The sky beyond the forest was an eerie color of turquoise-green. The trees were black, like shadows. I could hear the men arguing. They wrestled and fought as I watched. He pulled out his knife and stabbed him. Over and over. I watched as he screamed in pain and fell over. They stood over him, and talked. My small body began shaking and strong hands grabbed me and I was taken away.
I remembered this incident as I recently walked out of a store at dusk. The wind was blowing, just like that night, and the sky was blue-green in the distance. As I stared at it, the pictures flooded into my head and took my breath away. I stood there frozen. My husband pulled my arm and led me to the car. I have not been able to stop seeing this and the pictures become clearer each time it cycles through my thoughts.
Five days ago I was aggressively raped. I awoke to the man completely smothering my body. His arms were so tightly wrapped around me I could not move. The weight of his body crushed my lungs. He kept me tightly bound while he maneuvered himself inside of me. My body and soul died right then and there. My brain was screaming to fight…for the love of God…FIGHT!! Why aren’t you fighting?!?
I’ve been trying to process this. But I don’t know how. I am a shell of nothingness. Why does this keep happening? Will I ever be safe? I don’t know who this man was. I fell asleep while my husband was out working. And at first I thought it was him. But this body felt very different. The breathing was different. This was not like his typical middle of the night sneak attack…but it was incredibly familiar as well. I had an immediate feeling of fear and intensity I cannot even describe. But it disappeared fast as I left my body and endured. The one’s inside of me took over.
I heard his voice whisper “We have always loved you…” This time he sounded like my husband. My brain was feeling confused. I didn’t understand what was happening to me or what he was saying to me. My body was under attack, yet I felt like I was watching it happen from afar. I was saying to myself, “get out of this!” Yet, I watched myself comply to his commands as if I was a child again. I was conscious, but I wasn’t. The little girl inside took over. And then I remember darkness…and the sound of the front door shutting.
I laid there stunned for what felt like hours, maybe it was, I don’t know. Agonizing pain pulsed through my body and my heart pounded violently out of my chest. My husband walked in to our room and silently climbed into bed. I didn’t move a muscle. Was that him? No, it wasn’t him…he wouldn’t take things that far…but he has before…but he wouldn’t now…would he? Fear filled me…what just happened to me??
Tears dripped down my cheeks until the sun came up. I am still a shell of nothingness…
Am I imagining you? Is this paranoia? Am I mentally breaking down? Am I crazy?
To the man who followed me home from my therapy appointment. I saw you. To the same man who followed me while I drove my children to school. I SAW you. To the SAME man with dark hair and glasses, driving the white Honda Pilot. I SEE you. I see you when you drive past my home. I see you in the parking lot at church. I see you everywhere you try to pretend you are not. I have dozens of pictures of you. What are you learning? What is so interesting about me? What are you doing to me as you follow me around??
To the person who calls my home and rings my phone three times and then hangs up. I hear you. To the person who calls my cell and leaves voice messages I NEVER listen to. I see you. To the person who texts me about things you know I’m researching. I SEE you too. Why are you so interested in me? What do you want to know? What are you trying to say to me??
To my husband. Stop asking me where I am. Stop trying to track my phone. Stop asking me if I arrived at my destination. Stop texting me all day long to “check in” and see what I’m doing. Stop asking me what I am typing. Stop telling me to share what I talked about in therapy. Stop finding ways to be in charge of our kids so I am trapped at home doing chores for you. STOP trying to anticipate, see, and control my every move. You do not own me.
To the voice in my head telling me to run. I am aware of you. To the other voice telling me to self destruct and self harm. I am aware of your existence too. To the voice of evil that harasses me in the night…I hear you. To the voice telling me it’s time to go home. I am fighting you. I will never go back.
To the woman who sent lily of the valley flowers to my bible study. Thank you for invading my space and triggering me. To the man who stared me down in Target and followed me out of the store. The image of your face is burned into my brain.
None of you own me. You may succeed in pacifying me. You may access and flip my progress and healing upside down. You may confuse me and renew fear inside. I must be pretty important to your game. I must know too much. Do I talk too much? Am I remembering too much? Am I too awake?? YOU WILL NOT WIN. I will kill myself first before you ever take me back. That is a guaranteed promise. You’d probably prefer that, wouldn’t you?
