Monthly Archives: August 2013

Now You Were There

The first thing out of the ordinary about the day is that I am wearing a dress. It’s shorter than my inner monitor is fully comfortable with. White lace, with a brown belt. And brown heels. I regret my choice in footwear, as so often happens to me within hours of leaving the house. I am glad I followed the suggestion of one of my professors to pack flip flops in my bag.

Actually, I am glad that I followed a great many of her suggestions. I’m not sure where I’d be without her.

The second thing out of ordinary about the day is that I am sitting at the front desk in the tutoring center. This is new. I am responsible for answering the phone and scheduling appointments. It is, however, the end of the semester, so I’m not really doing anything work related. Instead, I am working on my reading for the conference that afternoon.

Fuck. What a piece to be reading.

I don’t really have a choice. When I emailed in my selection for the program, the response I got was that my bigger, better pieces deserved attention more than one that had been written on the fly, no matter how fun that one would have been to read. I responded that I would read a different piece, but also that I wasn’t sure I was capable of reading the words out loud. They say that the truth will set you free, but I have never found that to be the case. I’ve found that it usually only creates additional bars. But today I will tell the truth to my peers for the first time. Today I will say the words.

I can’t.

I’m scared that they will hate me, that they will turn on me. I shuffle my papers all across the desk. My first presentation of the day, one that contains much more difficult material that really should be reviewed, is shuffled to the bottom of the pile. I stare at the words again and again. I try to figure how I can avoid it, how I can take the truth out. But I can’t. I can’t change it enough. I can not get out of this.

I remember the advice from the professor for this class—she runs races regularly, and she told me that in the first half of a race she tells herself not to be a rockstar, but in the second half she tells herself not to be a pussy. If I think I’m pushing myself too far to fast doing the reading, remind myself not to be a rockstar. But if I think I will regret not pushing myself to read it, tell myself not to be a punk.

Dear god. I will regret this.

I take off my heels again and replace them with the flip flops to walk across campus. I am terrified, but I try not to let it show. It comes across as more of a hyper, caffeine induced fit. I’m more outwardly wired than I’ve been in quite a while, and people comment on it. But I can’t tell them why. I can’t tell them everything that’s happened. I can’t tell them what’s going to happen today. I can’t.

I switch back into heels and complete the first presentation with flying colors. This is an accomplishment. I have taken on a personality of silence within the classroom, but I nail the presentation with essentially no practice whatsoever. However, my mind and my heart do not appreciate the celebration that is due. I know what is coming. I talk to the professor for that class. She knows me, and she cheers me on. I can do it. I have two hours to kill.

Loitering at the English major table, I talk to my friends and review my speech. I take off my heels. I think about how short my dress is, and how I am killing all of my “things I am scared to do” list in one day. I was not allowed to wear short dresses, just like I was not allowed to talk about these things. Now I have trouble talking about anything. But I am wearing a short dress, and I will read the piece that I have written. I will.

I’m going to die.

It is time. Things have literally gotten away from me. I thought that I would have more time to prepare. I thought I would have more time to think. I put the heels back on, and somehow I am walking back down the hallway to the conference. Twenty years from now I will remember this, this very moment that feels like walking to my execution. Twenty years from now I will write myself a letter: now you were there.

Sitting at a table three rows back, between two people who know me and know what I am about to attempt, I slip off the heels one last time. I look at the program on the table in front of me. I am numb. I do not remember the people who go before me. I’m sure that their pieces are beautiful, but I can not think. I don’t understand their words.

Terrified.

It is my turn. I slip the heels back on, for the last time. I shuffle my papers and rise, remembering at the last second to grab my water bottle. I walk to the podium and place the papers on the stand, grateful for the size twenty font. My hands are shaking, and I make sure to keep them behind the podium so that no one will see. I am afraid to let them see me. I am afraid. I…

Speak.

