by Sandra Bodah, CPAC, Chief LMER

Winner  of the FMMD 2022 SAAPM Essay/Poem Contest is... "When I Close My Eyes"

When I close my eyes


When I close my eyes, I feel the darkness, I remember the pain, and I feel isolated and afraid. I hear the noise, I know the memory all too well. My body tenses with each heartbeat, but I can’t stop the fear, the anxiety, and the dread. I know the pain, I hate the memory, I hate the nights, I hate the dark, I hate being alone, I hate everything I have become. Sometimes I feel desperate and trapped. My thoughts are dark, my senses feel numb.

It sounds odd, but I often hear a voice that whispers to me, it’s a soothing voice, a voice of reassurance, a voice of strength. It is so faint, so far, I hear the words, but I can’t make them out. I just know the tone and familiarity in the voice. I am not in a tunnel, or on a mountain or in a valley, why is this so familiar and so comforting, but so distant and so far. Am I dreaming, am I sleeping, who is that voice? Why do I know it?

Wait, I see a light, its dim, or is it getting brighter? Why is it so small, is it growing? And then there it is, slowly getting larger and brighter, and now I know what is going on. Where is that voice I heard earlier?

Oh my, it is me. My eyes are opening, and I am standing in front of the mirror, staring at a reflection of someone I no longer recognize. That person has been hurt and is in pain, they are dark and withdrawn. But as I stare longer, I realize my gaze is changing and becoming intense. Who is this person I see in front of me.  Is that me?

This person looking back at me seems different. And I see it……and realize I am somebody, I am stronger than I thought, I am alive and feeling every heartbeat of who I really am. I will not be that person who engulfed the pain, the torment, the crime, I will be the person who defeats it, stands up to it, challenges it, and realizes that I have not changed, but my pain has changed me.

I feel a sense of empowerment, an epiphany so over whelming and strong, it takes me by surprise. The mirror has revealed who I really am, and how strong I can be.

 I am no longer afraid, I am the fear now, the challenger who will not bow down nor cater to this injustice. The voice I heard was me, it was my voice. And now I understand why that voice is so important, why it caught my attention, why it was a distraction. It was my soul, my healing, my inner strength, my being.

 I spoke, and my voice was heard. I will continue to speak and be heard, and no one will stop this voice ever again, for I have not become a victim or a survivor, but a warrior.