So yesterday, I told my backstory. Today, I think I'll tell you all what I did about it.
Not. A. Damn. Thing.
I hid myself. I didn't tell anyone. I barely admitted it to myself. I buried myself in a relationship that was safe, if not right for me. I drank too much (Though I did it socially, and I don't feel that I ever got to the point of using it as an escape or substance abuse.), I smoked too much. I surrounded myself mostly with people who never really cared about me to begin with, but were at least there.
I had a few friends who I loved very deeply, but most of them lived (And indeed, still live) in a city a couple of hours away. I managed to see them sometimes, but not as often as I wanted.
And while I didn't heal, I developed a numbness over the pain. I hadn't forgotten, but I could usually ignore it. I wasn't happy, and I wasn't living. But at least I could pretend to all who knew me, and that was good enough for the moment.
Two years later, I was raped again. And it ripped off the scar that had grown over the wound, rather than healing it. And the old issues compounded with the new ones increased my suffering exponentially. I lost it.
And by "lost it" I don't mean "went hysterical and cried for a month and had to get therapy." That would have been WAY better than what I actually did.
Not. A. Damn. Thing.
I hid myself. I didn't tell anyone. I barely admitted it to myself. And quietly, subtly, I went absolutely insane.
I don't mean lickin' the walls and talkin' to my boots. I mean I don't remember most of the summer of 2008. Just don't remember it. I vaguely remember some significant events, but I couldn't tell you when they happened. I had my first casual sexual relationship, which I don't remember at all. Previously, I had considered sex a sacred thing. Something that I should only do with someone who I loved.
That concept had been shattered in my mind forever. Sex wasn't about love, it was about sex. An end in itself. Feelings don't matter. I still have issues with thinking that way. Sex is what I'm good for. That's why people want me around. To have sex with me. If I have sex, then I'll be worth something to someone, even just for a few minutes.
I'm wrong. I am very wrong. But that's for later.
And that entire summer is a blur to me. I went home in August and it helped me get my head on straight a little. Things after that get a lot more clear.
But I still wasn't okay.
Thankfully, the next man I slept with I did fall in love with, and he with me. Very quickly and deeply. We dated for more than a year. This is important because he helped a lot with my recovery of any sense of self-worth, and he is the first person I told about my rapes more than academically. We'll call him A.
I won't get into too many details, but the truth is it came pouring out of me in a passionate rage during a fight that we were having.
And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, the fight was over. A held me close, told me how much he loved me, and let me cry as if my heart were breaking. Which it was. As if I'd never stop. Which, really, I haven't.
A was instrumental in the first steps of my recovery. He was the first person who had the opportunity to judge me, and he did not. He loved me truly. He understood when something was hard for me, but he made me talk about it when he thought I needed to. He never let me say "No, I'm fine, nevermind." It must have been like trying to pull barbed wire out of me; painful for him, but admittedly more painful for me. But it helped, because talking about it is important.
As a brief sidenote, I do have sexual side effects from the mental trauma of being raped. I have a tendency to completely break down if sex gets too intense. It shorts out my brain and I usually wind up curled up in a corner naked and sobbing while my poor lover is left completely baffled and uncertain of what to do.
Well A knew. He held me close and kissed my head and my face and told me that he loved me. That it wasn't my fault. That I was beautiful and wonderful and he understood. And if I needed it, he would just hold me until I cried myself out. And if I needed it, he would slowly and tenderly really -make love- to me, once I had calmed down.
A, if you're reading this, I want you to know that you are a truly amazing man. I am sorry it didn't work out between us, and whoever ends up with you will be an incredibly lucky woman.
But aside from that, A encouraged me to seek other outlets and other sources of healing. He encouraged me to get a journal and write in it whenever I felt alone or afraid. He encouraged me to go seek professional help for the first time.
I was extremely lucky to have someone like that to help me. A lot of us don't. Most of us have no one to force the truth out of us for our own good. I lived in silence with the knowledge of my rape for three years before I found A.
Many women I know live longer than that in silence. Some more than a decade. And this is not okay.
Now we skip forward two years after the point where I told A. Approximately. Enter B.
B has been my best friend for almost half of my life. I am 25 as I write this, and I have known B since I was about 13. We were friends mostly through this internet, but now we live in the same town through a lucky twist of fate.
I had told B about my rapes, mostly academically. I'd done some reacting, but since it was mostly two-dimensional, it never really hit home with both of us, I think. Until about five nights ago, when we were driving back to his place from hanging out with friends. We started a conversation on the way, and ended with us sitting in his car having a serious conversation about choices and burdens and why we are the way we are. It ended with me crying almost silently and talking about how I felt about being raped and why I had never told anyone.
B basically told me how stupid I was being, how pointless it was for me to focus all this pain on myself and let my secrets rot me from the inside out because I didn't want the drama that coming out would cause.
Holy wow, was he right.
Somewhere on the way home I realized he was right. I started walking up to my building, and I stopped. I turned around and faced the warm, windy thursday night. I borrowed an illicit cigarette (I quit smoking a while back) from one of my friends who was coming home at the same time. I lit it and said "I need to make a bad decision before I can make a really good one." I smoked about half of it, pacing around, staring at the sky, and pulling at my own hair. Then I threw the remainder to the ground, squared my shoulders, and went inside.
I sat down at my computer and I did the hardest thing I've ever done.
I wrote a note on Facebook, tagged everyone I thought should read it, and came out. I went into detail about my rapes, even as I did in the first post I made here. I tagged my father, my mother, and my sisters. I tagged A and B. I tagged everyone I'd mentioned it to. I tagged my friends who I know had been raped or assaulted.
And then I tagged some other people almost at random, just to get the word out.
Then I posted it, and I posted a status telling people that they are allowed and encouraged to read it, even if they aren't tagged.
I stood naked before everyone I knew, including casual acquaintances and co-workers, and demanded their judgement.
And immediately the comments, messages, texts, and emails started. And my friend L called me moments later and told me that she had been raped twice when she was younger.
And we cried together, and we talked together, and we lent each other our strength and bolstered our own. And we love each other.
And then L came out publically, even as I did. And we are proud of each other. We have given each other courage, even as I hope this blog will give someone else courage. And now we each have one other person who knows what it's like to go through that we have, and what we are right now. And it gives me strength to do what I need to do, and I think it gives her strength to do what she needs to do.
And L's coming out, which she said was inspired by mine, makes what I've been through worth it. The more people I can encourage to come out and seek help and healing, the happier I will be with my own. We can all help each other.
We can all help each other.