The third thing out of the ordinary about the day is when I speak. Because I don’t. I don’t speak about these things. But I read the piece. I blaze through the first page, through the part that is easy. And then it gets harder. I tell them the truth about my life, about my marriage. I am not reading the words as if they are someone else’s. I am accepting them as mine, and I’m okay. Five minutes pass by as if they are nothing.

I am done. I am strong.

My peers do not judge me as I feared. They do not shun me. They accept me. They applaud my bravery.

I realize then that I am ready. I am ready to take my life back.

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52 Lists-What Makes Me Feel Healthy

Things that make me feel healthy, mind body and soul…See, the thing about these lists is that they really make me think. What makes me feel healthy?

Body
I feel healthy when I eat relatively normally. Don’t judge. There was a time in my life where I didn’t eat much at all. When I’m incredibly stressed out, it’s still a struggle some times.
I feel healthy when I exercise. I haven’t done enough of that this summer and that makes me sad. And also makes me feel lazy, which is the exact opposite of my real self.
I feel healthy when I can make choices for myself rather than allowing others to govern what I can do with my body.

Mind
I feel healthy when I’m educating myself, be that at school or just out in the world. I also feel healthy when I can educate others, through my actions, through teaching, or with my words.
I feel healthy when I write. It’s a purging of the mind of sorts.
I feel healthy when I am around people who challenge me.

Soul
I feel healthy when I am making my own decisions. I went for so long without this option. It’s still difficult for me; I can be horribly indecisive, and I still find myself turning to others for reassurance where I should be confident in myself alone.
I feel healthy when I am with those people who allow me to be myself.
I feel healthy when I can say the words, when I can articulate and admit my experiences. When I can’t, my soul is a bit black. Right now, it’s sort of gray.

Health is a weird thing for me. There’s so many components to it. And then there’s me, with all of the gray. Someday I will reach a point where I can care as much about myself as I do about others. I think I’ll know that I’m healthy when I am just being myself and I am completely okay with her, despite what others think. I don’t know that I’m there yet. I look forward to meeting her.

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52 Lists-Things I Am Grateful For

I am grateful for so many things.  I had some things to get off my chest before I could write this post, but those words have been said and now here we are.  (Names abbreviated to protect the innocent, and also because this links to a national blog and I haven’t asked any of you.  But you know that I love you all.)  🙂

  • I am grateful for time.  I used to dread it, but then I realized that it’s all in how we utilize it.  As humans, we do not have enough.  We need to make the most of everything, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do that.
  • I am grateful for the wilderness, and nature.  I learned a lot about myself this weekend hiking and having quiet time to think.  And writing by lantern light in the middle of the forest.  I feel like I understand so much more about myself and the world.  Crazy?  Probably.
  • Along those same lines, I am grateful to have a stove and a fridge and an oven and cold beverages and hot showers and all of the amenities I lacked while hiking.
  • I am grateful for the ability to write.  It is such an incredible gift, and I pray that I can use it to do many positive things.
  • I am grateful for animals.  They are super awesome and amazing companions.  Especially mine.
  • I am grateful for school.  So grateful.  I have learned an incredible amount, above and beyond academia.  I have found myself.
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to teach.  I have learned a great deal from my students.

