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.
- There’s a distinct possibility if this event had not happened, I’d be in a healthy relationship with someone.
- There’s also a very real possibility, if I’d remained single, I’d still be a virgin.
- 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.
- 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.”
- I know that a hard thing to have to do is invite your rapist to a reunion you have to plan.
- 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.