Having a hard night. Weeks stretch by and I almost forget about my PTSD.
why is this happening why is this happening why is this happening
why am I thinking about your ugly face
your ugly breath
your ugly touch
your ugly denials
why am I thinking about you
it makes me so sad to remember
it makes me so mad to remember
but mostly sad
Untitled anniversary thoughts
For almost three years I kept the outfit I was wearing that night. One night my junior year I was drunk alone in my room and I put it on. It didn’t fit well, as I’d gotten fatter but suddenly I just felt so small again, insignificant and lost.
I used to be so consumed with thinking about the version of me that existed before I was raped. She lived in this alternate universe and got good grades and never got into an abusive relationship and she had sex for the first time in a dimly lit room with a boy she trusted, just like she had always wanted. She didn’t have to lie constantly to never be such a downer and she gave truthful answers when her mother called to ask how she was. But I could never feel her alternate-world happiness because she was still dead. As much as she consumed my thoughts, she was gone. Everything I had ever imagined for myself, wanted for myself, hoped for my future - gone. All as a result of this horrible thing that I lived through that I irrationally thought was my fault. Cue PTSD, crippling anxiety, and insomnia for the duration of my college career.
Anyway, I haven’t thought about her in a long time (which I think points to my currently pretty stable emotional and mental health). I don’t spend hours crying over some version of myself that I think I could have been. I’m content with my job, happy with my relationships, and secure in my belief that I’m actually a good person deserving of good things. I’m a Happy Person. I’m happy with who I am. And there’s no denying that who I am, my lived experiences, my perspective, everything has been shaped by what happened. I think I’m a more empathetic person now. I’ve been forced to become good at dealing with crisis situations. I’ve become more insightful about my own feelings and reactions. My sense of feminism and social justice has developed.
Still, as admittedly fabulous as I think I am, if I could somehow magically uncheck the box next to “experienced sexual assault” from my social history, I would in an instant. And everything I love about my life now would be different. I may not even feel happier, I mean, who knows? But even if I’m “better” now and I don’t have panic attacks multiple times a week, and I don’t have nightmares every time I try to sleep - it will always hurt. It will ALWAYS hurt. I will ALWAYS be able to, in an instant, be brought back to those very painful memories, to feel very intimately the exact way that I felt as I was being violated. I will always remember how scared I was, the desperation that I felt every day afterwards for months trying to figure out why I still existed. The shame, the embarrassment, the loneliness of feeling like everybody in my life that I loved and cared for could not know me and would never be able to know me again. The hate I felt for myself that caused me to be be so afraid of dealing with myself that I ended up in an abusive relationship where I was pushed, coerced and made to feel like my triggers were selfish and unloving and that I deserved to sleep on the floor if I couldn’t bring myself to love my boyfriend enough to have sex with him. And more and more and more and more.
I mean, it’s not like I sit around thinking about all of this all of the time. I don’t, not anymore. But I’ll never truly be able to escape it. It will always be a part of me, and all of those feelings will always live inside of me. I’ve been learning to live with them since it happened, and I will continue learning to live with them for as long as I live. That doesn’t mean I’m not a Happy Person. Survivors of rape can be Happy People. And Happy People can still wish that they hadn’t been raped.
I’m still not sure that I actually said anything in this entire ramble, but I guess this is just what I’m thinking about today. Here’s to achieving another year of progress. Here’s to putting another year between now and then.
Just wanted to write up a quick update for anyone that’s been wondering how I’ve been lately.
Basically: I’ve been really great. Happily still with Adorable Considerate Dude. One college degree richer (or poorer?).
Haven’t had a panic attack in months, although a little more nervous with the anniversary approaching (12/4).
We’ll see how this goes, but so far so good. I feel good.
There are so many parts to this story.
My ex boyfriend is an asshole. That’s basically the truth of it. He cheated on me, manipulated, and controlled me. He went out of his way to make me feel like an unworthy person.
