It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As I prep for a few book events, including a FaceTime conversation with a Florida book group,
The question I get asked the most is always How are the girls now?
And just after that, Do your daughters mind you writing and talking about them?
They’re fair questions with dynamic answers.
At the moment, both my grown daughters live in the same city as me. Neither have married. Neither have children. Neither appear interested in getting married or having children.
My oldest daughter, recently back in Alaska after a year in Mexico, is presently taking seven classes at the local university to finish her degree in psychology. I don’t know what kind of work she’ll go in to, but I’m so proud that she will have options, thanks to her hard work.
Life has been incredibly challenging for her, not simply because she was a child-witness of domestic violence or because she and her sister spent two years living in hiding in Greece. She manages anxiety and significant mental health problems that threaten her quality of life. This has been compounded by losing a shocking number friends to early deaths.
Still, she persists. She has a long-term relationship, adores her pets, and even at times when she’s shut off from other, she remains in close contact with her sister and me.
My youngest daughter finished college some years ago and works in finance. She too has a long-term relationship. She is athletic and busy, volunteering in the community and on a board of directors. She has a thriving dog-walking, pet-sitting business on the side. While her sister’s emotional wounds were deep from being the oldest child who shouldered adult responsibility early, my youngest has had medical leftover concerns.
Still, when I read the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study and compare their scores to the potential outcomes, I’m awestruck at how very well they’re doing.
Some of the resiliency factors after the kidnapping were having stable housing and kind neighbors, good schools, involved family friends, access to community mental health providers, team sports, and knowing they had family-far away-that loved them dearly. And their pets were a healing balm that reduced their stress levels every day.
All things considered, my daughters are doing exceptionally well. Funny and feisty, lovers of hiking and Greek food and good people, and able to incorporate old traumas into their lives while embracing new joys.
I’m sure at times they mind the invasion of privacy of having a mom who’s a writer, but they’ve not said so. I’ve tried to minimize it by not using their names in essays and in local talks.
More often, they sincerely appreciate that people care to ask about how they are.
So do I.
Thank you for stopping by.