it’s never really gone

dunno… ever since I went all-in with composing things just seemed to be… fantastic. I loved what I was doing. I was getting so much love and support from the people close to me. there were a few blissful days when everything just felt right, and I was genuinely happy. like not 100% happy 100% of the time, I still felt the full range of human emotions. I still got frustrated, and doubted myself, and felt guilty about composing while other people (e.g. Fox) work soul-crushing jobs to put food on the table… but for once when people asked how I was I could honestly say that my life is good.

for once I wanted to talk about my life. and people seemed to enjoy watching my face light up when I did so.

and every day I’ve been loving my husband more and more, appreciating him more and more. (especially since he’s being so super supportive!) we went away last Friday to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary, just a night at a bed and breakfast, and it was wonderful. tbh we hadn’t been sleeping together – in either sense – for quite a long time, and we both wanted to change that. well, it seems all we really needed to do for the more entertaining interpretation of that phrase was spend some time cuddling in a comfortable bed with the intention of being close. no distractions. no technology. just our love for each other. it was amazing!

we had gaming on Sunday, which was awesome and fun [and interestingly enough involved one of the other player characters (PCs) getting married. among other things, my character coordinated with a third PC and some intelligent animals to incapacitate mercenaries who had stolen dishes and kidnapped part of the catering staff. I had a blast sneaking around, shooting arrows past the mercenaries’ ears, throwing things to mislead them regarding my location, and scaring the pants off one of them – ironically enough, while naked (to make better use of my character’s camouflage mutation). then some intelligent flying squirrels volunteered to serve food at the wedding, and somehow most people were okay with that…] gaming went on for a long time though, with kibitzing afterward, so by the time Fox convinced me to get off Discord and go to bed I was completely emotionally exhausted. like ready to cry exhausted.

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A Step Toward Oblivion

I’m playing Skyrim to numb the pain. It comes when I’m not distracted by socializing, when I’m alone with my own thoughts. I feel like it’s always here, waiting for my loved ones to leave, for the electronics to go off, for me to get tired. I’m always tired. The voices – well, one very mean voice – told me I should drown myself because I dropped one of my favorite bowls (now considered “vintage” because it’s from the 70s) and it shattered. One of the other voices stood up for me: “It’s a bowl. Ze had to clean it up. I think that’s punishment enough.”

I helped Fox get out the door this morning, so he could be on time for an early shift. That felt good. I saw the sun rise. I got to hug him. I got to feel like I was doing something meaningful.

Now he’s gone and I’m surrounded by clutter. I’m tired. I look at my music instruments and feel sad, like my best friend has gone away. Oh, wait, she has. Banji was visiting for the holidays – but she had to go back to where she’s been living, a 5-hour drive away. It hit me much harder than I’d expected. She’ll be back soon. And I can visit her. Weather permitting, of course. But I still miss her. My heart’s been torn out and driven 5 hours away.

Courses. I need to get an extension so I can finish my degree. I’m afraid the dean will say “no,” or that it won’t be enough. I don’t think I’ll be accepted again if I have to re-apply to my program, and I can’t afford to re-take courses. My student debt is crushing enough.

I’m supposed to re-take the courses I had to drop 2 years ago because they were provoking suicidal thoughts. I was hurting myself – not doing any real damage, just causing lots of physical pain – on a regular basis because it was the only way I could get home from classes in one piece. So much was supposed to change between then and now: I was supposed to get better, to improve my music skills so I’d feel more confident using them in class, to become a normal functioning adult. Now I can’t carry a bowl from one room to another without it shattering at my feet.

I was doing better for a while – or so I thought. I learned a lot. I think that stuff is still with me, it’s hard to say. These depression and anxiety goggles are so thick and heavy I can barely lift my head.

But none of that matters. What matters is that something as simple as the holidays being over can still throw me into a deep depression like this. How can I live? How can I accomplish any of my goals and dreams?

Skyrim is my stasis chamber. It’s how I (am currently trying to) survive the long journey through the void of strong depression between planets of… mild depression.

My Worst Fear is Suicide

TW: suicide, self harm

I used to say that I did not fear my own death. I was thinking I would die – hopefully peacefully – “when my time comes.” It might be painful, it might be scary, but there would be something beyond. I expected to find peace in death, or if not peace, a new life to live. Or a new form of existence. Somewhere deep inside, I still hope that’s what death will mean for me.

