I couldn’t run fast enough

I felt it creeping up on my back the past month. Its cold breath. Its presence lunging toward me in my sleep. I ran away. I gave in. I remembered how hard survival has been and crawled away. It gripped my ankle and pulled me back; I grew tired so I lay in it.
Hey depression. Did you miss tightening your fingers around my wrists? Whispering horrible things into my soul? Breathing on the nape of my neck?
I’m back. Your favorite lover to wrestle with. That lifetime push and pull. You’ll never let me go for long will you?

I’m sitting on my bed drinking my second glass of bourbon. Eyes red and swollen from crying so much the past three days. For a second I wonder how long it would take someone to find my body.
I look in the mirror and I don’t see anything in my eyes. I quickly lower them. I remember this emptiness. I haven’t felt this level of depression since 2015.

I know I shouldn’t drink when I feel like this. I know it. I understand that it’ll just heighten my substance abuse, but its hard to care when I’m here. And I don’t want to take more Xanax this week, at least with booze I know I don’t have physically addictive tendencies. I just binge. At least I still care enough to care about that.

I wonder how long this round will last. Will this be it? I’m tired. This exhaustion isn’t new to me. When I was 11 I’d cut myself and wonder what it was that made me this way. When I was 15 I’d drink until I couldn’t stand, curl into a ball, cry, and gasp “I’m tired. I’m just so tired” over and over as my friends tried to help me.  At 17 I drank and fucked everything in sight, My boyfriend at the time was an addict I was helping him get sober and he’d hit me. It doesn’t excuse my cheating, but its how I coped with the domestic violence and past sexual abuse. When I was 19 I’d run in the streets of hollywood hoping someone’s car would hit me as the man who loved me chased me and tried to catch me. I’d push and claw at him when he caught me “I’m tired let me die let me die” I’d scream. Then he’d carry me into his car then take me to his home, tuck me in bed, he’d hide his gun and watch me until I fell asleep. At 23 I cried and slit my wrists again after A died. I tried saving myself I tried the meds, they didn’t help. I’ve always been tired. Born into abuse and poverty. The gift of resiliency has helped me pull forward and kick down doors most people who come from a past like mine could only dream of knocking on. But the gift of resiliency also exhausts me. Surviving is exhausting.

The sexual assaults, the emotional abuse, the alcoholism and drug addiction, the verbal abuse, the fighting, the hunger, the poverty. All by the time I was 12. It all sits in my gut. This beautiful woman with a big smile and the ability to make anyone laugh, most would never guess the secrets my gut holds. People usually just think I’m a wild card when I’m being self-destructive, women this beautiful and intelligent aren’t suicidal right?
When will society learn?
The abuse my lungs have inhaled. The trauma my womb held. The pain my hands have fought to stop. The violence my eyes have witnessed…none of it cares how beautiful or intelligent I am. Luckily I never blamed myself for any of it – perhaps thats the root of my resiliency, but I have frequently asked why me? Why couldn’t I have just died all the times I came close? Why do I keep surviving? I’m exhausted.

I want to hide and wither away. The woman who wrote all those posts of strength and resiliency isn’t here right now, she may as well have never been.  Lately it seems laughable that I’ll survive all this pain and become the person I want to be.
All the things I’ve survived, successes I’ve had, the publications, the research I’m doing, the program I’m in – feels like nothing. I feel like nothing.
Today several friends of mine have told me how strong, resilient, intelligent, and hard working I am – I haven’t shown most of them any signs of my major depression coming back so I don’t know where its coming from, maybe I’m not hiding it as well as I thought. I’ve always been a good actress though. Part of survival.

I don’t understand how my friends have always been so patient with me. Through drunken fights to crying in the middle of the street to the cruel words I shoot out trying to push them away when I  want to isolate myself. Through it all they’ve stayed…why?
When will they grow tired of the roller coaster that is my mental state? Maybe they can still see the parts of me I can’t see in the fog of my depression.

I just want to be held. I’m drunk and need to stop writing.

Grief comes and goes in waves, thats what my therapist said

Today I’m Drowning.

All I have left of him is this pain and his stupid hat he wore everyday.
How could I ever let go? I haven’t had a day like this in months and after my interaction in February I thought maybe there wouldn’t be anymore. How naive of me.

