Chapter 28- Haven
*2 weeks Later*
“Haven?” I look up at the woman in front of me. Her kind brown eyes waiting for me to respond to a question I don’t even remember. I look down at my baggy sweatpants and oversized sweater. “Haven?” I hear her say again. I look up, “I see in the questionnaire you’ve listed some things about how you’ve been feeling the last couple of days. Want to talk about it?” I stare at her blankly as she gives me a small smile.
“Uh-” I begin, and I play with my fingers. “I guess,” I say quietly. She nods, urging me to go on. I fold my arms across my chest. “Well- I have a lot of anxiety attacks.” She writes something down.
“What causes them?” She asks, leaning forward in her chair, folding her hands together. I shrug my shoulders. “Well, tell me about yesterday, did you have one yesterday?” I nod. “Ok, tell me about it.” I take in a deep breath, sitting back, crossing my arms over my chest.
“They all start the same. I’ve suffered from anxiety for over a year now. They stopped but started again,” I say shrugging my shoulders.
“You seem a bit closed off to speak about the matter, why?” I roll my eyes and look at the ceiling, I just shrug my shoulders. “Are you not comfortable being here Haven?” I avert my eyes back to Dr. Ayla, keeping my posture.
“Not really, I don’t think I need to be here,” I respond.
“Why are you here then?”
“My boyfriend thinks I do,” I say more quietly bringing my eyes to the floor.
“Okay, but what do you think you need?” she asks. I look back up at her and I can feel my walls crumbling down, revealing my true feelings, but I fight it. I just shrug in response. “Haven, I just want to make it clear that you can’t be helped if you don’t want it. I believe it is important to figure out for yourself, what it is you want. I have to make clear that it this has to be what you want.” I look at her and damn it, a tear fell. I quickly swipe it away and look back down. “So, what is it that you want Haven?” More tears fall down, and I see the box of tissues on the end table beside me and I quickly grab one.
“Um-” I say, more tears spilling. I take a breath to calm my nerves, “I’ve just been so… scared.” I finally let my walls crumble and all the tears I’ve held in for weeks pour out of me. Dr. Ayla doesn’t rush me to speak, a comfortable silence settles around us as she waits for me to continue, which I eventually do. “My ex-husband showed up with my mother, both of whom I do not have a good relationship with,” I manage to say through my tears. I don’t look up I keep my head down.
“What happened when they showed up?” I hear her reply. I wipe my eyes and finally look up at Dr. Ayla as she gives me a small encouraging smile.
“My ex-husband… Charles is his name,” I begin, “him and my mother, broke into my home. My mother left my house eventually, and Charles attempted… to rape me.” Dr. Ayla nods her head in understanding, no judgment or pity crosses her face, which calms my anxiety more. I grab another tissue and fix my eyes to my lap once again.
“That’s a very traumatic thing to experience, Haven. Feeling scared is very common, as well as becoming more guarded. Your home or I like to refer to as one’s safe space, was violated and your personal space as well. Your feelings are very much valid.” I feel myself feeling more and more calm as she speaks. Her words bringing me peace.
“I guess I just don’t know what to do to feel safe again,” I say, wiping my nose and looking back at Dr. Ayla.
“That is totally understandable. Let me ask you, have you stayed at your home since the incident?” I shake my head. “Okay, again, this is common in people who are victims to home invasions and even attempted rape. Haven, I just want you to know that the first step to recovery is to not feel embarrassed about what has happened. Know that you did nothing wrong. When a woman says no, then your ‘no’ should be respected. Always. What happened to you was a complete violation and through consistent therapy we’re going to help you feel safer and more comfortable to live your life in peace.” I cry harder and harder with each of her words, not realizing that that was exactly how I had been feeling. I felt like what happened with my mom and Charlie was all my fault. “Haven, can you tell me, when was the last time you went to your house?” I take a shaky breath.
“Not since the accident,” I respond, in a raspy voice.
She nods, “okay, again that is totally normal. Some homework I want you to do is, just sometime this week, drive by your house. I don’t want you to get a panic attack so if passing by brings you too much anxiety, just pass by the block. Don’t go in the driveway or try to go inside, unless you want or feel ready to. The biggest goal is for you to feel in control of your life because I know right now it feels like that control was stripped away from you.” I nod and continually wipe my eyes. “How does everything sound so far?” I sigh.
