At the event when I couldn’t help but stand up and talk too much,
I opened myself up to judgment in order to speak the burning necessity that was bubbling up my throat, determined to be shared.
Taking my seat for the forth or fifth last time, a woman two rows back lifted her head and her hand to get my attention. “Hey”, she said. “We need to talk”, she said. “We’ve met before”, she said.
Blooming in the center of my sternum was a warm pain, a fear. I blinked through the chapters of my past trying to paste her face and set her place. Who is she? When did we? what did I do?
What does she think of me? what did I do?
How to defend against the unknown? what did I do?
Why do I take up so much space? what did I do?
Always the loud one. what did I do?
I summon clouded scenes from faded childhood, drunken nights and forgotten dreams. what did I do?
Should I apologize- is it even true? what did I do?
My torso is an oven, my heart is an onion. Take me back to that original sin so that I can at least gain the knowledge of what I must apologize for.
At last we speak, I brace in timid desperation to know her truth.
This woman, she is kind, she respects me, she was listening. That time we met, before, we had danced in the sidewalk of a joyful summer day. She liked me. We can be friends.
The relief of my acquittal is a shallow gasp, and still, the ripples of my fear are not contained.
How is it I have given this person such power over me. How is it that I wear the mask of her impressions to the point of suffocation? Who taught me I should care so much about what other people think anyway?
Until I take it to the core, I can never heal. Look my own stranger in the eye for awhile.
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DV Advocate, 5th Police Precinct
AmeriCorps Urban Safety DV Program
Domestic violence is unacceptable. There is help available on the journey from victim to survivor.