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Rachel's Recovery Story

The symptoms of schizophrenia were overlapping actual traumatic events. I just took the clues from the symptoms, plucked out keywords and formed her story. Then I confronted her with the truth. Then all hell broke loose.

Rachel’s story may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without written permission by its author Tracey Higgins. ©All rights reserved.

Rachel's Story

The Beginning

Back in 2022, I started talking to Jane, Rachel’s mom. We fired tons of emails back and forth before exchanging cell numbers. From the get-go, Jane expressed frustration with mental health services and their family’s struggles to get help for their daughter. A psychiatrist had diagnosed Rachel with schizophrenia in 2017 and had put her on anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and sleep medication. She had made no progress since then. According to Jane the only difference the drugs made was Rachel was more quieter, and more withdrawn from the family, and sometimes she’d just come out of her bedroom to get a bite to eat or to go to the washroom. She hardly left the house, and they had a hard time even getting her to her doctor appointments now.

The parents felt they had lost their daughter for good. Jane, desperate for help, asked me for help because she had heard from others that I had completely recovered from schizophrenia. I suggested she ask her daughter if she wanted to spend time with me first. I wasn’t about to barge into her daughter’s life if I didn’t have an invitation. How awkward would that be?

Soon after, I got a call from Jane saying her daughter was eager to meet me. Jane thought she saw a spark in her daughter’s eyes when she had mentioned meeting me. That was a good sign. So, it was all set. I explained to Jane that I couldn’t magically heal her daughter, but I assured her of my dedication to help as much as possible. I didn’t make any promises, and then I asked her to sign an agreement that would absolve me of any responsibility for the outcome. It also included additional conditions, which are private. I clarified I wasn’t a miracle worker, and it would probably be a long, drawn-out battle with Rachel to give up her delusional world. I wanted that agreement in place for my protection because I knew the shit would eventually hit the fan. It always did in these circumstances. It wasn’t my first rodeo.

After signing the agreement, we made plans to meet up in a couple of weeks at their home. I called Jane to tell her I would take Rachel out, so don’t expect me to visit for very long. She said, “Okay, that’s fine.” I asked that she send me photos of when Rachel was little and some current ones. I also asked what music her daughter liked and what her favorite color was and to send everything to me via email.

After seeing a photo of Rachel as a five-year-old, I knew I was going to try really hard to help her. She was as cute as a button, and how could I resist all that cuteness? Besides, I love kids, but Rachel wasn’t a kid. She was almost thirty-one and still living at home. I knew I was going to give her all my love as if she were my child. That was a given. Instead of looking at Rachel as some crazy person, I was going to see her as a real person and develop a genuine relationship with her. I didn’t want to have too much information on her because I didn’t want to form any negative opinions about her based on someone else's perspective. I wanted a clean slate to work from. I was going to paint a beautiful picture of Rachel in my mind. That photo of Rachel as a small child was all I wanted to see. So, later down the road, when Rachel pissed me off, I would just look at that photo to remind me she was just an innocent child who isn’t to blame for what she has become. She had a story to tell, and I was more than willing to listen. The end state of schizophrenia didn’t matter to me. I could see past all that based on my past experience of schizophrenia.

Our First In-person Meeting

I set up a time with Jane to go over to her house on a Saturday. Her husband would be there and so would her son, who is a couple of years older than Rachel and living somewhere else. I wasn’t too keen on meeting the entire family, but I guess they wanted to check me out. I’m sure Jane had shared many of our conversations with her husband and he was up to speed on everything. Jane had already read my book, so she knew plenty about me, anyway. It was so nice that Jane was so accepting of my book, despite it being all about the dysfunction in my family system, and how that dysfunction had psychologically crippled me. But she didn’t care about that; she just wanted her daughter back, and I was going to do everything in my power to make that happen.

