Affirmation 10/19/17

Friend, you’ve come so far. You’re doing beautifully.

I’m glad you’re here.

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Affirmation 10/18/17

Friend, you’re so much stronger than you realize. Keep fighting. Trust me. Even when it feels like you’ve stopped trying, that the world is defeating you, remember that you’re still here, and that is incredible.

I’m glad you’re here.

Adventure in the People You Know

Again, trigger warning. There will be discussion and details of rape in the following. Sincerely, mom, stop reading.

 

Two weeks before my twenty-third birthday it was my high school homecoming and a friend’s birthday (we’ll call this friend Caliban). It had been five years since we were out of school, so we figured this was the year to go. I had also convinced a friend (we’ll call him Polonius) to come up for both the birthday and the game.

We met at a pub to surprise Caliban, then gathered up our existence and beer and went to Polonius’ hotel room to consume said beer.

This went on for some time, we had all agreed we’d just stay at the hotel. Big bed. Pull out couch. So we drank. A lot. But I’d drank a lot before and never felt like that. Caliban went to sleep, leaving me and Polonius awake to catch up. Caliban took the whole big bed, so eventually Polonius and I went to bed on the pull out couch.

I was incredibly dizzy. When I laid down I hit my head on a bar on the couch. I passed out immediately. Without any idea of the passage of time I woke up. Abruptly.

Now, it’s important to note that at nearly 23 and raised in a Christian evangelical environment I was a virgin. More to the point, I did not receive “the talk.” And sex ed at my evangelical school was…lacking. Let’s just say I’m really good at painting my nails. (That’s what we were taught). So I have no gauge for what this is supposed to be like. I have no concept of how this is supposed to work.

I do know that I’d kissed a few boys. I do know that that’s all I wanted to do. I know that my plan was always to wait until marriage, and based on what I’d learned from married friends who still had guilt about sex, maybe wait until I died.

So when I was abruptly waked with my dress pulled up and a person I trusted on top of me, I believed I put myself in this position. I believed I had at some point or another agreed to this exchange. I also know that I hit my head again. That tears were on my face. That I didn’t know for sure how I got to this position.

I never went back to sleep. He did. Touchlessly. He laid on the other side of the bed without any contact.

The next morning I stumbled downstairs with him to breakfast. “You’re still drunk,” he told me. I couldn’t eat. My head was throbbing. I’d been hungover before. This wasn’t that.

Eventually, I made it home. I laid around my parents’ house completely sick. I was set to have dinner with a friend before the game. Finally, right before I was meant to meet her, I threw up in the kitchen sink and felt like I could stand up again.

We went to the game, and I could tell he’d told people. He’d asked me out over a dozen times since middle school, and I’d always said, “no.” He was a buddy. I never had a boyfriend in high school. It didn’t seem necessary.

The next day I drove to my friend Brett’s house and told her I’d had sex, but couldn’t stop crying. Couldn’t shake how badly I felt. She took me to Taco Bell. When I drive by that Taco Bell, I still feel so loved.

A few weeks later I went out with some friends from high school, the one I’d went to dinner with and another. I told them what had happened. “Finally got what he always wanted,” they laughed their virginal laughs. I guess he had. And I guess that was the lesson.

For years, that was the lesson. He got what he always wanted, and I put myself there. I did this.

Now it’s important to note those two women and I have talked about it since then. Years later we discussed it. They apologized. It made us closer.

It’s also important to note that since then I’ve been drugged a couple of times. I now know what happened. I know that if I’m asleep, I can’t consent. I know that if I’m drugged something was planned. I know that no matter what, I didn’t want that.

A few weeks later Polonius invited me and Caliban to come visit him and his girlfriend. That’s right, he had a girlfriend at the time. I said, “No, that doesn’t seem like a good idea.” He laughed and laughed.

That same week with my friend Natasha in the basement bathroom of Macy’s I took a pregnancy test, terrified and shaking. Not pregnant. I texted Polonius. “Not pregnant. Not that you were worried.”
“I didn’t know that was a thing,” he replied with his same evangelical sex ed.

I can’t say anything with any certainty here, but here are some things I’ve thought over the years after I stopped blaming myself.

  1. There’s a distinct possibility if this event had not happened, I’d be in a healthy relationship with someone.
  2. There’s also a very real possibility, if I’d remained single, I’d still be a virgin.
  3. I know that most of the people I went to high school with do not understand this situation. It is not my job to make them understand.
  4. After this event, it felt like (and rather obviously) that I had a scent on me that let other monsters know “this is an easy prey.”
  5. I know that a hard thing to have to do is invite your rapist to a reunion you have to plan.
  6. I am the strongest person I know, and I think it’s important for me to feel that way.

