Stop This World

Gracefully going from victim to survivor to servant leader in the heartland

Christmas has always been a holiday I look forward to celebrating. Celebrating Jesus’ birth, getting together with family and friends and a few days rest are always welcome. The last few years Christmas has left me feeling melancholy, but I was still able to enjoy myself. This year I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas like I did before I moved away from MN. Wrapping presents at home, not waiting in line at the airport, not fearing the weather when I travel, having more time to spend with friends and family, the list goes on.


Like I previously mentioned, the last few years have been pretty sullen to celebrate Christmas. I was constantly having flashbacks of the assault, so that made it hard to really enjoy life. I could be happily going on with my day and then a flashback appeared in my brain and I couldn’t shake it. There was no ignoring it because it takes over your brain. This is common PTSD. You learn to deal with it, but it makes you miserable. I am happy to say that my flashbacks of the assault and the immediate days after have died down. Maybe a few a day, but totally manageable.


80’s Child
I am a child of the 80’s.  Growing up I often watched TV shows set in New York City: Taxi, Fame, Diff’rent Strokes and the list goes on. I was intrigued as a kid watching these shows. Intrigued by the grit in Taxi. And, why are they always seemingly yelling at each other? We don’t talk so loud here in the middle of Minnesota. Are taxi’s only in New York City? I had never seen one before in my short life. So, NYC=taxi’s in my mind.  And, Danny DeVito yelling all the time.

For awhile in my 8-year old mind I wanted to be a dancer in NYC and be part of the New York Art School that was part of the TV show Fame. I wanted to be friends with the character, Leroy. I had never seen anybody like him before and boy could he dance! I wanted to be yelled at by Debbie Allen’s character, Lydia, as the teacher who would pound a big stick on the floor to keep beat. She was all about perfection and having the goal of a performance. And legwarmers. Oh, how I loved the dancer legwarmers. So cool! Yes! I would be a dancer, move to NYC, bust my behind and live this fabulous life of a dancer.


I also loved Diff’rent Strokes as a kid, but I knew even at a young age the probability of being adopted by a millionaire in a penthouse was not good. I was in the middle of the prairie with loving parents in an old farm house.  I’d rather be in the barn anyway I guess and saying to my cats “What’chu talkin bout Willis?” Yes, I was a very imaginative child and visiting New York City was always a goal.

Diffrent Strokes


Bear in mind, in current times I do not find taking taxi’s glamorous. In fact, I hate them because of my anxiety about being in strange cars with strange drivers. And as for dancing in NYC…I guess I always knew that I wouldn’t be a dancer as a kid. #1-There were no dance classes in the area #2- Outside of hopping up and down to polka music, and spinning in circles at wedding dances, I couldn’t dance. And quoting TV shows to my cat? Well, that still goes on.


New York State of Mind

Living in DC provided me with a wealth of opportunity to travel the east coast. I didn’t travel for fun nearly as much as I wanted to, but I did manage to get to New York City a few times. It was an easy Amtrak ride from DC to NYC. My dreams of NYC were happening and my inner 80’s child was excited to visit.

A year ago some friends and I took the Amtrak to NYC to have the quintisential Christmas in New York City. I had only been there one other time a few months earlier, so I was excited to go back. It was also a nice get away because only a week before was my trial. I was stressed out and needed a distraction.

We did it up! Visited Herald Square & sipped hot chocolate. Went to the Macy’s on Miracle on 34th Street and marveled at all the people in such a compact space. My friend and I enjoyed just people watching there. Even though I lived in DC and was more than used to people being in a hurry, this was a new level of crazy.
We ate extremely well visiting fantastic restaurants, deli’s and wine bars. The best place was visiting a wine bar that was playing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on a Friday night. These were my people!

Rudolph NYC

We wandered around Rockefeller Plaza and enjoyed the awesome Christmas light show along Saks 5th Avenue. And of course, we had to go see the Rockette’s at Radio City Music Hall. I could barely contain my excitement. I had seen them once before in Minneapolis, but to actually see their Christmas show in Radio City Music Hall was a bucket list item.

Radio City NYC

My dear friend and I got to our seats just in time for the show to start. The music starts playing and Santa is even in 3D. Pretty cool! At the end of the show they have a living nativity that is stunning.  Out of nowhere I start crying. Why am I crying?? I mean I like the Rockettes and all, but to be crying? My dear friend looked at me concerned and asked why I was crying and then it hit me and I said to her, “this is the first time I have been genuinely happy in ages. I’m just so happy to be happy!”

Sappy I know, but when you have been miserable for years the sheer happiness takes you by surprise and tears of joy come out. I was happy that I was able to share that moment with my friend because she had been by my side through a lot of my story, even going to court with me. I’m glad she saw me genuinely happy. The happiness continued for rest of the weekend and made for great memories.

Why am I telling you this story? Because even though I have been through literal hell and back there are always bright spots to be thankful for. 2016 was a beast of a year. In fact, a friend made me a Christmas ornament of a dumpster fire because it was that kind of year.

dumpster fire


Finding those glimmers of happiness kept me going as I continued to trudge through the sentencing process and moving home. I’m thankful for those glimmers.

I sincerely hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Christmas. The holiday season can be extremely difficult for several reasons, but I hope that you can find some sort of glimmer of happiness in your days. Maybe it is sipping a cup of coffee, reading a book, or watching some old 80’s TV shows that you loved as a kid.  Hope was one of the few things that kept me going through the past three years and my wish for you is to have hope and love in your life. Merry Christmas!



2 thoughts on “Glimmers of Hope

  1. Diane Damerow says:

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas Julie. I am so glad that you are ‘home’ and are happy!! At least most of the time. Family and friends are such a blessing and I am so thankful that you have had the support during these rough years. Here’s to a happy 2018 and we do need to get together soon if you are game for it!!!


  2. lesterjane8 says:

    Merry Christmas Julie, Happy to know that you are home! Home is where the heart is… Love you my dear! So proud of your family & friend during these rough years have been by your side.


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