i didn’t think that you could treat me so bad

Exactly one year ago today I was scrambling to book an escort job so I could afford to pay rent on a two-week sublet I was supposed to move into the very next day. It would be my last escort job for the year, and I hope it is the last for the rest of my life.

My client ended up being a veteran, a recent returnee from a war zone where he’d spent the last few years. He said he’d arrived back to the United States just a few days prior. He did not look like the photos he sent me. (They never do.) I quickly realized that he’d booked a date with an escort because his time spent fighting America’s winless war had impaired his ability to speak to women. Our date was awkward and bumbling — he alternated between being too nervous to touch me, and groping my breast through my bra in the middle of a crowded bar. He said he wanted the fantasy of having a very hot, salacious relationship that would make others jealous. I gamely tried to reciprocate his inelegant PDA, but wanted nothing more than to run away from that bar, from Brooklyn, from life in general, and collapse into a heap of choking sobs.

Someone Who Isn’t Me then returned with him to his apartment in Park Slope, where lame fucking commenced. It is memorable only in its tediousness: his irksome body flopped around like a fish out of water and in short order he blessedly came. SWIM spent those few moments psychically excised from the galling indignity of the present. I then gathered my possessions and fled as quick as I could, under the guise of “needing a smoke”, though I don’t smoke, and hailed the first cab I saw. The date was supposed to last all night, for which the agreed sum was a paltry $400. (I know now that I should have charged much, much more.) He had already paid me in cash, so I escaped with my rent-spent money and arrived at Lola’s small house party a neighborhood over. I told none of my friends where I’d just been. Hazel and I rang in 2015 jumbled on the floor of Fort Consolation.

The next day, Dinah and I moved my meager possessions out of the loft on Morgan Ave that we shared with a hoarder. For the next two weeks, I lived in an unremarkable room with a twin-sized bed and broken heater. I spent a lot of that time huddled up under a blanket trying to keep warm, but that winter was biting cold, and the frigid air seeped through every crevice to sting my skin. It was hard to sleep. My escort job had paid for that short-term sublet.

When SWIM was staring at the ceiling during that objectionable fuck, there was no way I could have known that the trauma wouldn’t stop there. Soon, I’d be dumped by someone I almost loved. A string of fuckboys would follow. There’d be a Tinder date with another man who didn’t resemble his photographs, who plied me with alcohol till I couldn’t fight back, and treated my body like his own personal fuck toy. “I want to see you again”, he texted me the next morning. I angrily declined, saying that I felt violated by his actions the night before. “I’m sorry”, he replied. “I misread your signals.” Signals? Please. I murmured no the entire time. I’d get a job, only to lose it shortly thereafter, making me unable to pay rent on the only Brooklyn apartment I liked (apartment #5 out of 6 in 2015), necessitating me returning to Chicago like a guilty puppy who got caught pissing on the floor. And in the waning days of 2015, I learned that my mother has breast cancer.

It is true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But you should fucking believe that it’s also true that I would rather have not endured the trauma of the past year. It’s a heavy thing, carrying around this pain; I’m Cain wandering throughout cement and city blocks with a mark on my forehead, it colors the sun and makes it not gray but blindingly harsh instead. It’s weight that is clamped to my ankles that my medication can’t touch. My glasses are tinted with trauma and everything I see is just a sobering reminder of it all. Triggers are frequent and capricious. I’ve become so depersonalized from myself to the extent that I cannot commit to a relationship: my own body feels like alien flesh and my emotions are a roiling miasma that virulently explodes at unpredictable moments (like seeing my ex at a bar). I’m a writer who misses deadlines and cannot write because my psyche is suffering greatly. It is a curious thing to be published in Rolling Stone while calculating the degree of my death wish in bed. Fuck becoming “stronger”: I just want to be the person I was before trauma.

But I can never reach that Meagan again. She’s gone. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I miss her dearly. I don’t care about kicking ass or owning or slaying in 2016. I just want to heal.