Tag Archives: XXXXX

Clarity and Panic at Orientation

It doesn’t get easier the second time.

It just takes longer to sink in.

In the moment, when you realize what’s happening, you go inside of yourself and tell yourself that you can spin it. That even though you’re fighting and pushing and not wanting to be a victim, he’s stronger than you are, and he’s not letting go, so your last escape from victimhood is to pretend it isn’t happening. Make sure there’s a condom so you won’t have another thing to worry about later, use your last bits of assertiveness to ask for one if you can’t tell (and understand that even though you’ve been saying “no” and “what are you doing” and “stop” repeatedly, and pushing and arching and pulling away, he’ll take this to mean consent), then go into your mind and seal it shut so that you can’t remember anything afterward. The first experience has taught you this much. Seal your mind to everything but the memory of his unfortunately “sized” penis, so that you can laugh at him, instead of being afraid of another monster. Even though that’s what he is.

And then, you’ll dull yourself to everything else. Dull, dull, dull, and not think. Because when you think, you feel pain, and fear. You don’t want to process this. You’re tired of processing everything, always. Tired, tired, tired. You want to forget everything, forget feelings, go to sleep forever and drift away.

The only thing you embrace is laughter. You recognize how hysterical it is, how outrageous it sounds. How your coworkers, who know you mainly to be calm with splashes of whimsy but ever-poised (there’s that word again), are always taken aback by the laughter that rockets out of you. Perhaps, to them, it seems disingenuous at times. It’s not that funny, or there’s no need to laugh so hard, are things you’ve been told all of your life. But ____ that, because you know that laughter, mirth, is the only one of your feelings that’s acceptable. It’s the only way to release the tension, the stress, the craziness of your mind in a way that can lift the spirits of others as well, so ____ anyone who tries to stifle it.

Laugh your heart out, laugh so that tears can freely pour out of your eyes, laugh until your face is red and your stomach retches. Scream out syllables of jolliness that rise into the air, and let them carry you away from your body. Forget how Not Okay you are, then come back into your cellf and consider antagonizing a cop.

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Where Are They

“So, have you thought about it?”
“About what you asked the last time I saw you?”
“Yeah.”

I look across the table at Ramses. The last time I saw him was before Orlando, before the second heartbreak. Not that he hasn’t still sporadically talked to me, wishing me good morning, saying sweet things. I’d kind of hoped that we’d be able to eat, chill, and then part, but it makes sense we do this now. It’s only fair.

“I did think about it,” I tell him, “And I think that we would work much better as friends.”

His face changes. I get an “Oh,” and then the meal is being wrapped up and we’re leaving. He asks me how I’m getting home, pays for my cab, kisses me on the cheek, then peaces out to the train station. He took a train to be disappointed.

Later on, he texts me.

“I see the potential in us together…If you ever change your mind just say the word”

He would be amazing, if I felt anything for him. I’m so stupid with my feelings.

I moved today. Out of Westchester, into a burrow. I went into my old store to buy some professional dresses, as a last stop before getting out. The anxiety was real, and heightened by the fact that my mother was with me. I could feel everything pouring out of her, mixing into my own nerves. Couple that with the fact that I’ve never been in this store since walking out of it, telling my managers that I would contact them over my Spring break when I had no intention of coming back. I’m only coming for the deals and discounts, but the longer I’m on the floor, the more I want to run away. What is wrong with me?

There has only really been one other time my anxiety was consistently this bad, and it was after Armani. I’m falling into the same patterns now that I did then. Setting my alarm early so I can take an extra hour to talk myself out of bed. Holing myself up in my room (and my new landlord doesn’t allow eating upstairs. What will happen? Will I force myself out, or just starve a little?). Sleeping too much, but always feeling exhausted. Aversion to social activity. Except –

“It’s you! How are you?”

I’ve been recognized.

“Come’eeere! Oh, it’s been so long, how you doin’, baby?”

I’m being hugged. I’m hugging back. It’s Alyss and Michelle, maybe the only two people left in the store that I genuinely like. These women watched out for me, talked to me, showed me around. I never realized how much love I felt for them until they popped back up. Michelle has me go to her register, where she gives me her discount and listens to my plans.

