I have never been more than an occasional social smoker over the years (maybe a pack of cigarettes in my life), but I have smoked two cigarettes within the past three weeks. These two cigarettes have been signs of trauma. The first: BFD’s situation. Tonight, I felt in imminent fear for my life.

I don’t want to describe the circumstances because I may yet have to allow the legal process to work, but my life was in danger and there was no opportunity for escape. It did not last longer than 15 minutes, but it was harrowing and I made peace with the universe, drafted a simple text to my best friend W to let him know what had happened/was happening and decided not to hit send until I knew for certain that was it.

It was not, thank God.

When I was finally outside of the situation, I was completely traumatized. I still am.

I walked into the workout place and the receptionist looked at me, shaken and shaking, and I told her everything as I started to cry, as did she. I went into the hall to await my class to start and saw my buddies. I was clearly a wreck and I told them what happened, while trying to be okay with it all — and failing. I excused myself to call BFD, but I could not get him, so I texted him. His immediate reaction was to have me come over right that minute — thinking, as he always does, that sex would help me feel better. It would have, but I wanted to workout.

That was a mistake.

I was distracted and freaked out. The thing that kept me in class was the music — it was all stuff I had sent to J and it was some of my favorite stuff ever. I did what I could and just tried not to worry about it. After, I went up to J and told her because it was obvious something was very wrong with me no matter how hard I tried to hide it, and she hugged me, of course, and offered to drive me home, but I declined because I knew I was either seeing BFD or W and JF. BFD was busy, but still wanted to see me, but I knew I was better off seeing my buddies.

As I walked along, I texted LP, just to let him know what had happened. There was no response.

W and JF and I sat at a new uncrowded place with a bartender we adore and she took good care of me. I played songs I loved on the jukebox, hugged my friends tightly, and tried to relax. BFD called and had me tell him the whole tale, during which he realized how freaked out I was and how imperiled I felt my life had been. He again invited me over, and again, I declined, knowing that his time was short and I did not want to cab out to his place for myriad reasons. We discussed calendar and he mentioned that he had two friends flying in for the weekend, along with business people coming in. He seemed put out by it, annoyed.

W had to leave to see the faux-hemian gold-digger, so JF and I soldiered on to my favorite restaurant where I had some comfort food and another cocktail. After three drinks, I was a bit tipsy and chatty. We hit another bar to see a friend for his birthday and then another bar to see another friend. I had stopped drinking.

At this point, I looked at my phone and got a response from LP, making sure I was okay. I assured him I was okay, but slightly drunk, and he asked where I was, so I told him. It was nice to hear from him, even briefly.

I walked into the ladies room, in case he was going to surprise me, though i felt confident he had the kid with him. Rather than head home, we left with our two friends to hit another place as a distraction. Here is where I had a cigarette. I wanted it, in part, because it would make me feel a little worse — so I would feel something other than this disconnection. I wanted desperately to wrap my arms around someone who loves me, to fall asleep in someone’s arms, to know that I was okay and that everything would be fine.

I could have had that had it occurred to be earlier, but it didn’t and I didn’t. I did not realize how much worse I would feel until I got home.

Now, it’s 2:30 am and I have been home for at least 3 hours and I cannot sleep. I do not want to sleep. I want to vomit, of course, I want to dull my senses now that I am mostly sober, I am watching SYTYCD, sort of, and wishing that I were not alone right now.

What I realized tonight, through the haze of booze and a single, poorly smoked cigarette, is that I am loved and cared for and desired etc. The people in my life love me and they took care of me as they worried for me and watch me worry for myself.

I am a shell right now. I know it. I know tomorrow may be worse than today.

I may get past it quickly. After all, I am okay. Nothing happened. I am alive. But, that fear of imminent death . . . I don’t know that I will quickly get over it.

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