A Love Letter

Kezia Miller

To my assailants,
       
I have not forgotten You. 
       
You probably don’t remember me, so I’ll remind You.

 

It was the night of January 11th, 2017, a date I formally celebrated—the commemoration of my husband’s and my first date. And You. You stole that from me. I remember that night like it was yesterday. The sky was steel gray and flooded with ice. A raw freeze engulfed the air. After I had parked my car, I stepped out to retrieve my belongings on the passenger side. Almost slipping—I felt like Bambi trying to ice skate. Who knew the crunch of frozen grass could deliver so much relief. Relief. The sense of safety! That’s another thing You stole. Still, I approached You for the sake of Your safety: After I heard the screeching squeal of Your tires, I immediately abandoned my things and advanced to help You! But sadly, I blame those next moments, as I now never dare to do it again. 

 

I have hated You.

 

I remember how the fumes from Your tires stung my nose—how my body became a human sandbag when You all stepped out of the car like a pack of wolves surrounding its prey. I remember a sweltering heat overcoming my body like sand melting into glass by a relentless flame. Did you know that our fear response starts in a region of our brain called the amygdala? This clever region is supposed to prepare us to be more adept in dangerous situations. At the first sense of fear, our brain transforms and becomes hyperalert. Our pupils enlarge. Our bronchi dilate. Our breathing accelerates. And our heart begins to race. However, it turns out fear can also interrupt the processes in our brains that allow us to control our emotions. Fear hinders our ability to read non-verbal cues and other (helpful) information. Fear causes us to become vulnerable to extreme emotions and impulsive reactions. Thus, we reflect on our own responses before acting—and we act honorably—influencing our decision-making in devastating ways. Well, that night, I learned my amygdala is gravely worthless. The moment You encroached upon my property, my body swarmed with emotional havoc: 
       

Pounding Heart. Thumping Veins. 
Cold Blood. Bloody Knees.
Lurid Heat. Sensational Pain.
       
And my mind—well, that turned to mush—became infected by earsplitting chatter: 
       
Floundering Cries. Choking Breaths. 
Numbing Defeat. Nauseating Angst.
Deceiving Horror. Deafening Silence.
       

I have feared You. 
       
You are my nightmares: a cold and alone inescapable void. 

 

BANG! 


I wake up in a cold and clammy sweat. My heart races, I panic, afraid that if I open my eyes, I will find Your shadowy masses, once again mounted above my cowering body. I still see the white bandanas painted with black stars that concealed Your identities and Your eyes of coal that pierced my very soul. I still feel Your combative assaults thrusting me back and forth like a ping pong ball, clawing from me all my possessions, and the sting of my skin severed by the icy pavement. I can still hear Your scornful and taunting threats. I taste Your vulgar words—they linger in the back of my mouth like the acrid punch of vomit or the metallic tang of blood. But above all, I can still sense the raw cold steel You placed against my damp forehead, pressed into my brittle temple, then aimed at my fragile heart.
       
I have questioned You.
       
For the longest time, I consistently asked why me? Why was I the Chosen One—Your puzzle piece— inconsequential but crucial to complete the task. Your sacrificial pawn— inevitable discard to gain the upper hand—selected to participate in your traumatic advent. If it were You, would You be so quick to treat life like a game? Thus, I felt it was my ordained right to be a victim. And rightfully so. You stole from me. You stole my:
       
        car
        money
        phone
        ID
        hard-earned possessions
        means of livelihood
        anniversary
        safety
        peace
        confidence
        strength
        trust
       
You stole me from myself. 
       
It’s been hard, what one might call a test. For a long time, I was “victim,” which I believed was my sole identity. But as the years have passed, I have destroyed this destructive mentality—the burden has finally lifted. Take my material possessions; it suits me fine. But you no longer can possess me: you are forbidden to try and take what is undeniably impossible to steal. I will never forget that. And I will never forget you. But today, 
       
I thank you. 
       
I thank you for your compassion; it saved my life. Thank you for challenging my naiveté; it impelled emotional strength. Thank you for the experience; it revealed my self-worth and purpose. Thank you for choosing me—by stealing the tangible—you’ve bestowed upon me the gift of gratitude and grace. In gratitude, I live each day, cherishing each moment, laugh, and kiss. I embrace every obstacle, relishing in the chance for personal growth. With grace, I recognize Mother-Father’s omnipotent beauty and omnipresent love. I love unconditionally; I mourn rightly; I forgive kindly. 
       

I forgive you.
       
I forgive you. I forgive your theft. I forgive your abuse. I forgive you for the agony you inflicted upon my mind, body, and soul. I forgive you for the sleepless nights and the all-consuming fear. And with this forgiveness, I ask for you to forgive in return: forgive those who have hurt you, the ones who’ve caused you heartache and pain, and the loved ones who have turned you away. But will all that being said, please do not forget to forgive yourselves. 
       
I love you. 

Contributor's Note

Kezia Miller is a senior studying English and minoring in Creative Writing and DHSS. After she graduates, she and her husband will move to Kentucky to undertake their dream of cultivating a flower farm. She plans to continue her education in and passion for writing and hopes to find a job where she can apply both! She would like to thank both Professor Vogrin and her peers for their support and guidance and whose talent and insight have been invaluable.

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