“You know, I always knew you’d do something great,” she tells me. “Always such a good worker. And so sweet, and kind. We miss you around here.”

I leave the store feeling good.

That’s kind of how it’s been, recently. The more time alone I spend, the worse I feel. I get stuck replaying the sad, scary, terrifying episodes in my mind until I don’t want to go outside again. But then I do go out, and I find friends, and they make me feel good.

That’s when I realize that I was right to deny Ramses. I don’t want a boyfriend right now. I just don’t want to be alone. I feel alone so much of the time, and I get scared that I’ll just be alone forever. But what I really want, is to be with friends who love me, who make me feel good, who let me have fun. I miss having friends nearby. It’s part of what made the aftermath of South Africa so terrible.

Once, I had a very good friend. I fell in love with him, and he fell in love with me, and we told each other. I fell in love with him because he was such a good friend to me. He was there for me when I needed him, and he could tell if I needed him before I even knew myself. He introduced me to new things, new phrases, and to new people. We went out together. We had fun. We had talks. We opened up to each other. We hung out. I made him watch movies and television shows that I thought were hilarious or cool, and he hated most of them, but he watched anyway. Things were good. Love grew out of trust.

But when we said that we loved each other, we weren’t completely friends. We were halfway back to friendship, after not talking for a while. It was the wrong time to talk to each other. Instead of growing closer together after that, we just drifted further apart. Mentally and emotionally, if not physically. It got sad. I lost my friend. And I miss him. I miss that friendship.

Soul Interactions

She’s so beautiful.

Not physically. I mean, physically, she’s pretty, but it’s more like her insides are shining out of her, and I can see them.

“You can have so many soul mates,” my friend once said. “It’s really just that they all came out of the same soul cluster. So when you’re born, you came from a group of souls, and you can find them out in the world. And that’s why we’re soul mates.”

I wonder if this girl is one of my soul mates.

She finds me in what has now turned into a party. I’m talking to a guy, and she comes in just as he’s asking me “what I am”. It’s always so weird interacting with people in my home town, out of the social justice, aware bubble, but I find these interactions easier than I used to.

“But really,” he’s saying. “Are you light skinned?”
“Do you see me?” I ask him. “What kind of question is that?” I’m being sarcastic, making fun of him. He knows it, she knows it, he flips me off exasperatedly, and I answer.
“My mom is a white lady from Ohio,” I say, “And my dad is a black man from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I’m Congolese-American.”

I can tell by their blank yet friendly expressions that they’ve never heard of Congo.

“Well, whatever you are, you’re beautiful,” she tells me. “Like so so beautiful,” and this is nice to hear, because I can look in the mirror and tell myself I have beauty until I’m convinced of it abstractly, but it means something coming from a girl who is a stranger, out of nowhere in a way I can instantly believe.

“Do you know what I am?”
“Are you mixed?” She nods. “Hispanic and…white?” She laughs.
“I’m Cuban and Lebanese!”
“Oh wow, how did that come about?”
“…Sex.” We laugh.
“No, what I meant is, how did your parents meet?” Her eyes widen and she smiles like she has a secret, then leans in and whispers in my ear, “In a mental hospital.” She sits back on her heels and looks at me.
“That’s amazing,” I say. “Like actually really hopeful. How are they doing now?”
“Well, my dad has been dead since I was really young, but my mom is pretty good,” she says.
Our souls reach out and hug, and she clasps my hands, and we continue talking until she has to go check to make sure her friends haven’t left her here. “They tend to forget me.” It’s my friend’s house. She’s friends with the guy, who invited her other friend, who invited her and a lot of Random people.

I’m sitting alone for a minute, and then a guy from high school comes over. I haven’t seen him since New Year’s Eve, but really a week before that when a bunch of us were in his house eating latkes.

