I knew of anxiety. I knew of people grappling with it, pushing off panic attacks, seething with stomach pains from perceived problems that were barely a raindrop in an ocean full of catastrophes. I knew of the pills, the pills and the self-medicating, the alcohol the drugs, the escapism. I watched people I know at a safe distance, giving them a half-hearted there-there as they flew further down their hole of fear and thought despair. I watched by, confused and somewhat skeptical of their dramatic responses to certain situations. I watched by, until my first panic attack. It’s not a feeling you can describe without comparing it to death. I felt like I was going to die, I felt like I wanted to die, I felt like I needed to die. I needed to make the pain go away and the fear to stop, for the world to stop for everything to stop. The worst part was that it took me by surprise. I am, I was always confident, I was always a beautiful butterfly out for a little flight around the garden of life, not a care in the world. I never expected, not once to be the person in the corner struggling to catch my breath as others looked on in forced anguish. This was not the me that I planned on being. He made me this way. Maybe not intentionally, maybe not unintentionally, but he did. He riddled my wings with holes and grounded me. He took away my artful flight and left me lying in the mud next to him. He took my wings because he was too scared to grow his own. He reduced me to a shell of my former self to match his. Echoing his emptiness into me.

Our first ‘date’ he took me to a small café in a shitty neighborhood. I thought it was cute at first, thinking he was taking me to some place he frequented, I quickly learned that he had never once set foot in this place and was more concerned about the cheap prices than the bohemian aesthetics. He tried to order for me and I immediately squashed that motion. Letting him know that although I was not a picky eater, I had no intention of letting him choose what was going into my body on our first ‘date’. He sensed my irritation and for a second I could see him questioning why he even asked me out. I retracted my claws and immediately apologized for my crassness. I saw the light gain brightness in his eyes as he saw his chances of sleeping with me (again) were as good as they were for the last few weeks. His charming smile, fantastically handsome face and his quick tongue (not in the perverted way) had given him free reign in my bed sheets the nights before and this date was his way of apologizing for not treating me like a ‘lady’, even though I hadn’t minded much, he really did have a quick tongue (yes, in the perverted way). The date quickly went downhill, from an attempt at recreating the witty banter that flowed so freely the previous night, to an attempt at questions that would somehow revive conversation, then to comments on the food quality: This chicken is lovely. The wine is nice. By the end of the meal, I was ready to go home, to my bed, alone. The twinge I had felt earlier, the desire to get him right back into my bed with me, was now completely gone, along with most of my illusions of him. He helped me with my coat and walked me out the door and as I was about to bid him goodnight for good he opened his mouth and the sweetest nectar came flowing out. I am sorry. This was not the first date you deserved. This wasn’t even a date, it was two strangers meeting for an awkward meal at a questionable restaurant. I honestly didn’t expect to want this to go past this horribly, horribly horrendous meal. But as I was sitting in there, after you barraded me for presuming to order for you, I realized that you are positively radiant. I don’t do relationships, I do not do commitments. But for some reason, I want to commit to sleeping in your bed every night, I want to commit to looking in those eyes the moment I wake up. These past weeks have been amazing and you make me feel so, so alive. I don’t know why I brought you here, I guess I thought it would be a place that you and your friends would go to, that you would know it and think I was worth dating because I knew it. I just really, I want to date you. I don’t have the gift of being very suave or easy to read, but I want you to be the only person I am dating and I want you to want me to be that person for you too. Is this, is this something you would want? I saw his genuine fear of speaking, his fear of showing emotion hidden under that gorgeous face. I saw everything I wanted to fix about him and in that moment I was so sure that I could. I leaned forward and planted a small kiss on his lips. I watched that kiss blossom into a small smile and I knew that I could fix him.