She walked tentatively into the dark corridor. She knew she had no choice. If she didn’t, the monster that had been hunting her would consume her. She couldn’t see the other end of the corridor, nor could she see the walls or floor. The pitch black threatened to crush her, and she could feel the monster’s breath upon her as she tried to find her way through to the other side. She took a deep breath and inched her way forward, one small step at a time. One step… the monster knew she was fighting to leave him behind and his breath followed her as his hunt intensified. Two steps… he tried to grab at her. Her heart was pounding now. Three steps… he began to whisper ‘no one will help you, they don’t even like you, you are a pain’. ‘Not true!’ her mind screamed, even as she desperately wished that someone would come and walk through the dark with her. Four steps… he was more insistent now ‘where is everyone? Why aren’t they here with you?’. ‘They do care!’ she was desperate to hear someone other than the monster, to know she wasn’t alone in this dark place. His voice was all her mind could hear, and it made it harder to move her feet, but she did. Five steps… she could feel the monster moving around her. He was behind her, beside her, in front of her. It even seemed like he was inside of her somehow. Her heart felt black with hate for him, for herself, even unreasonably for those who told her she had to go into the corridor to begin with, people she knew were outside the corridor calling for her to fight, fight harder! She tried to push the hate away, it wasn’t who she wanted to become, but the further she got into the darkness the harder the monster fought to keep her there. Six steps… he was grabbing and pulling at her. Her heart was pounding furiously, painfully and she felt as if it would explode within her. Seven steps…eight steps… each step was harder and harder. Each breath painful now as the monster tried his hardest to squeeze the life from her battered body. Nine steps… she was desperate for someone to come to her. ‘Please!’ her mind cried weakly ‘please help me!’ Ten steps… she could feel the weight of the monster’s grip pulling her down down down. But still she forced her feet to carry her one more step. Then one more. She knew the end of the corridor was getting closer. She still couldn’t see it, but she knew it was there. And she knew that the monster could not leave the corridor. As long as she kept taking steps, as long as she kept willing herself to do something…anything… to get to the end of that corridor, she would eventually be free of the monster.
For what seemed like an endless time, she kept forcing her feet forward. Sometimes it seemed like she was moving backwards, it was so hard to tell in the dark. But she closed her eyes and prayed and kept moving. Sometimes she was able to take many steps, sometimes it was all she could do to move at all. As she got nearer the end she could feel her heart strengthening, her body healing, and her determination to exit the corridor growing. And the monster was growing weak. Oh, he was still fighting…sometimes with a ferocity that took her breath away. But always she fought back. She had to… there was no choice anymore. She was not his and she refused to let him have her. So every move he made, every attack he launched against her, she fought. And finally, the more she fought, the stronger she felt. Until one day, after what seemed like an endless battle, she realized that she had been walking freely through to the end of the corridor; the monster was so small and weak now that she kicked him aside like a stone and nearly ran to the end of the corridor. As she exited, she turned and looked back at the dark corridor and realized that it wasn’t dark at all. Well, inside it was dark, but the walls were made of glass so that anyone on the outside could see the travelers inside. She was surprised to see that there were others in the corridor, and she watched their slow, painful progress. How many had been there with her? Why hadn’t she seen them there? Had she looked as terrified and mortal as they looked now? Had she looked as deathly weak as they all seemed? She sent up silent prayers that they would not succumb to the monster, that they too would reach the end of the corridor intact and healthy.
*this is what it feels like. Ed is the monster. And recovery feels like a dark corridor that has to be traveled in order to survive the battle with him. It is lonely and scary. And the further I get the harder he fights. He is mean, and ruthless, and relentless. He tries so hard to make me believe him and his lies about me, about my fight with him, about people in my life. How do I survive the corridor alone? No one can fight him for me, so how do I keep him from overcoming me as I navigate it?