This morning when I woke up I felt lighter. Like some of my worries had finally been lifted off my shoulders. I think this whole sharing thing may actually be good for the soul.
During my 13th year (7th grade) three things happened that I've never told anyone about. At the time I figured since I escaped physically unscathed that I was fine...but while we were walking through the park today I realized that the fact that one of my worst anxieties would suggest otherwise. So I'm just going to put it all out there.
The first two are the scariest: I was followed and harassed by two different creeps on two separate occasions.
The first time it happened I was genuinely terrified for my life. I was walking through an empty park behind the junior high as a shortcut to get to the daycare my mom worked at. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this guy appeared. He grabbed my backpack and guided me in a different direction, towards a neighborhood. I just knew I was going to get raped and murdered, but I kept calm and talked to him, and didn't go where he was trying to lead me. Instead I told him that I walked that way every day, and that maybe we could hang out again. For whatever reason, that worked, and he walked off after promising to wait for me the next day. Obviously I never took that shortcut again.
The second time it happened it was in a more public place. After the first incident I changed my route - it was longer, and there was no shade, but I felt safer sticking to main roads. Anyway, I was walking down Closner, which is the main street through the center of town, when this guy came out of a pizza place. He grabbed the back of my neck so hard that I had bruises from his thumb and middle fingers squeezing me. He asked for my name and number, and I gave him a fake name and the number for our church office (I couldn't make one up on the spot, I was terrified!) and walked off as fast as I could. After that, I started getting rides from friends on days that my dad couldn't pick me up.
The third thing may seem kind of funny, and looking back, I can see the humor - it was a far less dangerous situation than getting accosted by a stranger in an empty park, but at the time, it shook me up pretty bad. I had stayed after school one day to try out for basket ball, and somehow managed to be the last one to leave. I finished up and went to leave, when I realized I was locked in the locker room. I freaked out, started screaming, banging on the door from the inside, and then I became convinced that I was going to run out of air and suffocate. (Remember - 13 y'all. Give me a break.) That didn't stop my panic attack though, and eventually (it was probably all of 30 minutes, but it felt like hours) a janitor walked by. I think I scared her pretty bad too, and I'm like 95% sure that I knocked her down I shot out of there so fast, but I can honestly say, I didn't look back to find out. My dad was still there waiting on me, and he said he hadn't been waiting too long (I had told him what time to be there after try-outs) so I know I wasn't trapped all that long, but still.
I don't know why I kept all that to myself for so long. I mean, I guess it didn't matter either way, really, nothing could have been done any differently. I didn't die, nothing terrible happened, other than a crushing anxiety that makes me terrified of strangers in parks and anyone I don't know walking towards me. But hey, at least I'm not scared of getting locked in places!
Eight grade was a lot calmer in that the only thing I kept secret was the fact that I once threw up in the bleachers during a school dance. Totally ok with that being a Thing That Happened to Me.
Well, that's enough of the past for today, don't you think. See, just talking writing it out has helped me immensely. I don't know how or why, I mean, technically as I'm typing this I haven't even hit 'publish' yet, so I'm still the only one who knows...but it just feels good to let go. It's like releasing it to the internet is my way of expelling it from being bottled up inside me...