A couple of days later, I went out and bought some CDs of Rachel’s favorite music, Lewis Capaldi, Post Malone and Cold Play. I also had an extensive selection of CDs myself (yes, I still buy CDs) that she could rummage through later on if she wanted to. Then I looked at the current photos of Rachel to get a sense of what she dressed like and if I could pick up on some of her facial expressions—nothing, just flat-faced and a blank stare. Then I searched my closet and found something in blue that matched her favorite color and style, and set it aside. I also listened to Rachel’s favorite music to learn some lyrics. I already knew Malone and Cold Play, so I just had to get down Lewis’s stuff. The plan was to help Rachel relax around me and connect with her on every level and as soon as possible to secure some kind of bond between us. I would do that by mirroring her behavior without her even knowing. I’d be as subtle as possible, just two peas in a pod, with Rachel not knowing I was mimicking her.

The day arrived to go meet Rachel and her family. I was excited, but nervous; too, because I knew expectations of me would be high, as if I had some secret formula to what would work and what wouldn’t work. The only thing I had at my disposal was a generous spirit and knowing all the ins and outs of schizophrenia. I threw on the blue t-shirt and a pair of blue Levi jeans to match. Then I double checked to see if the CDs were still in the glove compartment of the car. I pulled the car out of the garage and put the top down. It was the perfect day for it, sunny and clear. Then I went back into the house, downed the last bit of coffee—slid into my leather flip-flops and headed out the door. Jane lived about a forty-minute drive away from me. I knew the neighborhood well because I had been in it many times. I even had a friend who lived in the area. It was probably the third nicest area in the city, a slightly upper middle class neighborhood with shrubs and lawns perfectly manicured and lots of shiny cars in driveways.

After I turned the corner onto Jane’s street, I pulled over to the side of the road to collect myself and iron out my nerves and make sure my energy was clear and steady, Zen like, alert and focused and smack dab in the present.

I slid Capaldi’s CD into the disc player and then turned it off. As I sat there, I imagined what Rachel’s family might be like. I figured everyone would be as nice as pie, at least in the beginning, until they got comfortable around me. But I wouldn’t be spending too much time with them, but that didn’t stop me from wondering who they were. And I mean who they really, really were. First impressions can be so deceiving at times.

As soon as I got into their house, Jane pulled me in with a warm hug. She introduced me to her husband and son. Her husband reached out and gave me a firm handshake, gestured for me to sit down on the couch, and then he just stood there like a statue and sized me up. His son, Cameron, shot me a smile before plopping down at the end of the couch. Jane slide in beside him. Rachel was sitting on a chair across the room with her legs dangling over one side. She was wearing an oversized tracksuit. I figured it was to hide her body.

Even though Rachel was across the room from me, I got a huge dose of her psychotic energy. It lingered throughout the room. The tension in the room was thick as molasses, and it made me feel uncomfortable. To break that tension, I turned to Rachel and said to her, do you have your stuff ready? She nodded yes and jumped up to go get it. As she was leaving the room, I told her to bring a hat and sunglasses with her to protect her head and face from getting burned because I had the top down on the car. Then she disappeared.

Rachel was an attractive young woman, with long brown hair to her waist and wide hips. Her eyes were dark green, with little flecks of brown. She was overweight, and I suspected that was from the drugs she was on, because Jane had told me she ate like a bird. By the time she got back, I was already at the front door waiting for her. I turned to the others and apologized for not staying long. I told them I wanted to get going because I didn’t want to drive home in the dark. Well, it was a half truth. I just wanted to get going.

As Rachel and I walked to my car, Rachel spat out, “Thanks for getting me.” As I pulled out of the driveway, I could see Jane in the window, so I waved goodbye. She was still there as I drove away.

I could tell Rachel really liked my car by the way she was smiling and caressing the seat with her hand. She said Real leather? Yep!

As we headed for the highway, I told her she could relax; I didn’t bite, and we’re just going to have some fun for the day. I was there to be her friend. No response, like I wasn’t even there.

On our way up island, I made small talk with Rachel, asked her what she likes, and what she does with her days. She said, “Mostly read, watch TV and listen to music, not much else to do when you have no money.” She was getting disability benefits, but her parents took most of it, except for a small allowance to buy cigarettes and snacks. Her mom had let her manage her money at first, but she’d end up spending it on nonsense, so they had to take her money away and dole out an allowance to her. However, whenever Rachel really needed something, her mom took her out shopping, but that wasn’t often, so Rachel told me. Most of her clothes were hand-me-downs from local thrift shops. It wasn’t because they were poor; it was because Rachel was poor. Besides, she liked to tinker around in those kinds of stores to find little treasures that would meet her budget.

