The Darkest Places

It's 11:30 pm on a Friday night
and as I walk through the unlit hallway back to my apartment with my dog by my side,
my neighbor, an older dark-skinned gentleman is outside smoking a cigarette by the parking lot.
And I look up when I see him and smile
And he apologizes if he scared me, puts his cigarette out prematurely and goes back in his house.
And all I can think to myself is...scared me?
He must not know. He can't know.
I've had my heart torn to shreds over and over again.
I've battled depression. PTSD. Anxiety. Medication. Therapy.
I've been terrified for my life at the hands of someone I saw fit to bring my amazing children into this world with.
I've been left by my father since I was six months old.
I've been mentally abused and told I was worthless for years on end.
I've been sexually assaulted (Forgive me, I still can't say the word) for hours by someone I called my best friend.
I've been almost homeless.
I've been hopeless.
I've been lost.
And I'm. still. here.
Standing. Smiling. Forgiving. Breathing. Loving. Sharing.
So, sir, please understand.
I don't fear men in dark hallways at night.
I don't fear walking alone.
I don't fear "bad neighborhoods".
I fear those that can touch my soul and make me love and trust and then obliterate me without a second thought.
Because to be honest, the worst pain I've felt in my life was never at the hands of a stranger in a dark hallway.
It was at the hands of those who once held mine.

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