Triggered

Triggered.

You laugh at the word and point out how overused it is these days.

You sit in your leather chairs, backs comfortably reclined as you swivel behind the glossy desk proclaiming your entitlement.

It is so easy for you to roll your eyes and then apologize for your reaction. Your genitalia allows you to retract at will. It hangs between your legs, launching you onto the high horse you barely even know you’re riding.

Yes, yes, she was compelling. Attractive too. Surprisingly believable.

You marvel at this circus and flare your nostrils at the injustice and casually wonder how all the other women are taking this.

You ask them politely, giving them the floor as though they suddenly matter and you are very cautious not to assume you understand, even as your head tilts gently to the side and nods in misplaced solidarity.

You don’t even know what we’re talking about.

Some of you try. There is sincerity in your attempt to open eyes conditioned to see only half the world. The best of you lower your voices and open your ears, acknowledging this moment as the start of change, even as you are reminded that it is deja vu all over again.

Over and over and over again.

Triggered.

One in 5 stare at their screens and watch their personal hell parade in front of their eyes in varying degrees of burning shame. Four in 5 have had their eyes peeled open since they were taught to beware, beware, the beast is always out to get you; your virtue protects you from becoming another statistic. One in 3 tasted it. Two in 3 witnessed it.

Triggered.

You sit with your knees spread, airing out the sword you hold above our heads while our thighs squeeze together and our bodies clench in collective resistance.

Triggered.

We hashtag our anger and air your dirty laundry because we are done.

Triggered.

We march and we stand tall and we proclaim our strength and you pretend to see us.

Triggered.

You laugh at the word and point out how overused it is these days.

Triggered.

Your laugh is uncomfortable because you see us rising up as a solid wall of broken women triggered by memories of generations of your betrayal. The trigger she pulled when she stood before the world and yanked the comfortable rug from under your feet, revealing mountains of naked truths hiding beneath it cleared your vision long enough for you to glimpse the ugliness of your desire.

And you are triggered.

Originally published on The Times of Israel.

Emergence

“So”, he says, leaning back into his chair. “Tell me what’s on your mind.”

I inhale and slowly drift up to the ceiling.

I see my body sitting across from him. My fingers play with the magnetic toys he keeps on his desk.

My lips part and a story spews from them.

A story about a man…a stranger…and a gun…and a rape…and how the hero came…how the hero stood up for me…fought for me…made me believe in myself again…because I do now…and I am definitely not a victim…but I’m not sure what I’m feeling…so maybe it’s time to start talking…to start telling stories…to figure me out.

He frowns and I can see, from up here, that he knows that I’m lying.

I try to float down against myself and connect with my body before it betrays me again…but I don’t understand gravity anymore than I can understand how I am hovering on the ceiling, watching myself perform.

He says something I don’t really hear…because my ears are directly connected to my heart…and had he said any of the words my heart longed for, I know I’d come crashing down and smash my broken body into a million pieces more.

But I’m still up here…and I remain here as I trudge out of his office and through a few more days of foggy consciousness, until I remember that I told him about the monster.

Only…I called him a hero and I made him into a small detail of an elaborate tale I knew shouldn’t have been taken at face value.

So now I’m falling…down through my body and even further into a pit of slime and mold and I lose myself somewhere in the filth, until I see something I recognize and resurface, gasping as the burn pours down my throat and the bottle empties into my lungs where I am finally able to exhale.

There is nowhere left to fall.

I sit again.

I don’t think there is a point.

If I can’t tell my story I will die.

But I can’t tell the story because I’m on the ceiling again and this time it feels like my body is pinned to the fluorescent bulbs and the light is pouring through me as I slowly turn invisible.

But my heart can still hear.

My heart hears the tale spun again…the lies and deceptions…the words that mean nothing and everything…and I am disappointed in the girl sitting with those nice people and wonder if she knows that we will die very soon…that she will have to find a way to bury me.

But then my heart skips a beat because the story is over and there is no sound.

I need to know what is happening.

