The house next door to me has been vacant since April of last year. While occupied it had a somewhat dilapidated enclosure around the carport. The enclosure included two large swinging gates on the front which never hung straight. The man who raped me hid behind the gates and wall waiting for me to return home. After the second rape, my boys were so angry that they kicked down what was left of the wall that separated our two driveways. The awkwardly hanging gates remained. We installed a motion lamp that lights up both of the driveways and I put rocks down to hold the gates in a position that I could see both sides clearly before getting out of my car.
Recently the house was purchased from foreclosure and people have been there fixing it up to sell it again. Today, which happens to be the seventh month anniversary of the second rape, I saw a truck backed up in their driveway. I went down to investigate and found that a man was there to close in the carport once again.
As soon as I saw what he was doing my stomach seized and I started to have a panic attack. From there my anxiety continued to rise as I tried to return to work. I was hoping it would be distracting but I just couldn’t sit still. Thinking about the enclosure was also producing flashbacks I hadn’t experienced for awhile. I went to lunch with a friend, went for a walk, and still I could not shake the feeling.
I was actually surprised, again, at how intense the reaction was. And once again I was reminded that this is the very nature of PTSD.
African proverb: “The ax forgets, the tree remembers.”
Maya Angelou, Even the Stars Look Lonesome, 1997