And here’s where I get cheesy…

  • I am grateful to A, for giving me a place to live, accepting me into the family, listening to/putting up with me, and being the greatest friend ever.  I’m grateful for all of the games, the adventures, the cooking, and the pumpkins in the backyard.  And also for setting me back on the path to life after it all fell apart.
  • I am grateful to T, for being the most awesome advisor ever and lending an ear even when I was a giant pain in the ass.  I have learned more from her than I even thought possible.
  • I am grateful to D, for also being awesome and always willing to listen and help wherever she could; she never stopped believing in me.  And as a side note, for teaching me about topic sentences.  Apparently, I had forgotten their existence for a while, but not anymore.  I can write a pretty awesome paper.
  • I am grateful for N; not only did she read everything that I had to write, she helped me find ways in which I could improve both my writing and myself.  And though she didn’t always comment on my stuff, it was awesome just to know I was being heard.  This was a salvation in ways that few will ever know.
  • I am grateful for T(2) for lending me an ear over the summer, and for being an awesome cheerleader of my writing.
  • I am grateful to D(2) for doing the same, and for encouraging me to keep believing in myself.
  • I am grateful to E, for teaching me that is possible (and totally okay) to make new and awesome friends that will accept and like me for the person that I am, and for the fantastic adventures that we have had thus far.  Hopefully we will have many more.
  • I am grateful to J for encouraging me regarding school; I would not be where I am now had I not followed the advice she gave me so long ago.
  • Okay.  So I’m grateful for everyone.  🙂  The end.
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Trigger

trigger
n. the lever pressed by the finger to discharge a firearm
n.  an event that precipitates other events

They come in droves.
There is a guy in my class who is completely obnoxious.  From the way he constantly talks over the professor to the way he blurts out his answers to the fact that he comes in twenty minutes late on a consistent basis.  His voice grates on my nerves.
The school mascot is an asshat.  He runs down the hall in a bear costume that probably reeks from those who have worn it before him, coming up behind random people to scream and hug them.  Because we like that.  Not.
Fireworks.  Loud, exploding balls of color in the sky.
A hand that drifts too low.
Certain words.
Triggers.
Enough said.
*
It is possible to be in one place, doing one activity, and then suddenly find yourself in a completely different spot, doing a completely different activity.  It’s sort of like what happens when you daydream; you temporarily lose touch with what’s happening around you.  This is called disassociation, where a person becomes mentally removed from their surroundings.  You have little to no memory of your body and what it was doing.  You are trapped inside of yourself.  You are in a flashback.
*
We are sitting in the waiting room.  I can’t remember how I got here.  I have always hated waiting room due to the massive amount of paperwork that generally comes along with them.  She tries to distract me; she seems to know.  We talk about shows, performing.  She used to be an actress.  I’m surprised; I shouldn’t be, but I am.  Anything and everything crosses the discussion.  I am focused, present.  This was the idea, I think.
The door opens and we go in.  Down a hall.
The therapist seems nice, but that doesn’t make any difference in my head.  “Why are you here?”
I shake my head.  I shrug.  I can’t answer.  Everything hurts.  I stare at her, hoping she will help me focus again.  Hoping she will say something, do something.  I’m not ready for this.  My eyes beg her to tell my story.  She does.  The conversation gets fuzzy.
I don’t remember the words she says.
*
A flashback is what is referred to as a re-experiencing symptom of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  A flashback is not a seizure; it’s a completely different entity.  In a flashback, it feels like the traumatic event is happening all over again.  Repetition to infinity.  A soldier who hears a loud noise such as a car backfiring could be taken back to a time when they shot someone during wartime.  A rape victim could begin to feel pain that isn’t there anymore or smell things that they smelled during the assault.  How it happens is different for everyone.  Some people will hear sounds, or see sights from the time of the traumatic event.  Other people will be completely sucked in, as if they are in the event and it is happening to them all over again.
*
I am in a parking lot, the parking lot, walking with my coworkers.  There is something behind the dumpsters, in the dark.  Close to my car.  The shadows obscure whatever it is.
My palms are coated with sweat.  My heart races.  I can feel the beat in my ears.
Someone says something to me, grabs my arm.  I have stopped halfway between work and the car.  I know what the shadow is.  He’s back.  For me.
I sink down to the ground.
I can feel his fingers on my arm.  His mouth on mine.  His tongue on my face.  His breath in my ear.  I am dirty.  Damaged.  And that’s all there is.  The outside world, the real world, does not exist.
I can’t hear or see anything else.
*
It is important to track the things you are thinking and feeling right before a flashback happens, whenever possible.  It’s good to note the things that were happening.  These are triggers.  Be it a loud noise, cracking knuckles, being touched in a certain way, or the certain way a person’s voice sounds, they can put you in a dissociative tailspin.  If you know they are coming, you have a chance to stop the flashback before it happens.
*
I am in class.
Peer review.  I am sitting next to this person I barely know.  I should know him, since we’ve been in the same class for the entire semester.  There are only eight of us.  We exchange papers; it is apparent that we are supposed to learn from each other, though I’m not sure how.  I stare down at his paper, clicking my pen on the desk.  I try to discern a thesis, but I am only aware of how close he is to me.
It feels like inches.  I can’t think.  I read the same sentence four times.  I look up at the professor.  I’m melting; I want to say something.  But I can’t.  So I try again.  The words blur together, but I manage to make a few corrections.  He doesn’t have an entire paper, and I’m completely lost.  I give it back.  I’m not me.  I’m not academic, I’m not smart.  I’m someone else, stuck somewhere else.
He asks me a question, something about the comments he had written on my paper.  Did I intend to use a certain source?  I wasn’t sure.  The professor asks if we are done.  I answer that I’m not sure why we were together in the first place.  I don’t mean it the way it sounds.  I wasn’t try to be mean.  I was trying to get through it.  I want to explain myself, but I can’t.  I fail.  I get up; I can’t remember what he says as I go.  I have gone back to my own desk, by the door, but I still feel like he is right next to me.  I’m pretty sure it’s not even him I feel.  It’s someone else. It’s him.
I push back out of the desk and out of the classroom.  I lock myself in a bathroom stall.  I cry.  Alone.  I can’t break out of it.
*
To break out of a flashback, you need to be grounded.  You can become grounded using the five senses of sight, taste, sound, touch, and smell.  Look around and make a mental list of everything that surrounds you.  Eat something with a strong taste, like a lemon or tabasco.  Play loud music.  Hold a piece of ice.  Sniff something with a strong odor.  It’s about redirecting yourself, finding something else to focus on.  But when you’re gone too far inside, it can be hard to do these things on your own.  You have to trust other people, in a time of your life when you don’t think you can.  You have to let them know.  You have to let them in.

