I’m a bit dopey on pain meds at the moment, but I’m going to do my best to be as coherent as possible here. Gotta get my feelings out.
Loyalty. That’s a word I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I see people posting memes about it on Facebook and such, and I think a lot of folks are confused on the concept.
Loyalty can mean many different things to different people. Here’s what it means to me:
- Speaking the truth
- Saying what you mean, and meaning what you say
- Saying nothing behind someone’s back that you wouldn’t say to their face
- Letting your actions follow your words
- Trusting folks that are close to you until you’re given a good reason not to
I’ve been letting people treat me with less than those things. That’s not ok. Friends are supposed to trust you. They’re supposed to believe you. Even when they don’t like what they hear. They’re not supposed to cast aspersions on your character. They’re not supposed to assume you have ulterior motives and make you feel like a dirty, used object. Regardless of “advice” from others that aren’t part of the equation. They’re supposed to accept responsibility for their choices, regardless of fears or insecurities. That’s part of being an adult; dealing responsibly with the consequences of ones’ actions. Especially when the situation is of ones’ own making. It’s ok to be scared, but it’s not ok to treat someone like dirt because of that fear. It’s even worse when that person is someone whom you claim to respect.
Depression. I talk about it a lot. Now, I’m not talking about the occasional sad feeling. i’m talking about that deep, soul-crushing dark hole, where you can’t even imagine what the light looks like. I mean utter hopelessness and despair. THAT kind of sadness. It’s had a recurring role in my life for as long as I can remember. Lately, however, I’ve been having a particularly rough time.
I’m not going to delve too deeply into the reason for my current bout of depression, because it’s far too complicated and personal to post here. Seems funny coming from me, doesn’t it? I mean, considering all the highly personal things I’ve posted before, but I digress.
ANYWAY, on top of the “base” depression, I’ve also been very discouraged with myself. There’s been so many times I’ve declared that I’m sucking it up, I have my shit under control, etc. And then eventually, I find myself falling right back to that dark place in my head. But then it hit me: Depression is not something that you fight once. You have to fight it every day. Sometimes, you have to fight it every second of every minute of every day, over and over again. It’s not something that will ever be truly conquered once and for all. It doesn’t make me weak, worthless, or unlovable, like I’ve been feeling the last couple of weeks or so. It makes me a flawed, imperfect human being that just happens to have a mental illness. And that’s ok. I am still strong. I still have worth. And I am still deserving of love and affection.
I just felt like I needed to share that.
The following is something I posted to my friends on my facebook page on January 28th, 2012. It’s intensely personal and uncomfortable to read, but necessary to put the rest of my thoughts that follow into context.
(I am putting my thoughts down in writing on advice from a therapist. Sometimes it’s not very coherent, and I tend to ramble. Sorry. I want to share it because it makes it more real to me. I can’t really talk about it, but I can write. It is very personal, so feel free to skip it if you’re “allergic” to TMI stuff or really long vents. I won’t be offended, really. I’m doing this for me.)
December 9th, 2011. This is the day I was raped. This is the first time I have said those three words all together like that. I was raped.
I was on a date with someone I knew. We had been on one date previously, months before. He had sent me flowers at work after our first date, and then he got mad when he was talking about *the future* and I mentioned that I am not physically able to have more children. I was creeped out, and broke off contact.
He asked me out again after some time, and against my better judgment, I agreed. It was originally just a coffee date, and then he asked me to have dinner and drinks with him. I agreed, then discovered that he meant for us to go to his house. Again, against my better judgment, I agreed. We never even got to dinner. We had wine, and then it happened. He wanted to have sex, and I said no. I hadn’t had sex in over 12 years, and I was not looking to jump into bed with just anyone. He raped me. He kept hitting and shoving me, then he choked me and he raped me. I was ashamed and horrified. At first, I was in shock, and blamed myself. I’m a grown woman. What the hell was wrong with me? I should’ve known better. But, I KNEW this guy. Shouldn’t women be allowed to be alone with a guy they know without being violated?
I was in pain, physically and emotionally. I was on a roller coaster of hurt, degradation, and anger. How dare he do this to me? HOW FUCKING DARE HE?
I didn’t want anyone to know, especially my kids. It took me a week to find it in myself to get examined by a doctor. I was then told that I had bruised and cracked ribs. How lovely.
