I’m laying on my stomach biting the skin around my thumb as I listen to you ask me nicely whether maybe I could be the type of person that puts myself in bad situations and maybe it’s a pattern in my life.
There is blood in my mouth. The taste of rust and thick white spit that sticks against the back of my throat as I feel the poison of PTSD slowly drain through my limbs.
On paper, these are the things that never sound so bad. Victim blaming. Distrust. Shaming. I know these words now, and I can label them as they fall from your mouth like marbles down a spiral staircase, but I still feel each hollow clink on the way down and I’m still at the bottom collecting them from you and holding them all as if they were my responsibility to polish, as if it was my job to explain it all for you.
Surviving. The walk along the edge of death with just a thread to hold on to, attached to the hope of a future that falls in and out of view. And you want to know, ‘how can you be happy now?’ A question that only means to tell me that if I have been through what I say I have, there’s no way I could be.
Why should I have to take your hand and walk you there? See this? This here is where I sat and screamed. This old step outside my college dorm is where I’d come to on those nights I couldn’t sleep. It’s where I’d curse and shake and rock slowly back and forth until my eyes swelled close and I’d pretend to disappear. On the left now, this is me with my face on a toilet seat, dry heaving in the middle of sixth period while I was supposed to be in math class. Moving on now, on the right, this is the pile of clothes on my bedroom floor, that’s me on top. Late for school and praying to disappear into the floor and get out of this world. I will walk you to my favorite place to run to when I get panic stricken and hyperventilate from the phantom pains around my wrists. But I stop there. Because this black door we now have come to, closed off and barricaded, this is a place no one should be allowed to go alone. This is the thoughts inside my head. This is the witness record. The files that describe the crime that no one saw. I won’t open this up today, not even for you.
Would you like to touch the wound to understand that it is real? Would you like to hold your fingers on my chest as it pushes in and out while I try to catch my breath? Just so that you can say, ok now I believe.
“I did not get myself into the situation,” I tell you, feeling the conviction in my voice leaking like air from a balloon. “I got myself out.”