“How have you been?” he asks me, “Since the last time we spoke?”I think back. “Comparatively better,” I say. “The last time I saw you, life was not very great, was it?”
“Last time I saw you, your life was terrible,” he answers.
“Yeah, it was!” I laugh. It’s hilarious, because it’s true, but also because I would never think to call my life terrible. I mean, privilege. I think back. “Well -“

“What happened to you?” Across the room, the guy has been listening to our conversation. “Did you have a pregnancy scare or something?” He’s joking.
“Actually, I did,” I tell him. Because of my rapist, I think in my head.
“Yeah, so did I!” He’s still joking, though. “Hard life!”
“…Should we maybe not have this conversation here?” My friend wants to know.
“No, I really don’t care. If anyone listens in, they’ll just be upset by what they hear,” I say, then give him bullets. “So basically, I finally yelled at my parents about how they handled my rape. We’ve been repairing our relationship. I dated a guy for a bit, or I guess I had been when I saw you last, but he was waayyy more into me than I was into him, so eventually I broke up with him. Or tried to, but he held on for about a month. And then the day after he finally let go, this guy with whom I’ve had an on-again, off-again thing with told me he loved me. And I loved him back, and we were happy for a minute, but it turned really sour and sad and has gone on until last week. Which is sort of extremely heart breaking, but I can’t do anything about it. And also, I went to South Africa and got raped again.” I burst into laughter. He is, what someone else comments from across the room, horrified.

“Are you joking?”
“No! Isn’t that ridiculous? What freaking luck!” I laugh and laugh and laugh while he rocks back and stares at me, not knowing what to say, and that makes me laugh more. And then we’re interrupted by an arguing couple. The guy tears out of the house, and I hug the girl as she sobs, and I am thankful that I have not at least been like this. In a house of strangers watching my relationship deteriorate.

She’s back. She finds me again, and takes my hand in hers, and we talk. At one point, she tells me,
“You are just amazing. I feel so good talking to you. You know, you get people. You would be a really good psychologist, or like a therapist,” and that’s cool. She invites me to play a drinking game, but I’m staying away from being drunk for a while, so I leave her, and the guy from high school comes back.

“You know, I worry about you sometimes,” he tells me, which is surprising, given that we rarely see each other. “Ever since that party four years ago, when you were so drunk.”

There was only one time I got drunk four years ago.

“Was it the summer?” He nods. “With Derrick?” Nods. “At Dominique’s house? You were there?” Nodding nodding nodding. “Oh, shit,” I say. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I ruined that party.”
“No you didn’t,” he says. “You mostly just talked to me. You told me you weren’t going to live to 19.”
“Oh yeah,” I say. I can’t believe myself how nonchalant I am about this. “I believed it, too. I’m sorry I said that. But clearly I did live. And now I’m still here, and I guess I will be.” I want to tell him that I’ve let Edward go. But then I think about how I spent my entire commute home from work seriously considering suicide, and decide not to say anything. I’m not drunk. And laughing about my troubles with someone who takes them seriously actually makes me feel better.
“I’m here,” I repeat.

And then, the couple is back, and things have escalated. Fists fly, neighbors come outside. I watch my friend, the homeowner, dodge a punch and then begin to choke a girl out. I go into the kitchen, and find my girl barely conscious. She’s in a chair, head tipped back, hair covering parts of her face. Her friend is trying to slap her awake, to no avail. She’s drooling. I take a napkin and dab at her mouth, and she tries to move her hand, slowly, to help. But she just sinks further from consciousness. Her soul is crying.

“How did this happen?” I ask her useless friend, the one who brought all the chaos.
“She had half a bar of Xanax. And then she’s been drinking. And she had a huge Red Bull.” A stimulant, depressant, and DEPRESSANT.
“Where are her friends?” Who allowed this to happen? Why was no one looking out?
“I’m her friend,” the girl says, defensively.
“Sure you are,” I say.

I wonder if this is what she meant earlier when she talked about her friends leaving her. Everyone is crowding into the kitchen now, piled around her. They argue about whether to move her, to call 911, to take her to the emergency room, or just to dump her somewhere to sleep it off. One guy keeps shouting that he knows about “Sports medicine. I majored in it!” The couple is still outside, arguing.

“Let’s just go back to our frat,” Sports Medicine says.
“You have a frat house?” I whip around. They nod. “Why would you bring all of this here? Into a stranger’s home? Why didn’t you just go to your frat?”
“It’s the summer,” they respond. I am disgusted.

I pull aside the guy from before. The one who invited the girl who invited everyone else. “I hope you understand this is your responsibility.”
“What!” He’s shocked. “You’re blaming me!”
“No,” I say. “You aren’t entirely to blame for what happened. But you invited strangers into someone else’s home. You are responsible for what the strangers do to the home. And look what they’ve done.” He takes that in.

