How My CoWorker Saved Me From Hell: Why Silence Can Kill Part 1
It was a day or so after Mother's Day. I think. Who knows. My mind was muddled by the series of events that had occurred over the last few hours. My ears were ringing and my thoughts were all over the place. I was anxious and unable to focus. I was like a zombie. Dead and numb yet somehow still alive. I was trying to make sense of it all. Something was not right. In fact it had always felt this way. Today however, things were different and little did I know that this was the beginning of the end and finally realizing why the past few years of my life had felt so wrong and so off.
I don't remember how I was able to get out of bed that morning and I have no recollection of getting dressed or even taking the train. I only remember how emotional I felt taking my precious babies to daycare for the first time. My oldest was 18 months and my youngest had turned 1 only the week before. Up until then, they were taken care of at home by their dad. My eldest cried her heart out unable to process why she was here. That broke me. And as I closed the door and walked away from her painful cries with a heart heavy as lead, I hoped and prayed that the seemingly kind Trinidadian lady who had been referred to me only the night before would take care of my babies and be kind to them in my absence.
I stumbled into work barely noticing crossing signs or people. My phone was ringing non-stop. He had been calling since early morning and just would not stop. I decided not to answer. I got to my desk and tried to get settled but I was constantly distracted by the buzzing on my phone. My direct line was now ringing. It was not a number I recognized. I answered. It was him. I hung up. It rang again from a different number. I answered. It was him. I hung up again. This chase continued for longer than I care to remember. The familiar uneasy pang in my stomach made itself known as it always did. This was not the first time that he harrassed me at my place of work.
I was scared, anxious and confused. I needed to get away. I thought about just going back home, but then I quickly remembered that I had already missed work the day before. What would I say? I certainly could not tell anyone what was happening. I was too ashamed to do that. Plus, the warning words of my mother rang clear and reminded me the impotance of silence. "Don't let people know your business" she would always say. So I lingered in my office until the non-stop ringing of my phone was no longer bearable, and I headed towards my coworkers in an attempt to escape. They were exchanging casual chat. I greeted them as normal as I could and sat in the corner chair facing them both. I remained quiet. That was the plan. I told myself "Don't say a word Shermain, just act normal."
But they could tell something was amiss. I guess it was my demeanor or the look of fear on my face. Over the last few years I had been able to mask my horrors at home with fake smiles and jovial "ok's", not only with my coworkers but with family members as well. Being at work or with my family was actually my form of escape. Today though, I could not hide it. Today, I was broken, spent, drained. It did not take much for me to breakdown as I began to spew the details of what had transpired over the last couple of days. My life was quickly unraveling and the long hot tears followed. As I struggled to spew my sad, strange story, through my sobbing, I felt as though I was having an outer body experience; That the woman breaking down at work was not me. She was someone else.
I saw the shock and terrified look on my coworkers' face and then, with certainty in her voice one of them said, "But Shermain, this sounds very much like abuse". I ignored her. And I thought to myself. "Abuse? Nahhhh he is just a crazy, jealous person." Besides I would know if I was being abused and I would never allow anyone to abuse me without fighting back, that's for sure. Besides I'm not one of "those women".
She went on to suggest a myriad of things, like filing a police report and not returning to my home out of concern for my safety and the more she spoke the more confused I became. It was as though my brain was unable to process this information. What was she really trying to say? How dare she? With false certainty, I told her "I will be fine."
As we continued speaking, one of my other coworkers knocked on the door. He was now calling front desk. She said he sounded frantic and erratic and was not making any sense. I told her to tell him I was "in a meeting". My coworkers also now realized he was also calling their personal phones. Later I would learn, that this was not the first time that he had called them in attempts to smear me as a person, a mother, a woman.
A few hours later I was back in my office, hoping to settle down and get some work done. My coworker then voiced that she was going to make a few calls to a friend that could help. I said "ok" but really didn't pay her much mind. After all, I had been here before and things go back to normal. We will be normal again. This was just another phase.
A while later she returned telling me that I should go to the nearest precinct, that there would be someone I could talk to. I said "ok" again, with no intention of actually going and sat in my office for another hour or so trying to calm my anxiety with work.
My mind kept wandering to my girls. My beautiful girls. Hoping that all was well. I turned on my phone to message the daycare and saw the dozens possibly almost a hundred missed calls. Not too long after, my coworker returned to my office once again asking what time I planned to leave for the precinct. I told her I was not sure, that I was thinking about it. She asked if I wanted her to accompany me. I told her "no" that I would be ok knowing I still had no intentions of going.
About thirty minutes or so later she returned once again. I was almost annoyed by her determination to get me to do this, but this time, when her motherly figure appeared in my periphery, she said with a seriousness and in a tone I could no longer ignore. "Shermain, let's go!".
I gave in.
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