Thinking back, that was probably the first time I had ever had a panic attack. The pilot announced that we were making our final descent. My chest became tight and I remember having to take deep breathes, as if the cabin was suddenly running low on oxygen. I closed my eyes tightly and tried not to panic. Why couldn’t I breathe? This time my tears were of fear. After all I had endured was I going to die here on this plane? Cause of death; asphyxiation. Most likely everything that would happen from then on was a constant bitter continual reminder that things had gone very wrong for me.
Neriah’s brother picked us up from the airport. As we drove, the gravity of saying “I do” hit home yet again. When I left the Uk some years ago, I hadn’t any intention of returning. Perhaps I would have come on holiday at some point, but I never dreamt my return would be like this. Not for my own safety. In my short life I have moved around the globe a little and have always adapted to the new environment. While this one wasn’t new it would take a resetting of my mindset because of the circumstances of my return.
A few days later Neriah asked me what I wanted to do. I could stay as long as I wanted but what were my thoughts. I told her that my priority would be employment which wasn’t going to be difficult given my field. “Byooti, you’ve been to hell and back. It’s good that you want to work, it will keep you occupied but I think that the important thing right now is to take stock, breath and have time to yourself.” She didn’t want to hear about me contributing to her household or pulling my weight around the home. She just wanted me to be okay.
Everyday I took a long walk. I had always known where she lived, but was unfamiliar with the area. What better way to find your bearings? I tried to find things to do around the home. The days were bearable. Night times were tough. They were the darkest part of my day. I fell asleep to the same question every night, “Why are you here?” This was followed by the same chiding statement “Look at where you are now. Look at how you’ve messed up your life.” I cried myself to sleep for many nights. In the middle of a meltdown one night a WhatsApp message came through from a friend of mine from church. She sent me a song;
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you’re near?
What if trials of this life are your mercies in disguise?’
Laura Story ‘Blessings’
I cried all the more after playing the song. I played it every night for many nights. I learned the lyrics over time and would cry and sing along. It reminded me that though my pain was ripping through me, it would stop one day. I would heal from this tragedy. I just needed to be patient and let it take it’s course. God had not forsaken me even though I was in a pit of my own digging.
I don’t really remember the first time I met Neriah, but I will not forget her very big kind heart. She opened her home to me without wanting anything in return. She spoke to me with wisdom and made us laugh (much harder than either of us should have and probably to the annoyance of the neighbours!). She knew exactly when to push. It had been weeks since I returned but I couldn’t bring myself to attend church. I was fearful of the questions that would be asked. What would I answer without lying? I wasn’t ready to disclose my story. How could I avoid the judgements? How much skirting around the issue could I get away with? “Come on Byooti, you can’t hide forever, unless of course you’re trying to be a heathen?” We both shrieked. Neriah is renowned for her ability to make others laugh. Thank you my sister for everything. God will continue to bless you.
This is for you Neriah and a shout out to friendship everywhere.
You may know someone who is in an emotionally abusive relationship. You may not understand what the big deal is, “Why can’t they just up and leave?” Sometimes the victim doesn’t even know the answer to that question. Here is what you can do. Just stay in contact, and if their perpetrator doesn’t see you as a threat, try to keep it that way. It makes life easier if the victim doesn’t have to defend their friendship with you. You will never know how vital a lifeline you are to them. You maybe the little extra breath of fresh air in their life that makes life bearable. They may or may not confide in you about what they are experiencing, but for a time you are their rainbow. And just to clarify, I am referring to God’s original symbol of hope.
You may be a victim. Maybe you have thought long and hard about leaving but can’t seem to work it all out. Put it in God’s hands and take the leap of faith. Starting over is intimidating but ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Philippians 4:13 NKJV. There may be huge loses but you will eventually gain peace of mind. We were not created to live with indefinite emotional turmoil; ‘ . . . and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ Philippians 4:7 NKJV.
. . . Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.’ Joshua 1:9 The Message Bible.
Stay strong. Stay focused.