– I want to feel safe. Am I asking too much? – She was desperately crumpling the napkin, sickly dramatic and hysterically panicky. – What should I do to feel safe?
Her mind mercilessly threw at her ample reasons for being scared, “I will get fired, my boyfriend will stop paying my bills, I will end up broke and in debt, I can’t do much about it, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. ”
Her stable job, the house in a walled community, annual vacations in Spain, and weekends in spa salons did not silence her fears and painful insecurity. Sleeping pills were only a short-term turn-off button, a temporary night relief. Her mornings started with swollen eyelids in the bathroom mirror and the loud cry for help running through her mind and echoing from the walls, the floors, and the ceiling, “I am insecure, please, please, please, help”.
– Have you ever felt safe?
She slowly shook her head blinking excessively through the cigarette smoke. – It must be my childhood, it was crappy, I never felt loved, no one really cared, I was abused; physically, mentally, sexually ….
She loved rationalizing her fears, it made her sound smart and romantically miserable. Her helpless sex appeal attracted men and women, everyone wanted to help, she willingly accepted help; nevertheless, feeling insecure, immature, and lonely.
One day, I ran into her in a local grocery store. She looked so different, so glowing that I could hardly recognize her. We exchanged usual hugs, kisses, and compliments.
My polite “how have you been?” was answered with a brief and quiet smile, I got curious, I wanted to know that was going on.
– Well, – she took a deep breath and reached out to tofu cheese. She was religiously vegan and crazily passionate about animal rights. She thought animals give unconditional love; she cared for them, and hated humans. – Well, – she repeated, carefully studying the package ingredients, – Rick dumped me.
– What??? – I felt shocked. Rick was one of her dates, a wealthy guy who gave her descent monthly arrangements and took care of all her bills. – I am so sorry, who is providing for you now?
– No one. – she put the tofu back on the shelf and slowly turned around, – I am by myself, and I lost my job.
There was no regret in her voice, she sounded surprisingly calm.
– How are you feeling?
– Crappy, and freaking unsafe, – again, her voice was amazingly nonchalant. I sensed no panic, no sorrow, nothing.
– You do not seem to look that …. that stressed, please… do not think I am saying it to make you feel bad, I am just saying that I am observing…. I… I … -am so sorry…. – I knew my words sounded pretty awful, the more I spoke, the more stupid I felt.
– No, no, please do not apologize, – she giggled, briefly tucking her hair behind the ears; at that moment, she reminded me of a Disney chipmunk, huge eyes, cartoon smile, animal quickness, and nonchalance, damn nonchalance. – Rick told me he got tired of being treated like a wallet. He said he found a woman, and… and fell in love. And my job… I never actually liked it, I resigned the day before he left, so … I finally got what I was always afraid of: no money, no stability, nothing.
– What are you going to do?
– I do not know, – her voice changed, she got more serious, – After all these years of running away from poverty, hunger, and … and from everything that I call unsafety, I ran into it. And it feels different from what I expected. It feels bad, it feels ugly, but it still feels alive. I am still alive, not dead, does it make sense?
I nodded, she continued – Yes, more alive than when I was with Rick, I used him for money and… and for his cock. Craving for safety, I kept taking but never gave anything back. Now, I am unsafe, but I am not craving, I am no longer a safety addict.
– What are you going to do?
– I wanna get my hair braided, and then, then I do not know.
– How are you going to live?
She suddenly broke out in laughter, – like I lived before, my dear, panicky and unsafe. But here is the thing. – She stopped laughing and gave me a long and expressive look, – No one owes me nothing. No one will spend sleepless nights thinking how to make me feel safe and happy. It makes no sense to use anyone, and to expect anything. Now I get it, it is a relief. It is a f*cking RELIEF!
She proceeded to a check-out, looking nonchalant, skinny, insecure, and happy, crazily happy.