I am not the kindest person when it comes to dealing with myself. Everything I so earnestly work to build up and help repair in others around me, I effortlessly devalue, dismantle, and obliterate in my own heart and mind. Being asked multiple questions at once makes me cringe, and I have been known to refuse to answer. On multiple occasions. Compliments make me uncomfortable, because they are now synonymous with being manipulated into a trap. People paying attention to me and not looking through me like I don’t exist makes me cower inside as I battle off the fear of retribution that no longer occurs. You aren’t supposed to see me. You aren’t supposed to hear me. You aren’t even supposed to know I am alive. I am supposed to be walled up in that apartment looking out the windows for weeks at a time as I slowly forget what the sun feels like on my face. As I no longer can recall the wind rustling my hair or the rain splattering against the landscape. I am supposed to be forgotten. And for a long time, I was.
Adjusting to no longer being among the faceless figures trapped in the shadows has not been so easy. I have struggled every step of the way to be heard but not too loudly. To be seen, but not for too long. To be noticed, but somehow glanced over. I have battled panic attacks over everything from men talking to me, to wearing skirts to work, to wearing makeup, to doing things without permission, to spending money on myself and beyond. My brain automatically translates certain noises into panic mode. Certain tones of voice to signal danger. Certain songs, commercials, sounds, and smells still make my breath catch in my chest as they bear down on me like a tidal wave and then dissipate only after repeating one desperate phrase in my head over and over: “Jehovah, take this from me. He’s not here. He’s not.” Almost like a child curled up in fear under the blankets begging for absolution from the demon taunting them in the shadows.
To look at me, you would never know. I will force myself to look you straight in the eye when you speak to me and not show you my fear. I will speak up and make sure you hear me. I will dig in my heels and not give in when someone is pushing me to do something against my will. I will never let you know this struggle still wages on below the surface, somewhere safe and far away from prying eyes. I will never let you know that these hideous things he once hissed at me still swirl around in my own head in an effort to undermine. To belittle, insult, and destroy.
Be that as it may, I was duly informed just the morning after watching a documentary on BBC that I have made a lot of progress. Probably far more than I am ever going to accept. But I didn’t feel that way as the male character’s voice somehow morphed into Kevin’s. I am not a fan of seeing physical violence portrayed, but the verbal assaults and emotional manipulation are nearly impossible for me to witness without being affected so much to the point where I am reduced to that woman sitting on the couch next that evil man, twisting and bending, manipulating and stretching actual truth into his reality. The reality that allowed him to render her powerless against him. At his mercy. In so much chaos in her mind, that she couldn’t tell up from down. Until she wanted to scream but could not.
How much progress have I really made, then, if I still find myself battling this relentless churning? While it may not be nonstop and overwhelming like it was a year and a half ago, it’s still there toying with me, and I detest it. I am tired of it. It is exhausting, and I just want it to go away. So many years of fighting, and I just want it to go away.
“Just focus on the light,” I tell myself, “and he’ll be completely gone.”
Just focus on the light and keep fighting, and that malicious, cruel, insidious beast will be drowned out by the light.