This is about Growth

As always this is a content warning. There will be subject matter about and relating to sexual violence. Take care of yourself as we go forward. If this is the end for you, that’s okay. Here’s Gilda.

 

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Nine years ago today what seemed like an unbreakable pattern started. It has been nine years since my first assault. That time by a close friend. I won’t get into the nitty gritty. Not again. That’s not what this is about.

This is about nine years later, because ya know? Nine years and eight more assaults later? Still here. I don’t care what anyone else thinks; I know that that is remarkable.

Two years ago it happened again, but as promised this is about growth. This is about how two years or nine years or six years or pick a time frame, I am still here. I have learned. I have overcome. I have put in hard work. My being here is hard earned. I worked, and not all people were okay with me getting better or clawing my way out of my pit, some still aren’t. Some times people will support you, so long as you stay miserable with them. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to stay miserable. Please don’t. It’s worth digging out of that hole. YOU are worth digging out of that hole. I am worth digging out of that hole.

Does that mean, years later, after all of that work, things are perfect? Not at all. Last night while just goofing around, my body physically froze and tears streamed down my face and my brain filled with flashbacks. Just last night my dreams were largely just nightmares. But today? I’m up again. I am still here. You are still here. Please don’t let anyone get you to believe that that is anything less than completely amazing.

Two years ago, when things got bad I cut all of my hair off. Going forward I decided that as part of my growth, my hair would reflect that. It took a long time. Hell, I lost some of my hair when things were truly bad. But as my brain has healed, my hair has started growing. Maybe that sounds silly to you, but it’s important to me.

I am still here, and today I am very glad for that.

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April 25, 2017.

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Some time mid April 2018, with much hair loss.

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Right this minute and still growing

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Martyrs and Ideation

Trigger warning: discussion of suicidal ideation

As always, a picture of Gilda Catner in case you wish not to proceed.46768336_840125181779_4644450511452372992_n.jpg

In Acts chapter 7 we learn about the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen.  In chapter 6 Stephen is seized for doing “signs and wonders” (miracles). Stephen is brought before the Sanhedrin (rabbinical court) and gives a brief history of the nation of Israel, that really makes the book of Numbers seem wasteful.  When he’s finished he calls them “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears” always resisting the Holy Spirit, just like yo daddy and granddaddy (basically). And I tell ya what, the Sanhedrin was not having that. So ya know what they did? Grabbed the biggest rocks from the pile and threw them at Stephen until he died. All the while Stephen is praying and asking for God’s forgiveness of those stoning him. Or so the story goes.

In 1999 a book was published by the band DC Talk titled after their popular song “Jesus Freak.” Jesus Freaks: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus was a collection of stories, printed on tattered pages like it was discovered in a cave that printed ancient covers in modern ink. The stories were of individuals who gave their lives in the name of Christ, but like the good ones? Not the ones who died in Crusades, but the persecuted. The ones we should emulate.

On April 20, 1999, you likely recall was the Columbine High School massacre, the school shooting in modern America that kick-started the rebirth of a trend that has only since progressed. In September of that same year a book came out called She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall. The story of this student went that either Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold (I don’t remember which, and I don’t think it matters) came into the Columbine library and asked of the students cowering under the tables “who in here is a Christian?” (I’m paraphrasing). And a timid but firm blonde girl said “I am.” Or to go with the title they posed the question to her directly, and she, ya know, said yes.

After the Cassie Bernall story came out, the Jesus Freaks book gained popularity, and a second one was later published. In my evangelical life these books and the story of Cassie Bernall were everywhere. We were taught regularly about martyrs. It was begged again and again, what would you do in a situation like Cassie’s? If our school gets shot up…becomes when our school gets shot up…what are you going to do? Are you going to say yes?

This line of questioning burrowed into my mind. Would I say yes? How would I stand up for Jesus? How would I put my life on the line for Jesus? How would I die for Jesus? How could I die? When can I die?

The glorification and idolization of martyrs became pervasive. This became a real topic of conversation in youth group for months on months. Or maybe it was one week (though I don’t believe it was), but in my brain it lasted for over a decade. This creeping sense that one day a man with a gun was going to walk into the classroom and ask me point blank “are you a Christian?” and I had to say “yes” or I was going to hell for eternity. I’d be in my bed at night thinking of someone coming through my bedroom window, knife to my throat, same question, same options. I’d be sitting in church wondering why I would be the only one asked. A pastor on stage and I’d be shot.