I changed the topic and told Rachel that she could tell me anything and that I wouldn’t tell her parents any of the stuff we talked about—that even her secrets were safe with me. I wanted to establish trust right away, or at least try, by laying it all out on the table so she could understand that she could trust me. After that, Rachel talked non-stop for the rest of the ride as we made our way to a small town outside the city. She bounced around from topic to topic in broken sentences and mispronounced words. Sometimes I couldn’t even make out what she was saying because she’d whisper things. Then she’d go full-on quiet and just sit there, like an unmovable clump of clay. No problem, I already felt my energy being zapped and leaving me.

When we got to the town, I gave her 50 bucks to get what she wanted. She skipped ahead of me, looking in shop windows. She constantly reminded me of my past self. It was uncanny. In the end, she purchased inexpensive earrings and shoved the leftover money in her pocket. Next, we had lunch and then I drove her back home. On the way back, I popped in the Capaldi’s CD, and just like I thought, she responded with, “I love this guy.” Me too!

Before Rachel got out of my car, I told her we could do this again, just pick what she wanted to do for next time. I’m open to anything, as long as it was legal. She laughed at that before slamming the door shut. She had slammed the door so hard I thought she cracked the window. Then she whispered, sorry, and left my sight.

I had not been home for more than twenty minutes, and Jane called. She wanted to know everything, so I told her she’d have to go ask her daughter because I made a promise to Rachel that I wouldn’t share anything with anyone. I had to build trust, and I would not betray that trust by talking behind her back. I suggested to Jane it was best not to question her daughter about too much because she’ll see it as prying and trying to control her. Rachel was a grown woman, and she needed to be treated like one. With that, I politely got off the phone.

For the next few of months, Rachel and I did everything together. She became my sidekick, just like a Siamese twin! At least that was what it felt like to me. We’d go swimming, visit ice-cream shops, attend outdoor events, and watch movies at my house. I did whatever her little heart desired, as long as it didn’t cost too much. But her parents were chipping in for a lot of things. Rachel and I talked so much on the phone that my ears got sore, so I had to switch ears back and forth. I listened to her carefully as she stumbled with her words, half sentences left in midair. She’d switch gears so often that it was hard for me to keep up. Then, when I thought she had run out of things to say, she’d ask me about my experience of schizophrenia, even though I had told her many times before, except I left out all the heavy stuff because I didn’t want to trigger her. But then again, she acted triggered all the time. She reminded me of a jitter bug pumped up on steroids, scurrying around stricken with terror and fear. I had also noticed how her body made jerking movements. No idea what that was all about, and I didn’t bother to ask. But I sure was worried about her mental health.

I can’t count how many times I’d have to keep on explaining to Rachel what the symptoms of schizophrenia meant: The voices were verbal and non-verbal messages from the past, the hallucinations disguise actual events. The delusional thinking was a way to escape and cope. The gaping out and losing time was called disassociation. To her, it was just all mumble-jumble, like I was speaking Chinese or something. She had a hard time grasping concepts and holding onto information. I knew the drill, been there, done that. But I had a plan. I was intentionally planting seeds to prepare her for what was to come, so after a while I didn’t mind going over things until it stuck in her head. I was sure things were sinking in on a subconscious level, anyway. Sometimes I even got angry and frustrated with her because I had to repeat myself so many times. But I’d never let it show. I knew she would use it against me in the long run and try to twist it into something else. I’d end up being the bad guy, of course. Part of my plan was to not be like the others who had let her down and hurt her. So, I stuffed my anger towards her because I was going to use it later on when she fought me at every turn, especially when I begun confronting her past, whatever that may be. I had hunches, but nothing concrete yet.


