"Hallie, he's not David."

I couldn't breathe. My eyes were closed. I couldn't think. I started having a PTSD episode in front of my therapist for the first time.

I started crying. Hyperventilating.


"Please, repeat after me, 'He's not David.' You're safe," she repeated.

"He's not David. They're not the same person," I breathed.

Time passed.

My mind finally cleared.

"I was hoping he could have sensed that I was hesitant to have sex. I was hoping he would have sensed that I was hesitant and would have said something."

I started crying again.

A pattern. I feel pressure when I can feel someone else's desires. My empathy is high, and I freeze. I shut off emotionally and become numb, going through the motions. I see it coming. I can feel their desire. I know what's going to happen. I knew it was going to happen. I let it happen.

Why do I get so weak? Why can't I stick up for what I want? Why do I rely on others to make the decision? Why do I think their decision is better than my own?

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