One Reason to Live
A story about facing loss and living with C-PTSD.
It felt as if I had fallen into a deep grave with no means of escape. Each time I clawed my way up, another traumatic event would send me spinning back down. Multiple assaults. Dead-end job. My husband’s personality change from a brain injury. Our 15-year marriage crumbling. Day after day of excruciating pain, I struggled to find a single reason to keep going.
One night in my despair, I wrote the words “Reasons to Live” on a scrap of repurposed paper. It stayed blank for days. Then one sleepless night, a passing thought inspired me to add these three words: Live in Europe.
I put all my things in storage, dipped into my meager savings, and flew to London to be an international pet sitter and rebuild my life. I lived in seven different countries over eighteen months.
Heartbroken and alone, I filled the hours between waves of grief with snowshoeing in the Austrian Alps, wandering the waterways of Venice, kayaking in the Hebrides, taking language lessons in Budapest, riding horseback across the English Lake District, and contributing to a significant archeological find in Lancaster.
Besides, I wasn’t alone after all! I shared my lunch with Stinkki, an African Grey parrot, and swaddled a disabled chicken named Bluebelle. I spent Christmas with Nox, a jet black cat in Italy, and fed mints to Jarvis, a lovable donkey in Cumbria. I even crocheted a sweater for a three-legged toy poodle called Haru.
Slowly, among the cobblestone streets and dancing daffodils, something changed. I started to enjoy my own company. Through behavioral tools like radical acceptance, self-soothing, and distress tolerance, I taught myself to manage my anxiety and depression. I embraced my Complex PTSD instead of trying to outrun it and began to heal those psychiatric injuries. I stopped fighting the dark times when they came, as they always will, because they will also always pass.
I crawled out of that grave and redeveloped my identity by facing profound grief, practicing self-love, and living my dreams. Now, I am both financially and emotionally independent. Never again will I depend on a man.
At the end of hope, I found beauty; I found life.
At the end of hope, I found me.
This unpublished memoir follows my journey as I radically accepted my grief and C-PTSD. I learned how to care for myself and fulfilled lifelong dreams.
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About the author
Award-winning author of the Rowan of the Wood MG/YA fantasy series. Selections of Christine’s writing can be seen at JournoPortfolio and some of her art at Fine Art America. Between the years 2010 & 2014, Christine also wrote, blogged, and podcasted under the name O. M. Grey.
- Memoir: Related Blog Posts written during her travels and healing journey and new posts relevant to the memoir’s themes
- PTSD & Sexual Violence Posts on O. M. Grey’s Blog, dating back to 2010. These provide more context to things referred to in the memoir but out of the story arc’s scope.
- The Order of the White Feather, a site she created to challenge the cultural narrative around sexual violence.
- Poetry & Short Stores on O. M. Grey’s Blog, written during those dark times.
- YouTube Playlist of videos from our book tour that also provides more history and context.
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One Reason to Live: Foreword
When I decided on the European journey, I had pretty much the same reaction from everyone. They were all very impressed, like a little envious, but mostly just impressed I would embark on this all alone.
They kept telling me how strong I was and how proud they were of me for making this happen for myself. They said I was making my own way.
People applauded me for my courage, for being able to write about my experiences on my blog—very personal, revealing things about myself. They said it was brave.
It wasn’t bravery.
It was survival.
They said it was my very own Eat Pray Love, but it wasn’t at all. Not even a little bit.
For starters, I didn’t leave my husband. I didn’t wake up one morning and just decide I didn’t want to be married anymore. It would be closer to say he did that, but that isn’t the truth either.
I wasn’t in my 30s.
I was in my mid-40s.
I didn’t have a successful career as an author or writer with royalties pouring in.
I was a failed author. Failed filmmaker. Failed everything.
When I left for Europe, I was working in tech support for a small company just outside of Portland. Although my story is also one one of adventure and self-discovery, it was altogether a different path.
I made my own way.
Day by day. Moment by moment for the first time in over a decade.
In the end, there was only me.
And I was more than enough.