I stood in the middle of a street the other night, a street that I had wished was more busy, at 12 o’clock in the morning, crying into my phone “Please, don’t let me, don’t let me die like this. Please don’t leave me! You’re the only one who understands”. I was shouting at my soon to be ex husband, and despite how loud I was sobbing, I could hear his voice cracking, and he was afraid for me. But this was one of the first times, where I was far away from him during an episode like this, and it hurt in a way it never had. He was my person. My only person. The only one who has allowed me to be broken, and sad, and never demanded more from me. Every single time my trauma has surfaced coupled with my depression, he has dropped his own personal things to hold me. Because I forget often that I’ll be okay, that I’m loved, and that I’m safe now. I forget it almost every day. While on the phone I realized that perhaps I would never be better, that maybe I will be isolated because what I hold is heavy. Too heavy for most. Perhaps no one would ever be as selfless or as willing to help me with the weight because its so hard.
The first time someone raped me I was 18. I remember leaving my body, and watching myself be forced to place my mouth onto a penis that for some reason, I can still see so clearly. I remember praying for myself, trying to remind myself that it would be over soon, but it felt like eternity. I had to remind myself to breath, I found myself holding all the air inside of me. As if I wouldn’t be able to take a breath until this was over. I have nightmares often of this, of my body being taken from me, and trying so hard to cling to it. I watch it disappear, and feel as if I’ve failed myself. I get upset, scolding myself for not fighting harder. Why couldn’t I be better? For myself! I can replay that night over in my head perfectly, but I don’t remember his face or his name. I forgot on purpose. But I remember him telling me my body wasn’t good enough, and shouting at me to “shut-up” if I made any noise at all. When I went home that night, I didn’t cry, I showered and went to bed. I wanted to go back to the way things were. But they never did. They never have. I mourn for the girl I was before. Constantly.
The second time it happened, it was late at night on campus at the college I was attending. I was held against a wall on the side of the library, and again I left my body and I watched. I watched a person I trusted stab my vagina over and over, and hold me so I couldn’t move. I hated him so much, I hated this school that lied to us about love and grace, and even more so, I hated my body, and myself. When it was over, he laughed it off. So I laughed it off. Then he told people. And I was labeled a “slut”. My body was talked about when I wasn’t present, and it was picked apart. The things that boys said about me, and would message me about. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. My body became something I didn’t talk about, or think about really. I didn’t feel as if it was mine anymore. I had no ownership over it. I felt as if it belonged to everyone else but me.
I could write about the third, fourth, and fifth time it happened. I could talk about what it feels like, to have a white man whisper in my ear about my “black pussy” while entering my body without consent. I could talk about trying to describe what it feels like to be left with a body that you hate, a body that you feel has been trashed, to a potential partner, and have them apologize… But then when you’re laying in sadness, triggered and afraid of them, they make it about themselves. Which in all honesty, I believe is fine, and it makes sense to me. I think the partners I’ve had, have believed themselves to be capable of fixing me in some way, saving me, perhaps healing me of the past. The truth is though, that the minute the trauma began, it has remained inside of me. It has attached itself to my being. Too often I’ve laid in a fetal position afraid to leave my house because something reminded me of a person who raped my body. It seems that every time I learn to love, and appreciate my body, someone strips me of that instantly.
I want it all to leave me. I want every memory, of every unwanted touch, and every cruel word to disappear from my body and from my mind. Its still here though. I carry it with me daily. I get angry that I’m left with this. With constant fits of sadness, and depression, and fear. I’m angry that my trust in those closest to me, might not even be trust. Because people I’ve trusted have hurt me. I want to know that girl that I was before, but I’ll never know her. I’ve tried to forget her in some ways, because she didn’t know what would happen, or how her life would be altered. I’ve come to realize that the only person I’ve ever put my trust in, to see me so completely in this place, has been my ex-husband. And recently I realized that I might, indeed be on my own, with all of this baggage. Baggage I never even asked for. I feel as if that is unfair, and I feel as if its unfair to dump that at the feet of someone.
So then what? Where do I take this baggage? How do I unpack it, and when will people stop telling me to accept it? I often leave my therapist’s office wondering if she thinks I’m crazy, and beyond helping. I really just want someone to be like “Its okay for you to feel fucked up, and you don’t have to be anyone else other than who you are”. I think this is what my therapist tries to tell me, but I’m not sure I always listen to her. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of any of the things that have happened in my life, no. I’m also okay with admitting that I haven’t recovered. Because I haven’t. I want to have. I want to inspire myself to be better, to be healed… I want to be positive about this in some way, but if I was real about it, its a drag.
I think of the women/men that have come before me, who have walked in the shoes I walk in now. I think of how shamed they were, blamed for being abused. I think of the young girls/boys who try to stand up for themselves, and instead of support, they get more abuse. Not only do we need to be done with rape culture, but we need so much support around victims. Sometimes victims don’t have the right words to put to the trauma and pain. Sometimes we don’t know how to express what has happened, without wanting to scream out, because this thing is living within us, that we didn’t invite in. Yet, we have to allow it to take up space, because it comes in, so quickly, and settles. As if its always been there. But you know it hasn’t. You can slightly recall the life before that. How do we, how do I, put into words the weight of this? I pull it alongside me, tripping along the way. Falling completely. Some days it seems heavier than normal, while others, pulling it isn’t so bad. And then, like the other night, its trying to swallow me. I can see it very clearly.
So I sit with this. Now alone. Within me. It moves with the body I’ve learned to appreciate and love. It falls asleep with me when I go to sleep. Its with me when I’m happy, when I’m sad. Its who I am.
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