Red shoes. Cannibalism. They rape the babies and children. They eat them. They skin them. The red shoes they proudly wear, they are made from their flesh.
A little girl talked to me yesterday. I was sitting on my bed deep in thought and was surprised by her presence. I wasn’t sure what to do or say so I lay there silent, with my eyes closed, and listened. She told me a story of something that happened to her. This is what she said…
“In the underground there are cages. It is dark and cold and scary there. It is sad and painful. I cried a lot. Not out loud though, because if you do, that is bad and you get in trouble. You can only lay down with your legs curled up to your stomach. You can’t talk to the others who are next to you. If you do, they will take you and do things to you. They burn you. They eat you. They cut you open. They tie you up and put things inside of you. They scream in your face. They hit you and don’t stop until you stop making noise. I don’t like it here. I can never leave. They will chase me and take me back. I have to do what they say or they will cut me. Or burn me. No one will help me. Everyone forgets about me. I try to tell them what’s happening but they all stop talking to me. They are too busy. I don’t think they believe me “
When she was done talking, she cried.
This story took the little life that I had left out of me. It has frozen me in a way that I have not felt in a very long time. I feel stuck in that cage again. With no power and no will to fight for freedom. I can only sit there and obey. It is the safest thing to do. I want to help her but I don’t know how. I want to save her but I don’t know who she is or why she came to me. I want to talk to someone about this but no one is there.
Depression is ugly and invasive. It robs you of your sense of self. It makes you feel like a failure. It prevents you from growing and moving forward in your life. It creates feelings of distress and overwhelm. It steals your energy and motivation, leaving you exhausted and unable to move. It scrambles your thoughts, causing confusion. It tells you you are worthless, meaningless, unlovable, and unworthy of anything good. It keeps you stuck in a fog, feeling forever lost and with no hope for escape or freedom from it’s feelings of oppression and shame.
This is me, stuck in depression. I have fought SO unbelievably hard not to get to this place. I have been here before and I never wanted to return. I have done everything I know and have learned to keep me from landing here again. But depression’s grip is STRONG. It pulls me back whenever I make a move forward. It holds me tight and will not let go of it’s grip. I can’t get free.
I sat curled up in my bathroom this morning sobbing into my knees. My daughter was 10 feet away from me on the other side of the closed door and in that moment I loathed her and her presence because I had to hide what was happening to me. I felt frantic and trapped because today I didn’t have the time or the space to feel this way. I felt confused because ten seconds earlier I was fine. I woke up to her sweet voice say “I woke up Mommy.” I smiled at her and said “Good morning! What should we do today?” I got up to get dressed and everything fell apart in an instant. I don’t know why.
A feeling of heaviness has been culminating inside of me for weeks. I’ve been inundated and flooded with memories from my childhood. I don’t even know what many of them mean or what they are. It’s just a reel of pictures and flashes, feelings and anxiety come and go and pictures of situations that are horrific, ugly, and frightening. I find them unbelievable and have fought hard to ignore and dismiss everything as an overreactive imagination.
But the fog sticks. Then anxiety joins in. And insomnia also decides to hop onto this emotionally distressing train. Full speed ahead, they barrel down the tracks of my life, tossing and turning me, scraping and mauling me as I’m dragged along, bumping and bouncing on the tracks from behind. I don’t want to be in this place anymore. But I can’t keep up, the train is too fast. I’m too tired to run and try to get ahead. I’m too damaged and bruised to move anymore. It’s like quicksand, swallowing me up. I wish the grip would release me. I feel likeI have lost control. I feel like I can’t be helped. I feel like I will never be free from this nightmare.
In the darkness of the night I stood in front of the stone table. I was led there with no clothing on, blood dripping down my legs, holding an infant. The man with no hair nodded to me and I placed the baby onto the table. There was a fire burning underneath.
This image has reappeared over and over in my head. My body goes numb, shuts down, every time it appears. And for days after I feel sick to my stomach. I vomit. My head hurts. My heart races. I cannot sleep. I cannot eat.
Each time it returns I close my eyes in fear. Pushing it down as hard as I can, trying to avoid the unavoidable overwhelm. A voice in my head repeats over and over “She’s burning. She’s burning. She’s burning. She’s Burning…” And the glow of the fire fills my eyes and covers the image. I’ve screamed. I’ve panicked. I’ve cried and fallen to the floor praying no one finds me.