I didn’t hear from Rachel for a few days, but when she called, she asked me if I wanted to go to the lake and hit the trails. So, I picked her up at her house. This time I brought with me an elastic band for Rachel to wear on her wrist. I was going to dig into her past and if she got triggered and she would, she could give it a snap to bring herself back. And if that didn’t work, we would just have to let the trigger run its course, and I was prepared to comfort her. I don’t believe in wasting time—get to the core quickly despite triggers and whatnots. Rachel was there with me for a reason and there was no time to waste after we had formed a secure bond. By now she was really comfortable around me and to show it she was swearing like a trucker and slicing and dicing my character, finding fault in everything I did, but it didn’t matter to me because I knew she was trying to drive me away and create some distance between us. It was test to see if I would go. I guess I was getting too close for comfort and it was scaring her. I could see it in her eyes and in her body language sometimes, but I wasn’t going anywhere unless she ended our relationship, and if she did, I would fight her on it. Show her I was in it for the long haul, no matter what she did to me. By then, I already felt a genuine connection with her. I also liked her very much. She had grown on me, so if our relationship ended now, I would feel the sting. Also, I just didn’t want to walk away because I didn’t want to be another person in her life who had tossed her aside like a paper sack because a better deal had come along. Besides, she had shared so much with me and I was feeling really confident that I could help her. She was almost a spitting image of my former self. So I could read her like a book and not become so easily offended if she twisted my words or hurled insults my way. I knew it wasn’t her fault. I also knew she was just fighting to survive the only way she knew how, and that was fine by me. But sometimes I couldn’t help but get frustrated. It was the intensity of her psychosis that was throwing me off. All that fear and terror rolled up in a hardened ball. Sometimes I even got scared.

So there we were, out in the woods, and I asked her to tell me about her childhood. What was it like? When did she feel unwell? She said, “I don’t know, there’s something there, but I don’t know what it is. I can’t remember. Isn’t it your job to figure it out?” From there I said okay, let me tell you more about my story, and I went into some of those dark places, but not too much. I didn’t lay out explicit details of the sexual abuse I had endured as a child, just skimmed over it a bit with no visuals. I didn’t want to create images in her mind that would make her retreat back into her shell. Then I explained to her that mind hides stuff. People make up stories in their heads when they don’t want to deal with something. Sometimes things can be so disturbing that they make it go away by pretending to be someone else. Or, when people have had terrifying experiences they can invent complete alternate realities to inhabit. Like I said, the mind hides things. Rachel still didn’t get it, so I broke it down by saying it is like when someone is sleepwalking. They don’t know they’re doing it, but they’re doing it. She finally got it and said, like missing time. I said, yeah, you got it; grasshopper, and then a big smile crossed her face. So, I reinforced how smart she was by telling her she could go to college one day and be whatever she wanted to be. That she should start setting some goals. She looked straight into my eyes and said, “I could make a list.” Yep!

We must have been out in the woods for a good two hours before I noticed Rachel was nervous about something. I thought she might be anxious from talking so much, so I suggested to her she snap that elastic on her wrist if she was feeling anxious or if she was getting upset. But she said, “No, I’m okay, just a little tired.” I promised her she was safe with me and with that, she started her spiel:

“Do you believe in UFOs? I got abducted when I was little, lots of times. A spaceship took me. They read minds. They put something in me. With her hands, she motioned something being rammed between her legs. I can’t get away. They switch bodies all the time, become real people. Maybe you’re an alien?”

Then, in a flash, I got it. It was in plain sight. Someone had sexually abused her as a child. So, I cut Rachel off by putting my hand up to say no more. Her face revealed she was upset. She was just standing there like she was stuck in space, zoned out and scared. I thought she might come undone, so I found a place for us to sit down on the grass and pulled my backpack off my shoulders and took out Curious George, a children’s book, and started reading out loud to help her settle down. I did this to soothe that frightened little girl inside of her who was all twisted up in emotional pain. People might think I am bonkers for doing that, but it worked.