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52 Lists-Current (And Future) Goals and Dreams

The line between dreams and goals is blurry for me.  In my head, I feel like dreams become goals.  We think of what we want to do, we dream about it, and then we set goals so that we can achieve it. 

My ultimate dream is to live.  I have many goals, be they goals for five minutes from now or goals for five years from now, that will help me to make this dream reality.  I believe that this act of setting the bar for myself is crucial to going about the course of life. 

For example, in the morning, my goal is to get out of bed.  This may sound utterly ridiculous to some, but to others it’s everything.  Life is hard sometimes.  Taking the easy way out, hiding, is an easier choice many days than fighting back.  But just because something is easy doesn’t make it right. 

My next goal in the day is to be myself.  This begs the question, who is that self?  I don’t fully know.  This is a goal that I can’t always achieve, but I do the best I can.  I stand up for what I believe in; I stand up for what’s right.  I try to help others.  I’ve rediscovered my love for skirts.  I write about whatever the heck I want.  I laugh when something is funny; I cry when it isn’t.  Maybe I don’t always know who I am, but I make a concerted effort to not hide my feelings.  I spent too long doing that, and now I flounder when I have to show who I really am.

I follow this goal up with the goal of getting done all of the things I need to get done.  This is important to me.  I jam pack my day so full that I don’t give myself time to breathe, and most of the time I’m okay with that.  I find that it’s better to keep busy than to sit idle.  This is how I make my mark on the world.  I want to leave something behind; I want to be remembered.

In the long term, my goal for this year is to complete truly fantastic graduate school applications that get every school I apply to to accept me.  This is both a goal and a dream in the making, I suppose.  Writing is everything to me, closely followed by school.  If I could do it forever, I would.  I WANT to.  But an offshoot of this goal is the goal that I need to accept that I may not get in, and I need to understand that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough.  It simply means that I don’t fit the particular mold that program is looking for.

