“So, you are a sponsor of the race?”
To recognize the value of my in-kind design work as well as my contributions to digital marketing and social media, I asked to be included as a sponsor on the back of the 2022 Charlottesville Ten Miler shirt.
For 14 years, I helped the Charlottesville Track Club (CTC) with graphic and web design, marketing, and event management. For 13 years, I supported five race directors (Alice Wiggins, Mike Inge, Maria Bell, Deb Gilbert, and Nicole Brimer) with the Charlottesville Ten Miler (CTM). I’m grateful and honored to have worked closely with people who valued my ideas, creativity, dedication, passion, and time.
There aren’t enough words to describe how much it meant to me to see my “Twins Run in Our Family” logo on the backs of fellow runners as I ran this iconic race. I loved seeing the new CTC logo I designed (last year) at the top of the shirt, too!
I’ve been struggling emotionally and financially since I lost my job of 22+ years in September 2020. During the 50+ interviews I’ve had since turning 50, I've always spoken about my volunteer work in the Charlottesville running community as my proudest accomplishment.
During COVID-19 I devoted my time and talents to help Mark Lorenzoni promote the Charlottesville Track Club’s modified events during the pandemic and I especially enjoyed marketing and managing the C-VILLE-athon, Race Fest, Marathon and Half Marathon Training Program, Winter Training Program, the All-Comers Summer Track Meets, and Bruce Barnes Mile.
During this time a conflict arose between me and various CTC board members. Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts, this conflict could not be resolved. Therefore, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away from the CTC in September 2021.
Although I had to separate myself from the CTC, I knew I wanted to help CTM race director, Nicole Brimer, with the 2022 Charlottesville Ten Miler. It was very important for me to end my tenure with the CTC on a high note. So, I made a variety of new designs for a special bib, stickers, and volunteer shirt as well other logos that I never got to use.
I wore my rainbow sparkle skirt and formerly white running shoes that I colored with a rainbow of sharpies. So many spectators and fellow runners complimented me on my tutu and I appreciated the encouragement as I was rather untrained for this endeavor!
The best part of the race was seeing my identical twin sister cheering in her inflatable T-Rex costume at mile 4 and the finish line. Being able to finally share this historic event with her made a difficult day of saying goodbye to this race a bit easier.
Thank you to Nicole for allowing me do what I love and including me as a valuable contributor to this spring tradition in Charlottesville.
I'm not sure who will be the next director for the Charlottesville Ten Miler and what changes will be made under new leadership. I know that my twin and I will always smile when we see someone wearing a shirt from one of the years I helped support the race, especially the shirts with my designs (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020/21, and 2022).
music is my therapy
All the right songs came up at the right moment .....
Over the past few weeks I’ve had numerous conversations with a variety of professionals about my desire to recover from what I would describe as therapy abuse that occurred from 1996-2018. I filed a complaint with the Department of Health Professions in September 2020 yet there has been no resolution which has caused me to feel hopeless, regretful, and desperate. In October 2021 I had an emotional, but helpful 22 minute conversation with a staff member at the DHP. Despite my recent request, the staff at DHP have refused to talk with me again and have indicated via email that they don’t have time to answer my questions about the ongoing process which has only exacerbated the trauma that reporting him has caused me.
I asked a counselor if I made a mistake by filing my complaint because it feels like it has only ended up hurting me more than if I just stayed silent. She said that she believes that despite the bureaucratic obstacles that are delaying any action or closure, it was the right thing to do to report the abuse. She suggested that I might consider speaking with a lawyer about any other options I might have.
I took that advice and had two very useful conversations with a lawyer who specializes in therapy abuse. Although she couldn’t take on my case due to the statute of limitations, she suggested that I might want to consider becoming an advocate for changes in the state laws regarding medical malpractice. It helped to talk with someone who’s represented others who have struggled with coming forward, knowing that it often takes years to get to that point and then it’s too late to do anything about it.
