I don’t belong.
It’s too raw. The two people who do know (because I’m stupid) are uncomfortable around me, often unable to look me in the eye or say much, and especially in a crowd. It’s agonizing because others read those reactions and respond in kind without even thinking about it.
I fight with the anxiety and make it into the building Sunday morning, believing it is the right thing to do.
No one greets me during the greeting time. Or the friend I’ve brought along with me to visit.
No one helps when we don’t have the insert in the bulletin for the responsive reading, either one of us, or when I go looking for one so we can participate.
No one speaks to us as we slip out at the end.
I assure my friend (who knows just enough) that it’s me, not her. Over lunch we make small talk about my agoraphobia and our mutual hard, painful losses and how they have permanently scarred us.
The first time I ever said the words “I was raped” out loud, the person (one of the two who do know) had no response, not a word, nothing. I felt deep shame for having told. To this day I struggle with talking, preferring to write instead. Because talking about private family business was not allowed back then and consequences dire if it did happen.
No response should have told me something.
It’s not even that there’s anything to be said or done, not now with so time having passed. It’s more about not feeling so alone, so raw in the middle of dealing with it all.
I believed, perhaps foolishly, that facing the truth would bring freedom.
Instead I feel shame.
Shame that it happened. Shame that I’m so repulsive to others because it happened. Shame because I’m so obviously an outcast and unwanted.