I used to say my biggest fear was losing the people I love. But then 3 of the 4 people I lived with and loved as a child died. My grandparents died. My father’s side of the family abandoned me. My friends moved away and I lost contact with them. The classmates I once felt a connection with have moved on with their lives. I broke up with the first person I thought I’d spend my life with (not Fox, we’re still together). I came to realize that my mother has never been able to truly meet my emotional needs because she’s hurting too much. My uncle died, my college mentor died, and Schmoozer (my pet rat) died – all in the same year. I came to realize that, although my remaining family may love me, I don’t really have a connection with them most of the time. I don’t reach out to them enough and they don’t reach out to me enough, either. We all have separate lives.

It’s painful. It’s scary. But I know I can survive losing the people I love. I don’t want to lose them. I will work very hard to strengthen and maintain what connections I can. But I’ve accepted that people move in and out of my life and I need to let them go.

In a nutshell, what I fear the most is that I will give up on myself. I sort of did it for a while and got lost in video games. I was isolated, miserable, with no job, no outside activities or responsibilities, and I’d stopped making music. But people could – and did – pull me back from that. I had to do something: answer the phone, drive to where they were, invite them over … but they were there. Wakana has been there, lighting a fire under my butt whenever necessary. I haven’t really given up on myself. Not yet.

Now I’m slightly less isolated, considerably less miserable, with no job, minimal outside activities, motivation to complete my degree program and enter my career of choice, and I’m making music again. I’m also facing an illness that, left to its own devices, will only get worse. I have my ups, but the downs are murder. I hate the thought of taking medication and I want to pretend I don’t need to… but I’m clinging to every good or decent day in fear of having a truly bad day / week / month / quarter/ year again. I need some semblance of stability.

Then I get up the courage to reach out to psychiatrists and the only one who responds isn’t available until July 31st. I wasn’t even trying to reach the person I have an appointment with on purpose; the practice Fox and I set up our marriage counseling with offered to schedule individual psychiatric evaluations. I have no idea how I’ll be in a month. How I feel, what I can remember, the affect I show on that day will determine the diagnosis and thus medication I receive; it could be months or years before we figure out what I actually need and will benefit from. And in the meantime, my whole life is washing down the drain…

I think about hurting myself regularly. At least once most days. On days when I’m not thinking about or feeling an urge to hurt myself, there is often at least one point when I’m frustrated, angry, tired, and/or bored enough to visualize a knife piercing my skin. I become more aware of the underside of my left forearm; on good days I rub it with my right palm and hug myself. On some level it’s really that I want to break – or, well, cut – my way out of a feeling (or lack of feeling) that I don’t want to tolerate. But brain, come on! We need to come up with better, less painful imagery. Other times I think it’s at least partially an expression of what I feel is happening to me: someone/thing is cutting into me and hurting me, violating my final and most basic boundary. There are days when I think Mom and Fox would cut me open and climb inside me if they could.

If I hurt myself, my body will heal. There may be a scar, but honestly I don’t think I’d self-harm in a way that would do lasting damage or risk limiting my ability to do the things I love. If I’m self-harming, I still have a sense of self-preservation. I still intend and expect to live; I wouldn’t do anything to myself that I couldn’t imagine living with.

What I fear the most is that, on one of the horrifically bad days, I will actually try to kill myself. I will decide that there is nothing worth living for, not even the little things that have kept me going before. Not even composing. Not even love. I will decide that I am incapable of achieving any of my dreams. I will decide that I can never experience joy again. I will decide that I am not worth the air I breathe. I will decide that I do not deserve to be part of the Universe. That I do not deserve to be connected to anyone or anything. That I’m worse than nothing. That I never should have existed.

And worse than deciding all these things, I will act on that decision.

From what I’ve heard it won’t be one of the days when depression has sapped all of my energy and I can’t get out of bed. Then I’ll just be miserable, and it will suck. I fear I will commit suicide on a day when I have the energy to do something drastic, probably when I’m very, very angry. I’ll have to have stopped caring, not just about myself (that’s too easy) but about my loved ones as well. Or, more realistically, I’ll have to have a lapse in caring; it could be a moment when my impulses take over. (Which is why I’ll never own a gun.) Or maybe I’ll decide that, despite the pain and serious psychological issues my suicide would cause, my loved ones would be better off without me. To the point where pushing them away is not enough. To the point where I have enough days thinking like this to make and carry out a plan.

It’s a dark, terrifying place. I imagine anyone would be afraid to imagine someone else feeling and thinking this way. I imagine most people have never thought about themselves feeling and thinking this way. It’s just too horrific. Too painful.

