Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On being made to feel afraid

When I heard your footsteps behind me I knew immediately, instinctively as it were, that there was something wrong. There was no reason to be nervous, it was daylight and I was in my city where I have always felt safe but something about how your step matched mine and your proximity to me made me afraid.

A little warning voice in my head wanted me to run and my body reacted by pumping endorphins into my system, fight or flight. My heart rate sped up, and yet I ignored the warnings my system was giving me and did not adjust my pace.

Your step fell out of rhythm with my own by a tiny fraction; enough that I knew you were walking just a little faster, a little closer than before. I slowed, convincing myself that you would pass me, concerning myself more with removing my fear then with ensuring my safety while I ignored my clenching muscles demanding that I run.

The time between registering your presence and you wrapping your arm around my waist was miniscule, but it seemed an eternal. You smelled of alcohol and my skin crawled where the side of your cheek touched my own as you grabbed me in a drunken hug, and then you were gone.

This could have been so much worse then the fleeting encounter then it proved to be, this I know. You may not even have registered the fear that you caused through the drugs and booze clouding your mind; but even with you in that state I was not strong enough to push you away. You made me feel weak and small and afraid and ashamed of being a woman.

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