I need to rip myself from the cold concrete so I push and I push and I push until I am falling again, but this time, I am caught by the feeling of a hand…gently squeezing another hand that should be mine but has not yet connected with my displaced heart and soul…and my heart skips another beat and lands at the feet of a woman who knew not to hear the words my mouth was forming and instead…somehow saw me floating in the air and made me visible.

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Photo by Naftali Goldstein, March 2016

Broken Grief

This feeling…this sad feeling…covers me like a blanket…suffocating me slowly.

It is not a new feeling…it is an anticipated one.

Do not project…they told me…do not lose faith in humanity…you can never know the outcome…you can never know for sure.

So I tried not to project…not to expect to be hurt…

But I am not entirely foolish…and I let that part of me that knows better live next to the part of me that pretends risks are worth taking.

I knew.  I always knew…that I would be sitting in this puddle of pain…this dirty pool of sorrow…and there would be no one to pick me up.

This is Grief…this is all the damn stages…when you lose something you loved…or thought you loved…

At first…I kept a quiet Denial.  I was alone and afraid but if I didn’t say a word…it was as if it wasn’t there.

Then I yelled…screamed out the Anger that was consuming me…turning on the world…on myself.

Then I Bargained…for love…for attention…for validation.

And now…I’m sad…it is a different kind of Depression…not one born in my Denial…one that is like taking a deep…long breath…and holding it in for just a second more…

Because I’m ready for Acceptance.

I am ready to calmly walk away from my dying past…calmly acknowledge that I will not have what I deserve…and learn to love all my broken pieces…without the ones I’ve lost.

I am still sitting here…in my sadness…looking for a helping hand.

What I can see though…are all the Broken People…and they are reaching out with hands as filthy as mine…and we are singing our song again…irritating the Unbroken…as we bombard them with the truth of our shattered selves.

The Unbroken will ignore us for as long as they can…because the Unbroken do not like the smell…they do not want to deal with our puddles of shallow shit…they do not want to acknowledge the broken-hearted…they would rather turn us inside out…hang us outside the camp…and pretend they cannot see as we shrivel up and die.

So Broken People…let us become our own Broken Family…let us Accept together…let us finish mourning all the Unbroken who walked out on us…who left us buried in the sand…and let us move on without them.

But you Unbroken People…you don’t know what I know…you don’t know that being Unbroken…just makes you…Breakable.

When you’re sitting under your blankets of pain…I will be there…and I will reach out with a strong…reinforced…and loving hand.

Dear Asshole

(trigger warning – please don’t read if you are not in a safe place)

Dear Asshole,

I wonder, when you kiss your wife, if you remember what it felt like to shove your tongue into my mouth…your teeth hitting mine as you demanded I open my lips more..

I remember.

I can still taste your saliva…I sometimes feel as though my tongue is swelling…as it betrays me when I seal my lips and refuse any entry…even to love.

But you told me you don’t recall…so I imagine you kiss your wife without guilt or shame…

I wonder, when you look at her…if you remember when you stood with me and looked…and looked and looked…while I squeezed my eyes shut and held my breath.

I wonder this as I hide under my blanket at night…and shut out any light…as I press my hand against my eyes even if there is no one looking at me.

You remember that one…you told me so…except you told me it was normal and, for a teeny-tiny second, I believed you.

But it’s not normal…for me to hide my body from intimacy…for me to look in the mirror and shudder…no matter how many layers I have on.

So I imagine you feel comfortable in your own skin…after all, you’ve moved on.

I wonder…when your wife touches you…if you remember what you made me do to you…

I remember.

I still smell you.  I can’t get rid of the images of me kneeling at your feet…I can’t stop feeling your breath…I can’t stop all my senses from experiencing what was for you, a minor event…

My senses do not allow me to feel pleasure without fear.

Do you know what it is like to be overcome by fear with any expression of pleasure?

No, you wouldn’t know.

I imagine you let yourself experience pleasure because you think you deserve it.

I really wonder though…if you remember how I turned you down…and how you didn’t seem to care…

I wonder…if I had known it was because you no longer needed me…because there were others who could take my place…if I would have been so quick to stand up for myself.

Because now I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that I didn’t protect others…that I didn’t tell.  That I let you go on…

And that guilt makes me that crazy, obsessed person who can’t stop talking now.

