Two nights ago, my boyfriend got out of the shower at around 11:00 p.m. and rushed into our living room. He was in a panic. He had called my name out multiple times from the shower with no response. You see, my boyfriend and I are also each other’s best friends. We are never really apart except when we’re at work. So the fact that he actually took a shower without me in the bathroom talking to him is rare enough, when he called out my name and there was no response, something had to be wrong.
He rushed into the living room with his towel nearly falling off his waist because he was nervous when I didn’t answer him.
Spoiler alert: I was in the living room. I didn’t have an accident of any kind. And I heard him call my name.
I wasn’t ignoring him. I just couldn’t find my words.
At 11:00 at night my boyfriend had to jump out of the shower and run through our apartment into our living room in a moment of panic because I didn’t answer the multiple times he called out my name. He found me huddled in a corner between the couch and the wall, curled into myself with a blanket over my head, gently rocking myself back and forth. He found me in the same state a parent might find their young, scared child. But I am not a child. I am an adult. I am supposed to be his partner in life, and yet there I was.
He gave me a knowing look; this was not the first time. It won’t be the last.
“Okay, here we go, into the big world. Look at me, did you hurt yourself?” No.
He pulled me gently out of the corner, looking me up and down the whole time. Making sure I wasn’t physically harmed. Nothing. Probably a relief considering how many times he’s pulled me out of small spaces, just to find blood smearing between us, a real mess to deal with. Knowing he’d have to spend the next few weeks watching me pick and scratch the scabs back open, just to have to re-bandage them and tell me for the hundredth time
“Don’t touch. Let them heal.”
I saw the relief pass over his face when his mini-examination found no signs of blood. I was clean for transfer.
“Are you okay?” No. but he already knew that. I mean he just pulled a grown ass woman out of a tiny corner of a room, I think it’s safe to say all was not well.
“Okay.” And then he tucked the blanket around me and sat down on the floor with me and just held me. Because sometimes I get unexplainably, irrationally sad. It comes out of nowhere, just surprise attack, and then there’s too much. Too much of everything. The only thing that helps is to squish myself into the smallest space I can find. So he holds me. He holds me because I need to feel physical pressure to calm myself down. He holds me because I’m okay. Because I’m not okay. And he holds me because he fears that one day he won’t be able to.
After a while, it’s in my head. I mean physically I can feel it in my head and I have to push it down and away. I break away from him and roll forward onto my knees and bury my head into the carpet, pushing as hard as I can. Usually that helps. Not this time. So I roll on my side and just squirm around on the ground. I need textures. I need to feel all the things because right now I feel like nothing. The carpet, the blanket, my fingertips, my boyfriend’s face. I just have to feel it so I can come back.
It’s been a while now and my boyfriend is getting a little uneasy.
“Time for bed?” he asks, but I can’t go there. My thoughts are still racing and everything is still nothing. I cannot simply close my eyes and go to sleep because then I just might disappear. I let him pull me off the floor and tuck me into bed and he cuddles into me.
“Can you hear them?” I whisper into his chest, but there’s just silence for him.
“Hear what? What do you hear?” I know he’s hoping somehow I just hear the random car passing by outside or a lone neighbor walking through the hallway outside. But its late, and I couldn’t hear those things right now, even if they were there. “what do you hear?”
“The voices. I just wanted to make sure you couldn’t hear them and the awful things they say to me.”
So he holds me tighter. Because he found me curled up in a corner of our living room, he watched me writhe around on the floor and attempt to bury my head into the floor, and now there are voices. There can’t be any sleeping now. There is an adult in the room who is hearing voices and reverting back to childhood. There is another adult in the room holding on to the other one for dear life because she’s afraid she might just disappear and he’s starting to think that, just maybe, she will disappear if he doesn’t keep holding on. There are two very scared people in this dark room and so something has to be done. So he does the only thing he can think to calm the stormy seas on my mind. He brings me back to our living room, leaving all the lights off and rolls a joint. I’ve wrapped a blanket around my body and am sitting blankly on the floor, watching the corners of the room, listening to the voices because now they are screaming. I am having a sensory overload now and its exhausting, but somehow I still feel nothing, nothing but extreme fear. I cover my ears but the voices are coming from inside and covering my ears just makes the voices louder. We smoke silently and he watches as the anxiety slowly melts from my face, as my tears slowly stop and my sniffles become less. We smoke silently in the dark and then crawl back into bed. He wraps himself around me and I hear him breathe deeply for the first time in hours. I realize he’s been too afraid to really stop and breathe.
“What do you hear now?” Nothing. Just empty nothing. So he holds me.