The woman stands in front of me.
Her hair is snarled and dirty.
She is shaking with pent up emotion and the bitterest rage. She lifts her head, stares straight into my eyes, and she speaks.
How dare you stand there and tell me that my way of coping is wrong.
Have you stood in my shoes?
Have you lived in my pain?
Until you have felt your skin stretched too tightly around you, begging for release, you have no right to judge me.
Until that skin feels like it’s crawling and itching from a thousand bee stings, your replacement methods mean nothing.
Until you have felt the fear, anger, and most of all the hurt flowing out into the air, you cannot demand that I stop.
This is how I keep breathing.
This is how I survive.
And you want to take it from me?
You’d do better to just put the gun to my head and pull the trigger.
At least then it would be over.
All I can do is apologize.
All I can do is stand with her and try to keep her as safe as I can.
And I can learn to love her.
I look at the woman in the mirror and I tell her it will all be okay.