You’ve Been Served

Ok, whew. I’m on my way to an author talk. A big one. I won’t say where until it’s over.

The last time I had a public event, I got served. Yeah. I’m being *sued.*

I laughed. For one whole day, I laughed.

And for the next eight weeks, I was sick with anxiety. I was embarrassed. Humiliated. Again.

I doubted myself. Every decision I ever made. Even things I couldn’t control. Am I too smart? Too pretty? Am I intimidating? Am I too good at too many things? Am I SO much that I deserve to be knocked down a few pegs? Do I deserve to be reduced to feeling as attractive and worthy as a maggot?

I knew I was being gaslighted. I knew this in my head, but suddenly any help or hope was //just// enough out of reach to leave me thrashing in despair. Like being stranded in the ocean while a plane passes overhead, too big and too far and too occupied to care.

So I shrank away, afraid of who I could talk to and who I could trust. I retreated. I fell into a deep depression — the kind you need pills for. My blood pressure spiked. I became apathetic about my existence. I gained 15lbs. I wanted to die (CLARITY: I wasn’t going to take my own life. But if it *happened* *on its own,* my arms were open wide. Come for me, End. Take me. I’ve had quite enough now).

Outwardly, I strutted with an unwavering voice, my chest out and head high. But when I returned home, worried I was being followed or stalked, I’d triple lock the door, turn off all the lights, cover the windows, and wither, shrivel up. And cry.

I’d glare at any man that smiled at me. I’d swat any approaching eyes, afraid they’d molest my curves, or foreign hands teasing to violate my skin, or sneaking invasive noses stealing my scent.

I was ashamed. For being a bad victim. For being the kind that fight. The ones that fight are the ones that are a threat. And the ones that get punished. And then they come for you. They rip you open again. They snatched my giant scab off a nearly-healed wound. Tearing my flesh and leaving the unpigmented vulnerable white tissue of my psyche exposed and stinging.

The street light went out and I thought it was intentional so that I could be attacked in my home in the dark. No light. No witnesses. I heard knocking once and was certain they were coming for me to shut me up for good. Every car riding too close was a threat. Every doppelgänger sighting left me overcome with nausea. My children. How can I protect my children from this foe?

I haven’t written or confidently played my cello since. I stopped recording my podcasts. Someone was finding my shows and giving one-star rating just to be hateful. I felt like I had been cursed. Cursed for not being a silent and submissive survivor. Cursed because I showed resilience and excellence instead of shame and humiliation. I was being punished. Because I had the audacity to thrive in spite of it. And for too long, I let that be my story. For two months I let them win.

But then, something clicked. I don’t know what or why or when exactly — sometime in September or October — I was just over it. Zero fux. Not one. Je m’en fous. I wasn’t giving this monster of fear any more of my energy. I am bigger and better and braver than all of this. Naming the demon disarms it. My silent suffering had been giving it satisfaction. But I’m beyond that now. My truth has always been my greatest weapon. I can’t say I’ve survived worse but I’m doing The Worst as we speak…so there’s that.

My darkness has passed and I’m working on regulating my blood pressure. I’m not paranoid anymore. And while there’s still no end in sight, it’s not consuming my thoughts. I’m jumping back into writing music and stories and prepping my voice for a podcasting return.

I am protected. Shrouded in love. I have a powerful team. I’m gone be alright.

And so…it’s time to take the stage again. Here I go, on my first event since July. To talk to and perform for 100 high schoolers. About life. About writing. About choices. About bravery.

I’m ready. ♥️

#thefearlessmoveforward #thehibouleans #andshewillflourish #octaviareese

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