I live close to the edge, clinging to whatever I can so I don’t look down and lose my grip. I’ve never attempted suicide and I’d really like to keep it that way. I fear a suicide attempt could result in lasting damage, impairments that would limit my ability to do the things I love. I fear the stigma people who attempt suicide face.

I fear becoming a statistic. Another sad story. Another “we never saw it coming.” Another thing for people to “survive.” Another piece in a puzzle that will never be solved as long as the only voices that are heard regarding suicide belong to people who have never stared it in the face.

Worse than all of that, I fear trapping myself in the very nightmare I would (ostensibly) commit suicide to escape. We don’t know what happens when we die; we might cease to exist. Some people think that’s terrifying and come up with alternatives; those alternatives have just as much chance of being true as far as anyone alive can tell. I’d much rather cease to exist – in comparison, that possibility is actually comforting – than trap myself in the misery and self-hatred that lie in the darkest and most wounded depths of my depression. That is my true worst fear: that I will commit suicide and not receive the peace and/or new possibilities I expect death to provide.

As long as I’m alive there’s still the possibility of experiencing happiness, even if it’s only for a moment. I can give and receive hugs. I can find ways to turn my painful experiences into creative endeavors that feed my soul and might inspire others to do something good for themselves and their communities. I can work on healing some of these wounds. And when I’m still and focus on my breath, I can know peace.

In response to Writing 101, Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page

Finally…

content notes: specific functions of self harm, suicidal thoughts

I’ve been hearing a lot of things from both inside and outside my head. Messages that I will get through this and be okay. I’ve been through difficult times in relationships before; however this ends I will not only survive, but come out stronger.

I was also so tired today I thought about killing myself just so I wouldn’t be so tired anymore; I needed to scratch myself to stay focused on driving. The pain was so helpful, it brought me back into my body; these are my arms, I’ll scratch them if I need to and now I can feel them again!

I felt like my final guitar lesson of the semester was a disaster because I couldn’t focus on finding notes/chords in different positions on the fretboard. It became easier with time and when my teacher stopped doodling on his guitar to ask guiding questions such as “what note is your pinkie on?” Then I struggled with the rhythm exercises he gave me to do.

I’m really worried that all the time I’ve spent feeling miserable and thinking about my relationship with Fox and how much I’m hurting is interfering with my cognitive abilities (such as focusing on a task that involves memory and analytical reasoning). I also couldn’t sleep the other night; last night I slept fairly well but today I still felt completely worn out. I’m worried that soon there will be nothing left.

Mom and I went to a women’s group / life coaching session… thing. At first I was thinking, “This so isn’t for me, I don’t know what I’m going to say because I don’t belong here at all…” But I stayed and listened to the women’s stories and even felt empowered to come out as having depression and anxiety. I also shared that I’m not happy with my marriage and I feel like I’ve lost all my focus on who I am and what I want to do. Having that heard and accepted by the group was very healing.

I didn’t talk during the rest of the group time, but listening to others share their experiences and especially solutions was very helpful. For example, I’ve decided that I’m going to pretend I’m the best professional in my field at interviews; hopefully that will help me find an internship (and jobs).

At the end of the session we did a guided meditation that involved everyone connecting to each person individually with beams of light. It was really cool, especially when it was my turn and I got to just bask in the positive energy everyone was sending me. The best part of it, though, was learning I could be connected to others and send out positive energy to them, even in the midst of my depression.

Unfortunately, near the end of the meditation the life coach said someone had a blocked chakra that was disrupting the energy and asked if anyone had a headache. My skull felt like it was being crushed, so I thought she was talking to me. “Oh no, I’m ruining the energy for everyone else, I’m so sorry, I shouldn’t have come here!” I wanted to withdraw until I disappeared; it killed the whole sense of safety and belonging I’d found so healing.

In the end it turned out to be someone else; the life coach told me, “I know it seems like it’s you, but it’s not.” We talked a bit and I got to talk to a couple of other group members, who were very supportive. Talking to one in particular (who’s been divorced twice) helped me to clarify how I feel and what course of action I want to take for the near future.

To be honest, I’m not convinced Fox wants it enough to do the work necessary to heal our relationship. If that’s the case, nothing I can do will make it livable for me.

I can’t just walk away from our marriage, though, because to me it’s supposed to be sacred. I need to feel that I’ve done my part: that I’ve communicated my needs and feelings to him, worked with him to try and make things better, been responsive to the needs he’s expressed, etc. Who knows, maybe he’ll “step up to the plate” and we’ll have a really good relationship. I want to at least allow for the possibility of that happening.

