When I was about eight to twelve, I had a recurring dream about my school bus driver. I was terrified of him, largely because he had shocking, flame red hair and blue eyes that seemed to peer into my soul. I didn't want anyone looking into my soul because I believed it to be hopelessly black, an empty void that might one day engulf me completely. In the dream, I was standing in a grassy field next to my sister. The bus driver appeared before us suddenly, drawing a shiny silver revolver and aiming it at my little sister's head. The angel-soft hairs on her brow prickled and time slowed. Breathless, I leapt in front of her just as the hammer slammed on the firing pin. No words, only a moment of quiet and then a bright room where I was hovering above myself. Medical technicians rushed with incoherent snippets of words. Pounding on the table, angst and disappointment, a warmth in my neck. It was too late, and then there was blackness. As black as my soul.
I haven't had that dream since my stepdad left, but there are days when I feel all of those things again. I feel worry and fear. I hover above myself and watch as those around me try something, anything. But I'm not even there. It's just that empty void with its constant threat. A deafening silence pounds in my ears and those sad eyes watch me but don't see me at all. There are days when everything around me has changed, but I am exactly the same.
There are days like that.
They're just days.
I've talked about how I have PTSD and the memories of my past haunt me. I've been through ten – yes, ten! – years of therapy and I've developed some excellent coping skills. Most of all, I've developed clarity.
I have the clarity to understand that while I am a product of my past, it does not define me and it does not guide my life. It's clear to me now, and even in the darkest of moments, that nothing is constant. This moment will pass and there will be a better time. I am still the same little girl that I was in that dream.
I am that unyieldingly loyal and selfless girl. I am scared, but strong. I'm honest about the fact that I may, sometimes, loathe myself. Really, who doesn't? I am a lot of things. Just like in that dream, I am brave and compassionate and absolutely worth fighting for to the very end.
I am the same.