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How do you process that despite doing your best due diligence, the organization you trusted with your child played a role in his trauma? When we moved in together, he was 23 and midway through a second military band enlistment.His parents’ immediate reaction—to hug him tight—was exactly right. Our apartment was a small cinderblock studio, and in such close physical proximity, I watched his sunny, gregarious stage presence lie dormant for hours under a blanket on the couch.“If they knew what happened, I thought it would destroy them.”This idea—that it was his fault for not speaking up—was embedded in my husband’s psyche for years. “I was a scholarship kid.”Newly into our marriage, and refusing to put more blame on that little boy’s shoulders, I said, “I believe you.”This is the most important thing a partner can say.In an effort to survive, he buried the details deep, doing his best to forget the American Boychoir School. Almost 25 years after leaving the school, when Trav did tell his parents, they believed him, too.
“You’re fine,” the clinician said and sent Trav back to our couch.
I held his hand as his night terrors, hyper-vigilance and claustrophobia began to make sense.
When Trav’s enlistment was up, we moved back home to Maine.“But you’re eight years in,” people accused. ”We were told we were stupid and short-sighted, throwing away good careers.
I said, “let’s go home” because I didn’t know what else to do.
We took a 75 percent pay cut when we moved, but Trav gained a lifestyle structure with no overt vestige of imprisonment or dominance, emotional or physical.
As a musician, he built a business on his terms, one small stage at a time, and now plays at least five shows a week. Our niece and nephew run to him, and our chiropractor once called him the nicest man he’d ever met.