This constant thinking, and it was constant, grew. It grew from how will die for Christ into a constant thought of how I would die, more horrific each time. More grisly, until finally it turned from “how will I die for Christ?” to “how can I die and have people tell the story it was for Christ so I don’t go to hell forever?” to “how can I die?” This worship of martyrs became a pretty serious suicidal ideation. Something I now have in check, but for over a decade was overwhelming and constant.

Can I tell you something? Something pretty important. That story about Cassie Bernall at Columbine? It’s not true. Yes, she was killed in the shooting, but no one asked her anything. There was no sense in what Harris and Klebold did. They weren’t seeking out Christians. They walked into a library and opened fire. Those that were nearby Cassie when she died, have come forward saying “no one was asked anything” and “no one was asked that.” They just shot. This is a story fabricated by her mother (as a way to process her grief, to add meaning to her child’s senseless death) and her pastor. I find the latter far more disgusting than the former. If that’s the story her mother needed to tell herself to get through it, fine. But her pastor having a book published of a lie, infuriates me.

To this day, that story creeps into my mind as truth and the lies start to form in my head again. I’ve been learning a lot about spiritual trauma lately, and this is a very big part of my own. The lies the church taught us to get the result they wanted.

What They Probably Haven’t Told You

Potentially triggering moments ahead, mentions of assaults, exams, and memories, so here is a picture of Gilda Catner if you need to stop here.

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It has been over a year since I was last assaulted. That alone for me is remarkable. In that year a lot has happened. I’ve been seeing a therapist regularly. I’ve been working the same job consistently. I’ve been to Harry Potter World (and isn’t that all that matters?). I’ve also been diagnosed with endometriosis. I’ve had surgery. I’ve had flashbacks. I’ve healed. I’ve learned, and in a lot of ways I’ve found tools to get out from under the pain of traumas.

To that end my therapist has celebrated with me as I’ve moved into what is genuinely a relatively stable place. I’m not healed. I’m not cured. But I am better. I can confidently tell you that I am constantly getting better. Flashbacks are fewer.

This all, to me, is incredible.

Now that society-at-large is starting to talk about sexual harassment and trauma, let’s talk about what no one is talking about. Hell, I haven’t been talking about it, because I didn’t know it was a thing. So let me tell you what I’ve learned to be a thing.

Mental and emotional damage is a big side effect of sexual assault. Lasting damage, and I am so glad we’ve reached the stage where people are getting the platform and space to speak about that. It’s important, and while heartbreaking, it is beautiful.

It’s safe to assume that some physical damage also comes with sexual assault. Bruises, tears, and some times worse, but often it’s relatively superficial physical damage. Or so I believed.

After months of searching, I finally found a new gynecologist. I was given the most thorough exam I’ve ever received, and with it some of the most needed patience. He explained every he did before he did. I was with him for at least 45 minutes, before he told me that he believed I had both bladder damage and damage to my hip muscle from the assaults, likely one within the last year based on how my pain has changed.

He sent me to a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor, again something I did not know existed. When they handed me the pamphlet for it, it was described as for pre and post-natal treatment. The nurse told me that’s just what they call it, so don’t be intimidated.

A little over a month ago I started seeing my physical therapist, for what I refer to as “vag therapy.” She’s patient. She’s calm. She shows as much care to how my mind is doing as my brain therapist. If I don’t feel up to an internal treatment, she doesn’t even give it a second thought. If I don’t feel up to her touching me, she walks me through stretches that I do myself. This experience has been incredibly healing, but there’s something I really need you to understand.

When I first did my rape kit back in April of 2017, the nurse pointed out that I had hemorrhoids. Those were new. She noticed some mild damage, but she also explained that the same cell structure in your mouth that heals so quickly, is the same cell structure in vaginas, which is why they also heal quickly. Perhaps if I’d gone in the minute after it happened, she’d have seen other damage, but she didn’t tell me about the possibility of future problems. She didn’t even mention it.

