When a triggering experience at a fitness center leads to panic.
My muscles slowly begin to relax, allowing my chin to quiver. The panic has subsided, but my mind still appears to be thawing. I recognize that I am sitting on the fitness center’s floor, between the same two chairs that I took refuge among upon beginning my post-workout stretches. I feel vulnerable on the ground, which is why I take to the perimeter of the room. I notice my limbs feeling increasingly heavy and I become overwhelmed by the urge to cry. Ashamed and embarrassed, I bury my face between my legs, providing my emotions privacy even though I am now physically alone. The man that had been blatantly watching me had disappeared into the Men’s locker room sometime after I began to panic. Regardless of his absence, I still see his face everywhere; I still see him watching me through the space underneath one of the chairs formerly between us. I feel violated; still in danger; still unsafe. As I remain on the floor, my mind contrives the sensation of his breath, skimming the nape of my neck; his teeth scraping my collarbone; and his finger nails trailing up my throat. I begin to shake, and my muscles grow rigid. I can feel him above me, hungry. My body starts to shake, but it is no longer him whom I am feeling.