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Critique Archive 0036:
Anxiety. It started with anxiety. I’m twenty-four years old, but in the mornings, I feel anxiety when I’m alone. But only on the mornings when it’s early enough to still be dark outside. Darkness like a suffocating murderer waiting to creep inside, slip under the bathroom door like smoke, surround my vulnerable throat and twist and choke until it’s over. I get scared in the shower, when I start to hear the noises and sense a stranger coming into my house and breaking down the bathroom door so he can do what he wants.
When I was in junior high, my mom and stepdad would leave at 6 a.m. some mornings, and I would be alone in the house, in the bathroom getting ready, while the darkness was getting closer. I talked to a counselor about it, about my anxiety. He told me to write down what I felt. All I could write was that I was scared, and I didn’t know why. I wasn’t ready to know why. The counselor told me I had to talk myself out of thinking that way, I had to calm myself down. He tried to put me on Prozac because a pill will solve anything. But not what’s inside of me. I tried two different counselors and then gave up on “therapy.”
The little girl didn’t talk to me then. Or maybe I just wasn’t listening. I didn’t know she even existed.
Panic. He had a beard. I hate beards. They brought him over so I could hang out with him. I had to go out with this guy, my brother-in-law’s brother, but I didn’t want to. I’d had one boyfriend before for about a month, but I didn’t like dating much. I could like a guy until he liked me, and then I was done. My sister really wanted me to go out with this guy, she wanted me to get out more. I started to panic, said I had homework. I didn’t freak out until after they left. My mom asked why I didn’t go.
She started yelling, “I don’t want to go! They were making me. I’m scared. I don’t want to go. I’m scared. I’m scared.” Over and over. She cried. Hard and long. She sobbed. She hid in my bedroom. She curled up into a ball, and I rocked her back and forth, back and forth. She could only speak tears. I felt her fear. She was so scared. She rocked and cried.
Mom said it was a panic attack and started to really worry about me.