When I went to see my physical therapist, she told me there wasn’t just damage, there’s a tear in one of the muscles in my pelvic floor that controls my hip. Not a strain. Not a kink. A tear. That tear then changes how I use my hip which pinches the nerves in my hip. This affects so much more of my life than I realized. It dictates whether or not it hurts to poop, or if I can poop. It can mean I pee more or less because of pain. It changes how I walk, because it’s not just about that muscle. Since it involves my nerves, sometimes there’s a searing pain in my foot, when I’ve done nothing differently. Sometimes I collapse in the middle of a grocery because I’ve been walking too long. Sometimes my head lilts to one side because the nerves are all bound up.

When I say it hurts, I’m understating. I’ll burn myself sitting on and resting under heating pads. I’ll lose sleep. I’ll cry uncontrollably to my boyfriend because I think the way this may be affecting his life is incredibly unfair to him. It determines whether or not I can attend something I was looking forward to. It can genuinely bring me to my knees.

The first time I met with my physical therapist, I got in the car and lost it. I started sobbing. I had, no, I have made so much progress in the last eight years, and in this last one specifically. I’m incredibly proud of how hard I’ve worked, how far I’ve come. I’ve cut out people who were detrimental to my growth, and in many ways deliberately working to undermine it. I’ve given myself tools to get through bad days. I’ve had less bad days. And yet, here I am.

I felt like I’d lost, again. In many ways, I still do. (For corn’s sake, it’s only been a month). These monsters have gone on with their lives, many feeling like they’ve done nothing wrong, some despite conversations. While I’ve begun to feel like every few months I have to start fighting this battle all over again. Like getting to the end of your five-hundredth meter in the pool and remembering just before your feet reach the bottom of the pool that you’re doing the 1,000. Just as you start to breathe relief, your splashed with the reality that this race is not over. It’s both exhausting and heartbreaking.

Hear me though. I am not telling you this for pity or sympathy or anything else. I don’t think I’m telling you for my own sake. Know that your friends who have suffered and survived, may not just be trying to get through mental blocks, and trust me that’s hard enough. Their bodies may also be fighting. Their bodies maybe fighting fights that the mind is not yet aware of.

It’s a long struggle. I know that, and I’ve seen people come and go with time as it weighs on them too. That seems like a dark place to leave, but as of this moment, I don’t know what all comes next. Just do me a favor, check on your survivor friends. Keep growing.

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Adventure in Self-Righteous Unhelpfulnes

April was sexual assault awareness month. With that came a lot of personal boldness. I’m always pretty talky about things, but I decided it was time to be just a little louder. I did something brave, even for me. I tweeted just the first names (that I knew) of those who have assaulted me. It came with little response. I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it for me. I did it to bravely say aloud. For me.

A couple of weeks later I got an email from someone I hadn’t heard of in a couple of years. The same person who upon hearing of my first rape laughed at the situational irony and said, “He got what he always wanted.” A couple of years ago when we met up, we talked about that night. We talked about that conversation. I extended forgiveness. I extended grace. We had a conversation in which I believed we’d reached an understanding.

Remember last month when I said “if you don’t know what to say, it’s really okay to just shut up?” (I probably said it nicer than that). She should have just shut up.

This same person came across this tweet and decided that she knew people with those first names, and before checking with me, contacted those she knew with those first names and told them “Hayley is telling people you raped her.” I received threats. I received insults. From people it shouldn’t have impacted at all.

I received what felt like an unending email thread from this person. Even though I repeatedly asked that she never contact me again. Someone who stakes her reputation on being a voice for women made sure to shut mine down, because in her mind it affected someone she once knew, regardless of concern for how it affected the woman she knew. She didn’t stop emailing me until she heard from my boyfriend.

Why am I telling you this?

It takes an awful lot for me to get to a point where I cut someone out of my life. In fact, I should be better at it, based on how many toxic people I’ve let run my life.

Throughout all of the emails she cites her god, the Enemy. Let me tell you something. I believe in God. I believe we’re all in this together. I believe that this world is awful. I believe that the only way it’s going to get better is if we take care of each other. I believe that people who think more about even the potential accused over the victim are the Enemy. I believe that Christians who spout their self-righteousness as faith are a greater detriment than anyone else to faith in general.

If you cannot hear a victim and let them tell their story the way they need to, then you need to take your seat.

It shook me. It knocked me out for a while. It made me terrified again. It made me shake with anger. It rekindled nightmares. It rekindled distrust. It elevated her superiority.