What a big step. For the first time, Rachel’s big secret had left her lips. As I continued to read the book to her, I slowly put my leg up against hers so she could feel the warmth from my body and to help keep her grounded. I was showing her we were in this together and that everything would be okay. She was not alone. Five pages in, she appeared to return to the present, but she still showed visible signs of being shaken. To make her feel better, I told her lots of people get abducted by aliens. It was a common occurrence, and I had read a few stories about it. I piled it on thick and from that day forward; she talked about her alien experiences often. I got up and suggested that we should go back to the car because it was getting late. By the time we got to the car, she had already puffed on two cigarettes in a row. Her face looked flushed.


Since Rachel had told me her big secret and all the little details, I figured it was time to press for more information, get right into her chaotic world where I planned on joining her, but first I would have to break through all her defenses. Break down that wall that was dividing us. Give her some straight talk—the no-bullshit approach. Besides, she was ready. I could tell. So I called a close friend of mine, someone I have known for years, and asked if I could use her cottage for a week or more. She said yes, and the next day I went and picked up the keys and told her I didn’t want any visitors. She said, “Sure thing. No questions asked.”

I had to take Rachel somewhere safe to unravel her story, a place where she could yell and scream and carry on without prying eyes. I didn’t want any neighbors calling the cops if things got out of hand. If Rachel wanted to scream at the top of her lungs, she could. It was the perfect place for anyone to let loose. I chose that spot, too, because Rachel would never have to go back there again and the triggers could stay there. It would just be another chapter she could close, with no reminders.

The following morning, I called Rachel and asked if she wanted to go away to my friend’s cottage with me and do a little self exploration and a little relaxing. She was all in, so I told her to pack; we were leaving late afternoon. By that time, she questioned nothing I asked of her because she believed I could help her and she knew I would not leave her. I couldn’t break away at that point. I knew it would certainly hurt her, if not completely devastate her. I realized that it would also hurt me, too.

I was planning to open Rachel right up like a watermelon, go into those little dark places she refused to visit. I wanted to explore more about her UFO experiences and align that with experiences from her past. I was about to stir up emotions and awake memories from her past that had lain dormant for many years. But first I had to get some stuff to help me and her get there.

Before picking up Rachel, I hurried out and went and bought a weighted blanket, Kleenex boxes, two pairs of matching PJs for us, a few other things, and then came home and dug out the old frog stuffy I had stored in the garage and put it under a blanket in the trunk of my car. In the past, I had used that stuffy plenty of times to comfort myself when going through hard times. Now I was passing it onto Rachel to use. I wasn’t sure if I was going to ask for it back. I’d decide that later.

Then I went and got Rachel and on the way to the cottage, I pulled into a grocery store to get food. Rachel put junk-food in the grocery cart. Too much sweets, so I had to tell her to put some of it back. I told her we need meals, fruits and veggies, not junk food. Of course, she got into a stink about that, so I let her keep the chips and a couple bottles of pop. She was being so difficult by demanding she got her way. She was showing me yet another side of her now. I knew why, though. I think she knew the time was coming where I would break through her resistance and confront the things she was running away from. She was as smart as a whip, extremely perceptive and manipulative, and not much got past her. She knew. I knew. But we just didn’t talk about it. I just knew a storm was brewing. I could feel it in my bones, and it was making me feel uneasy. My patience was wearing thin, so I took deep breaths and carried on.

Once we got into the car, she turned to me and said, “You’re quite the bossy cow. I don’t know if I want to do this. Everything has to be your way.” So, I said to her I can turn the car around and take her back home if she doesn’t like it? Silence from her. I could sense her anger rise and it was wrecking my mood. But instead of saying something, I just ignored her and turned up the music to drown her out.

As we pulled into the driveway of the cottage, Rachel loosened up as soon as she saw the place. “Can we have a fire? I got first dibs on the beds?” Oh, we were going to have a fire alright; a fire is going to ignite within you. Those flames are going to get pretty high, so settle down, I said to her. She giggled while rolling her eyes. By then I was getting pretty tired of her and, to make matters worse, I had to argue with her to carry the stuff inside. I cursed under my breath but still kept my cool. I didn’t want her to know she was getting to me. I would not give her that. It would just become another power struggle, her fighting to get her way and me fighting to get my way.