I reached out to the Women’s Initiative during their call-in clinic to get advice on therapy to resolve the issues that filing the complaint has caused. I agreed to speak with an intern rather than a licensed clinician because I thought it was important that someone in training hears about the intense pain that may result from bad therapy. Explaining my story in 30 minutes helped me focus on the core issues I want to address. She noted that one of my strengths was my sense of humor and commented on my bravery and strength to reach out for help despite my history.
I spent $208.50 to get a copy of my medical records from my former therapist so I could see what the DHP might have received. It was no surprise that the huge stack of documents was disorganized and incomplete.
It was another unpleasant trip down memory lane especially when I found the notes for the session when he hit me with the door as I tried to leave and the session when I confronted him about a hurtful text and email he sent me outside of therapy. At least I know that those notes corroborate my “testimony” although they leave out some very important details.
I had already received handwritten therapy notes from 2006-2007 years ago when I was trying to quit the first time. In September 2020, I submitted transcripts of those notes typed up by me because his handwriting was so difficult to read. Luckily the notes from 2012-2018 were already typed, but finding any actual encounter notes in pages filled with duplicative information was quite difficult. I spent a couple hours transcribing the 2008 handwritten notes and the 2012-2018 typed notes into a spreadsheet. Then I reviewed all the billing records and entered all those dates into the spreadsheet as well.
That is the number of sessions I had with this therapist. That number alone feels like the strongest and most striking evidence that something went terribly wrong in my “treatment plan.” It’s humiliating and embarrassing to disclose this information, but I need to be transparent in order to finally begin the healing process. When I spoke with someone at the Women’s Center to get a referral she shared with me that if I needed validation that telling a former patient “I’ll pass” when they reach out for help is unprofessional, she was giving that to me. She didn’t even need to know the full story to make that observation as a counselor herself. I could tell that she was upset that something like this happened to someone which gave me hope.
I hope that despite being financially limited due to my current unemployment I might find the right clinician to help me process my experience and grow from it. I feel like my situation would be the perfect case for someone in training and I’m more than willing to share my story to help new therapists gain skills to help others. I need to explore how and why I allowed myself to be in this situation for so long despite numerous warning signs and advice from my friends, family, and other mental health professionals. Most importantly I want to forgive myself. I’ve spent a lot of time ruminating and blaming myself, but as the lawyer reminded me: he was trained to prevent this from happening. It’s not entirely my fault.
Postscript: To add insult after injury, I reached out to the therapist’s office when I realized encounter notes from 2009-2011 were missing without any explanation. I received an email message and letter in the mail that stunned and terrified me. I responded electronically and received a less ominous email reply. These two exchanges pretty much sum it all up. :(
8 Signs of a Bad Therapist: When You Should Move On
Ten Signs Your Therapist is Abusing You: What to Look For
Warning Signs Of An Abusive Counselor
I managed everything for the C-VILLE-athon from 2015-2020. A new team is now in charge. Good luck, runners!
The C-VILLE-athon is the brilliant idea of coach, volunteer race director, and running store owner Mark Lorenzoni. Created as a way to encourage runners to try a variety of local not-for-profit races as well as to track one’s progress over the year, the C-VILLE-athon allows participants to design their own racing experience by running at least 26.2 miles in charity events in a calendar year.
I worked behind the scenes to create logos, flyers, website, and social media presence for this initiative and it has been a huge success. During its first year. Of the 243 people who signed up for the challenge in the inaugural event, 83 runners submitted their checklists, running a total of more than 2500 miles for worthy causes!
I felt like there was a lot of symbolism in my experience running The Haven 8K Run for Home on Saturday, March 19. I experienced compliments and rejection, recognition and invisibility, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. Pretty intense stuff for a fun run and my first “race” of 2022.
