Caged Freedom

I was driving through the country roads last night, looking for the farmhouse that was host to our county’s rural dairy farm social (it’s a big deal around here). I drove 50 miles per hour, instead of the regular 55. I wanted to take everything in as much as I could as I wound through gravel roads I’d never been on before. The wetlands and long stretches of acreage blooming with, now, hefty corn plants and baby soy beans seemed so routine, but at the same time, all brand new. I saw herons fly over the marshy wooded groves along the gravel roads, birds of so many colors sprinting across the sky, catching the plethora of insects also flying just as high.
And for a moment? It felt like I was just as free.
Only
A moment.
See, when you’ve been through trauma, your brain and body don’t let you forget that trauma happened. It doesn’t matter how much you’re enjoying your surroundings, trauma comes in and says, “Hey, remember what he did to you? Remember how long you struggled? Remember the smell of his breath and the names he called you? Do you still feel the weight in your chest of what he took from you?” And right when you’re admiring the birds for their freedom, you feel so caged. So far from freedom when its staring you in the face.
But there’s safety in that imprisonment. I know no one can get in and hurt me like I was hurt before. I’m safe in the cage, even though it is a cage.
And that’s how I’ve been surviving the last 2-3 months. Admiring from the outside, but a prisoner of my past. I have the key to unlock my own cage. But I won’t be using it until I’m ready. Until I feel safer outside of my cage.

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