After dinner, I called for quiet time. I told Rachel I was just going to relax and then go to bed early. She could read a book or write in the journal I had given her. I was done. I took my bag and went to the bigger bedroom with the queen-bed. She got up and went to the smaller room with the twin beds. I could hear her moving around, so I put in my earplugs and tried to get sleep. Finally, I was getting a little peace.


Two days later, still in our matching pajamas in early afternoon, I asked Rachel to tell me more about the aliens. I was sitting on a floor cushion nearby as she lay on the couch, gulping down pop. “What’s there to tell? I already told you,” she said. I told her I wanted to know about what got rammed between her legs. She responded with, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” In a calm voice, I told her she was full of shit and that aliens didn’t even exist and she was making the whole story up. She barked back, “No, you’re full of shit!” In response, I reminded her of why we were both there and it was to help her. Then I switched my words and bluntly asked her, who sexually abused you? Nobody. I want to go home.”

Next, I raised my voice and fired back, you really think anyone is going to help you? Do you think those doctors give a shit about you? All they’ve done is drug you up? You walk out this door, and your chance at recovery might not present itself for years. With that, she picked up the Kleenex box sitting on the end table and hurled it at me. It nicked my cheek. I felt the sting, but I kept my composure and pretended like it didn’t hurt. My intention was to display my lack of fear towards her, assuring that no matter what she did to me, I wouldn’t back down or vanish. I also knew if I laid a hand on her, it would be game over. She’d have an excuse to hang onto her psychosis and it would just become another reason for her to walk away like she had done with so many others.

Then, Rachel got up on her feet and started screaming at the top of her lungs like a bloody madwoman. Enraged, she yelled, “Stop trying to trick me! You’re making me sick. I hate you. Go to hell.” (And she yelled a bunch of deep-cutting profanities) Then I got up to match her stance and yelled back at her even louder and asked her again who had sexually abused her? She was visibly shaking now and had stepped into my personal space to intimidate me, but I stood my ground and locked eyes with her, and said to her who rammed something up her? Then she guardedly said in a snarky way, “Who rammed something up you?” (And a bunch of profanities again) I saw right through her. She was trying to overpower me by throwing her own stuff back in my face. If she had been in the psych hospital, she'd probably be restrained to a bed or given an antipsychotic injection, but I was just letting her go crazy on me without putting a finger on her.

For a split second, I turned away to look at my watch to see what time it was. We’d been going at it for over three hours now. When I looked back up to meet Rachel’s gaze, her face looked twisted in rage. Then, with substantial force, she spit in my face. I could feel her psychosis as it reached out to me, a fever pitch. It was as if it was trying to swallow me up. It threw me off a bit, so I shifted my focus and wiped the spit off my face, yet my nervous system felt like it was on fire. Then I yelled at her, even louder than before—do you think a little spit will scare me away? Do you really think I am afraid of you? I thought she was going to lunge at me, but suddenly tears streamed down her face and she said, “He tied me to my bed and stuck a pencil up me. He raped me.” Then she fell to the floor like a rag doll. I quickly helped her up and got her to the couch and sat her down next to me. Then she put her face in her hands and wept like a baby, so I put my arm around her to console her. The only thing that came out of her mouth was, “How did you know, Tracey? How did you know?” I told her I knew when she had told me about the aliens in the forest. She didn’t look up. She just sat there, consumed by grief, her tears still falling.

Once I knew she was somewhat settled down, I went and got the weighted blanket, brought it back and wrapped it around her. Then we just sat there, not saying a word. Despite all those tears, it was a beautiful moment, just the two of us sitting there saying nothing. The only thing I could hear was the pounding of my heart and Rachel's sobbing. Tears drenched her face, so I reached out and pulled her hair away from face and said to her, welcome back. She was awake! I just wanted to stay there and experience that with her for a little longer. I was so deeply touched by Rachel’s strength and courage that I couldn’t hold back my tears. All my anger at her was gone. The storm was over. All I felt for her was love. What a privilege to get to experience that kind of closeness to another human being—no masks, no pretenses, just raw emotion. I was so proud of her and I made sure she knew it by telling her repeatedly.

