Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fear

(TW: Discussion of assault)

When I was about seven years old, back in my old home in Ecuador on some random unimportant night, I entered this mild state of panic at...something. I was afraid of something. Terrified, even. I was shacking, blabbering, worrying the shit out of my parents. When my mom asked me what was wrong, I told her I was afraid. When she asked me what I was afraid of, I told her something vague, like, "the world."

I don't know why I remember that with such clarity. I said it when I was in my brother's room, by the bunk beds, suddenly so afraid for us both.

I've survived a couple of weird things, like most people I suppose. Guys have followed me in cars, older men have followed me in broad daylight trying to get me to speak with them or saying disgusting things at me. I've encountered drunks on the streets and one pair of manipulating older ladies with questionable motives since I was, like, I dunno, six. It's been a while. And I'm not getting any good at it.

I'm impressionable. Always have been. When I was really young, I saw this news report about the sexual predators in Galapagos. It was graphic--they showed the pictures one of the pedophiles had taken of the underage girls (who were anywhere from five to eleven years old) with the private parts and faces blurred, but with almost nothing else implied. You could see the poses he'd forced them into and the things he'd made them do. I cried for about a week after watching that, afraid for the girls, and afraid for me.

In my first apartment here in America, my neighbor was almost assaulted by completely naked, deranged man when entering the elevator. She called the complex security and got nothing; they told her to go home, don't worry about it. Hysterical and infuriated, she called the police, called her husband, and yelled up a storm till everyone on my building went out to speak with her. I was with my brother and a friend (also another neighbor) when we went outside and saw the police had arrived. I heard details of what had happened and immediately started panicking, shaking, crying. The police officer thought something had happened to me because I was reacting so violently. It took them a moment to convince them I hadn't been attacked nor seen the assault; I was just scared.

I've read about serial killers since I was about eleven. I've memorized the ways in which they lured their victims, how they killed them, and how many times people had the chance to intervene and save a life or two just to have it ultimately end in tragedy.

I've read about mysterious disappearances since then too, sometimes lying awake at night and wondering about the girls who left a friend's house at eight at night and then were never seen again. I try and imagine being in their shoes--what it might mean to just vanish.

Some girl in my university was almost attacked last night. She was just walking around, mind you, at a reasonable time (even if it was dark). She trusted her instincts, fled, managed to escape the man that pursued her. But who knows what could have happened?

(I'm not the fastest runner.)

I don't know what my relationship with fear is, or what in general my flight vs. fight response will do when needed.

I am always worried about something. Afraid of something. Uneasy or confused about a thing or two. Disappointed in someone. Alienated because of X, Y, and Z.

It's nigh impossible to try and talk about it with people because it's always dismissive. Always. Or someone laughs because I've painted in a weirdly comedic or carefree light. Or they just switch the conversation because they don't care. Or I don't know how to get my feelings across even if I'm dying to get them out.

So it's not the kind of thing I can vent about because just as easily as it's brought up, it's just as easily waved off, ignored, or just generally treated as a "shrugs, sucks." But I feel afraid so much of the time, triggered by something or another. Afraid or angry or alone.

I got a reaction out of someone one time. It was last, last summer, when I asked my brother to walk to Publix with me. I'd literally just returned from a trip there, and completely forgotten to buy something. But on my way there, two things had happened, preventing me from feeling safe on a sunny weekday morning: a) someone from a car had yelled something obscene at me while speeding down the road and b) some construction worker by the bakery had catcalled me as I crossed the parking lot. There was no way I was walking back alone.

I didn't tell my brother this, of course. I asked him to accompany me and he said no because the walk was tediously far(ish), exhausting, and it was too hot. And then I just...lost it. I started crying, screaming that he didn't care what happened to me, that I was just going to have to deal with it on my own, all kinds of bullshit. As soon as he understood, he managed to calm me down long enough to alter his answer. Of course he'd come with me and keep an eye on me. But how was he suppose to know that I'd been harassed while walking there? I hadn't told him and he's not a mind reader.

In many ways, it was kind of dumb of me not to explain my reason behind needing some company. But on the other, well, dismissal, dismissal, dismissal. From men, women, friends, family, acquaintances, etc. I guess my parents don't do it because they'll always be concerned for my safety, but they skirt that victim blaming line sometimes. The "don't walk alone at night or you will get attacked."

I'm not very brave. But I'm also a writer, so I'm going to connect this to my novels because yolo:

I'm about 15k words into the NaNoWriMo project. I haven't yet passed the danger zone--if I can survive and push through next week, it might mean good news. But Ataraxia and Anne's story failed near the end of the second week, as the third was starting. So that can still happen this time around. I won't let my guard down.

But so far so good. And it's strange in the sense that I'm finally writing Amber Jackson. She came into my head about five years ago. I could see her, I could feel what she felt, but I couldn't hear her.

She's not like Lilith, who came in screaming at me with a grenade in her hand. With Amber, she is and always has been relatively silent, but never unknowable or undecipherable. I understand Amber--all of her emotions and wants and needs and fears without her once having to say a single word to me.

She's brave, of course. She's a soldier. Her ruthless exterior is almost like Hitomi's, but icy cold rather than a self-contained inferno.

I'm about to write the bravest, physically strongest, most intimating protagonist since Redemption happened. Am I trying to find something there? Am I trying to learn from her? Is it just to distract myself from who I am?

I don't know; that all seems too easy.

Though I'm not as brave or as in control of my emotions, I sure am better at identifying them--mine's and her's. I know what Amber's feeling before she really understands it herself. And I know what I feel, I understand what I'm going through. It's too bad I don't know how to actively deal with them.

Amber's about to wake up. I left her, mid-sentence, just as they were being pulled out of cryo. It didn't feel right to keep writing without pausing for a moment and just...reflecting on all that's to come.

I keep rereading the crime bulletin and thinking about the girl. I wonder how she's dealing with it. Maybe she's still shaking. Maybe it barely even matters anymore.

I don't know. I'm rambling. But then again, that's what this blog is for.
~Becky

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"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
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