You can call me J. I guess I was missing for a long time. I didn’t realize it until my mom and I were sitting together over coffee. She said, “there you are…you have been gone a long time…” I hadn’t been anywhere. I didn’t know what she was talking about at first. But in time, maybe a couple of years later, I looked in the mirror and recognized myself in a way that I hadn’t in years. My mom was right. I had been missing. I had put on a mask for everyone. To my family, especially my mom, I had become different. I had lost my sense of humor, my vitality, and my sense of direction. To me I was still me. After all, I lived inside myself every day so I hardly noticed the change. What I knew was that I was tired, very tired. I had kept the silent secret of abuse for more than 10 years. I was raised to believe in commitment…to death do us part…and I certainly came close to that on more than one occasion. “He” was on top of me, choking me. I couldn’t breathe and knew that I would certainly die. I probably would have, but my son came down the stairs…my son doesn’t realize, perhaps even to this day, that he saved my life in that moment. I decided to honor him by changing our story…we left…Sounds a little fairytale but it wasn’t. It still took me several years to break free! I never entered shelter. I had a job and a house. But, I didn’t have many friends left and I was still unwilling to tell my family. I blamed the divorce on his infidelity. I kept the silent secret of abuse for 5 more years. It wasn’t until I began to understand what trauma does to a person’s body, mind, and spirit that I really began to heal. I learned this from folks at Project Woman. They didn’t blame me. They held my secret and said it was okay if I didn’t want to share it. I may never share my whole story but as I find courage there are parts of it that are okay to talk about. The best part is that through my healing, my mom was able to find me… the real me, again!