For my own sake, I have forgiven him. Some times we have to forgive people without ever receiving an apology. Forgiveness is not excusing.

Recently, he told me I was an inspiration. I spent 12 hours sobbing in bed.

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Adventure in Roadside

Massive trigger warning. Rape related details coming. Seriously, mom, turn back now.

 

It wasn’t really St. Patrick’s Day, but we had a party anyway. My roommate and I came with cupcakes in hand. I will always like the opportunity to wear a costume, so I wore brown pinstripe cropped pants, black combat boots, and an inexplicably soft, lime green tuxedo shirt. I may have worn green and white striped socks. I had spent a portion of the night, as I always did at these parties, talking to a close friend of mine. We tried to catch up on life over the ear-ringing music. He went about his business, and as the night went on I sat in the balcony of the building overlooking the stage, when someone came up to me. Someone I’d not really seen before. He told me he liked what I was wearing, then disappeared. My roommate and I made faces that said “the hell just happened?” I don’t think I really even looked at him.

The next Sunday at service I looked around for him, because I assumed he’d be there, but I never saw him. Clearly, we had imagined him. We were that close. It was possible.

Near the middle of April he appeared again, this time after service. I was talking to several people, and he pulled me aside. A pattern at this particular church is that no one took me aside gingerly. No one took me by the hand or guided me by the small of my back. No one put an arm around me or even took my elbow like an elderly woman would do if you helped her across the street. No, every time someone took me aside at this church they grabbed me just above the wrist. They didn’t nudge. They didn’t coax. They gripped their hand around my forearm and pulled me aside, no matter how engrossed in conversation I was.

This stranger yanked me aside and jumped right to it. “What do you usually do on Sundays?” At the time I reasoned this was because he realized he had just been incredibly rude, so he was going to be brief to allow me to get back to my conversation. (This willy-nilly giving of the benefit of the doubt is still a problem of mine). “Well,” I said, “I come here, and the girls and I will sometimes watch a movie or go to the park or sit on the roof.”

“What are you doing today?”
“I don’t know. I guess I don’t really have plans.”

For me this conversation didn’t happen a whole lot. My heart was pounding. I had no idea what he was getting at. If I said yes, he could turn out to be a monster. If I said no, I’d be excommunicated. He asked if I ever came to the coffee shop at the church.

“Sometimes, I guess.”
“Well, why don’t you meet me here at 4?”
“Sure,” I agreed, not knowing what I was actually agreeing to.

I went home and cleaned my room and lived my life, because if I didn’t then I knew my brain would panic, and I’d never show up.

I wish I’d panicked.

The coffee shop was in the balcony of the church. When I walked in the door to go upstairs, he directed me downstairs to the basement. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this scenario, because 1) I never saw people go downstairs except for specific events and I hate breaking rules and 2) No one else would be down there. We sat on a couch, me with my bad arm against the back of the couch so I could face him. My head was resting on my hand which was propped up on the couch. (I will later regret this decision and blame him for it. I will be justified).

He again dove right into the scary end of the pool. Not the deep end. The shark infested end. He didn’t really ask questions. He just talked. He told me all about his family, and how they lived well, which is rich kid code for “they’re rich.” “I don’t want to be someone who needs nice stuff to be happy,” he told me. It wasn’t long after this that he proceeded to tell me about his new phone. His mom who got skin cancer from tanning and how reckless women were about their looks. “You’re pretty though. I guess, I even like your nose ring.” After about an hour of this sort of monologue he started to speak to me again, rather than at me.

“I’ve…I’m…hmmm.”
“What?”

I’m awful at talking to people, and while I didn’t really understand why he was pouring out his family history to me, I didn’t have to speak. Somewhere toward the last hour he paused.

“No. It’s not really appropriate for this first date situation.”

(Was this a date? Did I miss the part where I agreed to a date? How do I always miss that part?)

“Okay,” if he thinks it’s inappropriate it likely is. I’m not going to push.

“Well,” he starts anyway, “I’m a virgin.”
“Okay.”

I didn’t really care. It’s not that I didn’t care, but this wasn’t a topic I was ready to get into. Because I knew what his next question was going to be, and I knew that my answer was not first date appropriate. (I’m not sure on what numbered date it becomes appropriate, but I’m pretty sure it’s never).

“Good job,” I add hoping we can laugh and talk about scars or ghosts or something. “What about you?” I paused. I paused for a long time. I paused for what I believed to be seven to eight minutes, but was probably closer to three or four seconds.

“What about you?” he asked, inappropriately, unnecessarily.
“Well, that’s hard to answer.”
“Seems like it shouldn’t be.”