“That girl,” we look at her. “She’s depressed, isn’t she?”
“Have you seen the cuts in her arm?” he asks in response.
“No, I never looked at her arms.”
“Well, they’re serious. I hadn’t seen before today. Yeah, she’s not okay.”

“She’s going to die,” I tell him “Unless she gets better friends. She needs someone to look out for her. To care about her. You need to do better.”

Eventually, she wakes up a little, and they take her to her boyfriend’s house.

There have been so many times that I’ve wanted access to prescription medication, to knock myself out so I wouldn’t have to deal with anything. Nightly panic attacks are real. Anxiety kills, too slowly. But I’ve always stayed away, and this is why. I’ve had my time to be a party foul. I’m at the wrong age to go off the rails now.

There are too many beautiful girls who bring light into people’s lives while privately (for the most part) being miserable. Too many girls who smile and laugh at things that really make them want to cry, who drop heavy truths while projecting weightlessness. It’s tiring. I don’t want this to be the reason we’re soul mates.

If I ever see that girl again, I expect it will be a long time from now. But our souls have touched, and mine will be sending hers as much support and love and strength as it can, from now until then.

A Preservation

Some kisses are magic.

Is it the kiss, or the setting? Or is the kiss the culmination?

Bam, bam, bam-bam bee-dum, bam, bam

“F*ck him,” she’s told me. “F*ck XXXXX for not seeing what he had in front of him. I wish I could date you, but I can’t date all my friends.”

A scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly, and is also known as a buster

And just like that, I’m not sad. Well, I am. But when I open my mouth to respond, I realize that I don’t care about talking about what’s happened. I squeeze my eyes to cry, because this would be the perfect moment to, but nothing comes out.

I’m too happy.

I look around at people I love, only people I love, gathered together.

“You know what I’m thankful for?” one of us says, “Great friends.”

I think about that, it pulls me down into clouds. Great friends, great friends.

I get it. I look at my friends, and I feel our connections to each other. In this moment, our vibes are tangible. They weave together above our heads, forming a canopy that drapes over our bodies and wraps us in warmth.

I understand that this is something I’ve been missing. That, had a conversation gone differently, I probably would not have been here right now. And I so need to be here. I’ve spent the summer being drained, but this moment makes me feel full. I know that it will pass, and in a few days I will feel empty again. So I drink in as much of the moment as possible, let it fill every space in my body and mind, and as much of my soul as I can manage.

“I hate him so f*cking much,” she’s told me, “For what he did to you. I wish I could kill him, because he’s made you so sad. But then, that would make you sad, too.”

Yes, it would. I don’t hate him. I did, for about twenty minutes. I hated him for making me love him. I replayed our most recent moments in my mind, and hated him for giving me snatches of happiness, teases of how well we could fit together. I hated him for telling me he loved me when he wasn’t ready. What height of carelessness

But then, there was care in his letting me go. I can recognize that.


It’s personal, myself and I
We’ve got some figuring out to do

If my love for him had been like a candle, there would be hot wax all over my hand at this point, and the wick would nearly be gone. Painful. Almost as painful as putting it out.
After a bit, pains begin to overlap with one another, so you’re not sure what’s really troubling you anymore.


Loving you was nice,
But it’s a new day, a new season
I’ve been sad inside

You know what I’m thankful for? Great friends.

Friends who will meet you for lunch after not seeing each other in a long time. Who, over frozen raspberry margaritas will get you to tell the truth you’ve been trying to avoid: You didn’t downgrade anything to an assault. You got raped in South Africa. Who will listen to you tell, for the first time, the true and full story of what happened just two weeks ago, and will laugh with you about the teeny tiny size of your rapist’s penis (which actually, it turned out, made things easier for him). Who will watch your eyes tear up, then clear up, and make you laugh again by reminding you of that time in fifth grade that they got you to sit in their broken chair and the desk fell over on you.

Friends who will come over from Boston, having planned their New York visit to match when they know for a fact you’ll be in the country. Who will meet you in Grand Central and walk with you to Bryant Park, who will find a deck of cards and reteach you how to play Spit. Who will understand that something may be wrong, but will do such a thoroughly good job of distracting you by just being themselves. Who will remind you that you can love friends, even if you rarely see them.

