I have come to the realization that behaviors that are forged by way of forced conditioning are ridiculously undesired by me. They seem to lie dormant, like a distant and unruly cousin lurking, lying in wait silently. Out of sight, out of mind. Then one day there is a knock on the door, and there they are invading your house… And there is not one thing you can do about it. They push in past you, toss their bags in the corner, and go in the fridge and eat the last of your fried chicken. Completely uninvited, but they dig in their heels against your will, and you stand there, frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights.
This is how it feels for me to have that old feeling I wish I could shed like a snake molting its old skin. On Tuesday, May 13, 2013 at 7:45 a.m., I saw him. Kevin. Standing on the sidewalk outside one of his cockroach street friends’ apartments. He was facing the opposite direction and holding his trusty dope-com in his hand. My old cell phone has been relegated to serve as his backup for his drug-fueled binges.
The all too familiar pre / post binge sneer was cemented on his face, as miserable as ever. Although, I can’t claim that it was because he realized what he had put me through. Rather, if it had anything to do with me, it was because I had taken his one steady source of funding for his rock away without his consent. That, and I revealed the nasty secret he tried to keep out of everyone’s view. I have no doubts that he would strangle me to death if he knew he could get away with it.
I felt his monstrous disposition burning a hole through the body of the truck. The person I was with did not see him as we passed, and I felt compelled to notify them of Kevin’s presence for some reason. Did I want someone to know where Kevin is staying? Did I want to make them aware that he was still in the area, despite everyone’s insistence that he had most likely left town? No, I just wanted to confirm that I wasn’t hallucinating or falling prey to tricks of the mind.
After all, I had not seen him since January when I had to face him in court to get a permanent order against him. And that truly was not a pleasant experience at all. I got there first that day, and I remember refusing to sit down, no matter how many times my father asked. No, Kevin blindsided me enough when I was with him; he wasn’t going to get a chance to do it again. So I stood watch in between the windows, just waiting to see him coming.
Time seemed to stop, and every second that ticked off the clock made my anxiety grow ten-fold. And it finally happened: Kevin got off the bus and headed toward the courthouse. I felt physically ill. I felt something in my head snap. And I lost control. I was no longer only pacing, although I am sure I wore the floor out down to the slab that afternoon. No, it wasn’t enough to be bawling my eyes out, pacing back and forth, and wringing my hands. At one point I hit my head against the window frame, and my father came over and pulled me away from window. Don’t do that, he scolded me like a child.
A woman and her daughter had since come into the room where my father, mother, and I were waiting to meet the advocate. Once I hit my head against window frame, she sat silently, staring at me and shaking her head. She cringed when she saw me jump as his voiced pierced the silence in the lobby. He had arrived. I begged my father to take me home. I simply had to get away. Never mind the fact that I was in a court house with police and firearms. At the very moment I heard him speak, I felt so physically terrified for my life that I would have opened the window and jumped out if I thought I could get away from Kevin and his hissing without someone stopping me first.
When they finally called us into the receiving room just off the court, they made him wait outside out of view so he would not be able to continue to stare me down. With that look. I would fair a better chance being thrown into a pit with ten starved and rabid pit bulls than I would holding my own against that…. monster’s glare. The advocate kept trying to distract me, but I was not taking my eyes off the doorway for anything, police or not.
And once everything was finally over, we walked past him on the way to the waiting room. I tried to look ahead and ignore him, but as I passed him, I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, and narrowly avoided getting sick all over the floor in front of him. See you around, he hissed.
Why go through part of a four month old story? The feeling I had that afternoon as I walked past him when we were finished was the exact feeling that came back to me this morning. I was not in any danger. He was on the opposite side of the street, and I was on the passenger side of the truck. Most likely, he didn’t see me. But I got that feeling just the same. I felt nauseated, my heart raced, and my head started pounding. I couldn’t get away from him fast enough.
And I was embarrassed. A grown woman of 36 reacting like a scared child. It felt all too familiar, heavy and burdensome. And I wanted to escape. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and take another form. Someone, anyone he wouldn’t recognize.
Exactly twenty fours before I made it to the five month mark, I saw him. And for a brief second, I was reminded of the fear I felt the last hours I spent in the apartment. Once the anxiety passed, I felt grateful for the fact that I was able to get away.