“You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with everything. I do feel out of control. I left New York under the radar, successfully, running away from my mother and my ex-husband because as you can tell they’re awful people. My ex was so abusive physically and my mom emotionally abusive. I came here to Waterston for a new beginning, and I just created such a safety net for myself. My home was comfortable and mine. I just hate that they stripped that away from me,” more tears fall down my face, but I continue speaking, “I feel awful for my boyfriend, I’ve just been so closed off to him. I’ve actually been sleeping in his sisters guest bedroom because I’m just not comfortable sharing a bed with him.” Dr. Ayla nods in understanding, I wipe at my eyes, that are now feeling raw because of the constant crying I’ve been doing lately.
“This is all common with the circumstance that you faced. A man violated you, so you not feeling comfortable sharing a bed with your significant other is understandable. My response to you is, take your time. Don’t feel pressured to do anything that Haven doesn’t want to do. You are in control.”
After my session with Dr. Ayla, I drive off through town, deliberately passing by my job. The shop has closed for the day, so I just continue driving, ignoring the sting in my chest. I miss the routine I had, the security I felt in this town. It kills me knowing that Charlie and my mother are out there knowing exactly where I am. I constantly for the past two weeks, have felt the fear and anxiety that they may come back and try what they did again. I’ve kept myself numb. Today was the first day I’ve actually allowed myself to cry about the incident. I’ve given everyone the cold shoulder, especially Noah.
I drive for about 10 minutes, until I reach the beach dock, where everything began for Noah and me. I park the truck and hop out walking to the dock, feeling the late sun against my skin. I walk the dock and see the familiar beachside restaurants. At the end if the dock I see crowds of people with drinks in their hands, I see the large sign illuminated in the sunset sky reading AVA’S PLACE. The job that started it all for me. It was where I truly got to meet Noah properly. This place started it all for me.
As I get closer to the bar, I can see through the windows that the bar is packed with people standing, sitting at tables, laughing, dancing, and talking very loudly. A few people stop and stare at me staring in the bar window. I suddenly realize that I am horrifically under dressed in my baggy grey sweatpants and matching hoodie. I tug at the hem of my sweater consciously. I fight all instincts in me to walk away but instead, I walk through the crowd of people and into the bar. Everything is the same. Music is blasting, the flat screen tv’s above the bar are showing a football game and men at the counter are watching, talking and even shouting at it. I scan the room, my eyes gravitating to the bustling workers behind the bar. I see Autumn and Drew immediately. I take a seat at the end stool, just like the first time I came into the bar. The bar has a low light ambiance and I’m grateful for it. I keep my eyes on a bustling Autumn, pouring drinks, taking payments, occasionally laughing at Drew or a customer.
After a few minutes of glancing back and forth between my lap and Autumn, she makes her way to the end of the bar and I smile up at her and her eyes widen in surprise.
“Haven? Is that you?” She walks around the counter to me and brings me in for a hug as I remain sitting in the stool. I stiffen in her embrace, but she releases me before she realizes. I give her a tight smile and force a laugh. “How are you sugar?” She says with a toothy smile.
“I’m fine, thanks, and you?”
“Still here, aren’t I?” she says laughing, “What can I get ya?”
“Actually, I was wondering if Noah was here?” I ask, looking down the bar counter still only seeing Drew. I look back to Autumn and she’s smiles, nodding.
“Yeah sugar, he’s cookin’ in the back. It’s packed in here, Chef needed help. Want me to get him?” I quickly shake my head and hop off the stool.
“No, no just let him know I’m outside when it’s not busy,” I say stuffing my hands in my hoodie sweater. She looks conflicted, but I nod in reassurance and walk to exit, leaving the loud stuffy bar behind me.
As soon as I walk outside past the crowd of people onto the boardwalk. I feel the immediate breeze from the sea. I walk to the railing and fit myself in the space, hopping down into the sand. I walk towards the water seeing the waves crash against the sand. I sit down just before the sand turns wet. I take in the salty scent, allowing the sound of the waves to fill my ears. I feel tears slip down my cheeks as the day finally dawns down on me. I close my eyes, trying to drown out the noise of my thoughts.
* sorry for the late update- writers block is the real deal. But we are nearing the end of the story :(. Thanks for supporting - xoxo