I’ve been sad inside,
And he could see it, picked up your pieces,
We could just alight

Friends who will gather to say goodbye to someone, but do it in the most beautiful, celebratory way possible. Who will dance on two levels of a deck, with young children and older relatives. Who will take pictures together, and lean over railings, reaching their hands down to you, as you raise yourself up on your toes so that your faces can be as close as possible.

“We’re all soul mates,” she says, and I believe her. Our friendships are deep.

I sit among my friends, and blow out of the candle. I understand that it can’t be burning right now. I need to put it away. Not quite let it go. The day I lose hope for the candle, hope for us, is the day I have completely changed into another person. So I won’t get rid of it. I’ll just put it somewhere else, and try not to think about it too much, and maybe one day, when he’s ready, he will light what’s left of it, and help me build it back up again.

“I love you so much,” Gari tells me, hugging me on one side and Crystal on the other. “I love you guys.” And we hug her back, and I feel our friendship glowing, pulsing, so I close my eyes to let it better wash over me. And I feel her kiss me on my forehead, over my right brow. I’ve missed this. Feeling loved. Feeling safe. Feeling happy. We are a star.

Home is wherever I’m with you

This night is the most magical moment I have yet had the privilege to feel.

Blasts

WecantbetogetherbuttheworldisburningandlifeissoshortandtakenfromyousosuddenlyandIfeelsadandalsoscaredandIwanttoreachouttoyoubutIknowthatIcant.

Please, comfort me.

At the top of their stairs is a wall of bookshelves. It used to be like a house library, except filled with children’s books. The kind of children’s books that aren’t necessarily classics, but ones that every child should read. A collection of all the stories you vaguely remember, only it’s been such a long time that you aren’t sure whether the books exist, or if you made up their ideas. And then suddenly, you see the book in front of you at the bookshelf, you understand that everything was real, and your memories transport you back to that time period. The last time I was here, I found the Crestomanci chronicles. The last time I was here, I was by myself, and it was three years ago, and William hadn’t overdosed. Most of the books are gone now.

At the top of the stairs is a shrine.

I am facing photo after photo of the dead brothers. I’m even in one of the pictures. Edward’s arm is around me, and we are smiling into the camera. It’s Christmas of 2010, the year I caught onto his alcoholic and anorexic tendencies enough to worry, without knowing to be alarmed. It had still been a great Christmas. They used that photo in his memorial service. Proof of how apparent it was to everyone that we were connected. My aunt stays looking out.

I can look at our photo, and be okay. I know that he isn’t around, and I truly believe he’s in a better place. But what they left behind. Two parents who don’t like each other, are miserable together, but stay together for the benefit of their only surviving child, the daughter who graduated, who broke into tears during her graduation speech and then pulled herself together to thank her family and friends. I look at a picture of William, young enough to still be blond, before his hair naturally darkened to brown, smiling and pretending to work as he sat next to his father at his desk. It’s connected to a picture of baby Will on Uncle Steve’s shoulders.

“It was never so clear,” another cousin would tell me, “Two parents who absolutely had favorite children. Aunt Lori found Will’s body. She lay down next to him and told him to take care of Edward. Her speech at his funeral was all about how they could look after each other now. And Steve’s was just a really specific memory of Will. It was hard to watch.”

“No one chooses to be born,” Will said, at Edward’s funeral. “So I guess it’s good he got to choose when he died.”

I wonder if Will chose his death. It’s hard to tell. He’d been clean for a minute. It seemed like he was turning his life around. And then

I look at the happy babies with their happy parents. I look at the cards from their funerals. I’m overwhelmed with the feeling of, What’s the point?

You’d think it would be hard to go into Edward’s room, but it’s surprisingly easy. It’s also right next to the stairs. His cats lurk around like ghosts. They don’t run away from me like they used to; they just watch me as I sink into his couch. I wonder what that means, and then I try to stop myself from romanticizing the situation. Maybe our energies just match. We’re all still hiding together. Them from the family, and me from the babies.