What we share that isn’t ours is affecting. How we share it matters. It’s so, so easy to see some information and draw our own conclusions.

All of that to say this. Bad things are going to happen. Bad people are going to show themselves. Everyone you know and care about isn’t going to support your survival. They won’t like that you’re getting better. Maybe they don’t wish you ill, but they don’t understand how you can get out from under something when they can’t. You aren’t doing it for them. You are doing it for you. It’s your survival, and it’s beautiful.

A year ago I met up with someone from tinder. A year ago guns were brought out in my presence, and I instantly felt trapped. A year ago I was beaten. A year ago I was raped. A year ago I felt so isolated. A year ago one of my best friends met me at the Sexual Assault Treatment Center. A year ago she sat in that lobby for hours, while I did all of the things you’re “supposed” to do. A year ago I made phone calls. A year ago I hid at the Let’s office. A year ago I felt like it was all over, again. A year ago I wanted to be dead. A year ago people I love rallied around me and wouldn’t let me go.

A year later I am stronger. A year later I am different. A year later I have healed and grown. A year later I’ve walked away from a lot of things and a lot of people. A year later I am medicated. A year later I am in consistent therapy. A year later I am still here.

Ya know what? I’m glad I’m here. Thank you to everyone who has helped make that possible.

Adventure in Just Shut Up

In the name of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I’ve compiled this list. 

Remember, this is one survivor’s opinion. On both sides of this I’ve heard almost all of these at least once. This isn’t a complete list and maybe even some of the suggestions of what to say aren’t the right things for each individual. The key is to listen.

Suggestions on what to say:
I believe you.
Thank you for trusting me.
I’m so sorry.
(if you can ensure it) Right now you are safe.
I’m here as long as you need.
Take your time.
(if you’d like to hug or hold someone) Is it okay if I hug you?
You can say or do whatever you need to. Please know that you don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to.

Silence is okay.
Offer suggestions, rather than making them come up with things to do/say. “Would you like some tea?” rather than “What do you want to drink?” “Do you want to watch parks and rec?” not “watch whatever you want.” Take out too much need for decision, but if no answer comes, try not to do something (i.e. turn on the tv) because you’re uncomfortable. So are they. This is about their timing, not yours.

What not to say:
Are you sure?
That doesn’t sound like him
Yeah, that sounds like him
I can’t imagine him doing that.
What were you doing?
Where were you?
What were you wearing?
Who were you with?
Had you been drinking?
How much had you had to drink?
Had you given any indication?
Well, of course he did.
You shouldn’t have been there alone.
God is trying to teach you something.
I’ll kill him.
Who was it?
Did you report it?/You should have reported it.
It will be okay.
Did you clearly say no?
He got what he always wanted.
What do you need? (we often don’t know, and this adds a lot of pressure)
Why were you (anything at all)? (get your why questions out of here)

Things not to talk about or do:
Anything attention related
Laugh or joke
Anything about what will happen to him.
Calling it “non-consensual sex”
Story compare
Don’t share the story, no matter how helpful you think you’re being.
Don’t ask for specifics.
As you listen do not change the language. If they say “attacked” you don’t say “raped.” If they say “hurt” you don’t say “assaulted.” This is their story. Not yours.

Adventure in Pressing On

Eight years ago today I was sexually assaulted for the first time. Eight years ago today I was betrayed to the highest degree by two of my friends. Eight years ago today my whole life changed, my whole being changed.

Until eight years ago I was an extrovert. I was carefree (some times careless). I was trusting. I loved doing things on my own in the wild. I went to movies and dinner and parties alone.

Here I am eight years later, and honestly, it’s okay if the sentence stops there. Because despite numerous assaults since then, so much fear, so much anxiety, barely holding it together through loudly spoken staff meetings, I am still here. Some days that’s a hard, hard thing to want to be, but I am still here.

That’s not something I say, because I demand to be appreciated. I’m telling you, because I think it’s remarkable. I shouldn’t be. I’ve so often not wanted to be, but here I am.

Yes, I am guarded. I am, I admit, paranoid. I am often terrified to be in the world. Some days I’m terrified to be in my home. Nonetheless, I have been loved and supported and carried. I know many do not feel that. I know that I am so fortunate to have such amazing people in my life, and I know I couldn’t have gotten this far without them. I also know that I’ve done the work. That when it comes to it, in the middle of the night when I feel myself falling apart, it’s me and my mind alone in the dark, and I continue to conquer the lies. I continue to outlast the things that live in the dark spaces in my head.

