The Delicate Dance of Loss and Recovery

Aug 1, 2022 | Main Blog | 0 comments

“Loss” – such a small word, yet it can make such a large and painful impact. And when that “loss” is a cherished relationship, the trauma can be swift and sweeping or it can linger for years.

Flashback to February 12, 2005, when I walked in on the FBI “search and seizure” of the home of my children’s father. Yes, we had recently split for reasons I still could not pinpoint at the time, but he wanted out so fiercely that my only choice was to agree.

Loss…of my marriage

Loss…of how I thought life would go (best-laid plans, right?)

Loss…of the gift of tucking my children into bed every night vs every other weekend

Loss…of the nuclear family life I had always dreamed I would be a part of creating

The “aha moment” upon his arrest as an FBI-wanted pedophile in the United States and abroad knocked me to my knees, and I felt like I was left curled up in a ball in quicksand. He had been leading a secret, double life since our marriage began (that would unfold in the coming months post-arrest). How would I explain this sudden, and what would become permanent, absence of their dad to my then-7-year-old and then-9-year-old?

Loss…of knowing what was true and what was a lie in my relationship

Loss…of my children’s innocence

Loss…of my own self-confidence as a partner and a parent

Loss…of an honest, authentic, loving relationship with MYSELF

Loss and as you can imagine, trauma. Swift, shocking traumatic events surrounding this relationship that would create a vicious wake for months and years to follow. But the real and, honestly, most important part of my story and yours is what comes next. How do I recover from these overarching losses of relationship, of hopes and dreams? How do I help my children recover from the loss of their innocence, the loss of their nuclear family? How do I rebound and find me again – the woman I was before the traumatic loss?

“Recovery” is a much bigger word than “loss” and there is nothing swift about it. And that is a good thing.

Recovery from this loss in this relationship had so much collateral damage: my children, his family, my family, his co-workers, our community. Recovery would be a journey along a crooked path. This journey would see some friends evaporate into thin air and some distant acquaintances move to friend status. The paths would be many and occasionally I would go down the wrong one for a short time.

Recovery would take time, and it required much patience, solitude, and quiet space from the noise.  Most importantly, recovery required my willingness to get up from that quicksand, brush myself off, take one step at a time, forgive, and eventually heal.

No two recoveries look alike, so I will not pretend that my journey would be a cookie-cutter of yours. But in my recovery, I did find the power was always within me. The power was mine to move forward, to hold my children’s hands through the years, modeling a life of recovery for them. The power was mine to share our story as part of a life mission to eradicate child sexual abuse. And let me tell you, my willingness to talk about it openly with tremendous rawness was the biggest tool in my recovery toolbox.

Today, almost two decades later, I have found the best parts of the woman, mom, and partner I was BEFORE the traumatic loss. But even better? I have come to realize and embrace the “new me” discovered as a result of this trauma – as a powerful woman, nurturing mom, and loving partner.

And you know what? I really like this version of me a lot!

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Darlene Ellison
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