A vibration with the pattern of drawn insect wings reverberates through my chest every heartbeat. My nails dig into my screaming palms, knuckles white, leaving little red crescents. If my nails weren’t weak and prone to bending, I’d be drawing blood. My teeth are creaking from the force of my clenched jaw.
I’m watching a 16 year old being brutally, horrifically beaten. I am three minutes in, I am shaking and crying, and there are three more to go.
I will not look away, because someone set this to be recorded, suffered it and uploaded it. The least I can do is watch it. That someone was Hilary Adams, the daughter of Texas judge William Adams, who you may find info on, and the video of, if you copy/paste this URL into your browser.
That video taught me a few things.
It taught me that despite my appreciation of the things I’ve experienced, which is akin to how I appreciate a skillfully written tragedy but in no way eclipses the screaming pit of horror and rage that it lays in, I don’t appreciate those things when they happen to other people. I’m grateful for that.
It also helped me understand that other people have accessed that discordant, terrified space. The one where you only speak in sobbing screams or pleading moaning, tears blur your vision, your hair hangs in your face, and you cringe away from the terrifying people who tower above you without a thought for your dignity.
I’ve experienced that space by a different path, but then, there are very many of them.
Finally, it taught me that I’m not over it. I am never over it, and I will probably never be over it. It doesn’t simply sink in to your mind and disintegrate, leaving behind only the horror and rage, whether in scattered traces or that pit I mentioned. At least not if you’re me.
You might not think about it much, or you may momentarily wonder why your psychologist makes a face you associate with your highly empathetic mother witnessing a chainsawing in GOW2 when you mention it, but you are never over it. All it takes is one brave young woman screaming just like you did, and that oh-so-familiar urge to do things of the deepest horror to someone who would force another human being to make that noise, stalking back through your chest and shaking the very structure of what’s inside you, and it all comes back.
I’m not sure I’d have the courage to show it.