I’ve been having panic attacks all day. I’ve slept to escape them but as soon as I wake the tightness in my chest is waiting. In many ways the feeling is so familiar it no longer startles me. No one should be so at home with terror.
I cried for thirty minutes and asked myself how I got here hoping in that there’d be some clue as to how to get out. Not back, but out. Disillusionment. Heartbreak. Expectations for a life that never belonged to me. Disappointment when the truth was revealed. I felt so discarded after P2AD left me with nothing but silence I went searching for my worth in other men. I wasn’t indiscriminate but I sure as hell wasn’t using my best judgment. I was doing whatever I could to avoid the pain of feeling unloved unimportant and unworthy. But I was looking in the wrong places. One big clue was that it was never enough. My loneliness seemed to be a black hole that no one could seem to fill.
And then the rape. The needle scratch on the record. A sharp wake up call. No, I did not deserve it. No woman does. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t come at a time where I desperately needed to evaluate my life and my choices. Perhaps that’s the lie I tell myself to cope. If it is, I’m okay with that. Pills and therapy panic and tears I fought my way through three months of absolute hell. Determined to not BE how I felt, I needed to prove to myself and to others that I wasn’t broken. I barreled my way though my dissertation proposal defense and it felt like the moment it was over, the levy broke.
I had my first flashback in Jamaica. All of a sudden I could smell him, hear his voice and recall his touch on my skin. I reminded myself of where I was but I think in that moment it was the beginning of my realizing this was far from over. A roller coaster summer full of highs and lows lead to an September date who would try to force himself on me. I panicked. I pushed him off, refusing his kisses and insisted the date was over. Shaking. He said “what’s wrong with you, having some kind of flashback?” From there the unraveling began.
I couldn’t focus at work. Guilt and fear that everyone saw me as this fragile broken thing. I couldn’t face my coworkers. I’d lost touch of that thing that makes me strong. So I dedicated my time to dissertation research and therapy. Weeks on end I told parts of my story and reflected on my actions my thoughts. Battling to reconstruct a new reality for myself that felt so counter from everything that I felt. For someone so governed by her heart, it felt like a betrayal and completely unnatural. Still I kept at it believing that at any point I would turn a corner and I would see the rainbow in the sky God put there just for me.
That corner hasn’t come. Every piece of bad news feels like a hundred more pounds on my chest. My finances started to really crumble as my state disability checks stopped coming. Depending on everyone around me to take care of me I now worry I’ve become too much of a burden. The news is never good. There’s never a funny story anymore. And then Friday came.
There was nothing especially wrong except, it was yet another day of no money, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, and having only hope. I feel like I took a shallow breath and let the balloon go. The last glimmer of faith that I would make it through this better and stronger. Something inside me broke or more aptly, something inside me was extinguished.
I am not sure how to navigate right now. What to do with myself. I don’t know if I believe in my own magic anymore. My strong will and faith that used to carry me to impossible heights has left me to fall to my lowest low. I don’t know how to get out of this. I don’t know who to turn to or what I would even ask of them. My dreams and purpose and all of that feels so far away and for some other being that is just not present in this body right now.
I feel empty.