After a while, I asked Rachel if she wanted to take one of her sleeping pills and get to bed. She nodded yes and said, “My pills are in my purse. Can you go get them?” I sure could. I went and got them and then pulled a bottle of water from the fridge to wash them down. Then I got her into bed and put the weighted blanket on top of her. Once I felt it was safe to leave her alone, I went and got the frog stuffy from my car, came back and tucked it in beside her and then I told her I loved her and kissed her cheek goodnight.

After, I headed for the porch. I needed to sort through my own feelings of what had transpired. The first thing I noticed as I sat there was how tired I was. It felt like I had been through some kind of war. Yelling at Rachel took the life out of me. Her mean words had ripped through my skin, which caused a tingling sensation on my skin. Fully alert to my trauma since Rachel had brought it up. Even though I had healed from my childhood trauma, familiar circumstances could still trigger it. Rachel had reminded me of how my mother had told me so many times in childhood that she hated me. So, of course, I was affected by Rachel's behavior. It was in the way she said it, like my mother had said it. So, I had to calm down from that, and prevent myself from going down memory lane. With that, I just burst out crying. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. So, I just surrendered to it, said a prayer and then headed off to bed.

In the morning, I got up and went and listened at Rachel’s door to see if she was awake yet, but I couldn’t hear anything, so I quietly went to the washroom to clean up and then to the kitchen to cook eggs and bacon for us. I also sliced some melon up and put it on a side plate. I set the table and then went and got the gifts I had for Rachel out of my bag, and placed them on the kitchen table. As I was wiping the sleep away from my eyes, Rachel came stumbling out. I said good morning, breakfast will be ready soon. She didn’t say a thing, just looked down at the floor, so I said listen Rachel, what happened yesterday is in the past, I’m not mad at you. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We should celebrate your victory, not shame it. With that, she looked at me and mumbled thanks, and then pulled out a chair and sat down. “What’s this”, she said with a slight smile. As I poured her coffee for her, I said just in a little something I got for you. Then she reached out for the little box on top of my book. She gushed, “Finally, I get to read it.” I told her I bookmarked some pages that might help her as she starts her healing journey. Then she opened the box and found a watch inside with an inscription on the back. It read, To Rachel, I love you, Tracey Higgins. She broke down in tears and said, “How did you know I would make it?” I told her I knew because I believed in her. Sometimes it just takes one person to change a person’s life, and I knew I could do it. Then she threw her arms around me and gave me a big bear hug. It was the very first time she had gone to me. What a good start.

Then I went into my spiel for a change. It’s just the beginning for you, Rachel. You have lots of work to do, you’re going to cry plenty, and be mad a lot, but your psychologist will help you get through it all. “Does this mean I won’t be seeing you anymore?” she said with concern in her eyes. I told her, of course not, but I won’t be spending so much time with her now. I’d see her once or twice a month if that and she could call me if she got stuck in a hard place. “You promise?” Yes, I promise. Now let’s eat. I’m starving.

As we sat there eating, I reflected on our time together. I knew in my heart that Rachel was going to be okay. That she wouldn’t have to lose nineteen years of her life like I had. That she was still young and had her whole life ahead of her. I hoped she’d get all the support she needed. It was going to be a long healing journey for her. She had just done the first phase with me, but was probably the most difficult one. That’s the sad thing about this: people harm people and the victims have to work through all the damage left behind while the perpetrator gets off scot-free and just moves on with their lives. The diagnosis of schizophrenia becomes an alibi for many. Sigh!


A day later, we packed up the car and got ready to go. Before leaving, I called the love of my life and told him I should be home early evening. He asked how I was doing and I told him I did what I set out to do. Rachel is fine and I am, too. Tired, but fine. He said, “Rachel is lucky to have you. Well done. Tracey, I can’t wait to see you. I miss you.” Back at you, I replied, and then got off the phone. I told Rachel to call her mom to say she was coming home today. “Already did,” she said. Then she said, “I told my mom what you did for me. She’s excited to see me.” I was so happy for Rachel and her family, especially her mom. Then I wondered if Rachel would tell them who did what and what role they had played in keeping Rachel’s secrets. Well, that wasn’t my worry. I just hoped the family would work towards healing and stop blaming Rachel for everything that goes wrong in the family. That’s all I can say about that, because Rachel has put restrictions on what I could write about. I had to take many parts out.