It’s okay to be struggling with these things, because ya know what? It’s fucking hard. Survival is so hard. In a month I’m going on the first vacation of my adult working life, and that’s incredible, because four years ago I’d have never been able to make a plan two months in advance. When you’re trying to survive, when every day your only focus is just to get through the damn day, you don’t have the luxury of planning ahead. The furthest a plan goes is the next breath.

Eight years ago my life changed, and eight years later I’m still here.25508082_794112721119_1272130281498617811_n

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 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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Adventure in Staying Home

Recently, I stepped all of the way back and set my boundaries to their default settings. As an inside cat my boundaries are “Stay home. Talk to limited people. Trust few.”

I tried once in the last few weeks to go out. I went to my favorite bar. I was there not 10 minutes when someone asked me to leave, that I was not welcome there. No one argued. I didn’t. So I left.

With the exception of a Harry Potter Garden Party a friend and I threw I’ve been home every night for weeks.

The part of me that understands how socializing works thinks this all sounds very unhealthy, but I’ve decided it’s not worth the risk. Not right now. I need to reset. Going out with even the safest people could still mean someone awful approaches our table, even someone that they trust. The pulse of Fox Mulder beats inside me, and I hear “trust no one” inside my heart.

If people feel so inclined to engage, that’s great. I will always counter “let’s go to x” with “how do you feel about a walk?” or “with this weather doesn’t a porch hang sound nice?” If that isn’t what they’re interested in from me, that’s fine. Maybe in a few months I’ll come around.

For now I know my safe places and people. They are limited. They are my parents and their home. They are my home. They are friends far away and a limited few nearby.

In a week or so I’m going to a wedding with people I love. It still scares me. When situations like this come up, I do what I can to ensure there will be someone there with me who is as safe as they come who will be there to be with me.

Summer is hard for me for a lot of reasons, but a lot of it comes from feeling unwanted because I don’t get invited to all of the hangs or I hear all of the hangs outside my house and I feel weird for being depressed and in bed already. That this decision is something I am owning makes that easier right now. I still hurt, but the twinge of pain from “missing out” is worth the constant fear.

I’ve learned, particularly in the last two months, when it comes to fight or flight I do neither. In my head I fight and shut people down. In my heart I run as far away as I can. The reality is I freeze, like a fainting goat. My voice goes away. My body stops. When everything ends, I collapse.

So for now, I’m staying in. People won’t understand. That’s fine. I don’t need them t22195634_782310657549_6515116817879609921_n

 

Adventure in Muscle Memory

Muscle memory, if you don’t know, is when your body locks away an action you’ve done over and over. The way Alzheimer’s patients can play instruments because it still lives in their fingers. It’s helpful. That rhythm is often kind. You don’t think about tying your shoes anymore. Your body understands how to keep a bike moving. A waltz becomes simple. 

Muscle memory isn’t all bike rides and music though. 

Some times your body remember things your brain has locked away. It holds onto memories you didn’t know you had. 

While it was just five months ago that I was raped, my body remembers something else. 

This week my brain has been exhausted. My eyes have struggled to focus. On more than one occasion I’ve found tears on my face without knowing I was crying. My body ached from movements I wasn’t making. My belly hurt. A particular sadness set over me. Try as I might I can not shake it. 

The internet is useful. This particular sadness goes back six years. While I couldn’t pin down the date for you, it must have been around this time. Six years ago in Indianapolis I was assaulted. And while my brain knows it happened, my body remembers better. 

My memory is good. Not as good as it used to be, but often better than the average person’s. I appreciate that right now it is trying to protect me, while my body is trying to remind me.

It would be nice if body’s also remembered the same way, without real provocation, good things. The comfort and calm you feel in the presence of certain people. The comfort of specific actions. That every time you showered it came with the same bliss as that first dive of summer into the pool. That every shiver came with the beauty of those first snowflakes falling on your skin. That every hug with safe people offered the same warmth as hugs with the safest people. 

Maybe other bodies do. Mine doesn’t. 

My best sent me the above. Source unknown.