If he doesn’t, my first priority needs to be my own well-being. I can’t spend my whole life in a relationship that’s keeping me from being a productive member of society, fulfilling my dreams, and most importantly feeling like a whole person.

Mom said a lot of really awesome things to me today; I wish I’d recorded them so I could replay them when I need a pick-me-up. I’m not sure of the specific words she used, but the gist of it is this: “You deserve to be happy. You’re important. I will stand up for you.”

Weekly Links

I’m finding it very hard to express myself in words right now, but I read some very interesting articles today. Please check them out and let me know what you think. (This may become a weekly feature to help myself post more regularly.)

On the Difference Between Trigger Warnings and Content Notes, and How Harm Reduction is Getting Lost in the Confusion – I like knowing about potentially-triggering material in advance so I can decide whether and when to read/watch/listen to something; it helps me feel safer.

The Social Model of Disability and Person-First vs Identity-First Language – I love the social model of disability and have thoughts about re-framing how I write about my anxious depression. For the time being at least, I prefer person-first language.

“Unhealthy” or “Inappropriate” Actions as Communication and Survival – permission to be, and interesting implications for raising children (especially, but not limited to, those with special needs)

The Uses of Negativity: Survival and Coping Strategies for Those of Us Who Are Exasperated by the Empty Promise of “It” Getting “Better” – a good reality check, and hopefully movement toward reducing stigma so people can be more honest with themselves and others and get the support they need (or at least engage in the self-care they need)

The Icarus Project “Hurting Yourself” Workbook – normalizes and contextualizes self-harm; asks questions to help one clarify the functions of self-harm, minimize safety risks, and consider alternatives

Suicide is an Act of Bodily Autonomy – Not Beauty. Response to “Suicide is Not Beautiful” – argues for bodily autonomy for all people, including people with mental illness. also argues that expressing suicidal thoughts (e.g. in poetry) can be a means of survival

Suicide is Not Beautiful – against romanticizing suicide by women; against limiting women’s acts of violence or disruption to self-harm and viewing those acts as more acceptable than any that would hold others (men) accountable / create societal change

Permission To Be

The knots in my muscles
Were my cage armor
But you smoothed them out
Taught sore muscles to relax
And set the demons free

My massage on Thursday was bittersweet. The therapist did a really excellent job of massaging the areas that really needed it. She succeeded in getting muscles to relax that had been clenched for so long, I’d forgotten what it felt like not to be tense.

Physically, and to some extent emotionally, it felt wonderful. But those muscles held thoughts and memories that were too difficult for me to deal with at the time. As they came flooding back, the primary emotion I felt was guilt. I felt guilty for everything.

As I realized this, I tried to figure out who it was I needed to apologize to. Deep, very deep, inside, I found the little girl who is hurting so much. I apologized – for not protecting her, for not listening to her, for siding with the people who questioned and ridiculed her.

And she forgave me.

It’s not your fault. You were hurt just as much as me. My pain is your pain, my anger your anger. We’ve both been wronged.

I find it easier to feel guilty than to accept that reality. If I’ve done something wrong, at least there’s something I can do about it: I can punish myself. Take that away and all I have is sadness and anger. Unquenchable anger I cannot direct at anyone.

To a child, the adults in hir life are gods. Any anger they provoke is best turned inward; better to suffer one’s own wrath than theirs. I learned that one the hard way and spent most of my life thinking I’d deserved to be physically and emotionally abused. I’ve been emotionally, and at times physically, abusing myself.

Fox and I visited with a couple of friends only hours after the massage. We played two board games. Through a combination of luck and (dare I say it?) excellent strategy I won the first game twice. The second game is very complex and challenging and I was struggling with severe depression symptoms, so I (felt like I) wasn’t able to use as good a strategy. I was winning for most of the game and came in second out of four players – despite being on the verge of tears, having trouble making decisions, and thinking I was doing poorly because I hadn’t advanced in certain areas as much as the other players had.

I think, deep down, I was proud of myself for doing as well as I did. I’m proud now, as I write this. But at the time I didn’t – couldn’t – feel it. Instead I felt guilty for winning the first game because my success required that my friends didn’t do as well, and therefore were disappointed.

I started the second game with a strong strategy, but backed off in response to innocuous comments about how it was affecting the dynamics of the game; without that strategy I felt lost, like I was constantly trying to catch up. I couldn’t see how well I’d done or that it was a good thing; when I realized I’d managed to come in second I felt worse.