I eventually made a decision to report it to the authorities of the town it happened in. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to press charges or not, I just wanted it on record, just in case. They were less than helpful. I had gone to his house, willingly consumed alcohol, then went home and showered without preserving any evidence. They said they “spoke” to him, and he claimed it was consensual. That was all they needed to hear. They said there was no proof that my injuries had resulted from the “incident,” and that they could’ve happened “any number of ways.” They discouraged me from pursuing it. As it turns out, he is related to someone in law enforcement. No wonder no action was taken. No report was even filed.
I’m trying to get past it, but some days are better than others. Most of the time, I’m ok. Sometimes, I’m even pretty damn great. But I still have some really bad days. Little things remind me of what happened. Certain smells or even sounds can do it. Of course, it doesn’t help that I still see him around from time to time. He works out at my gym and he has shopped where I work. He even tried to *friend* me on facebook. I don’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that he bothers me, though. That belongs to me, and he can’t have it. He’s stolen so much from me… He doesn’t get to have my pride, too. He’s tried to talk to me a couple of times, but I just walk away, or ignore him completely. At the gym, it’s easy. I just crank up my MP3 player, and do my thing. At work, I suddenly get very busy, which is not difficult. There’s always plenty to do.
I know I should insist on pursuing it with law enforcement, but I just don’t have it in me, honestly. I can’t put myself through that. It’s just too much. I can’t do it. I don’t want to get dragged through the mud. I want to deal with this on MY terms, not anyone else’s. I have kids to finish raising, a job to go to every day, and great friends to spend time with. I want to feel like everyone else. I want to get on with the rest of my life. That is partially what I’m trying to do by sharing this. I’m trying not to wallow, but it’s hard. I’m thinking maybe if I get it all out, it will be cathartic in a way, you know? Maybe I will be able to deal with it in a healthier way, and not feel so dirty, used and broken… like I have something to hide. Why should I be ashamed? I didn’t do anything wrong. Wrong was done TO me, not BY me.
I know this is true, but I don’t feel it. I feel like an idiot. I feel like this is who I am now… the woman who was stupid and got raped. I don’t want to be her. I don’t want people to see that when they look at me. I know they don’t but I feel like they do. Like I’m transparent. Filleted wide open, laid bare. I feel like… I don’t know. I don’t know how to feel. No matter WHAT I feel, it’s wrong. I’ve been told that I’m shoving it away and not dealing with it, and someone else said that I’m dwelling on it, and to just get over it already. Holy fuck, I’m doing the best I can. Some days I can deal with it, and some days I can’t. I’ll get there, just don’t fucking tell me how to do it, how to feel, or how NOT to feel. Well-meaning advice is fine, but FFS, don’t tell me that I’m doing it WRONG. If you haven’t been in my shoes, well, you have NO fucking idea. And if you have? Then I feel sorry for you, because I wouldn’t wish this hell on ANYONE.
That was exactly who I was, for what felt like forever. A stupid woman. A naive woman. A raped woman. Not even really a woman, but an object. Not a particularly valuable object, either, but one that was filthy and contaminated. Disgusting and worthless.
However, that’s not who I am today. And that’s not who I will be next Tuesday, on the third anniversary of that day.
Today, I am a strong woman. A woman who WILL NOT let bad things that have happened dictate who she is, or how she lives her life.
I am a mother, a sister, a friend, a lover.
Most of all, though… I am ME. Not what happened to me. Not what some selfish asshole chose to take from me.
I am free. Free and independent to be whoever or whatever I want to be, without regard to shame that doesn’t belong to me.
Such a simple concept, that has taken me three years to fully understand, accept, and embrace.
I have worked long and SO hard to get to this space, and I want to shout it from the rooftops, because it feels absolutely wonderful! 🙂
In my goal to track my self-talk more, I’ve been making note of random thoughts of mine as they occur, good or bad. These cover the past 24 hours or so, minus work stuff. I’m feeling better in this moment, though. It’s truly amazing how just getting my thoughts out in a semi-organized form helps me gain perspective.
What a chaotic mess my brain can be sometimes! Depression is a son of a bitch.
“If someone with all the resources and support that someone like Robin Williams had can’t keep it together and stay alive, what hope do the the rest of us have?”
“I don’t want to fight any more. I’m too tired of it all.”
“I’m pathetic. People hate me. Everyone just pities me too much to say so to my face.”