I breathed. I waited. “It’s hard to answer, because the answer is no.”

He’s making the face I am still afraid everyone will make. The one that says “whore.” The one that says “you’re no one.”

I started again.

“But I didn’t really get a say in that.”
“What does that mean?” (Disgusted? Angry? What is that tone?)
“Well,” I took a breath and tried again, “I was raped a little over a year ago.”

He became one of the first people I ever told. His face changed. It’s a face I will come to understand all too well later in life. At that moment though, when it was the very first time I’d ever seen it, I thought it was compassion. It was not compassion. It was lecherous. It was a wolf spotting a deer.

He put his hand clumsily on my arm. The arm that had been propped up on the back of the couch above my head the entire four hours.

“A friend from high school,” I said. “That’s how I woke up.”
“Awful,” he said, in a tone I will come to know means “opportunity.”

He asked a lot of questions, that a lot of awful people ask. Ones I didn’t know were wrong at the time. I was just relieved to be talking about it. I hadn’t mentioned it since I told the first two people, and they laughed at me for the situational irony of it all. “He finally got what he always wanted,” they had said.

The conversation slowed. There was a party at his house that night, so we hugged and went our separate ways. I went home. My neighbor came over to rub my throbbing shoulder, but it wasn’t long into the shoulder rub that I got a text. He wanted to see me again. That night, ideally.

I’d never felt so wanted. I’d never felt wanted. He wanted to meet up at the park beyond his house instead of at his house, since there was a party going on.

“I don’t want people asking a lot of questions,” he had explained, which in retrospect should have destroyed me inside. It did a little. It took away that feeling of being wanted a little.

He suggested I drive, even though it was less than a half-mile from my house. But we lived on the same street. I’d pass the party. People would see me. People would ask questions.

We met at the park. He had driven too, which seemed strange. That we both had to drive, when he could have easily told a group of people he was going for a walk. It started to rain.

“Why don’t you get in my car?” He shouted across the gap through open windows. “uh…okay.”

I got into his small truck.

We pulled away from the park and started to drive. I don’t know how far. He was talking again, and I was listening. It was after 10, and the rain was making it darker. After some time he pulled over. Right there on the side of the road. By a field. Nothing around. Dark. Darkness that felt like it mattered. Self-important darkness.

He took off his seatbelt and leaned over, his arm around my shoulder, his other hand on my leg. He kissed me. I didn’t stop him. He kissed me, and my mind flashed to Ethan*, to Marcus*, to Smitty*, to moments of care. This was cold. This was other. He moved closer. His weight went into his hand on my thigh. I wasn’t sure he knew what he was doing. He bit my lip, hard.

He took my right hand and put it on his crotch. “You know what to do,” his voice was different. Not impassioned. It was angry. More to the point, I did not know what to do. That became obvious to him within seconds. “The fuck?” he said, as his arm moved from around my shoulder. I said nothing. His hand on my shoulder, he shook me, as his voice grew louder, “do it!” The back of my head hit the window. Not hard, but my teeth still clattered.

Still unsure, I undid his pants. “That’s my dirty girl.” Was I? I stopped. “Say it.” I stared at him in the darkness. His hand left my thigh and came hard across my face. “Say it!” I didn’t know what I was supposed to say.

My head pounding from the window, from my shoulder, from his hand. My head was full of questions I couldn’t ask.

He shoved me away from him. His pants undone he slipped them further down, the most delicate action he’d taken.

“What are you waiting for?”
“I don’t. What?”
“Put my cock in your mouth.”
“I’m not really comfortable with–”

He grabbed the back of my neck. I felt his fingernails in my skin. He said it again as he pushed my head down. I tried to pull back, the seatbelt still across my chest.
“If you don’t do it, I’ll leave you here. In the middle of nowhere.”

One hand holding himself, he used his other to open my mouth. First with his hand under my jaw, then his hand inside my mouth. Finger tips on teeth, pulling down. Led by my jaw he pulled my head down again. Tears rolling down my cheeks. He pulled his finger out of my mouth as he pushed himself into my mouth. His hand now on the back of my head.

I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. He moved. My head hit the bottom of the steering wheel more than once.

He stopped, his hand ensnared in my hair, and wrenched my head off of him. “Say it.” I still didn’t know what I was supposed to say, and now I couldn’t say anything. I had no voice anymore. His hand still in my hair he pulled my head all of the way back and slammed it on the dash.

“Say you’re a dirty girl.”

Still unable to speak, he repeated the sentence and the action. My head slamming into the dashboard four times. Sobbing, barely audible, and fully convinced I said, “I’m dirty.” “Mmhmm, yes, you are. Keep crying, slut. It’s sexy.” I felt dirty.