I didn’t tell my ex boyfriend about my rape until a few months into the relationship. He almost broke up with me, and I wish he would have. Instead of feeling compassion and gratitude for the trust I thought we had built, he lashed out at me, telling me that I should have been up front about my past and that I had tricked him into loving me. He made me feel worthless and that I was lucky to be with him and that if I hadn’t tricked him into loving me, he would have left already. He took advantage of my vulnerability after my rape, using it to make me feel like I had no other option besides living miserably alongside him for the rest of my life. He may have told me he loved me, but he also told me nobody else ever could. We fought about everything. If I said that I wanted to have lunch somewhere, he would yell at me for being difficult. If he had an opinion and I disagreed, it was because I was a bitch and refused to ever agree with him.
The sex was miserable. I would occasionally have flashbacks about my rape and whenever this happened I would want to stop. My boyfriend would yell at me for this, telling me that I must not be attracted to him, that I wasn’t normal, that this wasn’t fair to him. He would say things like, “You could hook up with all those guys last year but you can’t even have sex with your boyfriend?” He knew this was triggering for me. After I was raped, I was so lost. Physical intimacy meant nothing to me. I meant nothing anymore and I drank a lot and fooled around a lot to try to feel normal. Intimacy had been stolen from me and it no longer held any meaning.
We broke up almost two years ago. When I broke up with him, I knew the relationship was unhealthy, but I thought I still loved him, and I didn’t understand why everything felt so fucked up. Over time I’ve come to realize that it was an emotionally and psychologically abusive relationship, and even kind of physically aggressive in ways I don’t want to go into detail about. Although the physical aggression never escalated, I suspect it would have eventually.
After I broke up with him, he hounded me from months, constantly calling me, leaving me text messages. One day he would be pleading with me, saying he loved me and that he missed me. The next he would be angry, leaving threatening messages calling me a bitch and a whore and useless and saying that I didn’t have the right to break up with him.
It took a long time for me to cut him off completely. I was so anxious I could barely sleep, and the longer I was away from him the more and more I understood how fucked up everything had been. I was so ashamed. It was hard for me to keep going to classes and doing work and studying and going to parties and doing normal things when I felt so abnormal. I didn’t know anybody else at college who had been through what I had and I could have sworn that I was cursed. How else could you explain my luck?
Slowly, and with the help of a therapist and the support of friends, I found the will to keep going. It’s been a struggle at times, but I’ve been discovering myself. My sense of style, my humor, my empathy.
I fantasized about telling him off for months. What I would say to him, picking out the right place to do it. I would finally get my chance to tell him that I knew what kind of sick bastard he was. I would get to call him out for being the insecure mean bully he is. I never did it. I worried about talking to him again, bringing him into my life again for even just five minutes. What would he say? How would it affect me? What if I believed him again? I wasn’t strong enough.
And then, somehow, in a life-altering, what the fuck, crazy awesome turn of events, I’M IN LOVE. What the fuck. Seriously, I’m not even kidding. Right when I was doing okay, finally feeling myself (whatever that means, I’m figuring it out), after rape, abuse, heartbreak, etc, I find someone. And he’s great. He is the most considerate man I’ve ever met. He is respectful of my culture. He’s supportive. He’s adorable. He’s a sensitive, kind, compassionate human being and he doesn’t give a fuck about who I’ve been with. I’m not magically all better. But there’s progress, and there’s hope. And there’s love.
I held a funeral for myself several years ago. I lay my head down on the cold turf and thought to myself, “This has to be it. There can be no more.” I woke up a few short hours later, cold and sad. I walked home, wondering why I was forced to live as my own ghost.
I held a wake for myself for several years, complete with gin, tequila, cheap vodka, and bad men. I mourned the dead. I was bitter and passionless, angry and desperate, terrified and empty.
Today I woke up and found myself finally alive again. Different, completely different. But alive. I spoke and you were finally there to hear. I stopped searching and finally you found me. I solved my own reflection in your eyes, felt my future in your palm.
“This is real. I can’t believe I finally found you.”