Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Under Pressure

This essay originally appeared on Witty Bitches


For two decades I said, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

And when I got to it, I wailed to myself, “How did I do this last time?”

I don’t know! I was much younger and had the resiliency and naivety of youth. I didn’t have children.

But still I lived six weeks without knowing where he was. Not terribly long in the grand scheme of things but somehow I survived that time. What did I do, day to day, to get by?

Well, I guess leaned on my well-loved friends for comfort and security. I let myself cry and double check my doors even though it made me feel weak. I bought myself flowers. I considered the man who had hurt me and what the childhood perhaps looked like of a person that would grow up to do such things. I forgave him, even though he didn’t ask for forgiveness. I did that for me and I did that for him.

So it kept coming back to love: for my friends, myself, my attacker.

Pfft.

That’s nice.

That’s nice for an optimistic 21-year-old. But I’m a Mom now. I’ve got kids to worry about. Fuck that piece of shit for making me worry about my kids’ and their parents’ safety, not to mention their mother’s mental state. I happened to like feeling comfortable with our doors frequently unlocked.  I liked feeling strong. Fuck him for changing these things for me. Love wasn’t going to work this time. I needed to be practical.

So I tried practicality. I began locking the doors more even though it felt like a silly Band-Aid (I, of all people, raped at knifepoint by a stranger while my front door remained firmly shut and locked, should understand the futility of door locking). I made calls. I went to the local Police Department. I considered a restraining order.

But none of it really made me feel any better.

What was I going to do? Searching for the answer consumed me. And then one day while I was driving alone in my car, the song “Under Pressure” came on. I’d always liked it but never considered it a favorite. It certainly never reduced to me to tears before, but that day it did.


Keep coming up with love

 But it's so slashed and torn . . .


Why can't we give love that one more chance?

Why can't we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?


Cue crying: because love didn’t work. Love didn’t keep the bad guys out. But neither did locked doors and my heart was still hurting.



'Cause love's such an old-fashioned word


Yes! Both the word and the idea that “love is the answer” were hopelessly outdated. 
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night



Commence sobbing:  Maybe love dares me to forgive my attacker, again.

And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves

This is ourselves 
Under pressure



And maybe loves dares me to change how I care about myself, now that I am older, a mother and a person feeling the need to introduce some practicality into my life. Maybe at this stage, at this bridge now that I was here, meant I did have to talk to Police and lock doors but that I still had to find the way for love to be the answer. Not just in finding peace in my heart about my rapist again but in allowing myself to feel fear and to cry to my friends and to feel weak and strong simultaneously; to love myself enough to be okay with all of that.



Perhaps this is myself under pressure.



For about six weeks (there’s that time span again . . .) I played it again and again: in the car, at home, on my jogs through the park. I didn’t always cry but if I tried to sing along I was guaranteed to break down. What was it about music, about the common human experience shared artistically? How could someone else’s pain and revelations relate so dearly to me and suddenly mean so much? For six weeks I listened without tiring, I relived my pain, I wept and I found solace. This was myself under pressure.



I dared to give love that one more chance.



And now I sing along without crying.





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