I noticed a disconnect between my thoughts and emotions / emotion-related bodily sensations that I found very disconcerting. I mentioned it to Wakana during our session on Friday and told her about feeling guilty when I won the games.

She tied it into my experiences growing up (and my relationship with my mother). From what I remember, at least, I really lacked adult advocates. The staff at the after school program punished me when the other kids knocked down the zoo I’d been building (Breaking and Entering). The teachers and principal at my elementary and middle school didn’t know what to do with a gifted female student who consistently got much higher grades than her predominantly male classmates. They tended to penalize me – by not calling on me, taking away the book I was reading because I was bored in class, and raising the other kids’ grades to be comparable to mine without giving me any praise or benefit for doing as well as I did. They didn’t stand up for me when I was bullied by the male students, but punished me when I retaliated.

When I entered high school I wanted to remain as anonymous as possible to avoid the wrath of my peers. I had some friends whom I unfortunately didn’t have many classes with; I didn’t make friends with the other students in my honors and AP classes. That was a mistake; I felt ostracized most of the time and resented by my “friends” for consistently earning first honors.

My experiences in college taught me that I’d focused on academics to the detriment of my social and emotional development; though I still did well enough in school to graduate magna cum laude I feel like I’m wrong for “boasting” about it. I know it’s an accomplishment, but it doesn’t seem like something most people in most settings would appreciate.

The graduate classes I’ve taken so far have been wonderful because I’ve felt about average to perhaps above average among my classmates – definitely not the smartest, most capable, or most talented person in the room. I’ve felt like my contributions have been appreciated AND I’ve learned a lot from my classmates.

The undergraduate classes I took while in graduate school expanded and enriched my understanding of the world a great deal; I feel very fortunate to have taken them. I learned a great deal in them, from the other students as well as the course materials. But I did notice a difference in the level of critical thinking I’ve become accustomed to, compared with what is expected at the undergraduate level. I often felt very different from the other students because of this.

Maybe masquerading as an undergraduate student wasn’t the best idea. It taught me to once again hide a very significant portion of who I am, to deny one of my greatest strengths. I’m smart. I love to be challenged intellectually. I’m very good at learning – not only ingesting knowledge, but thinking critically about it and applying it to situations. I’m also very good at doing research, organizing the information, and drawing conclusions from / making an argument based on it. I have at least 8 years of experience. References available upon request.

So I’ve focused on my academic development to the detriment of my social and emotional development, lacked support in developing healthy, honest relationships with the majority of my peers, and learned to hide the very thing that has been my primary strength in some weird misguided effort to “fit in.” I like to think that I would have done very well in school anyway, because I’m naturally good at learning and take pleasure in producing well-written (and edited!) papers.

But I did most of it – especially in my younger years – because it’s what my parents needed. They needed their daughter to get straight As, so I did. An A was never an accomplishment (until I reached college). It was making ends meet. Getting by. Survival.

Wakana beckoned me to the piano to sing and express how I felt about all of this. She started playing chords and asked if they sounded appropriate to how I was feeling; I just kind of went along with it because I felt like I didn’t have an opinion, and if I did it didn’t matter.

I apologized for not being the perfect daughter. Wakana sang that there is no such thing as perfect, and started repeating “I’m enough” in the defiant, insistent voice that comes out when we’re practicing setting boundaries. She tried to get me to join her, but I couldn’t say it with conviction. I asked it once or twice before breaking down into tears.

The whole world says I’m not enough, and I’m afraid to show them the truth because it goes against the dominant values in society. I don’t want to be further ostracized. I don’t want to be hurt any more than I’m already hurting myself.

No Space for Me

Sad person with phrases all around

I spent yesterday searching for potential wedding venues that were similar to, but closer to home and theoretically less expensive than, the one we’d visited over the weekend (Too Good to Be True). I found a handful that I really liked and contacted them.

One got back to me today; I learned that their minimum number of guests was much higher than the number of people we would want to invite. The per-person cost was so high we couldn’t afford it even if we only invited the number of people we’re prepared to. I emailed back, asking if there was any room for negotiation. No. They need to “make the most of their time” – which apparently means turning up their noses at my (sane) budget. To put things into perspective, for about the same amount of money we could either a) have the wedding at the venue we visited over the weekend – including clothes, gifts for key people, a photographer, flowers, a website, save-the-date magnets, invitations, and a short honeymoon – or b) have the wedding at this new venue, naked and with no guests, because we couldn’t afford invitations.