I’m practically screaming it from the rooftops…twenty goddamn years later…when it can no longer do anything to stop the fucked up life I was forced to lead.

Oh I know you think I am crazy…I know you think I shouldn’t hold on to this…

I know you think you couldn’t possibly have screwed up everything for me.

But you’re wrong, Asshole.

You’re wrong about everything.

See, I lost my childhood because of you.

I lost my ability to trust.

I lost my ability to connect.

I lost my ability to live free.

I continue to suffer…every fucking day.

The worst part is that you took them away from me…

You made them have to choose a side…and they did choose…you.

So damn you, Asshole.

And damn the wife you never told.

Because I have nothing left to lose.

You do.

And if I sign this letter…the way I should sign it…

You will.

Dear Spouses,

 

Dear, dear spouses…

of victims…

of survivors…

of the broken people…

Thank you.

Thank you for not letting us push you away.

Thank you for seeing past the desperate facade we thought was infallible.

Thank you for understanding that not everyone wants to be touched…or can be touched…and adjusting your needs accordingly.

Thank you for remembering not to ask about it.

Thank you for listening to all of it and accepting it…

even though you wanted to kill someone…

even though you wanted to let anger take over and justice prevail.

Thank you for knowing that you just had to embrace it.

Thank you for sleeping on the floor when the bed became a trap.

Thank you for letting irrational behaviors slide…

because they made sense…because you got it.

Thank you for never attempting to relate to it.

Thank you for teaching us that we can be loved despite…

in spite…

because.

Thank you for always, always standing by…

through panic…

anxiety…

fear…

shame…

confusion…

delusion…

and hope.

Thank you for waiting for us to come to you.

Thank you for knowing when we were ready.

Thank you for knowing when we just weren’t there.

Thank you for agreeing to take part in a holy matrimony we believed we could never deserve.

Thank you so very much…dear, dear spouses…

for loving people…who sometimes doubt the love they are in.

We are grateful for your patience.

We are overwhelmed by your strength.

And we believe in the salvation you offered when you looked into our eyes…

and showed us who we were.

 

Forgiveness

The tears won’t stop.

They fall…without my permission…as I try to understand why my mind isn’t letting me process this.

It’s just a damn apology, I tell myself.  Accept it.  Just take it and let it all go.

But something is holding me back.

I call my husband…

I tell him through sobs…and he gets it.

I know, he says…I know exactly what you mean…

We talk a bit…about forgiveness…about apologies…about getting hurt.

And I acknowledge my pattern.

When someone apologizes to me, I freeze.

I don’t know what to say…

Because deep down…even though logic tells me I did nothing wrong to deserve the pain…I am still that little girl who thought it was all her fault…who thought she was to blame for everything that happened to her…

So I look for something to make it mine…to make this wrong something that was coming to me…and I usually find something little…a reaction…a retort…the way I handled the pain…something that makes me say – SEE!  You ARE in the wrong here…you SHOULD be punished!

I need to work on this…to be able to accept an apology given sincerely and forgive wholeheartedly…to put someone at ease and let them know that they are forgiven.

The truth is – I do forgive.  I just have a hard time saying it…because I’ve been holding forgiveness in for so long…since I was that guilt-ridden little girl…since I realized why I had to forgive…and I wish…so badly…that it would be asked of me…so that I can finally let go and say…with all my heart…

I forgive you.

If you see this…please know…I forgive you.

I forgive you.

Dying To Forget

Sometimes, late at night when I should be asleep, I remember.

I remember how I used to be…when things were bad…when I was a bad little girl…

And I wonder…if I could talk to her…what would I say?

I should say…the things I was taught to say to her…

I’m so sorry you’re hurting.

It’s not your fault.

You are not bad.

This is going to be over soon.

You will get better.

It will get better…

But I feel…like saying…

Kill yourself…now.

Because it won’t get better.

Because in twenty years from now you will sit with this memory, because everything in your life reminds you about some part of it, and you will think about how it can never go away and you will want to die.

So die now.

Avoid one thousand future deaths…

One thousand future hurts…

One thousand future lies…

And never remember this.