Before we turned down Rachel’s street, she asked if we could drive around a little longer. She felt nervous, and wasn’t quite ready to see her parents. So, I said sure and turned the car around and knew exactly what to do. So I told Rachel to pop in that CD from the glove department, the one by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and set it to the song, Pride and Joy, then turn it off. I commented it was about time we listened to some proper music. Then I laughed out loud. As I was coming off the on-ramp to the highway, I told Rachel to slide that CD in. I cranked up the sound and told her to hold on; this is how to ride in style. Then I gunned the engine and took off like a bat out of hell. Poor ole’ Rachel was hanging onto to her hat to keep from losing it. Then I started singing at the top of my lungs. To my surprise, Rachel knew the song and joined in. We were bad-asses now. It felt so good to let go. Then I turned to get a quick peek at Rachel, and she looked so damn content. They say music makes the world go around. Or is it money? Not sure. I just knew Rachel has so much hope now and has a brighter future. Just thinking about it still chokes me up.

Fifty-five minutes later, we drove up Rachel parent’s driveway. I couldn’t believe it; Rachel’s mom was in the window waiting for us. Then she was on the front step of their house. Rachel got out of the car and walked towards her mom. But her mom was already in the driveway. I watched them embrace. Rachel was home. She was safe. I couldn’t fight back my tears. They ran down my face, so I grabbed the tail end of my shirt and wiped them away. I think they forgot all about me, because the next thing I knew, no one was helping me take all the stuff out of the car. They had already gone inside. It was just like Rachel, leaving me to carry her baggage. I kind of chuckled over that. We were doing Rachel’s style now!

Ten minutes later, Rachel came out laughing, so I snapped at her and told her to help, but I was only joking. She said her mom wanted me to come in for coffee and stay a while. So, I said only for one coffee; I got to get home. Besides, I had something I wanted to say, too. I wanted to tell both of them what to expect in the next coming weeks and months.

As I sat there, I rambled on about how things are going to come up. I told Rachel, memories and feeling were going to resurface. Write things down—keep track of your thoughts and feelings. If she needed to cry, don’t interrupt the process, just let the feelings come out. She could go to the library and get some books on healing from childhood sexual abuse, and also talk to your psychologist about things. She should be really knowledgeable about the topic. I looked at my watch and said, I really have to go now. It’s late and all I want to do is go home and crawl into bed and fall asleep. I really missed being home. They tried to get me to stay longer, but I finally got up, pushed the chair in under the table and said I’m going now. I didn’t wait for a response; I just went and put on my shoes, said goodbye and quickly left.

Midweek, Rachel called me. She was having crying spells. So I had to tell her it was normal, that it’s a part of the healing process. It was something I had already told her. Instead of trying to get off the phone, I listened to her for a while until my ear got sore. I suppose she had become dependent on me, so I gently told her she had to stand on her own two feet. I told her things would get easier, just give it time. And keep journaling. Reluctantly, she uttered, “I suppose I’ll let you go now.” Click.

Saying goodbye to Rachel was a hard thing to do, but I had fulfilled my commitment to her. Hanging onto her wouldn’t help her, anyway. Even though I felt bad about having to pull away, I knew she’d be okay. She has strengths inside of her she is not even aware of yet. She also has her psychologist and her mom to lean on for support.

Rachel is doing good, still healing, still trying, still moving, and still breathing.

A word from Rachel: My family is so dysfunctional, but we are trying to work it out. My mom goes to therapy now. My dad moved out. I don’t have hallucinations no more and I’m living in reality. I am okay. Tracey doesn’t like to take credit, but she helped me so much. I am grateful for all the things she has done for me. I don't think I will ever forget her.


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