I didn’t even get to finish telling Fox the disappointing news; he finished my sentence for me with a cutting finality. They’re off the list. They have to be, I know that, but I would like to finish my sentence, thanks. (And express my indecision about whether to respectfully decline, or just never respond to the most recent email.)

Fox’s mom supports us in our decision to get legally married at the courthouse within the next few months (with the intention of throwing a big party later) – but wants to invite her many siblings. A sort of reasonable request, I suppose – except that some of her siblings are close enough to just pop down for dinner, but none of my mother’s are. It kind of sends the message that my family is less important in this whole affair than Fox’s family is, and that just kills me. She wouldn’t listen to me – to either of us – when we said we just want to bring our witnesses and immediate families, no more than 10 people total. And then Fox’s sister took it upon herself to tell me how to think!  :-/

My mom thinks we should wait 1 year to get legally married (2014) and 2 years to throw the big party (2015). I’m not really crazy about that idea. Either we wait a year to get legally married so we can realistically invite everyone, or we go to the courthouse now (we could just go with our witnesses, but we’re being nice and inviting our parents) and throw the big party when we can afford it (and give people enough time to make travel arrangements). I’d prefer to have the party next year, but I’m willing to wait 2 years if that’s what it takes to get what we really want.

Fox and I decided over 2 years ago that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. We’re eager to acquire the legal and other benefits that come with being recognized as a married couple. I plan to change my surname; I’d like to be able to begin using my new name within the next few months. Especially as we’re hit over and over again by the insane prices of the bridal industry, we find it more and more tempting to enter legal marriage sooner. It’s a choice we can make – and act on! – without spending tens of thousands of dollars … as long as we’re willing to do so without our giant family physically present.

Though, to be honest, I’m torn. I feel like I’m giving up my identity. The new identity I’d be taking on is my choice, but I guess I’m starting to question it a little bit. I’m happy to join Fox’s family and I see taking their name as a symbol of that affinity. But I don’t want to be eaten up by them, given no say in my own life and told how to think. We’re a family, not the Borg. I need them to respect my boundaries.

I need everyone to respect my boundaries. They all seem to think I’m a doormat. Telling me what to do, what to think, finishing my sentences for me. You say the word “wedding” and the vultures all swoop in. You have to do these things in this order. You have to pay thousands of dollars for this and that – never mind whether you want or need it. You have to drown all your guests in insanely expensive food and booze. You have to invite everyone I want to have a party with; if you don’t I’m going to guilt trip you. By the time we’re done talking you’ll fear that if you don’t to what I say, no one in either of our families will ever want to speak to you again, because “they’ll be hurt.” Suddenly it’s not our wedding anymore. It’s the industry’s wedding first, our parents’ second, and if we’re lucky then maybe we’ll get to make our own decisions about what to wear.

(To be fair, something just came up for Fox’s family that would stress anyone out; as my mom said, Fox’s mom usually isn’t like this. She’ll probably be more reasonable once she’s had some time to breathe.)

It got to the point today where I felt like I couldn’t do anything – not because I’m incompetent (I’m perfectly competent, thank you), but because it’s not allowed. Fox is here, so he became the embodiment of some hostile authority. If I left the bedroom to get something, if I became visible to him, if I even made a sound, he would be there. Questioning me. Judging me. Making me question myself and feel guilty. I felt like I had no privacy. I was under a microscope. And all I wanted was permission to live.

But if I wanted to live, I’d have to do so on his terms. And whatever they were (I didn’t know) they didn’t leave much room for me to express myself. I was lucky they allowed me to breathe!

All I could do was sit on the bed and cry. (“The” bed. It used to be my bed! But now I don’t even have that to myself!) I texted Banji; she did her best to assure me that I’m loved and that she’s here for me, but I couldn’t internalize her kind words. I had an overwhelming urge to hurt myself; finally I gave in by scratching my arm with my fingernails. All it does is leave a slight mark that fades within a few hours; it doesn’t even break the skin. The pain rushed up and calmed me down to an almost alarming degree. While I was crying it felt like I was struggling against something, fighting for my right to live. But the pain, the calm, it subdued me. It suppressed me. It told me I didn’t need to fight, there was no point to fighting, I should just accept my fate. And then I fell asleep.

The real Fox came in, put a blanket over me, kissed my hand, and left so I could rest. When we talked later he expressed that he’d wanted to come in and comfort me while I was crying. But I had said I wanted to be alone.

He respected my boundaries.

I don’t know what to do. I want to keep planning the wedding but I’m afraid that, the way my mind has been working and with the horribleness it’s bringing out in people, it just isn’t safe right now.