And someday, in five years, ten…I still want a family.  I want a second chance at that ideal, that husband and baby and white picket fenced yard that I missed out on the first time around. 

One thing I have learned is that life never has enough time for all of the things we want.  We can’t just wait for things to come to us.  If we do that, these things just stay dreams forever.  We have to reach out and sometimes fight tooth and nail to get the things that we want and need.  If we don’t try, our dreams never become real. 

I, for one, want my dreams to become reality.  I have often dreamed about living my life, really living it.  And now I’m doing that.  To me, this means I can do anything. 

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Falling Forward

I didn’t realize how hard it would be, going back.  Or maybe I did.
I can’t do this.  I can’t move forward.  It’s stupid to think I can.

I was stupid.  So, so stupid.
This is all my fault.

I spent the entire weekend hiding behind a wall.  Not a real wall, but rather an emotional one.  I had to protect myself; I had to hide.  I talked to one person the entire weekend, and that was via messaging on my phone.  I told her I wasn’t sure about going back to the real world, I wasn’t sure whether I could connect again.  I let people know I wasn’t coming, just like I was supposed to.  I didn’t know if I could function.  I was broken.  She told me to take the time I needed, but she argued my ability to cope.  Life would be good for me, she said, and I it.  She gave me a list of all of the things I needed to do with my day, something that I could follow from start to finish.  Get up.  Shower.  Eat.  The basics.
She believed in me.  I can believe too.  I get up.  I shower.  I can do this.

Someone is talking to me.  I don’t understand.  I can’t make out the words.  I am numb.
I can’t feel anything but him.
Too much.  It’s all over me.  I need to get it off.
I am desperate to shower.  I will never be clean enough.

I stall on the list when it comes to getting in the car.  Now I sit in the garage, staring.  No amount of belief can make it better.  Nothing can fix what happened.  I got this notion that, like in some science fiction show, if I put my hand on the car, the memories would instantly flood me.  The ultimate sensory experience.  Only not in a good way.  I gave myself an extra half hour to get ready.  It wasn’t enough; I was right all along.  I can’t do it.
I reach out.  My fingers graze the metal.
Breathe.

Breathe.
My arm is behind my back.  I can’t feel my fingers.  I feel something metal, cold.  I can’t move.  
Breathe.  Think.
This is a nightmare.  My nightmare.  When I scream, nothing comes out.  I am an animal caught in a trap, a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car.  
There are headlights on the road, sweeping through the windows.  I am crushed.   I can’t move; I can’t scream.  If I could do something, if I could fight…I can’t.  I can’t do anything.
The metal is cold.  Hard.

I chew my right index finger, ripping the skin down so far that it bleeds.

My fingernails are short.  Too short.  I have chewed them since I was old enough to do so.  
My fingernails are insufficient weapons.  They jab, they rake across skin, but they are incapable of doing damage.  Incapable of hurt.  I am incapable of doing anything.

The blood is bright.  Red.  There’s so much of it, too much to come from a fingernail.  Too much.

The blood is everywhere.  I am frozen, literally and figuratively.  

It happened right there.  Right inside.  I am supposed to get in the car, drive, and go about my day as if nothing  happened.  Because for all anyone knew, nothing had.  I learned early on the inappropriateness of sharing feelings.  It isn’t done.  It scares people, makes them turn away.  I am supposed to do my thing, go on living, push it out of my head and pretend it didn’t exist.  With absolute, concrete certainty, I know and believe this fact.  I just know I can’t do it.  I have followed the list as far as I could.  I can’t go any further.  How am I supposed to go on when there is this?  How am I supposed to step back into my life?  Where do I even begin?  It hurts too much.

It hurts.  A lot.  Something inside me is broken.  Empty.  
Cold.
“I love you.”
The words hang in the air.  Love.  It is an empty, foreign concept.  The statement means nothing.
I am an object; I am his object.  I belong to him and I always will.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t say a word.  Despite my best efforts, I am crying.  I search for something else, anything else.  A focus.

