It happened a few weeks ago, when Matt first returned to night shifts. I was having a hard time. I usually do. Adjusting, at least. After some time (and depending on the day and my mood) the anxiety improves and I feel more confident. That night, I had gone through my nightly routine, though I felt I had to double check the bedroom (and triple check the small utility area that connects to our bathroom). I was still barring the door with my guitar (in it’s case), though I have recently pushed myself to rely on just locking it instead to see how I do with that, and after checking under the bed a handful of times and turning out the light next to Matt’s side of the bed, I went back to my side and got down on my knees. I was tired. And frustrated. And angry. At myself, for moving back the same step I had taken in recent months. For moving back multiple steps. I was frustrated and angry that this was my life. That I couldn’t simply be home alone or go to bed or take a shower or brush my teeth without feeling panicked. That I was terrified of leaving my bedroom door open at night for fear that someone was going to break into the house, planning on raping or murdering me or both, and I wouldn’t have enough time to grab something and fight. Or run. I’m better at running. That I wake from apocalyptic nightmares, or nightmares where I’m alone in my childhood home and, hearing a noise, I walk into the hall to find a man with or without a face standing opposite me, underneath the mini basketball goal we had set up on top of a door at the end of the hall to shoot hoop with a plush ball whenever we felt the need. That I have flashbacks to my father, coming home drunk and high, without his paycheck because he gambled it away again. My father, covering my mother’s mouth as she screams to me to call the police. My father, pouring hot coffee down the front of my mother and sending me and my brother and sister out into the yard so we would not witness whatever came next. My father, holding a gun to my mother’s head. My father, sexually abusing me for 10 years. My father, leaving me a Happy Birthday voicemail after 699 days of silence. My father, thinking that after all this time everything is okay. Thinking we are okay, He is okay, I am okay. I clasped my hands together and rested them on the bed in front of me, sinking further into my knees. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, counted to four, and breathed out. In. Out. In. Out. “Dear God,” I began. “Please help me. Please. Help. I’m so tired. I don’t want to be like this. I don’t want to live like this. I’m tired of feeling like this any time I’m alone at night. Please help me to be brave. To not be afraid, and to not be anxious.” My eyes became warm. And wet. Tears that would not fall down my cheeks welled up in my eyes. “Help me to trust you,” I said, finally admitting what was so broken in my relationship with Him. “I don’t trust you. But I want to. Help me to love you. To fully love you. Please God, light a fire in me. I’m ready. I want to change. I can. Please help me. Please, God.” And then it happened. My Father, up in Heaven, waiting for this night when I would meet Him halfway. My Father, who created me in His image. My Father, who blessed me with so many wonderful friends and family. My Father, the trinity–the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit–placing what I can only believe to be two palms, so warm my shoulders felt on the verge of burning, on the tops of my shoulders. My Father, lighting a fire in me. My Father, promising me that after all this time, that in this moment, everything is okay. Promising we are okay, He is okay, I am okay.
You woke to the sound of muffled voices beyond the ajar double doors of the bedroom. You sat up slowly from the bed and rubbed your eyes before looking around. The clock on the bedside table read 2:34am. You thought maybe it was best that you leave to avoid any awkward encounters in the morning.
You shivered when the thin sheets slipped off your body and you scanned the floor for your clothes. You remembered you had left your dress outside the bedroom. Sehun’s black dress shirt was crumpled in a corner so you quickly shot out of bed and ran to pick it up and put it on. You buttoned up most of it and rubbed your arms to bring back some warmth.
Voices could still be heard outside. One was familiar, Sehun’s smooth voice was unmistakable. The other was deeper, more mature. Curiosity got the better of you and you tiptoed over to look through the crack of the door.
You saw an older man, standing over the couch facing the fireplace. The person he was talking to had his back turned to you, but you could tell by the blonde hair that it was Sehun. The older man was speaking to him, and you strained your ears to catch what he was saying.
i’m sorry that loving me will often
feel like fighting in a war. that you
will have more battle scars than you can
count. that sometimes “i love you” tastes more like surrender than a victory.
that mine is the sort of love that breaks
bones and captures cities. bites your lip
so the taste of rust lingers. a flag.
a warning. a measured mark of title.
the kind of love you need to recover from.
that some days you will reach for me and
i will be going, gone, ghost. that some
nights i turn myself off with the lights and
the bedroom doubles as a battlefield
where i am more enemy than ally.
that sometimes these hands are made for
hurting and not for holding. healing.
i should hold you more often.
all the things i couldn’t say to you in person, by ironedout