Go and open the door. Maybe outside there’s a tree, or a wood, a garden, or a magic city. Go and open the door. Maybe a dog’s rummaging. Maybe you’ll see a face, or an eye, or the picture of a picture. Go and open the door. If there’s a fog it will clear. Go and open the door. Even if there’s only the darkness ticking, even if there’s only the hollow wind, even if nothing is there, go and open the door. At least there’ll be a draught. By Miroslav Holub
There is a door to the outside from my basement. It’s level with the ground on that side of the house because I live on the east side of a large hill at the southern end of a mountain range. Foothills for the Appalachian mountains. Like many areas of the world, it is quite lovely here. I very rarely use that door in the basement – maybe once a year. It needs replaced. The kick plate area on the door is very damaged. I know that I should fix it – it looks awful. I am starting to wonder if I keep broken things around as some sort of penance flagellation or something. Is this a thing that people do?
Perhaps you are wondering why I think it is my punishment to look at that hideous kickplate area of the door every time I drive up and down the back driveway, take a walk around the property, search for wild turkeys and baby dear, or study flights of the bumblebees? Sharing is caring and so I will do it. It is painful and hard, but… I keep hearing about doing hard things, getting out of the comfort zone, and the eternal “fuck it.”
(insert tea break to work up the courages)
My friend, who is not really my friend, from high school, used to hate it HATE IT when I would dive into a joke, make a funny face, or find a silly spot in a tough situation or conversation. He did not like it. “Not everything is a joke or funny,” he would say, very seriously with reproach overtones. I just could not understand how that could be true. I get it now, of course (the maturitys). However, for the most part, it is me being me and I cannot not be me no matter how hard I try. And, believe me, I have tried so very hard that if there was a “tried hardest to make things be something else” award, I might be asked to stand before the final judgement table with a few of you other contestants. SOLIDARITY floating in that boating. Admittedly, though, my unwavering commitment to pull-up-your-big-girl-panties look-on-the-bright-side and move on crap, did almost get us killed. *sigh*
The kickplate on the door happened during the almost got killed times. I have told no one about this before right now. Not my attorney. None of the therapists. Not the police. None of my friends or family. It happened between the time MrexH had been removed from our home, placed into a twelve day psychiatric hold at our local hospital, and the 5 terrifying months later when he was remanded into custody of the State. I believe that he damaged that kickplate.
When SonHerisme was 5/6 years old we were still sleeping in the same bed in the main bedroom of the house just above the side of the basement where the door to the outside is located. I hardly slept during those times because I was terrified about what was going to happen to us. I didn’t know if MrexH was coming to kill us that day, that night, or maybe the next day. BrotherHerisme put an alarm system on every door and window, a motion camera at the end of the driveway, and security bars on all of the doors. I would awaken at any little sound in the house, and still do most nights. Although at points in just the last few years, my brain and body eventually give out and I fall so deeply asleep for an hour or so, that I truly hear or feel nothing.
When MrexH was MrH and lived in the house with us, he had a collection of sports memorabilia he kept in the basement. A hoard rather. When he was no longer in the house, the thing he wanted the most, other than to control us, was the sports stuff in the basement. Our attorneys made arrangements for him to pick up the sports stuff, but I didn’t want him back in the house at all. By this time he had destroyed things in the house and threatened all of my family and a few friends. The agreement was for me to take all of the sports stuff outside.
It was raining on the day this was to take place and I got worried about the stuff getting damaged (ha!) and about SonHerisme being outside with me in a thunderstorm to move all of the stuff. SonHerisme was so full of trauma at this time that he could not bring himself to leave my side. Unless it was absolutely necessary for us to be separated (court appearances, attorney phone calls, police interviews etc) I let it be okay for him to be with me at all times he needed me. I’m sure I messed everything up on occasion, but my go-to was to do whatever kept SonHerisme safe and healthy (including mentally). With the rain, I decided not to take anything outside and I phoned my attorney to let her know.
This last minute change did not go over well with my attorney(she had some words for me on the phone and in her office, Mercenary Athena fuh reals y’all). It also did not please MrexH. There were nights after this that I thought someone was pulling into the back driveway and walking around the house. I was too paralyzed with fear to do anything about it. I was too afraid to leave SonHerisme and check anything out. I was too afraid to look out any windows and I was too afraid to even phone the police.
There were nights when it felt like someone was stomping around the house. There were nights when I thought someone was banging on the doors, including the garage doors, to get inside the house. Like a scene out of a spooky movie, I would pull SonHerisme as close to me as I could and pull the blanket up over our heads and hold my breath for as long as possible, silently counting the seconds to see how long two minutes felt. It would take two-five minutes between when police were notified the alarm went off and an emergency responder would arrive to the driveway on a typical night. I would calculate how much damage MrexH could possibly do in two-five minutes. Would he stop to grab his sports stuff before he came upstairs to get us? Would he stop in the kitchen and grab a knife or would he just bring a baseball bat from the collection? Could I say something to distract him from hurting us until the police could get here? Once here, could the police get inside in time to save at least SonHerisme? If I squished SonHerisme and myself underneath the bed, could he reach us before the police arrived, or would that be a big enough delay? Should I use a blanket when I did that to keep SonHerisme in a softer cocoon? Is this the day that we die? Did I lock all of the everythings? Should I pick up SonHerisme and run for the car? Except the car is downstairs in the garage… Am I fast enough? Is this how we die?