What’s the point of crafting a life with someone, if that person will hurt you? Love fades, love sours. I guess that’s why people have children. So there will always be something to love. But then even when white, even when wealthy, your children can still grow up to hate themselves, and their lives, and maybe even you, a little bit. And they’ll leave you, and your suffering will only increase.

I guess it doesn’t have to be like this. These are just the examples I’ve been given.
I cry, silently, and Edward’s cats watch me.

“You know, Lucas believes in the same things we do,” their sister is telling me. “Like gay rights. He knows that Edward was gay.”

Lucas is her crush. They’re friends, and she wants more. I wonder if she knows about Orlando, and how she feels. Maybe Edward didn’t kill himself. Maybe he and Pat were just on vacation and got shot up for their orientation.

She shows me a picture of him.

“He’s pretty cute,” I say, and she side-eyes me. “But don’t worry, he’s all yours.” I put my hands up.
“Hey!” She says. “You take my guy, and I’ll take yours.”
“You couldn’t, even if you tried,” I tell her. “I don’t have a guy. I don’t think we can even hang out very much anymore.”
“Why not?” She wants to know.
“Because, it’s painful.”
“When I’m with Lucas,” she tells me. “It’s painful. But I keep spending time with him anyway, because he’s important to me. We have a connection. And I think that one day he’ll realize it.”
“But that’s why it’s painful,” I say. “We know we have a connection. He already realized. And it just gets stronger the more time we spend together, but he isn’t ready for it. It’s a tease.”

The next morning I wake up, and fifty people have been killed, with fifty-three injured, at a nightclub. Brown people. Gay people. I spend so much time worrying about my future, and theirs are gone. Taken.

America is burning out, and we don’t have very many friendly places to go, and hundreds of legitimate refugees have been and are drowning. Does anyone have a future? Does anything matter?

This is when I want to run back to Niles. Because with all the uncertainty, why would you not want to hold onto something that is sure? Like the fact that two people are in love. And if the future isn’t guaranteed, then why even think about it? I consider the guys who currently, actually, want me as a girlfriend, and wonder if it’s something I even want. Not because of him, or them, but because of myself and where I currently am, home for a few weeks before going somewhere and becoming unreachable, preparing to start work, trying to get it together enough to move into the city. Being In Love with one person, sure, but also loving different people in different parts of the world. Do I actually want to be in a strictly committed relationship right now? Not really.

But I do want to be in love, and be a priority, and not have to worry about seeing someone I care about hooking up with someone who isn’t me at a party. I want to be able to call someone when I’m down, and have them make me feel better, if only through distraction. I want to nestle in bed with someone and make them feel good. I want to hold hands, and feel safe, and truly believe that we’ll be together when we’re meant to.

So what does that mean? What is the healthiest option? For me, for him, for now, for the future that might not even be there?

And all I can think about now is how there was a moment last year, during our big fight, when we almost hooked up. I’m not sure he’s even aware of that, but it happened. I looked at him, and in the midst of all my anger and sadness I felt this overwhelming attraction, and I knew that if we hooked up, I would enjoy it. But I also knew that if we did hook up, that would be the end of us. So we didn’t, and here we are now. Now, I don’t know if we’re at the end, if I’m supposed to kill my internal flame, or if I’m supposed to run on hope that eventually things will work out. If one of us got shot tomorrow, would the other have regrets?

I’ve been exercising my arms, like he told me to. I can do fifteen pushups now. Next week, I’m going for twenty.

Lions

All around my bed, roaring at me.

I need to be sleeping. I need to be awake in four hours, getting ready to take care of a bunch of sixth graders at their school camp in the woods. Privileged children, who don’t see many black people and don’t know how to move bugs off the seats of their canoes. I’m going to expend a lot of energy this week. I need to charge.

But these lions, man. They’re keeping me up.

“The way triggers were explained to me,” my professor/friend said, “Is that it’s like you went on a safari, and you were in what you thought was a safe location, so you left your vehicle to take pictures. And when you turn around to head back into your vehicle, the other people on your trip start shying for you to run. So you run and you make it into the vehicle and you realize that a lion had been stalking you, and was right behind you. You’re in safe, but it did swipe and catch the back of your leg. And when you feel this, you go into shock.
Your trip ends, and you come home safely. But then a while later, you see a house cat, and suddenly you get scared. It’s just a cat, but to you it’s a lion. And you remember feeling your leg get swiped. And a bit after that, you see a jungle show on TV, and even though the wrong cats are present, you still see lions. So you never know when the lions will pop up, but there they are, and this is what you’ll have to deal with.”