As the anniversary of his suicide approaches I find my anxiety at a high. My heart is heavy. All I want is to be held by someone safe who wont judge me, but its been nearly two years…I can’t talk about it anymore. I can’t talk about how much I wished I had told him I loved him or how much I regret not showing up at his apartment or work place to check on him. I can’t talk about how much I worry I’ll never love like that again – or worse yet that no one will ever love someone who still has days where they fall apart crying over their dead partner. I can’t talk about how I sometimes wonder if he regretted kicking the chair from under him as he hung and tried to gasp for air, did he want to live in that moment? who did he think of? was he happy to know his pain would end – everything would end? I can’t talk about how I cry and fall to the floor or pull over wherever I’m driving to catch my breath.
I can’t talk about the fact that sometimes I see someone who looks like it might be him and for a second I think…maybe? I can’t talk about the fact that I still wonder what his life would look like today, I loved him so much I wanted him to be happy with or without me. Would we have ended up hating each other? That would’ve been better if it meant he kept living. I can’t talk about the way I miss his eyes or his laugh. I can’t talk about the fact that after our first date I jumped in my bed and yelled “I’m in love!” and meant it despite knowing that was insane. I can’t talk about the fact that I saw such of a mirror of myself in him that some days I predict I’ll have the same fate. His family said I was his light, but he was mine.
He was my fucking light.

Its been nearly two years. I can’t talk about that.
No one likes the sad girl. I put my chin up and smile, keep busy, stay successful, intelligent, funny, beautiful.
I’ve put everyone through enough after his death in terms of my mental health. People get tired.
So I cry and break alone. I hold myself tightly and play it all in my head on days like this.

Its been nearly two years. I can’t talk about this.

So I write it here, for all you strangers to read.

I had a great time, so why am I crying?

Love.
Something some find so wonderful and appealing is a word alone that causes my heart to race and my brain to jump to fight or flight mode. Don’t get me wrong – love is something I crave more deeply than almost anything on this earth. To be held and to hold someone who loves me..who I love? Thats kind of my dream.
More often than not I dislike cuddling – my body tenses up, my senses become heightened, and I become painfully aware of my breathing as I try to breathe at a steady pace so whoever is trying to show me affection doesn’t notice that I feel trapped. But the thing is when I genuinely feel a connection with someone I want nothing more than to hold them and yet letting myself feel that kind of intimacy is a different kind of pain, its a reminder of how much I deny myself what I want.

I don’t feel like I’m allowed to fall in love, for one I’m a sex worker. Now, before I get the “sex workers can have relationships and love!” bit I know that to be true – its just that specifically I can’t. Having another person touch me when I’m in love (or like) with someone is hell for me and in the past I’ve always chosen love over money, right now what my family and I need is money….but where do I draw the line? How long can I deny myself the things I’ve wanted my entire life? How long can I run?
*Cue Moulin Rouge’s Elephant Love Medley*
C: All you need is love.
S: A girl has got to eat.
C: All you need is love.
S: Or she’ll end up on the streets.
C: All you need is love.
S: Love is just a game.
C: I was made for loving you baby, you were made for loving me.
S: The only way of loving me baby, is to pay a lovely fee
This was one of my favorite movies in middle school…actually several of my favorite movies/novelas/books growing up had a SW as a main character. Perhaps I always knew I’d end up here. But back to my point.

The heavier layer is the fact that when the man I loved killed himself two years ago I almost died. That isn’t an exaggeration. I was on my way out as I’d had a history of depression and PTSD which I’d struggled with managing throughout my life- but I managed, when this happened any desire I had to push through dissipated. I had written letters out to those closest to me while trying my hardest to write in ways that would clear them of any guilt, but who was I kidding? I knew there would always be guilt when you experience that kind of loss. Loved ones would answer the phone in a panic anytime I called and I knew they were half expecting it to be me saying goodbye before offing myself. Friends didn’t want to leave me alone. I cried in public and didn’t care who saw. I got drunk and screamed at strangers, the ocean, the sky. I felt too much while feeling a pit of emptiness in my soul.
For six months I was a shell of myself, the worst version of myself: cold, cruel, with no will to live and no faith in people. Only until a year after his death did I start to see traces of myself coming back. Now I’ve healed, but its left quite a bit scar tissue on my heart.
I barely survived that, I’m terrified that another heartbreak will kill me.I’m aware that isn’t logical but its exactly where my anxiety induced brain runs anytime I feel an ounce of myself want to hold someone who isn’t paying me. Sex work in a way protects me from being able to meet someone I could love its my own twisted form of insurance on top of the money being great I get to have an excuse not to emotionally connect.

