I wrote this from sunny Riviera Maya, Mexico sitting by the pool. Is that meant to be bragging? No. In fact it is quite the opposite. Being there in Mexico was a celebration . I was there with many friends from my time in Washington, DC to celebrate life, love, friendship and a beautiful marriage.
A friend that I made during my time in Washington, DC, we’ll call her Jill, got married last week to a remarkable man. Jill and I were only able to work together for about 6 months before she moved away, but I felt like we were kindred spirits in a way. We are both independent & strong women who love agriculture and education. We both grew up in the Midwest and had the same values & beliefs so it was good having someone who understood my background.
Outside of the couple people I already knew in DC, Jill was the first person to invite me out to happy hours, dinners, and most importantly church.
My favorite thing that Jill did for me was invite me to church. We both grew up in pretty conservative Protestant churches in the Midwest. I still wasn’t comfortable going to church by myself in DC, so when she invited me to go to National Community Church (NCC) I took her up on the offer.
I never thought that I would take a subway to church, but that is what I did to get to the middle of the city. The first time I went to church with her we met at the Starbucks across the street from the theater where church was held (it is lovingly called theater church). I figured that we would get a coffee, drink it at Starbucks and then head to church. Nope. This was a different kind of church and we took our coffee with us into the theater. I was kind of hesitant because I grew up where you don’t take beverages or food into church, unless it is for a small child. They allow coffee in church? Genius! And I liked Jill’s reasoning as well – when people start putting their hands in the air you can just hang on to your coffee cup and it is just fine. It is like your coffee safety blanket.
Again, I grew up in a church where there was no real jubilation during a service and definitely no hands in the air praising God. No way, no how. It was nice having her by my side at that church service and several others. If I had gone by myself that first time I would have been extremely overwhelmed and might not have gone back, but because of her invitation I felt comfortable and content in church.
Little did I know that Theater Church would be a saving grace for me over the next several years dealing with my assault.
In Mexico, it was a reunion of wonderful friends from across the country and the timing was perfect. Most of these friends I had not seen since I left DC in June, 2017. It felt so good seeing them! We gave lots of hugs and laughed hard for a week. It was beautiful. Gloriously beautiful.
These are the people who saw me through the absolute worst part of my life and didn’t abandon me, even when it was rough. These friends didn’t know me before I came to DC, but we became friends and they rallied around me. I was only in DC for 11 months when my assault happened, so they could have very easily walked away from our friendship…but they didn’t. They stuck with me through meeting with investigators, tears, more tears and coming to court with me among other things. They were really tough times, but I found out that these people I call friends are the real deal and truly care.
Some of these friends didn’t know about my assault until after I started my blog last year. Did they run away? No. They ran towards me.
Do I regret moving to DC 5 years ago?
Would I do it all over again? These questions came up last week as we were all catching up.
I can honestly say that I do not regret my decision to move to DC one bit. Obviously, I really wish that the rape had not happened. That was a life altering experience that I deal with every day and I would much rather not have to deal with it.
A couple weeks after my assault a longtime friend and colleague asked me if I was going to move back to Minnesota immediately. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. I loved DC, my friends and my job too much. My friends kept me stable. I would also feel like an utter failure if I went home after only a year on DC.
Regret? No. Lessons learned. Yes.
Did the rape and the residual effects ruin my life for a few years?
But, I look at the friends I made during that time and I would move back to DC all over again. I love them that much. It isn’t often that you make a group of friends in midlife. We were just a bunch of rural, farm kids trying to make it in Washington, DC.
My life would look much different if I didn’t have these friends in my life and I don’t want to know what that life would look like. Also, had I not moved away from MN I don’t think I would have appreciated my home state, family and lifelong friends as much as I do now. I was happy to return to that bedrock of my life to start writing a new chapter (literally).
God knew what he was doing when he moved me to Washington, DC because I needed these people in my life. I still need them in my life. They make me a better person.
On this journey of healing I’m looking for the silver linings. I’ve had enough clouds to last a long time, so I spent last week enjoying the sun of Mexico, celebrating friendship and the good things in life.
Last week reminded me of true friendship. As I looked out at our group of friends in the pool, sipping cool drinks and enjoying the sun I realized that this group of friends has dealt with about every imaginable awful thing in the last few years; serious illness, death of loved ones, rape, illness of family members, job loss, moving across the country. Yet, when we all got together last week it was like a huge sigh of relief and joyous. For a moment in time, life was good…really good.
Here’s to the good life,