I want to be shielded. I want someone to wrap me in their arms until the lions go away. Rock me until I fall asleep. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it?

Sometimes I feel like what happened to me will prevent me from being comfortable or close with anyone, ever again. Then I fear that even if I start to get close with someone, the rape will still find a way to complicate everything. My physical non-virginity and simultaneous mental discomfort and unfamiliarity with sex is too much for the red-blooded potential partners of my age. My need for stability, support, and closeness is too confusing an ask, and I’m not even sure I’d trust it if it came to me.

Strangers can hurt you.

Friends can hurt you, too.

No place is safe.

No place is off limits, either. A dumpster?? He raped that girl behind a dumpster?? The lions get closer, and I’m in the aggravating position of being thankful that at least my rapist was considerate enough to use his own bed. Even though I’m sure he was considering himself more than he was me. It was his house, after all. He didn’t really need to take me anywhere else. I probably fell down, too, like she did.

Her sister blames herself. I wonder if my friends blame themselves? I know one of them does, a little.

“I was with you earlier that night,” he told me. “We went out together.”
“And we left each other hours before the bar crawl ended,” I told him. “I went to his house with completely other people.”

The others, who were there, and then suddenly gone. I don’t blame them, really. I wonder if they ever thought to blame themselves, though. I wonder if things would have ended differently, had they still been there the only time I managed to get out of the room, before more nameless liquid was poured down my throat.

I still have images, shadowy, but there. Like snapshots in my mind. Projected like strobe, pieces of what happened. We don’t need to go over them. I just need to keep up the clicking of the keyboard, until the lions go away.

This is the time things get dangerous for me. This is when my mind turns into a spider and climbs to the ceiling, spinning webs of doubt and sorrow and fear and terror, which are actually quite different. Fear is the pulsing feeling; terror makes me think I won’t be able to move again. Only my fingers, as the spider webs continue to loop over me.

Will I be alone forever?
Will I ever be chosen in a way that doesn’t hurt me?
Is my only value to the world my body and energy?
Should I expect anything other than hurt?
Where does the line fall between overly dramatic, and simply truthful?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and considering them makes me so tired. Too tired to keep going. Do I want to keep living?

Maybe I shouldn’t ask that question.
Maybe I should just sleep.

Turn the roars into lullabies, let them mount until it’s overwhelming, and then pass out from the sheer exhaustion of stress.

Distractions

Lean more into being a person.

Wake up to Odesza. Play her while you get out of bed, go through your routine, make your bed, and get breakfast.

Open your windows, open your shades. Look three backyards over, to where men are re-roofing a garage. Remember that they can probably see you, too.

Exercise.

Talk to friends. Talk to family. Talk to strangers.

Make yourself open to new things. Let someone take you to Aladdin on Broadway. Marvel at the genie. Laugh at Iago. Appreciate how many beautiful black women are on stage, even though their roles are secondary and they end up serving a white woman. Dance a little as you walk.

Work on being comfortable with strangers.

Go back and forth on the black hole bridge in the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum. Lean over the edge and feel like you’re high.

Go to the Harlem Jazz museum.

Consider competing for Miss Harlem Shake, even though you’d be disqualified for living in Westchester. Maybe next year, when you’ve moved.

Seek out the scariest attractions at the amusement park. The rush will make you forget who you are for a minute.

Don’t react when you see that the white French girl in your house now has box braids. Talk her through how to take care of her hair.

Laugh about it with your friends. Be thankful that she’ll be back home when her hair starts to unravel.

Reflect on what you did while you didn’t think you were alive.

Think about cousins when you want to cry, and trust that you’re going in the right direction.

Listen to Spotless Mind on repeat. Connect to Jhené Aiko’s character.

Try not to analyze your situation. Try not to think about the future.

Be kind to the stranger on the train who wants to know what you’re reading. Show him the blurb. Let him buy you dinner. Listen to him talk about God. Ask him not to call you a female. Shake his hand.

Think about angels.

Think about friendships.

Try to figure out what you’re waiting for.

Sleep.