I went to sleep at 9. I woke at 10, sure it was 2am by now. I feel back asleep to a dream that was intense and long and real and that I wanted to stay in despite its incredible discomfort. I was alone among all of these people. Saying and doing things I am not brave enough to say and do in real life. I was terrified and strong. I couldn’t find a door when the people I knew disappeared down the stairs, yelling taunts at me from the bottom, so I climbed out a window, into the rain and tried to find my way home on familiar streets and yet couldn’t. I was a stumbling, disoriented mess, walking in the middle of the street, seeing street signs I knew and would eventually be able to figure out and get home to Vesta because I knew suddenly, she needed me and badly. People in their cars watching we wondering which way this erratic, crazy person would go next before putting their feet on the gas and turning. I was distraught but I could see, I had every confidence I’d figure it out and get to her in time, because there was certainly a time limit. I was all of these things and I was also incredibly alive, as if I’d been freed from prison, straight from solitary into this street. The light too bright, the world recognizable yet foreign, allowing myself to be all of the things I was being with the singular focus and confidence that I would get home, get to Vesta.

I woke suddenly and for a brief moment, I wished to stay in the dream to see how it ended. Then my heart began to pound out of my chest, adrenaline and cortisol pounding through my veins as if the tiger chasing me was real. I lay there paralyzed, the way panic freezes us and willed myself to hear Vesta breathing. I could not. She is congested and I should hear her raspy breath. I strained to hear her, since I could not move to check and if she had died in her sleep I could lay there seconds more before I would have to know for sure that she was gone. As the panic subsided and my heart slowed to its regular pace, ceasing the shuddering of my entire body with each pulse, I thought I could hear her. Too faint. It could be the cat. I was released and I lifted my head towards her and heard her. Touched her head and she squirmed away.

I laid my head back down and heard a voice, one I now recognize, say, “You are moving through this at a clip.” And I thought, “yes! It’s true! It’s the year of the horse. It’s only 21 months and I smile and laugh with ease and sincerity again.” I thought, “it’s seven or eight months, not a long time however long it’s been, since I felt I would die at the hand of my love, and here I am managing and negotiating things that normally take years to have this perspective on, to have this level of ease with.” In the light of day, it is a snails pace, it feels never ending, I wonder if it will cease or even ease up. But that dream and her breath and the voice tells me, I’m doing it. And quickly. I am outrunning the tiger at a clip. I am disoriented and terrified and brave and incredibly alive despite the taunts, despite the attempts to stop me in my tracks, despite being a stranger in a world I know well. That when there isn’t a door, I find another way out despite what people around me will think as they watch me descend an old stone wall just to get out. Because they all know there is a door just a little further down I could have easily walked out of but I couldn’t find it and got out of there anyway. Because early in the dream, when I knew there was impending doom to face just down the road, I stopped for a man with tears in his eyes, trying to find his way to group for the first time. “You see, my baby died” he said through shock and reddened eyes and I took the time to take his arm and walk him to the front door, which was just there, around the corner, but he could not find it without me. “My baby died, too”, I told him and his body softened and he let me lead him to the door of a sacred space through which he would begin his healing journey.

There are warriors among us. And I am one. We, who have our place among the incredible ranking of human suffering, where someone always has it worse and yet, we find ourselves in our own personal, inescapable hell. From the outside, we are marveled at for our strength and bravery and fortitude. But what goes unseen is the terror and the utter disorientation and the engulfing experiences that keep pulling at us, keep trying to pull us down and in. And that which is unseen to the world is all that we can see. And that does not make what the world sees any less true. Yes, we are warriors, pressing ourselves through despite the forces inside of us and outside of us that equally and oppositely press back in the attempt to stop us. We are, I am, moving at a clip. The wild horse, having out run its predator to safety, who keeps the speed, just to be sure.

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