I was scared writing the letter to Devon. I was afraid of how he would respond. It was a sunny day when he left. I thought I would write it right after he left. Yet that was a complete wash out. I was so stressed, could not put two words together. Yes, it was sunny outside, yet my heart was a dark cloud of tears.
I did not know then what I know now, and what I was experiencing then was a huge bought of anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. The feelings of being afraid, walking on eggshells and more.
So, I busied myself with other activities. Volunteering for a couple of months with a kid’s day care teaching them songs and more. It was fun, it took my mind off Devon. I also had to start to think of what to take to camp, where I worked as a lifeguard, or Waterfront Staff.
I was alone in the house, Mum and Dad were out at work, and my sister was at school. I sat by the pool and crafted the letter. Normally when I write letters, I add stickers, use fun markers, and make it look pretty. Not this one. It was on plain paper. And I used a normal blue pen. I just want to be friends I said in my letter. Not to see you that often, and things like that. Telling Devon that I do not want to be boyfriend/girlfriend anymore. I was worried though…. really worried. What would others at school think in year two? We did have several mutual friends.
It took a few days for Devon to get the letter. He was angry, crying and upset. “Why Aime? Why do you not want to be together any more? I love you!” Devon phoned me when he got the letter.
Taking a breath, slowly I responded. “Devon, I did not like having to report to you, on where I was going, and who I was seeing. You are not my Mum. I did not have to ask permission to do things with friends from you.” Doing my best to stay calm and strong while speaking to Devon.
“But why? I don’t understand. I still love you, I still want to be with you, and be your boyfriend.” Devon was angry, and still struggling to get his words out. Devon did stutter at times. I can remember asking him to see the Nun who worked in the counseling services. I remember walking to the area of the counseling services on the main part of campus. He agreed that he needed help with his anger one day. So, I encouraged him to go. He did not want to go in though, and his stutter started acting up. I was patient and asked him to go for me.
While on the phone I did my best to keep my breath under control. Slow breaths. Taking another breath, I replied “No, I do not want to be with you, or be your girlfriend. That is not going to happen. Devon, you were controlling me, that is why.”
The phone call lasted not that long, yet I hoped Devon could understand. I hung up the phone and went to my room and cried. I was also visibly shaking. I was scared.
A few weeks later I was off to Camp Adelaide again to work as a Waterfront Staff for Girl Guides Central Area. It was my happy spot. I felt at peace there, being in nature for 9 weeks, and being a lifeguard was fun. Camp was also one of my safe spaces. I could be myself. Show up and lead.
As I mentioned before one of the pass times I did while working at camp was writing letters. I typically used coloured markers and stickers to make them happy and fun. I would write to friends from school, and my grandparents.
It was always a happy day when we got mail. I was working out on the beach when our Camp Director Connie came with mail for the lifeguards. The day was cloudy and a bit rainy. The lake was extra black looking on this day. Yet receiving mail was always a happy time. On this day, I received a letter from Sam. She was happy to get my letter as it was happy and full of stickers and colour. Sam wrote also with bright colours and used stickers to decorate her letter. She talked about her summer, and what was going on. In real life, she was always happy, and not afraid to express her emotions. How I wished I could be like her and feel safe to share my emotions wherever I went no matter who was around. Sam did say in her letter that she got my letter and Devon’s letter on the same day.
Sam told me in her letter that Devon’s letter was cold and upsetting, and even scary in some respects. Sam said she phoned Devon to talk. The conversation had Sam worried. As Devon said to Sam that he does not know what he will do when he see’s me. That he doesn’t want to talk to me, and at the same time he feels we have more things to discuss.
I was upset and scared after reading Sam’s letter about her conversation about talking to Devon. I did not know what I would do if I saw him at all. Soon I would learn there is another version of fight or flight. There is one more too. Freeze. I froze when Devon and I were together in first year a lot. Yet I did not have a word for it. I could remember feeling like I was stuck and could not move. Especially when he got angry at me.
I did not want to be alone with Devon. The nightmares returned. I had one that really scared me. It was 2nd year, and Devon had gotten into the dorm where I lived. He cornered me and in his gruff voice was saying that he still wants to be with me, that he loves me. Then in this dream he raped me. This dream scared me to my core. And it kept returning throughout the summer. To speak my truth, it still scares me now today 20+ years later.
This again I can now look back on and know this was post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd) creeping in. Because of my history with Devon, I was both afraid of what was to come (anxiety) and fear of the past (ptsd).
I wrote a letter to Julie one day explaining what happened in the dream. She wrote a letter back that warning bells went off in her head. That she felt that I should tell others in year 2 about what happened in year 1. Tell people like my new R.A. and the director of Residence Services.
I was excited yes to be going back to school for year 2. And, scared as well.
The sleepless nights and nightmares continued.