My focus sticks on the tire I had leaned against that night, in the dark.  I had prayed there, in another place, another time.  Breaking, broken.  I prayed, but nothing came.  I’m not dead, but I feel like I might as well be.
I am his, always his.

I count to 500 before I get out, before I slide against the tire.  Every motion is mechanical.  I ignore the pain.  My vision is dark; blackness is taking over.
I am falling into myself.  Drowning.  Dying.

It isn’t as simple as open the door and get in.  I think about the people who respect me, about the life I had built.  Separate, yet together.  I think about what I would be missing, what I would be giving up.  What I would be letting him take, letting him win.
I ponder what they would think, if they knew.  How they would hate me.  I imagine their reactions.  I wonder how to speak.  I realize I can’t.  I can’t breathe.

I’m not breathing.  Am I supposed to be breathing?

I stop breathing.
I start again.
I let myself cry.  I let myself fall.
I am numb, but I am driving.  He can’t win.  But no one can know.  No one can ever know.
Forward.  Never back.

I am silent.

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52 Lists-Things I Should Be Proud Of

Another list prompt, courtesy of: http://www.moorea-seal.com/p/52-lists.html?showComment=1360037326541&m=1

Things I should be proud of…the good things about me prompts are always harder to write on. I’m not one to brag much on my own accomplishments. I don’t see myself as incredibly awesome most days. So here goes.

I’m proud of this year. Or rather, I’m proud of getting through it. Things got hard and I didn’t quit. I deserve all the brownie points in ways that some of you will never understand.

I am proud that I have stepped out of my shell. I have let people past my walls. I have shown a select few the real me, or as close to her as I know, and they haven’t run away. I am proud of THEM for staying.

I am proud of my memoir. It is done, but awaiting an ending. It isn’t pretty by any means; the essays it holds are graphic and at times detailed, perhaps too much so. But the story is there. And perhaps something will come of it. We shall see. Either way, I’m writing. I’m making something of my life.

Most of all, I’m proud that I am still here. I am proud that I’ve held on. I have had many opportunities not to be here, yet I still am. And that is an accomplishment all to itself, and a signal that I am meant to do something truly great with my life. My day is coming.

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The Ring

My wrist is broken.  It has its own pulse, pain that radiates through my entire arm.  My fingers are tingling.  I’m deeply surprised I haven’t passed out.  Unconsciousness would be a welcome friend.

I rest my forehead on the glass, the streams of rain outside beating against the bus window.  Tears well up in my eyes, and I clutch my wrist to my chest.  The bones grind together with every bump the bus goes over.  I bite the inside of my cheek and draw blood, but it doesn’t matter.  My hair forms a stringy wet curtain between me and the rest of the passengers.  All two of them.  

My cell phone vibrates in my lap.  I lift my head and stare at the screen.  

Rae??  Where are you?  I’m at your place.  

My sister.  Oh god.  My sister.  What was I supposed to say to her?

I’m running.  I know that what happened is my fault, so I’m leaving.  Nobody had to tell me to do it; I left all on my own.  I don’t need anyone to tell me what I already know.  I picked the last destination on the cross-state bus list.  I don’t remember what it was now.  I don’t remember where the ticket leads.  But I know that I am going.  Screw the world.  Screw all of the people who didn’t listen to me, who didn’t hear me.  Who never saw me or my pain.  They will never see me now.

I swing around so that my head lolls on the headrest rather than against the window.  There is a ring where my breath fogged up the glass.  I close my eyes.  My wrist sits much softer against my chest.  I can still feel his fingers closed around it, cutting off my circulation.  My breathing is jagged.  When I try to swipe at the tears littering my cheeks, more take their place.

This can’t be happening.  He swore it would be different.  He swore that he was different.