He did it all again. The second time he had more to say. More things he needed to call me. I stopped crying. I became numb. Life and will left me.

He finished. As he pulled my head away he closed my mouth. He held it shut. He held it shut for a few minutes. I swallowed. Crying. His hand came hard across my face again.

“Clean up your make up.”

He pulled his pants up.

He put his seatbelt.

We drove back to the park.

I got out of his truck and into my car. He left. I left. My roommates were asleep.

I brushed my teeth. I washed my face. I brushed my teeth. I threw away my clothes. I put on pajamas. I went to bed. I woke up the next day. I covered some bruising. I went to work.

I didn’t report it. I didn’t tell anyone. He was more involved in church. Previous experience told me that people would think it was funny. I didn’t think I’d be heard. His family was wealthy, and therefore more powerful.

For his actions after please, visit here.

Until recently, that was the worst of it.181426_523176729019_5353008_n

Adventure in Control

Abuse comes in a lot of different forms. **trigger warning** This post will mention, though not explicitly describe the concept of rape.

 

A few years ago I started regularly seeing someone. He went to a church that I used to attend. He came to a show I did with some friends. He started liking all of the things I posted on social media, I guess to get my attention?

We started seeing each other a couple of times a week. I’m a very punctual person. I believe that being habitually late tells people my time is more valuable than mine, and I hardly believe my time matters at all, so I try to be early. He, on the other hand, would be half an hour to two hours late without explanation every time I saw him.

One night I had purchased tickets for an event that he had interest in. It was the least I could after dinners and things. He also didn’t have a car at the time, so I had to drive out of town to pick him up. I drove around his town for two hours waiting for him to come home. Ten minutes before he arrived at home he said “I’m on my way back from *wherever the hell he’d gone.* I just need to shower and change.” He was insistent we drive up to the show that was now almost over to see if we could still get in. I said, “No. That’s not how theatre works. We missed the beginning; we missed it all.” We ended up driving all the way back to his town to watch a movie. We didn’t have to make that trip at all.

He had given me a pair of pants to mend for him, which was fine with me. But one day, the information about my assaults and the way I’d spun out after that was not okay with him. Over a text he broke up with me. He didn’t want to see me. He still won’t acknowledge I exist if we’re standing next to each other in line to see something.

The problem was that I still had those pants. For weeks. About once a week he would text me that he wanted to come pick them up. I would wait, for hours because I just wanted rid of them. Hours later he would say “oh I just went home because of y.” I’d have someone in my apartment, so he wouldn’t feel like he could stay. I’d sit outside in the rain. I’d wait.

This was his way of maintaining control over me. To still be able to dictate what my life was.

Eventually, I got fed up and drove to his town with several other unwanted pairs of pants and threw them all over his yard in the middle of the night. (I highly recommend pantsing someone’s yard. The thud pants make when they hit the ground is very satisfying.)

I’ve lately been trying to walk away from an emotionally abusive situation. He once checked on my cat so he was given a key. He still has that key and has put a lot of work into making sure he just can’t quite get it back to me, which leads to sleeplessness.

He said I could have two whole bars in town. Granted, they’re the only places I really go, but on a recent occasion where I went to one of those two bars, one of his friends said “you’re not welcome here.” I stared. “You know why.” I didn’t, but I’m pretty decent at social math. Nonetheless, it remained that was one of my spaces. He had the entire town at his disposal. Still as a courtesy I let him know I’d be there for a show. I’d stay at the show. I wouldn’t be seen. So naturally he had already had plans to be there and made sure I felt guilty for even thinking about going. He’d change his plans, he pouted. He didn’t. He didn’t change his plans, and I uncomfortably cried during a show I was trying to enjoy.

The key has been attempted to be retrieved on several occasions, but there’s always a reason it doesn’t make it to me. This is control. This is a power play.

Abuse has so much to do with control. Assault has so much to do with control. Rape is about control and power.

In dealing with my most recent rape, I made a joke about all of the weight I’ve been gaining and how often I’ve been raped. “How fat do I have to get to stop being raped?” This was called out as fat shaming. If it was, it was shaming me. It was also called out that I was saying fat people aren’t desirable. I’ve never been more disgusted that someone would think rape had one fragment to do with desire. It doesn’t. It has nothing to do with desire. That’s why it doesn’t matter how fat I get, how much or little I’m covered, how drunk or sober I am, how old or young I am. It has nothing to do with those things. Nothing. It is about control.

I haven’t been sleeping. He has my key and the power still to keep me from sleep. Control and abuse comes in a lot of forms. Right now it’s little cuts and bruises in my mind that don’t get to heal.

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