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Why is it that in the darkest of times, we look for the brightest of things?

(Literally)

I’m asking because I’m not sure myself- yet that is exactly what I did on the beach, alone with my mother in the April of my senior year of high school.

 

The day I told my mother I was sexually abused.

It was April 2005. My voice teacher, who was my trusted mentor and also godfather for two years, had been molesting me for months, and I had “froze in numbness” to block out that devastating loss in my life.

After months of keeping this secret inside, I could no longer take it. I told my mother that I needed to take walks with her every day to “heal” – although I could not say what from.

Then one day…well, the moment was so powerful, that I wrote a scene about it, and later incorporated it into Imprints, my full length drama based on my story, as well as one of my brother’s journals for the first 72 days I was in a coma.

Imprints is a play that covers the overwhelm I felt piecing together fragments of trauma once I awoke. The play goes in and out of past and present – just like my thoughts did as I was trying to recall what had happened just before a coma changed my world forever…and two weeks after this very moment…

The moment I first told someone I was abused was a memory I shared with my best friend: I told my mother. The exchange is best put in her words.

It’s never easy to speak about difficult memories. That is why I spent months tormented with anxiety as I felt my throat constrict and my jaw tense every time I tried to speak the words I was petrified of hearing for myself. 

As traumatized as I was by my abuse, my mother was traumatized as well. Trauma tends to have a ripple effect, leaving marks on survivors and those who love and care about them. 

So as difficult for me as it was to put my own abuse in words, it took years for my mother to put her earth-shattering moment into words as well:

“Amy and I were walking on the beach in Fairfield, CT. She had taken a month off from school, and I promised that although I didn’t know what she needed to heal from, I would be at her side and help her through. She was so different at this point than she ever was before, her personality was sullen, she was anxious, losing weight, not focused, in turmoil.

WE had JUST gotten back from Kripalu where we did a mother daughter retreat, journey dancing, and Amy has always been such a beautiful soulful dancer- but in one of those dance exercises she went into the middle of our circle surrounded by me and many other women. A woman touched me on the arm, and looking into my eyes, said, “look, your daughter is dancing a dance of such deep pain, you have to find out what the source of her anguish is about.”  I will never forget this woman’s voice and how it jolted me into reality.

We were walking on the beach in Fairfield, and suddenly I looked into her eyes, and asked for some unknown, reason from the deepest part of my soul,” Has B, her mentor, voice teacher, acting teacher and now “godfather” ever touched you?

She began speaking, it was as if a plug was pulled out of a dam’s wall, and she said, Yes, and began to describe what he did – and I went into complete shock and craziness. I started to scream, No NO, how could he, I trusted him with my precious child, he was a son of a bitch, etc. etc. etc. I couldn’t stop raging, until my intuitive daughter screamed- “Stop, now tell me one thing good, because I can’t witness all this negativity right now,” and she insisted I find something positive to say.

My head went numb, and I started to look all around me and paused and finally looked up to the sky. It was a really beautiful sunny day, and I noticed that the sky was a shade of deep blue.

And for some reason, I said “The sky is blue, Yes. The sky is BLUE”

And my precious daughter simply said, “that’s good.”

 

This memory isn’t easy for either of us to recount. Yet in telling my mom this secret, I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I remember feeling a closeness and safety I hadn’t felt with her before. Things were going to get better now. We were going to heal, think optimistic thoughts, get therapy, and purge this man from our systems.

Two weeks later, we had a Passover Seder. 48 hours after that, I was in a coma.

Months later, I awoke, and according to my brother’s journal entries from his days waiting by my bedside in the ICU, the first words I could stammer out were…

IT WAS HIM.

 

Years later, I wrote a short play based on this powerful moment between my mother and I, appropriately called The Sky is Blue. Using words to express what I had been through was not easy for me. I’m sure it was not easy for my mom to hear these words either. But by exchanging our truths, listening and embracing one another’s stories, we were able to take one frightening step forward together into the future. Together, we can help all survivors and their allies come forward to share their story and heal. We all have the ability to look up towards the sky. 

I think back on this moment between mother and daughter often. Our unexpected beach discovery in April 205 reminds me that in the darkest of times, the sky is always blue. We always have positivity and gratitude to cling onto when life feels terrible.

And even if the sky isn’t blue...it will be eventually.

There’s always a tomorrow. Or the next day – the sky will be blue. 

So take a second and look up.

What do you see?

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher is a PTSD peer-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, award-winning health advocate, actress and playwright, eagerly sharing the lessons learned from trauma through her writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking. Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre, workshops and writings. Amy’s “beautiful detour” has inspire her passionate desire to create and help others. Her writings have appeared in Washington Post and On Being with Krista Tippet, her story has appeared on the TODAY Show and CBS, and her one-woman show has been seen in theatres across the country, earning rave reviews and accolades since it’s BroadwayWorld Award-nominated NYC debut. Determined to bridge the gap of communication between wellness resources on college campuses and students, Amy devised storytelling programs especially for colleges and universities to address the issue. Amy is currently touring the country with her one-woman musical, Gutless & Grateful, her keynote presentations, workshops and signature talkbacks, which she has devised specialized versions for corporations, college campuses, survivors, healthcare professionals, and artists. She is leading mixed media creativity workshops to promote creativity as a mindset, an essential survival skill. Amy also offers private coaching to help others navigate their own beautiful detours. Visit amyoes.com for more information. https://www.amyoes.com/

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