>>> Please be advised this post may trigger anxiety and panic. If you struggle with anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, or depression, please consider being kind to yourself and not reading any further.<<<
I probably should have left town the day I fled your evil,
but I was determined not to let you win.
To not let you take away my life in its entirety
just for the sake of surrounding myself with the illusion of safety.
I do not acquiesce to false pretense and lies forged in denial,
but I probably should have thought twice, maybe even more,
that at some point I would no longer be able to hide
from all the places you ripped pieces of me away,
scattering them in the winds and hiding them in dark, damp overgrowth
far out of my reach.
Yet I refused to give in.
You’re the one that doesn’t belong here.
You’re the one who intruded upon my world
and set out in your vile, malicious way to break it apart with your fists.
You took my friends, my family, my freedom,
everything I owned, and even worse, you shredded my heart
and damaged my spirit almost beyond repair.
Almost, I say, not quite I insist, because somehow
after everything you’ve taken, stolen, sold, and destroyed,
somehow still I rose and found solid ground
to stand on long enough to glue the loose fragments and jagged pieces of me
back together so I could go on.
Still it remains that I should have thought again, perhaps one more time,
because there are ghosts in all these places that surround me here
and avoiding them made life impossible.
So I faced them.
I braved them.
I stared them in the face
and pretended that
I couldn’t really see you
I couldn’t really smell you
I couldn’t really feel you
I couldn’t really hear you at my bedside at night
as you stood there over me hovering like a demon in watch
impatiently waiting for my most vulnerable moment to manifest itself to you
so you could pounce and complete your plunder of me .
I awaken to crushing weight on my chest,
gasping for air, your presence pressing and wringing my lungs flat,
forcing my heart to pound so wildly and erratically I fear it will implode
and that I will disappear,
pulverized by your fists
perhaps vaporized by the fire of your anger
as you spew devastation loose from your lips.
But if I had thought that confronting all these evil phantoms
would wreak havoc on me so long after I set myself free from you,
I would have thought about the panic.
I would have worried about who was watching in the shadows.
I would have counted on the poison in the air
settling down in my lungs as I breathed in
the very oxygen that gives me life.
All these places –
apartments in which you used to torture me,
the bridge you wanted to push me over,
the back road where you erased time by heaving a tire iron above my head,
the places in the stores you would hide to steal,
the parking lot where we lived in the car,
all the places your drug contacts – half alive and half dead – lurk and creep and stalk,
the storage barn at my parents’ where the argument between you turned physical –
And all these things –
the bullet heads I found in a box,
the bed I gave to a cousin because I couldn’t stand to continually see unspeakable things in my head every time I looked at it,
the clothes and purse I had the day I left,
songs I hear that remind me of pain and fear,
smells of things weighing down the air around me,
movies and shows I cannot watch,
email accounts I avoid –
And all these people –
the drug dealers you threatened to let rape me,
the people you had follow me,
the people you had watching me when I was at home,
the people you used with who stole from me and threatened me,
these people who carry weapons
and who are known to have harmed others,
people who tried to back over me with a car because you owed them money
and almost injured me when they attacked you for setting up their family –
These devilish things
I cannot get away from
despite the protests, the kicking and screaming,
the writhing and contorting in my head.
I cannot find a hiding place where they cannot track me down.
I cannot get to safety.
I cannot get air.
I cannot breathe.
I struggle wildly against you
even though you’re gone,
and still I gasp desperately like that day against the bathroom wall
when you had your fingers constricted around my neck.
I cannot breathe with the walls of you constantly closing in around me.
I cannot think.
I cannot just find a place to be at peace,
because you hunt me down and drag me back into the dark,
The battle against you has begun again.
When will the ghost of you die?