I didn’t bring much, only the clothes I was wearing.  And my phone.  And for some reason, a book.  That was the last thing I grabbed on my way out the door.  For Worse Never Better by Penelope van Buskirk.  My sister had given it to me, weeks before.  She had known, even when I wouldn’t admit it.  Even when I couldn’t.

It was too late now.

I don’t know how it happened.  I don’t remember much apart from the pain.  I remember the sound my wrist made when the bones snapped, how he refused to let go and everything ground together.  How I saw red so vibrant that there were literal stars in my eyes.  The taste of blood in my mouth as I cowered on the floor.  I remember the feelings, but not the details.

My ring is in the pocket of my pants.  I slipped it off as I stumbled through the rain to the bus stop.  The marriage is definitely over.  I imagine the secret, the memory, it contains is burning a hole through to my skin, growing hotter and hotter and…

My phone goes off again.  

What the hell happened?  The cops are everywhere.

It’s pouring.  I believe that the rain is angels crying.  

He’s dead.

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52 Lists-Greatest Comforts

Today’s list (off of Moorea Seal’s 52 Lists blog:  http://www.moorea-seal.com/2013/01/52-lists-week-2.html) is regarding my greatest comforts.  This one was way harder for me than the last one.

  1. Getting A’s.  (It makes me so happy!)
  2. Playing the piano.
  3. Pandas.  All the pandas.
  4. Pajama pants (or sweatpants, because really, what’s the difference?)
  5. Walking by the lake.
  6. Teaching.  (Yeah, I know, that’s weird.  This one could really go either way.)
  7. Knowing that someone hears me and actually gets it.
  8. Hugs.
  9. Fuzzy socks.
  10. Macaroni and cheese.
  11. Writing.
  12. And reading.
  13. Horror movies.  (And party hats.)
  14. Knowing that I know what I’m doing.  (Doesn’t happen often.)
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Nineteen Stairs

Nineteen.

There are two halves to the brain—rational and irrational.  In ordinary situations, it is easier to override the irrational parts of the brain.  In emergency situations, like being chased by an ax murderer or held up at gunpoint, the irrational side takes over.  You either freeze or you run.  I choose to run, freezing leaves things wide open for a repeat event..  

Eighteen.

I knew there were nineteen stairs.  I had counted them more times than I could recall.  They were green.  They smelled.  Everything smelled; cigarettes, take out, and countless other things had been spilled.

Seventeen.

I am tough.  I have to take care of myself.  I tell myself to get up, to get up right now.  I have to fix this.  I have to make this go away.  But I can’t.  I can’t fix this.  I can’t make this go away.  

Sixteen.

My once clean and dry clothes are soaking wet.  I leave them behind.  There is no point.  There is no point to any of it.  There are so many things I don’t understand.  None of this is fair.

Fifteen.

The bulb in the ceiling is broken.  It flickers above my head like a strobe light setting the scene for a horror movie, but this isn’t a movie.  This is real.  My mind is breaking down.

Fourteen.

We build up ideas of safety.  In therapy we are taught that we can construct our own world.  This concept simply isn’t true.  

Thirteen.  

My brain screams to hurry, but I can’t.  I can’t get up.  I would fall down all the stairs.  One at a time.

Twelve.

My world has been constructed for me.  I stop to breathe.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t escape.

Eleven.

The human body is an incredible thing.  Even when it is broken it can still persevere.

Ten.

I should never have believed life would be solid and sure.  That’s just a fairytale.

Nine.

Halfway.  I am on my butt.  One step at a time.  It’s hard, but it’s the only way.

Eight.

He hadn’t had an ax.  Or a gun.  That didn’t change anything.

Seven.

I can’t think straight; my brain is slowing down.

Six.

The light goes out.  Dark.  Cold.

Five.

I confuse one with safety.

Four.

There is no safety.

Three.

Dark.  Cold.

Two.

So.  Tired.

One.

Alone.

Zero.

……

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