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.
My arm is behind my back. I can’t feel my fingers. I feel something metal, cold. I can’t move.
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.
“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.