There are many things I am, many I’m not, and many I have yet to be.
I should be angry at you, at myself, and, at one point, I was. There was a fire kindling inside of me and, when it was released, it burned through everyone and burned down everything. I lost close friends. I lost people I thought were friends. I almost lost myself in a haze of drugs, alcohol, and self hate. I destroyed what could have been a wonderful friendship with lies, fist fights, and wasted years. The moment I realized I was angry because you made me feel that way on that night five years prior, I stopped. If I’m going to be angry, it’s going to be on my own terms.
I could be anxious and afraid like I once was. I could stay in bed all day or retaliate in confrontational ways whenever someone wandered too close or pushed too far. I could put a smile on my face, but clench my teeth behind the facade. I could cover my drinks at the bar with a shaking hand or run away from the one night stand who’s sure to be stellar hangover ensured plenty of escape time. I could refuse to meet new people and to avoid social gatherings. And, by doing so, I could forget to live.
I could try to squash the unidentifiable, but all too recognizable, pulsating emptiness inside of me with a myriad of activities, with the next being more destructive than the last. I could drink until my stomach twisted at even the smell of alcohol. Pot could become a release, but the crash, the coming down, would be of catastrophic proportions. I could try to be who I wasn’t by pretending to be gay, even if it was just for a week, but, when the loud echo of slamming doors resounded through the empty apartment, I’d still feel hollow. I could hold the razor to my wrist out of morbid curiosity and only leave a scratch behind because, in all truthfulness, I tried that a few times prior and that was all it took for me to understand that particular detachment wasn’t for me. Yet, I could lie about that coping mechanism because it gave me attention. It made others see I was spiraling, yet, when that failed to bring the help I so desperately needed, I could become obsessed with food, calories, and exercise. I was always good at will power and control, and I’m almost positive that focus helped me survive during those early, trying times.
Yet, when there was nowhere to go, to run, to hide, and nothing to really believe in anymore, I began to take the steps that led to who I needed to be. I’ve spent endless hours in therapy sessions. I’ve met other survivors and I’ve met many more victims. I have reconciled with who I was and who I may never be. I’ve learned to forgive myself for the reckless, naive, foolish, and downright hurtful things that I’ve done to others, although, on some days, it’s been difficult to forgive myself for what I’ve done to myself. I’ve filled pages of white-lined journal in some crazed attempt to understand the circumstances of that night and where those actions have propelled me. While I can understand, and sometimes rationalize, the drinking, the smoking, the arguing, the anger, the depression, the self hate, the self blame, the loss of control, and the overwhelming non-linear aftermath, I never will understand the rape.
And the odd thing is, I’ve made peace with this fragmented rational. I have lived a portion of my life in darkness, but it’s now time to watch the rays expand and reach towards what’s still covered and what needs to be uncovered. If I am to become whole, I know I must learn to let go.
So to you, my rapist, I offer compassion. What in your life went so catastrophically wrong? What or who made you feel so inferior that raping someone was the only way you knew how to establish power? Who or what told you this was acceptable? Maybe you were raped and/or assaulted yourself. Maybe you were bullied. Maybe you were too drunk to understand the implications of your GHB and alcohol cocktail. Maybe you have no idea what you did was wrong. Maybe because I didn’t report this assault, you were positively reinforced. Maybe, just maybe, you’re more confused than I am because you have to be way more fucked up to rape someone than to be raped yourself. Rape is never the victim’s fault, but raping is always the rapist’s fault.
I guess there are many things about myself that I would change if I could. I’d be friendlier, more trusting, and I’d laugh easier. However, there are many things I am because you raped me: I am stronger, more tolerant to the pains of others, and more respectful to those who are struggling. I am learning to evaluate my beliefs, values, and relationships in a healthy, constructive way. I no longer allow others to manage my self worth and I certainly do not tolerate those who make me feel as worthless as you once did.
And, if I were to explain this all in one breath, I hope to be more than just a victim of a violating, degrading act. One day, I wish to be at peace with the knowledge that I survived.
Until then, I’ll hope for tomorrow.