“The day of my release, Sue picked me up at the hospital in her ’85 tan Volvo. I felt shame: psych ward, raped, welfare, waiting to get on disability shame. I’d flunked a class. But I had one thing to hold onto: I was alive. That’s it: a breathing, heart-beating animal. As bad as I felt, I still had hope. I was alive, and if I got on disability, I wouldn’t be homeless. Sue drove me to the house I shared with another survivor. I was afraid that nothing would ever be okay. I was afraid I could never overcome what I’d been through. The shrink had told me I would be in and out of the psych ward the rest of my life.
Sue dropped me off; she had to go to work. It was hot, mid-June, sunny. I walked into the entryway; my cat, Cleo, sat curled on the wooden staircase. I was alone. What would happen to me? Would I live or die? I sat down on the stairs, petted Cleo, leafed through my stack of mail piled in a mound on the bottom stair. Bills from the hospital, letters of dropped classes from the university, notifications of bounced checks, bulk mail from a real estate agent, and a Monet postcard. I turned it over.
It was from Andrea. I had written her from the hospital, sent her a poem. And she wrote back. You are a terrific writer, she said. I hope you are back from the hospital and doing okay. Best, Andrea.
I held it against my chest. She believed in me. I could make it.”
Author: Christine Stark
Source: Feminist Studies, Vol. 34, No. 3, The 1970s Issue (Fall, 2008), pp. 584-590