*Author’s note: this article may be triggering to anyone who has experienced stalking. If you do feel triggered, close your device, and come back into the present moment by engaging with your senses. Note what you see, hear, feel, and even smell or taste in this very moment. Then, start to move your body, and notice that you’re safe in the here and now.
The other day, I saw you shoveling snow in your driveway.
And I cringed.
It was Christmas Day, and it had been six years and four months since you climbed up the scaffolding of my parents’ house.
Six years and four months since you declared your love to me through a tilted window, and since I felt my body freeze.
Lying in bed, unable to move, I wondered how you even knew that this was my bedroom. I asked myself how long you’d been waiting to see my lights turn on around midnight—your key to climb up.
In a split second, I speculated about how you’d react if I rejected you, and what I’d risk if I were to find out.
A person I only met two days before, and perhaps when I was a child. Someone my parents hired to repaint the wood panels on the outside of their house because the weather and years had left their marks.
It’d been six years since I decided that I should wait for daytime to arrive to have a conversation with you, so you wouldn’t break my window or jump. Six years since I called the police after I convinced you to leave, and they’d told me they wouldn’t do anything because “nothing had happened.”
It’s been six years since you took away the feeling of safety I’d felt in my parent’s house all my life—since I don’t dare to sunbathe anymore, and worry about what to wear when I go for a run.
Whoever said time heals all wounds hasn’t experienced trauma.
Today, I don’t experience hypervigilance anymore when I visit my childhood home. I don’t look up and around with every loud sound I hear, fear that someone is following me, or think of you when I wake up at night, fearing it may have been a sound you made.
But when I see your house in the curve of the road, I can still feel the fear in my throat. My body remembers. My body knows.
Perhaps there’s a reason that time doesn’t heal all wounds.
Our bodies’ language can give us a chance to acknowledge what we’ve been through. It gives us the opportunity to celebrate what we’ve survived, and it reminds us of our strength.
Since six years and four months, I’ve been grieving losing my sense of safety.
I wish I was the only one with this kind of experience, but I know I’m not. If you’re still grieving, too, please know that you’re not alone.
Let’s seek help when we need to. Let’s create safe spaces for community so we can share what we’re going through.
Let’s remember that we’re not alone.