Growing Through Trauma

It was a few days before my 16th birthday. I was in the kitchen doing homework when I heard my dog barking outside. This was usual for her because she’s see other animals, people, or hear noises that would set off her curiosity. But this day, her bark sounded desperate, full of fear, so I went outside to investigate. I went to the back deck and I saw him, a man I didn’t know, a stranger in my back yard. Next thing I know, he’s coming at me and tried to put his hands around my neck. I run into my house and go to close the door but he starts pushing against the other side and I’m in tights, so I start sliding backward, unable to keep the door fully closed. All I know is that I’m terrified and don’t have a weapon on me so I begin to scream for my dad, who works from home and thank God he was home that day. The man starts to push harder against the door when my dad storms into the room and chases him out of our yard. He ran to a neighbor across the street who was able to catch him and he and my dad kept him still until the police arrived. My mom came home to find me in tears. I couldn’t process what had happened. Then it hit me. We couldn’t find our dog. She was 6 years old and so small. She was usually so eager to greet my mom when she got home from work but she wasn’t there. We began screaming her name, running around the front and back yard and eventually the neighborhood searching for her but she was nowhere to be found. Eventually I looked behind the shed in our back yard and saw a small patch of white fur buried in a pile of leaves. I gently called for my sweet little Bella and she emerged from her hiding place. She slowly came towards me and I gathered her in my arms and rushed her inside. There was no physical harm to her and my mom and I showered her with love and treats for the rest of the night. The next thing I know, the man is taken away and I was left with the memories of what had happened. I was surprised that the police hadn’t come to my door to speak to me. Later that night, a police officer came to our door to explain that the man had been extremely high on acid and was hospitalized for it. I never knew what came of him.

This memory haunted me heavily for the next year. I refused to do my homework alone in the kitchen, I always made sure the door was locked, even when everyone was home, and I started to fear that he would come back. I went to therapy but nothing would stop my fears. The next year, I went to a neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party and a friend of the neighbor casually mentioned to me that another friend of hers was out to dinner with the mother of the guy who attacked me and didn’t understand why I was having issues grasping this. It hit me hard because I now had a name to put on him. I knew that he lived in the neighborhood next to mine. I knew that he was so close at all times and I was now more terrified than ever. I felt so betrayed that so many people I thought I was close to, people who were best friends with my mom, knew who this guy was and didn’t think to tell me. I went into a mental breakdown and ran home from the party in a complete panic. I don’t remember making it to 2015 because I was too busy rocking myself to sleep. I searched the internet for this guy but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I then found his mom’s Facebook and his face was everywhere. I was becoming more and more haunted by this man and it was becoming my own personal hell where I was the only person affected by what had happened. I remembered that my therapist said I should send him a letter to try to gain closure but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I then, sent his mother a message on facebook professing my forgiveness for her son for what had happened because I hoped that there would be a reconciliation to bring me closure. She never responded. I never had my closure. And despite saying I forgave him, I knew it wasn’t true.

Fast forward 6 years and I still think about him. When I’m out alone, I get scared that he’s following me into the grocery store or is going to break into my house at school to hurt me. My mom recently brought him up and all of these emotions started flooding back to me. I didn’t handle it responsibly so I sought solace in a bottle of wine and some hard ciders. I started to panic so I did something my drunken state thought would be a good idea: I wrote to the guy’s mother again. She never responded.

It’s been six years since the incident happened in the middle of November 2013 and although I’m usually alright, I still have triggers that bring this up for me. Sometimes it’s people in TV or film, sometimes it’s overhearing people talking about hard drugs. It can be anything, really. Just because something happened a long time ago, doesn’t mean that you won’t have triggers to bring it up to you again. It’s hard being strong when your family is constantly telling you that they never have to worry about you because you always have it together. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. All I can do at this point is try to grow from what I have learned from this. It’s become aparent that I do my best growth in this situation by myself. I have never had comfort from anyone regarding this. It’s a private journey that I must bear and it’s so hard sometimes. I have grown in my knowledge of keeping my defenses up and I am much more wary of people. It has definitely affected my trust, but I feel that anyone in this situation would have the same thing happen to them.

To the man who did this to me, I know you will never read this but here are my words to you. You made a mistake. Your anger and frustration from your parent’s divorce pushed you towards hard drugs and you seriously hurt a teenage girl. It’s been 6 years and she still has times where she struggles to cope. I want to forgive you but in the meantime, I can’t. So it’s with a strong and sound heart and mind that I say, FUCK YOU.

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