What My Life Has Been Like


Today I thought I would talk about what it has been like since I was raped when I was 18. Before that day, I was fearless. I could go anywhere and not have a problem. But after that night, I developed severe anxiety issues, and agoraphobia. Since October 1, 1988, I can’t seem to go places alone. I can’t open my door, unless whoever has come over has called to alert me. The only place I ever feel safe is in my own home.

 I only go to the grocery store with my mom. Vacations scare the crap out of me, but at least I have always been with someone. Trying to meet friends at a restaurant or bar is very hard. Luckily they know about my freakish panic attacks, and usually are waiting for me outside, or volunteer to ride with me, so I won’t be alone.  I couldn’t go to college because I was too afraid of the big building until I finally forced myself at 21. And then I had to drop out because I got very sick with cancer. I have been too afraid to go back ever since.  Thank God for caller ID. I used to not be able to answer my phone even. Friends and family had to use a signal or talk to the answering machine if they wanted me to pick up. After caller ID came, at least I knew who was calling.

My best friend, Joan, of the last almost 14 years has been terrific through all of this. She always knew that she had to come to my house, because for some reason I just couldn’t go to hers. About 9 years ago, she moved to a small city about 40 minutes away, I never went, except one time to drop her off after her Annual Training when she was stranded. Then she moved about 70 miles south after that. I made it to her house 8 years ago to spend the weekend, with my daughter in tow, and that was a huge step. I had a panic attack the whole way.

Then 7 years ago she got married, and I was the maid of honor, so I had to go. I again went with my daughter and almost step-daughter. Then the next time I was able to make it down there was last year, for the first Women Veteran’s Campout, she had to meet me in a smaller town about 10 miles east of where she lived, just so I could make it. This was my first trip driving alone, and it was agony. I have always felt so horrible that I just can’t be like normal people and just go somewhere.

Taking my daughter to St Louis or Minneapolis is chaos. My vision starts to go black as I am driving, and my heart is going to come right out of my chest. But I did it, and was glad that I did. Taking her to Ireland was even harder, because first I had to drive to Chicago, then fly and I am terrified of flying. But we did it, twice. I did have a major meltdown on the runway in Philadelphia though. In spite of my fears, I have always tried to make sure my daughter has been able to go on vacations, like a normal kid. I really have tried to hide my panic attacks from her, but she is older now, and sees them.

I know, there are medications that can help with this, but unfortunately I can’t take them. I have these severe paradoxical side effects from them. I have hallucinated on antidepressants, and wound up suicidal on the anti-anxiety meds. They say there has got to be something out there that I can take that would help, but all the doctors agree with me. The risk is too great trying to find the right one, I might end up dead in the process. So, I just drive on, doing my best. 

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to make it down to see Joan 4 times this year. I am proud to say that I have accomplished that as of this last Saturday, and am going to make that same trip again next Saturday. And each trip has gotten a little easier. The first time I started the panic attack not a mile from my house, the last time it was a mild one about 30 minutes from her house. I have forced myself a few times to meet people on Friday nights, and not have them wait for me outside. I still have the panic attacks, but I am tired of them keeping me sitting at home all alone.

I can tell you exactly why I have these attacks. When I was raped that fateful night, I was with 5 people I trusted with my life. I knew it was OK for me to go into the bedroom and fall asleep. What none of us knew, was that 2 of the invited guests were going to come in that room when nobody was looking, and decide to rape me. So, now, even though I know in my head that nobody is going to hurt me if I walk into Applebees, I just can’t get over the fear that they just might. Nobody is out to get me in the Wal-Mart, but the panic attacks say they will.

Just Friday afternoon, I went to Target all by myself, and did OK. I almost went home after work to get my daughter or mom, but decided to take another baby step towards normalcy. I don’t think I will ever be normal when it comes to leaving my house, but I am going to keep trying.

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3 Responses to “What My Life Has Been Like”

  1. jayherron Says:

    I know those exact struggles!
    My life as a long distance trucker allowed me to work-and isolate at the same time!
    When ever I was home from weeks on the road and had a new load on the rig-I would get SO stressed on the day I was supposed to hit the road again-physically ill,yet-odd thing-the moment I crossed the state line all would be fine!
    I was in my element in a semi truck-captain of my own ship,and free from having personal intervention with others.
    Today-if I go to a builders store or any kind of store-I park way out in the farthest parking space so I can hypnotise myself to enter.

    You are brave-and your are going to get stronger by writing these things out-soon more and more comments will come and you will realize how important your writing has become!
    Bless You

  2. enemyinthewire Says:

    Jay,

    Thank you always for your kind words and encouragement. It really means so much to hear them. I am sorry that you also have to endure the panic attacks and anxiety, but am ever so thankful that you share that with me. It is a comfort to know I am not alone, but still wish that I was, if you know what I mean.

    I am going to start my own Comp & Pen process soon, and that scares the crap out of me. But knowing that I don’t have to do it all alone helps. I think that everything you have done, and are doing to speak for us victims, and trying to prevent future victims is so admirable, and I want to say a huge thank you!

    Blessings to you,

    Brigid

  3. enemyinthewire Says:

    Brigid,

    You will start your Comp and Pen process when you are READY. I will be with you every step of the way. Just remember – you have evidence to kill for! I wish I had half the evidence you have.

    It’s all gonna be good. I promise!

    Joan

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