This weekend marks the two years to the day that a man living behind my apartment broke in to my bedroom while I slept and woke me up by laying on top of me with a blade next to my face. He reeked of booze and cigarettes, sweat and dirt. He had climbed up the outside of my house, onto my roof, and through my bathroom window. He wound through my apartment and into my bedroom. He knew which rooms connected where because he'd been watching me.
I don't remember his name now, or how many years he was sentenced. I do remember feeling like I'd been ripped in half, a raw piece of meat. My whole life i'd been so good at pushing through hard situations, burying them down deep, and avoiding thinking about them at all costs. That event, though....I'd experienced nothing like it. I had no choice but to freeze in my tracks and collapse. I couldn't forge through or function. Weeks later I went into the grocery and bought milk by myself; easy decision-making, but if you know anyone who's experienced trauma this was hard. I felt like my brain was constantly over-stimulated. I followed my mom around the house because I didn't know what to do with myself. I was awake for 2 hours and slept for 3. I didn't sleep some nights. To make matters worse, I never went back to my apartment. I was staying at my mom's house with all of my stuff, my whole life, in disarray, as if to tangibly model the havoc wreaked inside me. At times I wished I could break my legs and arms so people could see how crippled I felt. On the outside I was a perfectly healthy woman. I felt like I was making up my problems at times because I wasn't physically impaired. I WAS, though; through my trauma my brain had rewired itself to act through my "fight or flight" center instead of using logic and reasoning. I couldn't do the basic tasks of life that I prided myself on.
This was the single most terrible experience I've been through, but I wouldn't take it back. This brought me to my knees and humbled me. Because I couldn't function, I had no choice but to rely on people, to ask for help, to STOP and face my feelings and trauma. I couldn't avoid it or pack it away like I'd done for the previous 25 years.
I didn't go to church for a while. Other, previously-manageable issues were now anxiety attack inducing. God showed me that he cares for me. He brought me people to help me even though I hated Him. I felt betrayed. I believed that God could do ANYTHING. So why didn't he lock my window, or make that man decide to go home inside of climbing into my bed? God sent me people to tend tangibly to my needs. They gave me company, lotion, chocolate, tea, notes, verses. They talked about it with me or didn't.
It took about this long for me to feel "normal" again. I started a new school year just 2 months after the attack. I was in counseling and still dealing with court proceedings. I barely made it through my days. God gave me a career I love and passion for my kids to keep me busy and distracted when I needed it.
Almost two years after that incident, I was feeling like a healed and powerful woman, no longer the lost and broken victim. I was out downtown in Fort Wayne after a friend's wedding. I got split up from my friends. While trying to find them, walking alone downtown, a stranger, a man about my age, saw me alone and took advantage of the situation. Another nightmare. He finally ran away when my friends spotted me.
It sounds crazy, but I'm thankful for my experience 2 years ago. I'm not the same person I was on June 22, 2015 and THANK GOODNESS. I was lost and uncertain, weak and struggling. That trauma slapped me in the face and split me down the middle. It strained me and stretched me until I thought I must be far past breaking. But, like an arrow in its bow, the harder its pulled back, the harder and stronger and straighter and more powerfully it flies forward. I have more empathy for people. I understand trauma, depression, anxiety, and PTSD like I didn't before. I seek first to understand. I've learned to live in the present, because sometimes the present is all I can handle. I've learned the value of connection, because Jesus gives me people so I can FEEL his connection when my heart is hard. I've learned to be open even when I feel scared, because I feel the most loved when I let others see the rotten mess inside of me.
I still have scars. I have complicated emotions today. I feel shadows of my former feelings like whisps of smoke filling my head, lead weights sitting on my heart, acid dripping in my stomach. I know I'm safe, logically, but I've been checking over my shoulder, wearing more layers in the summer heat, and double-locking my doors and security system.
I have new legal proceedings ahead of me for this latest assault. I feel different this time, dealing with the same physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual effects. But something is different this time; me. I'm no longer that weak and lost girl. I'm a wiser, stronger woman. I am a pruned and trained warrior. I am powerful, because I don't have to be powerful while God is behind me to do that for me.
I can face this day.