I’ve been reading through my old paper journals from my single years. It’s all been very entertaining, except for one volume that I now refer to as the volume of crazy.

There are more crazy volumes, but they are in more formal blue journal binder like things. This is just a little flowered notebook that lived with me for about a year. It has a sticker of a sunflower on the front of it, and the elastic that used to wrap around it to keep it closed is shot and fraying.

I kept this journal during 1996, I had broken an engagement and moved from Philadelphia back home to Utah. I was still very much “under the influence” of a very manipulative, emotionally abusive individual.

It’s all really rather horrible to read. I want to reach through the pages and give myself a good shake. On one page I’m weeping for my love, worried for his well being, his heart. On the next page, I’m writing terrible scribbled poems about how lost and trapped I feel. Many of the phrases I repeat throughout the entries are phrases I recognize hearing from the man I was dating. I am so clearly his controlled puppet here, only small bursts of who I still was inside make it through.

This notebook would be depressing in the extreme, except for that I’m on the other side of it now. I still marvel over just how I was able to get out, how I was able to escape, and how long it took me to build back some feeling of wholeness. What fills me with hope is the very last few lines I penned after moving again to Philadelphia with him, trudging through yet another awful year, and once again deciding to leave:

“I am leaving today. I’m filled with shame for hurting [John] again, I worry for him so. I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing, but there is a morning dove singing outside my window and it soothes my troubled heart.”

Morning doves have appeared and sung their unique little songs throughout my life, always showing up during dark periods of change. A morning dove to me signifies hope. On this eve of our American Thanksgiving, I am rather cheesily grateful for new days, for the chance to start over, to climb up and out of the deepest, darkest holes. I am thankful for doves.