26 March 2017

The world feels a little different today.  Perhaps it’s because I’m two (long) days from finishing this term.  Maybe it’s due to spring’s arrival and my clothes no longer fit; I’ve had to do some therapy shopping, being mindful of my spending. However, I know I’m still on a roller coaster, and struggle to find a balance while focusing on positives to avoid being torn down.  Buckle up.  This coaster is all over the place, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.  Walls might help.

On Friday, the Indian Student Association celebrated Holi on campus and invited everyone.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do, and unsure of my future, I thought it might be the last opportunity I had being on campus.  Why not!  I love Indian cuisine and there was some good food.  I appreciate other cultures, and the Indian culture is a prominent one on campus.

I was greeted by students as they smeared colors on my face, arms, hair and clothing (I wore old clothes that were tossed out after).  “Happy Holi!”  Other students did the same.  Waves of color were splashed into the air, falling like dust to cover those nearby.

It only took one person to chant my name, and the large group joined in.  A wall of momentary silence approached like tunnel vision before I only heard the chanting, “Karen, Karen, Karen.”  What was I to do?  I removed my flip flops, took my phone, earbuds, and keys out of my pocket. One student, who had been repeatedly asking me, “Do you have your phone on you?” was thrilled I was going to “fully experience” their festival. Before I could change my mind, both of my hands were grasped and we ran.  We jumped up and into a pool of cold water, sliding in feet first and falling onto our backs.  More colors were reapplied. Somewhere there is video evidence.

It was refreshing.  It was fun.  It was exactly what I needed, and the day continued as I was joined by friends for a wine tasting class, and ending the evening with more wine; some bought after the tasting.

I was out, surrounded by friends who care.  More importantly, I felt safe.  Even at home I feel safe with the doors locked.  However, things tend to become a struggle when I am not respected and I am expected to be a pawn in some game where rules don’t apply.  Last weekend I spent hours on my patio revising and building my two biggest final projects for class.  I was distracted by weeds that plague my lawn.  We had terrible winds early Friday morning and I was greeted by a fallen tree branch and a fence being knocked over. More items to do once I have a week off.

Since I needed physical exercise, I spent some time Saturday morning pulling weeds and thinking about what I was going to write in this post.  Series of events have been steadily increasing all week and by the time friends left Friday night, a new wave of events were set in motion.  As I pulled weeds, I listened to the wind rustle the newly formed leaves.  I listened to the sounds of cooing by annoying birds.  I listened for cars driving by our street.  At the sound of car doors closing and a beep coinciding with a locked vehicle, I would quickly run back into the house, locking the patio door.  If I knew it was safe, I would return to weed pulling, only to repeat the action again and again.

There are three fences marking the territory of the property. While they keep jack rabbits from entering the yard to torment my dog, they do not offer the protection I need for myself and for my well-being.  I am building walls to obtain this protection.

I almost wish I was in Natalie’s shoes.  I left her, in Chapter 5 at the end of this term, hiding in her bathroom. The door is locked and she used her telekinetic powers to “move” some furniture around in her downstairs condo.  As she destroys things that signals her fortitude, she feels safe where I left her.

I should not have to feel like this.  I don’t want to become a prisoner within my four walls.  I should be able to freely work in the backyard without listening to every single sound, prepared to dash back indoors with all doors locked.  This is not healthy for my mental state that is already injured, bruised and abused.  Natalie will get to leave the bathroom in Chapter 6, but I am beginning to question my imprisonment, the walls that exist and ones I have built.  Can concrete walls cushion the impact of mental and emotional abuse?  As I think about all of this, I believe a wall is the only thing that will stop this roller coaster.  This is the most ridiculous and saddest thing to endure.  Rest assured, my walls will match my strength so that I won’t have to face this again.

(Image by Karen Balch.  Some of the colors used in the festival)

Holi 3-24-17


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