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I'm Not Sorry

An Open Letter to the One I Love

It's December 28, 2018. On the other side of the window there is snow gracefully floating to the ground—a relaxing visual as I sit on a love-seat alone—except I know that I'm not alone, that's just what I feel: isolated. I'm feeling a lot of other things as well: depressed, confused, invalid, disgusting, annoying, and somehow, I'm also feeling numb. You are sitting next to me, my love. You put your arm around my frail body and rub my shoulder. I know that you're rubbing my shoulder because I can see, out of my right eye's peripheral vision, your hand wrinkling my sweater as it moves up and down on my arm. I'm freezing and shaking from the cold, but my chest and belly feel like they're on fire and my face starts turning red. My heart is beating that strange way it does when I'm having a panic attack, except this time every single beat is pounded into the back of my spine, and no matter how calmly and flatly I lay on the ground, it persists. I never have any idea how long this will last, and as of right now, I haven't found many ways to cope with this experience. I have no idea how to explain it in the moment, so it's difficult for me to find a way out when I don't even know where I am. That is why I am writing this letter to you, my love. 

So, this is our third Christmas together. We're fairly comfortable with each other I'd say, considering we've been living together essentially the moment we met. You've definitely experienced my highest points, but you have most certainly been frightened by my worst -- and you've seen some of the worst ones (though I hope that my absolute worst would have passed for good long before meeting you). All that I've wanted the last 24 hours is to be close to you. Now that you're literally sitting down next to me I can't feel a thing. My eyes feel foggy, my breath shallow, my heart viciously pounding. There are only very dull sensations on my skin when you touch me, and I can't force myself to hear a sound -- it feels like my ears are under water and I am too. (I know that statement can be seen as a cliche, but that's exactly how it feels).

I have spent my entire life apologizing for how I feel or who I am. I truly regret it. It's not a New Year's resolution or anything like that, but it's more like a life goal. I cannot be sorry for some of the uncontrollable components that make up who I am. There have been decisions made in my life that were not made by me, and they still adversely affect me to this day. 

I know which one I felt today. 

I felt continually flowing flashbacks to the trauma of my childhood sexual abuse. 

I know what my trigger was.

It was the movie we had watched last night. I still mostly enjoyed watching the movie, though. 

It was nobody's fault in the room. No one was responsible for the way I was feeling this morning when I was woken up, but I knew that it had come back knocking at my door. I hate that door. 

Let me explain to you, my love, what it is like behind that door. Behind that door is a literal perspective change for me. I feel as though I am the height of three or five or eight years old, and I can't get back to feeling like an adult. I participate in adult-like activities like drinking, smoking, romance and such, but I feel as though -- amongst all my peers in the room—I am the only child. I know, of course, that this isn't true. That's not at all logical. And I like logical. So why can't I get out? I feel the looming shadow of my father towering over me. I feel the heat from my mother's face burning into my tear stained cheeks as she screams at me not to cry for myself because I deserve to feel badly. I can remember—from my earliest childhood up until the time that I was kicked out of my parents' home— periods of feeling absolutely insane. If something unpleasant had happened in our family's home, or if I had done something "naughty," there was a large chance that I would be ignored for anywhere from three hours to eight days at a time. Sometimes I didn't even know what I had done wrong. 

I can remember trailing at my mother's heals as a toddler, dragging along my favorite teddy bear and screaming, tears burning my baby cheeks, begging her to answer me. She would purposefully not make eye contact with me for hours at a time. I remember begging for a hug before bed as a really young child, or, as a teenager, just asking if someone would at least talk to me in the house because they wouldn't let me out of the house or communicate with anyone outside of the house. Moments like these would go entirely unnoticed and unrecognized. How would you feel sane sitting in a room, listening to a conversation amongst the only other humans you have access to for who knows how long, and any time you try to participate in conversation or get asked a question, any response is somehow "not heard?" And if you persist, there will not only be silence towards you, but you will be searched and ridiculed for any slight change of habit. 

That's kind of hard when you've recently taken up self-harming and have gotten more aggressive with your anorexia. 

I had just fully begun realizing the sexual abuse of my childhood and how abnormally my family and I had both normalized it in our brains and relationships. It had made me uncomfortable as a child to try to stand up for myself. That was just something my family didn't allow us kids to do. It was seen as rebellion. Conversely, if you didn't gift physical affection when it was demanded, it was seen as disrespectful. Our bodies, minds, and admittedly, our spirits belonged to my parents. Everything was under close inspection and control. I don't want anyone to ever have control over me ever again. I control me. 

I know you know this. This is not a lecture, my love—please don't take it as such. I love you so very much, and I just want to help you understand for the moments when I don't. Sometimes I become afraid, like a child, and I fear that you will find a way to control me through my emotions like everyone else close to me has. I haven't had very much access to close relationships of any kind outside of the home until roughly two and a half years ago.

On these days that I feel like a child, I feel a lot of responsibility. I feel like everything I do is extremely stupid and like I'm an annoyance by breathing incorrectly. You don't make me feel this way. I'm not able to shake this state of mind that I am responsible for everything that goes wrong and I start taking everything personally. I just realized that now I'm projecting. Anything that you do, I take extremely seriously and you might not even know what you did or why I'm feeling the way that I am in the first place. I cannot become my mother or father. I cannot any tensions rise. It makes me feel insane. And when I ask you my love about my suspicions of tension, please don't become too angry. I'm paranoid and I'm terrified. I know you won't do anything to me, but I feel like I am not in control of myself. I guess you could say that I feel vulnerable, but it feels more like involuntary susceptibility to feeling than openly exposing my emotions. I don't know what to call it. I feel like a small innocent girl that was just stripped of her dignity. I want to scream but that wouldn't be nice. I want to say sorry with every fiber of my being, but I can't this time. I don't even know why... but I'm starting to think that I might. 

My hope is that the less I apologize in instances when I feel it's my duty as a child, the less I will feel like a child. I know that that leaves you at a more unpleasant end of the relationship... I even typed sorry and then had to backspace when I re-read this sentence. I know that I don't have to worry about physical repercussions from you, and I am forever grateful. I am so glad to have you in my life, my love. I know that it is not always easy. I know that I hurt you sometimes. I know that I often scare you to death with my deep plunging emotions. I know that I suck every drop of patience that you possess on many occasions. I am working on it with everything that I have. I love you.

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