On Saturday, September 7, 2013, you will begin sorting and organizing the possessions you have begun painstakingly replacing. You will find one of Kevin’s lighters stuck in the liner of a purse, and you will explode in a rage. The purse you clung to when you left your life behind, burned beyond recognition in the ashes. You will find the sweater, turtleneck, and black dress pants that you wore in the last minutes of your imprisonment. The clothes you wore when your life fell out from underneath you but you were too numb to feel anything but fear. Tucked inside you also find other reminders of a life gone wrong: a mirror compact, your old key ring, his glucose gel, and spare keys to the car you had destroyed and the last (apartment) prison he ever had you in. You will cry, hurt, and want the unspeakable things out of your head so badly, that you will consider cracking your head against the wall just hard enough so that maybe he will spill out and disappear. For this is what he used to do to you.
Use caution, for on this day, too, you will be slapped in full force with the reality that you, too, are human. The numbness that dulled the edge will be gone. There will be no more mechanical autopilot leading you blindly. Your emotions have come home. The switches will all be flipped, and you will be all too aware of the current sum of your life and what you have to show for it. Or so you initially allow yourself to believe.
On this day, you will hit a wall head on, and you will cry in desperation. But do not lament, my dear, sweet, kind, gentle Amy, for on this day, all the things you tried to hide from will come out from the shadows, and the unsettling knowledge of feeling their presence will be confronted. Once you regain your composure, you will feel overwhelming joy as you discard the last physical vestiges of your nightmare. They are only memories now, Amy, and they will fade away. The nightmares that plague you still, now nine months on, will come and go with the ebb and flow of high tide, but they, too, will fade away.
And you will forgive yourself for the naivety, the blindness, and for being so wickedly deceived, misled, and harmed by the monster who caught you unaware. You will let go of the grief, and the anger you feel toward yourself, and you will feel the void fill in with acceptance. It was not your fault, you were not equipped for this battle, and it was but by the grace and loving kindness of Jehovah that you were set free.
If I could tell you anything I would tell you to be kind, merciful, and patient with yourself, and fight the emptiness that will stalk you like a lion. Fight it, for it will not last. When you find yourself wavering on the edge, blinded by your pain and insecurity, you will call upon Him, and He will answer. Jehovah will give you a gift in Kerwyn, and he will stand by you and help you heal. A true man of God, he will cherish you and wrap you up with love, patience, compassion, kindness, and mercy. He will help you remember who you are, and when all you can do is criticize and doubt yourself mercilessly, he will counteract every negative thought with three positive. He will help erase the pain and fill the void with love and strength.
Ah, but beware and be on guard for the moments of madness that will strike, sometimes without warning. It has been but months since you left, and while you are consciously trying to move in one direction, your painfully detailed memory and thought patterns that were forced onto you will devilishly pull you toward another. Kevin is the one who caused you harm, and his actions were deliberate, planned out, insidious, unloving, and horrifyingly vicious. He is the one who left you for days at a time and hurt you upon his return. Kevin is the one who punished you for saying what you felt, what you wanted, and what you needed. He is the one who hid you from the world, at first so the wife you were told was his ex would not know about you. Then so he could isolate and abuse you away from your loves ones’ watchful eyes. Kevin is the one who ran the streets with loose women and talked to dozens of others online for hours on end, and then on the phone, and blamed you for not being good enough. He and he alone is the one responsible for causing you harm. He is the one who shattered you.
You will need to use inhuman amounts of self control to keep yourself from transferring these experiences to Kerwyn and incorrectly associating things with him that Kevin put you through. At times, you will be able to see the thoughts creep in, and you will stop them from festering and going any further. But many times, you will either not see it happen, or you will see it, yet like a train wreck you will not be able to stop. Do not take for granted Kerwyn’s capacity for mercy, patience, and forgiveness. And do not allow these things that will only cause you more pain. You will only punish yourself once it happens and beat yourself up for this, too. Find a way to control the thoughts so they do not control you. Our Kerwyn is a kind, gentle man who is worthy and deserving of your best, so let yourself become loose of these shackles and cherish him whole-souled.
All the years you had to fight against the monster in an attempt to attend your meetings, keep your Bible study going, and progress spiritually are forever gone. There will be no contest from Kerwyn. Your congregation will come to love you, but they will allow you time to find your balance when you first go back. And you will have to let yourself drop your guard here, Amy. You will have some important lessons to learn during your first nine months back. One, do not fear that which there is no cause. Perhaps now, this makes no sense. However, in January, you will have to navigate through overcoming your fear of men who are strangers to you. You will learn once you are eligible to go out in service that you are petrified of who may answer the door. And commenting during the meetings will take everything you have, for fear of reprisal. Reprisal from whom? Certainly no one within the congregation, and not Kerwyn. Speaking no longer gives rise to the brutal punishments you are about to endure for the last time. You don’t believe me now, but it will come to pass.
Think back to the beginning of the letter and ponder over what I mean when I say, “the sum of your life and what you have to show for it.” Many people would count this as possessions, but you have always known what makes someone of great value is what resides in their hearts. Sifting through the box you have so carefully avoided touching for months, you are overjoyed to find a gift from your days in Japan. The host mother of a schoolmate had heard you would be travelling to Japan, and she was so excited that she absolutely insisted upon finding you a gift. You knew as soon as you unwrapped it that she took great care in selecting it. Almost as if she knew you. Okaa-chan and the girls giggled when they saw how happy you were.
You wrongly will assume that the music box is empty, as it has been moved around relentlessly the past five years. As you crack the lid open and wince in expectation of nothing, reminders of who you were before glimmer like gold and silver before you. Evidence that Kevin was wrong, about everything. Instrumental Solo Competition Medals, honor pins, National Honor Society Induction pins, random sets of earrings and bracelets. Then you see your name stamper with your English name converted to katakana characters preserved in the little pouch Okaa-chan had sewn for you. You ease it out of the pouch and flip it over and again in your fingers. Then, like a child, you look for the first piece of scrap paper you can find and discover it still works after eighteen years! Then you get distracted by the jumble of beads in the middle of the box… all the flower bracelets Mayu and Yuka took hours making for you. Trinkets of acceptance, kindness, generosity. They had come to see you as their sister, and they loved you. And you loved them, too.
You are about to go through many changes, and you will learn a lot about yourself that you would believe to be impossible. You will become obsessed with taking photos, you will consider hiking and running, and you will even listen to country music! It’s time for a re-education. All you have to do to re-discover your value, intelligence, beauty, wit, and love of self is absolutely the hardest thing you will ever do. Walk out that door, and never come back. You will regain your life, you self-esteem, happiness, and even love. And I know you don’t believe me now, but you are worth every last bit. Take a deep breath and leap. There will be someone there to catch you.