My teeth are jammed, feet pressed hard to the fall with my tears on reverse as I somehow try to manage my trigger, oh but I am triggered.
I am triggered because somehow being a woman in my country is a crime. I heard the horrific story of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a young woman who was killed at the Post Office where she went to collect a parcel. I realize now that all places are dangerous, my workspace, the mall, the stairwell, the taxi rank everywhere. Before all the recent events, I was already alert, doing a women’s headcount before I entered rooms, walked down corridors, entered a taxi. If I am outnumbered or dissatisfied with the ratio I would rather wait for another taxi even if it means I will be 20 minutes late. I was already doing all this; this routine and safety measures are not new to me or to many of the women I know.
But I am triggered, triggered because today it feels different. I can feel my blood turning in my veins, my eyes are ever so sharp and attentive, and I am not only sensitive but annoyed by the ocean of men who surround me. The men who stand too close, who casually flirt, who make feel uncomfortable in simple places, I am triggered. I don’t know if he (the boss, the taxi driver, the client, the security guard, the pastor) will hurt me, I don’t know if they will make me the next one.
The next one to not return home, the next one to have muffled screams, the next one to cause another woman to be triggered, for I am triggered.
I slowly remove my red, numb hands and uncoil my bruised feet and realize that my methods of coping are not working. I have absorbed the pain of my sister, friend, colleague in a body that is already too full of its own experiences, its own stories, its own triggers.
I am surrounded by laughs I cannot join, everything is moving on, the time, the day, the assignment.
If you had to ask me, I doubt I would ever say, but yes, I am triggered.