties, both in the ebbs and flows of daily life as well as the trial/plea that still await me, but I greet them a stronger individual, revived by hope, and reinforced by the knowledge of the inner strength this past year has revealed to me.

Come what may, I greet this year with joy and hopeful anticipation.

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