I felt the atmosphere collapse and I allowed it; I believed I’d feel stronger soon. But I don’t. I feel worse, smaller, like my cells don’t know how to reorganize into a person. Little things compound my panic and I can’t feel my feet. I’m thinking like my four-year-old self, catastrophic and irrational.

I was once alone at four, trying to cross the street to find shelter at a friend’s house when my mom was MIA, and I got so scared that I dropped my blanket in the middle of the road and couldn’t go back to get it. I couldn’t get back into the street—I remember pining and not being able to reach. That’s how I feel now. Tiny and stuck on the far side of the street.

My sister told me she was mad at me about some personal stuff, and my first thought was whether I could stall a confrontation til I died of old age: “She can’t be mad if I’m in a casket. This could work.” A business associate yelled at me to hurry up on an order and I thought, “I have a solution: I’m closing my business, moving to Mexico, and never speaking to you again.”

I have things. I have an apartment and I’m only in terror about eviction. I have a therapist who gives me an incredible rate, but I am still in debt to her and she will eventually have to cut me loose if I don’t get it together. I have friends who care and are being compassionate and supportive in a way I don’t fully understand. But I don’t seem to have that old small certainty that I will make it across the road. I’ve dropped everything in terror and now my safeties are lying in the street and I cannot retrieve them.

I just thought I’d have more sturdiness by now. I’m hurting in such an old style, like this has resurrected the raw unhealed core of everything. I can’t speak to anyone but strangers. I can’t go anywhere but away.

I don’t know where I always flew. And I do not want that distance to feel like home.