Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Here is a snippet how I was feeling prior to the pretrial hearing that was held via Zoom recently...
The goosebumps sting my legs as I walk down the hall towards work. It’s 7:20 am, six and a half hours until the pretrial hearing. I’m not cold. I’d guess the goosebumps are a reflection of my nerves… Rebreathing my own breath under my mask (required at work due to COVID-19) is not refreshing. I need to be refreshed. But I don’t think fresh air is going to cut it.
I could go for a hug… to be wrapped up in his arms, feeling so warm and loved; somewhere that feels like home. And then rest my head on his chest where I am safe and can forget about the world for just a moment. But whose? Whose hug, whose arms, whose chest? I’m reminded that while I have support, it is always only myself that I must rely on 100% of the time. I can’t put that (dependence) on anyone else. So I need to remain strong for myself. I've been pretty good at keeping people at a distance and pushing them away, can you tell?
I catch myself staring at the floor as I walk through the skyway. I’m following the lines on the floor, watching my shoes carry me mindlessly forward. I know the path, and I know I’m not going to run into anything. My head is down with droopy eyes and a somber face, trying to be invisible. But then I realize that I am responsible for my own happiness and I force my chin up, Face the world head on! You got this! And I do. I don’t have to convince myself, just remind myself.
I just need to make it through the morning at work, a perfect distraction, then I will be going home to log onto my computer and watch the court hearing from my house on Zoom.
A snippet of how I was feeling during and after the pretrial hearing.
I anxiously waited at home for an hour before the hearing started on Zoom. When the time finally came, I first noticed that there were already multiple people logged on. My profile picture and name were the second thing I noticed, and I immediately changed my picture and my name to “Victim.” Shortly thereafter, he popped on… his orange jumpsuit stood out. His face mask (required due to COVID-19) gave me chills down my spine. When the judge said, “Give the camera a wave if you can hear me,” he lifted his hands and gave the camera an awkward wave. I could tell the cuffs may have been attached to either a table or his ankles. His resemblance of the Hannibal gave me nausea and anxiety that I naturally suppressed in front of my ex-husband who was watching with me.
The two-hour hearing proceeded then ended on a note that there would have to be a Part 2 to finish the remaining testimonies including one from the defendant. I learned a lot of things during this hearing (things you will hopefully be able to read in a memoir some day). I need to continue to attend hearings rather than being simply told what happens over the phone. I was in the dark for 5 hours the morning of my rape. There is no way I’m going to let myself be in the dark any longer.
The Next Day…
My Vietnamese neighbor saw right through me tonight. I was outside doing yard work and he came over to look at my fence to see how he could help me fix it. We got into conversation about how if I have no one to help me, he would help. We got into chatting about stuff and things, I didn't reveal much information… but he bravely said, “You ride a motorcycle and drive a big truck. You appear to be strong. But you need to be strong on the inside,” as he taps his fingers on his temple and looks into my eyes. “You control your mind,” he goes on to say. “You need to be strong on the inside. You ride your motorcycle and it helps you forget. It makes you feel strong and helps you forget the past while you are riding. But what about when you get home? You’re alone. You need to be strong. You can control your mind and your energy, and what you put your energy into.” And as I type and reread these words that he said, I must admit that they do not do justice for the emotion that he expressed.
I guess I thought I was doing a great job at hiding the truth, but clearly not from everyone. And that’s okay. I'll wear my heart on my sleeve... maybe quite literally considering my most recent lioness tattoo. So today I’m going to continue to keep my chin up and my head held high… because I got this. Just as a lioness would.