I was fortunate to receive a ride to the race with my friend and frequent trivia teammate, Hernan. He was a few minutes early (which I love), but it put me in a panicked scramble to get myself out the door so I forgot my race bib. #RookieMistake
I realized I didn’t have my bib as soon as I got out of his car. I didn’t want to be "that person" who has to admit they messed up and then beg for a new number at the registration table, but there I was in that exact situation.
I expected this race was going to be challenging because my running pace has slowed significantly and I anticipated seeing people in the running community for the first time in 6 months. Having to start the day by asking for a new bib was not exactly what I had planned in terms of just "laying low."
Luckily, Audrey Lorenzoni Sackson was at the registration table and was more than willing to help me with a new bib. When I saw her husband, Stewart, I asked them how married life was going. I remembered the best recommendation I ever got from a couples therapist was to read How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. I recently gave that book as a wedding present to a close friend because I found it to be so useful and insightful.
I ran a couple miles before the race and smiled every time I saw a Ten Miler or other race shirt that I designed. It's the little things that lift my spirits and I felt pure joy when I saw the designs I created being worn by my fellow runners. I greatly appreciate this continued connection with our local running community.
My identical twin sister, Malinda Ann, came with us to cheer the runners (and entertain the spectators) as an inflatable T-Rex. I was excited to snap a few photos of her proudly displaying her sign, "You'll be Dino-SORE tomorrow!!" and her "TWINS RUN in our family" tote bag.
I started the race off slowly and tried not to pressure myself or worry about my performance. Lately, I’ve been running 12-14 minute miles so my only goal was to run faster than that. It felt good to see familiar faces along the course, to hear personal shout outs (“Go Leah!”) and to receive compliments on my sparkly running skirt (a version of the asexual flag in honor of my daughter). My playlist (RUN FOR HOME PLAYLIST) kept me going and I even passed 5 or so people in the second half of the race which is always great for a boost of confidence. As I approached the finish line, I saw my twin cheering and it made me smile.
Mark Lorenzoni called my name as I crossed the finish line and I kept running because it has been very difficult since he walked away from me. I miss his presence in my life and I am sad I had to end my volunteer work with the Charlottesville Track Club. Even though the transition has not been easy, I am grateful for the opportunities I had to help him with the Charlottesville Track Club for more than 13 years and Ragged Mountain Running Shop for over 6 years. While I know it can be uncomfortable, difficult or painful when friendships, partnerships or collaborations end, I understand and accept that some relationships cannot continue for reasons beyond my control.
I was lucky to see my friend, Marti, after the race and I got a great photo of her standing beside my twin, the T-Rex. I’ve always appreciated Marti's warmth, compassion, and willingness to lend a hand, especially with the Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon. I thanked her for all she’s done and for being the light when I’ve seen a lot of darkness. I gave her a huge hug and went to get a mocha with extra chocolate and whipped cream at Mudhouse.
After the race, I checked the results and saw that I wasn’t listed. At first, I thought it was a blessing in disguise because my time was so much slower than my performance two years ago, the last time the race was in-person. However, I did use the online form to report the issue because I am not ashamed of my time. I’m actually proud of myself for still getting out there when I know I’m not in my best shape and nowhere near my PRs from 2012. Although I’m no longer competitive, I’m still showing up because running has been and continues to be such an important part of my life. I can find happiness and connection in being a part of the communal race experience even when I know I won’t take home an award. I always want to appreciate the joy of running and to support important causes in my community.
The Ten Miler is next week. It’ll most certainly be my slowest time ever on the course and I’m looking forward to enjoying every minute I have on the streets of Charlottesville with other runners and community members.
"hi, i know that being in the race results when i ran a miserably slow time shouldn't be important to me, but it is. i feel like it's a metaphor for my place in the running community. i'm invisible. i showed up, i did the work, and i'm not officially there anymore. it's sad. you'll never know how much it hurts that i'm no longer involved with the lorenzonis or the track club. it is what it is. i accept my role and contribution to the successes and failures. i'm still here. "