Dear Q,

Thanks for listening–for a fucking change! You always want to shut me up. So if I have to SCREAM to get you to pay attention, I will. I’ll give you those tingling arms. If I have to make your vagina twitch til the whole thing turns inside out, I swear I will. You have got to listen to me.

You think you are so far past this Stephen assault. It was bad, scary bad, but at least it could never happen again, you tell yourself. After all, you have a loving, tender husband who cares for you, respects you and would never violate you. You are married, and you would never cheat, so case close, you think. Everything safe and fine, right? Or that’s what you tell yourself.

But you are dead wrong. Psychologically, you haven’t changed much. You still override your own instincts on a regular basis. You ignore your concerns and preferences and pretend things are okay, while I know they are not. It’s true that you are protected from much of the harshness of the world by being white and well-educated and having a professional job; in this society, those are advantages many other women don’t have. But you SUCK at taking care of yourself. Your boundaries are for shit. It’s not just sexual violations, though you are at a risk for those. You let people take your money and your time and your energy and your fucking spirit.

It’s your spirit. It’s your sense of knowing, it’s who you are, for god’s sake. It’s valuable and unique, and you don’t even tend to it! Do you know what a danger that is? You can live the years of your life and come to the time of your death and then what? The precious spirit will still be stunted, undernourished and hiding in the dark. It will be everything from overworked to raped because you don’t care for it, because you act helpless. And when you tell the Stephen story or other stories, you slide into helplessness all over again. I can’t stand it.

You are actually stronger than you think, stronger than you act. I need you to own that strength. You have to develop your voice and use it in the service of your core spirit. Otherwise you let all those abusive, irresponsible, sex-obsessed, selfish men take that little girl (the one you say you want to believe and care for) and keep her small. That is something to be afraid of.

So are you going to do something about this, or not?

With aggravated love, Anxiety (input also provided from Anger and Shame)

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Dear Anxiety,

Wow. That’s not what I expected. Here I thought you still felt afraid of Stephen or something. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ll need time to process it and then I’ll come back to you.

Gratefully (?!?), Q.