One year ago today I was awakened to the crashing sound of my front door being battered in, screams of "Police, hands up" and dark figures in my bedroom with guns drawn. Just writing that sentence still takes my breath away. Never in my wildest imagination could I anticipate that this could or would happen to me. I sometimes thought of the possibility of the police executing a search warrant because of my ex-husband's online search for pornographic images of children. But to break down my door with an army of officers with guns drawn? This was preposterous to me then and still is. My ex-husband was not suspected as a terrorist, murderer or rapist. The use of extreme force in our situation stuns me still.
I pulled my robe around my shaking body as I was escorted from my bedroom to my dining room table, where my daughter was already seated with an officer at her side. I waited while the "army" went to my husband's room and woke him up. He had slept through the melee that intruded on our home prior to the sun coming up. They brought him downstairs and sat him at the breakfast table where his interrogation began.
A detective introduced himself and waived the search warrant at me but refused to allow me to read it. He began questioning my daughter and I about internet file sharing and when we asked him what that was, seemed satisfied that we were not participants in the crimes he was investigating. So we sat for hours, with at least one officer with us at all times. I had to ask for a glass of water, in my own home; I had to ask permission to go to the bathroom and then be escorted by an officer, in my own home. I had to ask for my glasses, still by my bedside, I could not just go and get them. I watched as hordes of officers tracked mud through my home--carting boxes in and out. I was not allowed to have my phone until it had been cleared by the computer forensic team so had no way of reaching out to anyone. This was America, was it not? How could this possibly be happening to me. It seems surreal still.
The detectives returned the next day and placed my ex-husband under arrest. Standing beside my distraught daughter in our foyer, I watched as they placed handcuffs on him and listed the charges against him. I watched as they walked him out the front door and placed him in the squad car. I watched as the car sped away and knew the familiar route they would take to the county jail, a short ten minutes away. I watched, still in disbelief and shock. For all my fears and concern about his involvement in child pornography, I never imagined this day.
The past year has been so difficult; his criminal case is still unfolding, our divorce, a nightmarish experience, has been finalized, and my kids and I have struggled to work through the devastation visited upon us. Not often, but sometimes, I find myself seeing the experience through my ex-husband's eyes. His career has been destroyed, his freedom is very much at stake, he is estranged from his children and he faces certain financial ruin. I feel tremendous empathy for him, which is better than the bitterness and anger I have been consumed by for far too many months.
Today I will pause and remember and then be grateful. In the past twelve months, I have learned that gratitude has the power to demolish fear and anxiety and from a trauma perspective helps ground me in the present rather than in the memories of those traumatic moments. Today I am grateful that the knot I lived with in the pit of my stomach for over three decades has disintegrated. Today I am grateful for healing that is evident in my own life and in my children's lives. Today I am grateful for life and possibilities, for the warm breezes that blow through my window and through my life. Today I am alive and I am free, for that I give thanks.