But what do I do when it happens anyway?
I met a man on valentine’s day. I was in the mood to get out and explore on my own so I went to Santa Cruz to his show. He came to say hi beforehand, its not often I feel anything for men anymore, but as soon as he spoke to me my body felt pulled toward him. As I watched him perform I realized that he was incredibly talented. One of his songs made me cry which is essentially soul porn for me. We met up afterwards and I immediately felt comfortable with him I wanted to let my guard down, but refused to. My hesitations were completely my own because everything about him told me that he wouldn’t judge me for any of my complicated choices or my heavy life story. His energy felt warm and welcoming if I could bottle that feeling up and carry it with me I absolutely would, I’d probably be a much better person if I could feel that all the time. We made out and that was all I was still doing my celibacy thing and he wanted to wait as well. He left. I felt happy to have met him.
We talked almost every day after that. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel anxious or like running. I didn’t feel like he’d intentionally hurt me. I didn’t feel like he’d ever hit me or lie to me. I didn’t even feel like he’d ghost even though we’d only met once. I felt like I could trust him – what!? We made plans to meet again. Finally the day arrived and I drove out three hours to see a man I’d met once..I still have to laugh just typing it out because its completely out of character for me. I got there and holding him felt different than how most men hold me it felt nervous, unsure, but safe. Usually when men hold me it feels like possession, hunger, and entrapment.

We went to the party he was playing I mingled while he worked. Anytime I stood by him I felt that pull to touch him and feel close to him, but of course that wouldn’t be appropriate. At one point I was standing with him and he said something along the lines of “you’re really beautiful- like I can’t believe you’re into me…. because I do ok for myself I’m not a bad looking dude but you’re on a whole other level of beauty. Part of me is still like did my friends put her up to this!?” I laughed and felt extremely flattered that he appreciate my beauty so much I joked in return “your friends probably couldn’t afford to hire me for this! its like 5k a night!” he immediately reacted “is that how much it is?” I could feel my expression change – I hated people asking how much I made, I opened my mouth to speak and he said “don’t answer that – that was a stupid question I’m sorry I hate when people ask me that” I smiled again and felt happy to be in the company of a man who openly called himself out. A white man at that. I thought of all the time and energy I’d spent trying to teach defensive white men why the things they said were inappropriate and felt an immense relief when I thought, perhaps this one won’t drain my energy after all.

When we got back to the hotel I broke my celibacy streak and I did so happily. He was gentle, something I wasn’t used to in my personal life. Its odd to say, but I felt inexperienced. I can’t remember the last time I felt that. I couldn’t simply ‘go through the motions’ even if I wanted to. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more.
When it was time to leave in the morning I felt sadness and I couldn’t put my finger on why. We said our goodbyes and as soon as I got to my car I cried. For a few minutes as I drove I was confused, where was this all coming from? I’d had a great time. I was happy!
Then suddenly I realized: I felt something while we made love. No, I’m not saying I’m in love with a man I’ve met twice. I’m saying I felt something as in I let myself feel a connection instead of blocking it out and dissociating. And that alone hasn’t happened to me since A’s death.
I felt overwhelmed and pulled over to sit by a creek. I didn’t know what to do with any of these feelings and I suppose I didn’t need to know. I just sat there overwhelmed. I was unaware of the effect this would have on me it was beautiful, healing, and heartbreaking.
I only know one other person whose ever lost a partner and the first time she experienced this she screamed at the man the next morning and kicked him out, her reaction was anger. I didn’t understand why until now. Its strange enough to watch time pass by as we grieve, heal, and move on with our lives. Its another thing entirely to actually feel something for someone else no matter how small the feeling may be, in these situations it can feel monumental in the timeline of moving forward.
I hadn’t thought of A much these past few weeks perhaps if I had I would’ve been more prepared…then again if I had been thinking of A so much it probably would’ve meant I wasn’t ready.
In a way I feel that this was fate. I could’ve met this man a year ago but the experience would’ve been completely different. I wouldn’t have been ready to feel anything. I probably would’ve gotten too drunk and fucked him out of boredom. I feel as though fate said “You’re ready it won’t be easy, but you’re ready and you deserve to see that. You don’t have to keep denying yourself, at least not because of this. Not anymore.”

Maybe I’ll see him again. Maybe I won’t. I’m enjoying it and taking the moments we do have together as they come, looking beyond that would dilute the present. Destiny has been kind to me this year and I trust that what’s meant to happen will and what isn’t won’t.