Oh God. What have I done?
…the fire burns…I am praised…I am tied…I am touched…I am used over and over for celebration…
My gaze goes up and I float into the top of the giant trees. I hide and rest in the canopy, hoping no one will find me and make me come down ever again. But they always did. Over, and over, and over, and over.
In the underground rooms there was a young girl like me who I now know was in labor. I was in the room next to her and I heard them through the door say “she is ready.” I could hear she was in pain. I heard footsteps and a door open and close. I know they had left her alone in the room. She cried and she moaned. I got up from my bed and I peered through the door. I saw her laying there alone and afraid, wearing nothing. She rocked back and forth, side to side.
I was sad for her. I knew the pain she was in. I made a dangerous choice and walked through the doors over to her. I talked to her and held her hand. I started to cry with her and I rubbed her belly in an effort to comfort her and soothe her pain. I told her that I hated it when they touched my stomach and asked her if she hated it too and she said yes. We smiled at each other and cried together. She groaned and began to vomit.
A flurry of black and white rushed into the room towards me. I froze while I clung to her hand. There was yelling and words I could not understand. My head whipped backwards and my body was grabbed from behind.
I can feel the fear of that moment in my throat. I can hear the grunts of my own voice as my body jerked backwards and violently shook. I don’t know what happened after that. The pictures in my head disappear. I never saw her again.
My body is experiencing sensory overload. It’s overwhelming. I’m forced to shut myself down and numb every last cell of my being. It works for awhile, until the images push their way to the front of my mind. Tears leak. Hands shake. My heart pounds loud and fierce. Fear and anxiety fill my soul. I fight and shut it down again. I need to forget. The cycle repeats over and over. See. Watch in Horror. Fear. Anxiety. Overwhelm. Numb. Repeat.
I watched as they laid his small naked body on the ground. His arms outstretched and wrists bound. His feet and ankles entangled in ropes that made the shape of an X around them. Eyes wide in fear, he is erected high. The knife touched his chest. He screamed and cried out. I remember how his body shook so violently, his eyes and mouth so wide. I stood, rigid, and still, frozen, watching the blood stream down his belly, his legs, to his feet. His head dropped down. They opened his stomach. They opened his legs. They opened his arms. They said he was an angel. His skin pulled to make his wings. My hair blew in the wind. My knees shook. I knew he would never come back down from there. My stomach feels sick. I do not move. I know not to move. I wonder if I will become an angel too. I wonder this to this day. When will they come for me?
My insides are full of evil. Gruesome. Unbelievable. Unimaginable. What has happened to me? When will this end? I don’t want to see this anymore. Close my eyes. Push it away. Breathe it out. Forget. I have to forget.
No. Open your eyes. Stay alert. They are coming…closing in. I cannot hide forever. I am afraid. I am overwhelmed. Stuff it down. Numb it out…
I am evil.
I can’t breathe. All life in me is gone. My heart feels nothing. Not joy or sadness or hurt. My body is numb. It can’t even feel pain. I’m completely shut down. I can’t react. I can’t fight. I can’t cry. How can I feel my heart beat again? I can’t breathe…
I look in the mirror and gasp at the stranger staring back at me. Who is she? Confusion and fear fills my soul. I don’t know what’s happening. I want to smash the mirror into millions of pieces so she disappears. Forever. I’m broken. I’m shattered. I’m not ok. How can I be ok? I can’t breathe…
I can’t breathe. Please, give me a place to run to, to escape from this place I’m in. This prison. This cage. This asylum. Everything is dark. Everything feels cold. I don’t know where I am. I am so lost and afraid. How can I find a way out of this place? I can’t breathe…
My head is filled with evil. Paintings of trauma. Pictures of death. Images of the unthinkable. My eyes stare at each in shock. My voice is stolen. No words can describe the carnage that sits inside of me. I can’t move. It’s impossible to think logically anymore. How will I ever regain consciousness? I just can’t breathe…
I can’t breathe. The weight, the heaviness, it sits on me…the heaps and piles of terror. I’m suffocating. I can’t catch my breath. There is no air left in my lungs. They have won. I have no control. I’m too weak to get back up. I can no longer breathe…