Knocking on doors

I’m always wrong.

KJ, that’s not true.

Yes it, I’m always wrong. I can’t do anything right.

Who told you that, KJ?

My mother. She says that all the time.

She was wrong. And she’s not here now.

You don’t understand.


I know that I am away from her, but I think she’s still here.

Like she’s inside your head?

No. Like she is here, near me. Right outside. I know she’s not here, but I feel like she is. I know I’m not there, but I feel like I am. She’s still going to hurt me.

By then I was crying. I felt like I was speaking things that didn’t make any sense. It doesn’t make sense for what I know to be so vastly different from what I feel. If I know my mother isn’t here, why can’t I just go on and not be afraid anymore? Why am I still living as if she is right outside my door?

I was crying because I was tired. It’s exhausting being on high alert all of the time. It’s even more exhausting when you know the danger isn’t real anymore, but as much as you try to fight it, you can’t switch off your fear.

People don’t understand what it’s like. I say I’m scared of my mother, they say well she’s not here.

If only it were that simple. It doesn’t matter that, logically, I know my mother doesn’t know where I live. It doesn’t matter that, realistically, her physical presence is lacking. My mind has not caught up to my physical reality. My mind still thinks my mother is here. My mind still believes I am in constant danger because I spent 29 years of my life in constant danger.

I tried to downplay it to my therapist. I told her I was okay. I didn’t want to tell her just how strong my panic was. I didn’t want to tell her I was afraid of opening the door and seeing my mother there. I thought to myself, I just need to get home, and I’ll be okay.

Then I left my therapist’s office, and went downstairs to leave the building only to find that I had been locked inside (it was a holiday — someone in another office must have stopped in and locked the main door on their way out, not noticing their were other cars in the lot). My therapist had already started session with another client and I didn’t want to interrupt. I had nothing else planned for the day. I thought to myself this is okay, I can just wait on the bench outside of her office until she’s done.

I was okay for ten or 15 minutes. Then the panic started to set in. I am trapped in this office building. I can’t get out. I tried to steady my breathing, I tried to stay calm. But the fear and  panic continued to increase. I started to cry. I curled in a ball on the end of the bench and that’s when it all went south. I went from I am trapped in this office building to I am trapped inside my room. Mother locked me inside and I can’t get out.

By the time my therapist finished with her other client, I was a crying, dissociated mess. I could barely breathe. My therapist sat down on the bench with me and tried to help me breathe. She knew where my mind was. Do you know where you are KJ? Look around. I am here with you. You are safe.

I sat for a while, trying to convince myself that I was not at home. I apologized to my therapist (like I always do).

“Why didn’t you ask me for help, KJ?”

“I didn’t want to bother you. I didn’t want to get in trouble.”

“You won’t bother me. And you’re not in trouble. You can just knock on my door and let me know.”

Except it’s not okay. Because I can’t even knock on doors. Bad things happen when you knock on doors. Mommy never wants to be interrupted.

Bad things happen when you knock on doors because my mind still doesn’t realize my mother’s not behind those doors anymore.

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