Yes, we are still in the same house.
Yes, I have thought about leaving.
Yes, I know he can find us here or wherever we go because I do not live in a made for cable movie/series.
MrexH is far away at the moment. So far that he cannot drive here. For now, we are safe and SonHerisme is a 6ft athletic 12 year-old. A bit different than a few years back.
After MrexH was placed into State custody a few months later, and the seasons left Summertime for Autumn, I noticed that there was a dent in the garage door which was new, and that the kickplate area on the basement door had been damaged to the point of paint kicked off and rust settling in spots (which are now very evident). This aknowledgment is chilling and making my teeth numb.
This is how I know I am in a place of deep anxiety or fear: my heart rate slows to a loud thumping in my left ear, I do not feel any temperature (I see you in your parka and I am in short sleeves, or I see you in short sleeves but I have somehow worn my parka), if I can think about them at all – my legs and arms feel detached from my body, I hear my eyelids softly click click when they blink, my throat closes to a voice whisper, and my teeth go numb. I should add that my biggest and first clue is always numb teeth. When My teeth go numb, I know the other things are coming. This has taken me years to figure out beyond the numb teeth. But I’m sure if you are in my real life community, you have wondered to yourself, “it’s 90 degrees out, why is she wearing a big coat?” or, “It’s freezing out here, where is her jacket and why is she in a short dress?” Of course, I am awkward without the anxiety so that probably explained it for you 😉
I used to try to harness control by taking some naproxen as soon as I could feel the wave coming over me. It didn't take away the effects of the anxiety, but it did help keep me functioning to get into the car. Drive to the courthouse parking lot. Remind myself of how Oprah got out of her car to face white cattle people in court (I know - not the same at all, but it helped me at the time, somehow). Get out of my car. Get into the elevator. Push the button. Get out of the elevator. Walk across the alley. Enter the courthouse basement area. Walk through security. Get into the courthouse elevator. Push the correct floor button. Exit the elevator. Veer to the right to find a safe spot on the far wall until I spotted my attorney or stepped inside the State's Attorney's office area. You know, the usual.
I do not use naproxen for anxiety anymore. Although, I can’t say if push came to shove with some new lethal scenario, I wouldn’t use it again. Maybe (?). It is unlikely at this point that this would occur, but …? Who knows.
It is the door better left unopened.
I do not even want to be the person that ever had that door at all, but here we are. *tap dances with jazz hands for effect*
On a much lighter note, another door I occasionally peek through leads me into the other side of the world to the Asian Continent via Twitter where I am often mistaken for one country’s prominent life-long politician and current foreign minister. Sometimes I’ll open up the twitters with hundreds of retweets and mentions woven through threads of whatever is happening over there of which I have barely a novice understanding of. This has been going on since shortly after I joined the Twitterverse. Honestly, I like being misTweeted. There have been many days, much like some of you, where I have felt completely disconnected and unseen. There’s no relief from that except for putting it out of mind as best as I am able since it is much too painful to sit with. On those days I especially enjoy being misTweeted and when I am up to it, I do respond to some of them. Through the years I have only had one person respond to my comments, and it was with an, “alhamdulillah,” and a laughing emoji. The twitttering usually goes something like this:
Them: Such-and-such political party is causing me to have the angers for the reasons which I will now express to you @(me) Me: It's my party and I'll cry if I want to #somistweeted #checkyourselfbeforeyouwreckyourself #carryonpeacewarrior or Me: You have reached @(me). I am unavailable at the moment due to staying alive stuff. If you have inquiries as to my availability for champagne on the deck, please leave a msg. If you have inquiries of a more serious nature, kindly redirect yourself to @(the politician's tag) #carryonbeveragewarrior #pleasebringachampagnesword #imtheoneinglasseswglasses
Links between the two? Nothing. Just very different doors of experiences. Although I am fairly certain that DV experiences are sadly universal…
DON’T go through the DV door, it has too much darkness ticking. I do not recommend it at all. There are a zillion other doors – choose those. Choose all of those and open them all. When you open mine, I’ll wave back 🙂
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo
ps my door is oversized, deep red brown wood surrounded by a concrete/brick frame with a rounded top, and pop-open peek-a-boo shutters. There’s a bit of black wrought iron somewhere and lots and lots and lots of greenery and flowers with a cozy swinging bench or two.
(my real door is on-purpose yellow on a regular American-style brick-front black-shuttered house but you’ll find me around back on the deck or the trampoline)
also, I share my hard stories in the hopes that your hard stories will perhaps not feel as lonely, and that mine will not feel as lonely too.