“I’m losing my friends because I’m too negative and I complain too much. But if I don’t vent, I feel like I will explode.”
“I have a lump in my breast. I don’t want to die and leave my kids.”
“People who are mean to other people just because they can really need to be kicked in the face.”
“It doesn’t matter what I do or how hard I try. It will never be enough. I will never be enough. For me, or anyone else.”
“I think I need to go back on an anti-depressant, but it feels like failure.”
“I deserve to be judged.”
“Life. Sometimes, it just really sucks.”
“I need to go back to therapy.”
“I don’t have time for therapy.”
“I am broken.”
“I need to MAKE time to take better care of myself.”
“I really am fucking crazy.”
- Slugs, snails, and other slimy critters. They utterly disgust me. I will turn into a screeching crazy person if one comes anywhere near me.
- The dark. Really. I always find myself walking just a little bit faster when it’s dark. Even in my own home.
- Scary rides. Which is strange, because before I became a mom, I used to LOVE them.
- Heights. Being up higher than a step or two makes me feel dizzy.
Now that I have the silly ones out of the way, there are a few things that really, REALLY scare me.
- That I will die and leave my kids. I have some serious medical issues going on, and I’m the only close family that either one of them has. I worry about what will happen to them if I’m not there as a safety net.
- Being alone forever… That I will never, ever find a true life partner. Someone who loves me and wants to be with me for the long haul. I’m always the friend who folks can talk to, and that’s great. REALLY. I’m glad I can be that person for my friends. But I am terrified that that’s all I’ll ever be, and that nobody will ever want ME.
- That if I *do* find someone who truly loves me and ONLY me, that I will push them away. I don’t know how to BE. Whenever someone expresses interest in me, I think they’re throwing me a bone, or making fun of me. It hurts too much to be pitied or made fun of, so I avoid either possibility as much as humanly possible.
- Men. I am fully aware that it’s not rational or fair. Not every person with a penis is a predator. But ever since I was four years old, that’s what life has taught me. Fathers, church “elders”, romantic partners, even friends… All have the potential to hurt me.
(Just as an aside, I was checking my email while I was writing this blog entry, and the subject line on one particular message was “We ❤ Man Repeller.” Maybe that should be my superhero name… “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Man Repeller!” Too funny!)
By far, my biggest fear? That I will never learn to overcome these fears… Not only that I won’t learn, but that I can’t learn. That I will never be a “normal” person, with normal personal relationships, and without all my stupid neuroses. One thing is for sure, though… I will continue to do whatever I have to to not only survive, but thrive. I may succeed, I may not. But I AM going to fight like hell to be the person I want to be.
I’ve been pretty ill for the last couple of weeks, and when I have a really high temperature, my mind tends to go to some strange places. The following are just a few of those places:
* A spider crawling on my wall became an assassin hired by my daughter to kill me for my life insurance policy. When I smushed it, she enlisted Sam & Dean Winchester and tried to convince them that I was a demon that had to be eradicated.
* I discovered that dogs gossip via doggy farts, and that’s where the term “poop scoop” originated.
* As long as I stay perfectly still inside my cocoon of bed linens, I will not have to pee.
* The thermometer was the End All and Be All, the One who had the Power to decide if I was well or not.
* At one point, when my son asked me if there was anything else he could do to help me, I asked him to hit me in the head and put me out of my misery. Now, I don’t remember this one, but DS swears it happened.
My conclusion? I am a whole bag of crazy when I’m sick. 😀
I’m having some trouble organizing my thoughts, so this post will most likely be a bit scattered. Sorry. It will also be extremely TMI and quite possibly triggering for sexual assault survivors. Again, sorry.
This is a very rough time of year for me. I’m starting this post on 11/09/2013. One month away from the 2 year “anniversary” of when I was raped. A lot has happened in my life since then, including another sexual assault, albeit under much different circumstances
Anyway, although I’ve come a very long way since that day, I’m having a hard time dealing right now.
I measure time in a different way than most folks. There’s no BC & AD. There’s not even BCE & CE. In my world, there’s BR & AR. Before Rape. After Rape.
Before Rape, I was a single mom who had left an abusive relationship 12 years prior, and was just starting to think maybe it might be okay to start dating again. I went on a date with a guy I had dated briefly as a teen.
I immediately remembered why it was so brief. He sent a bouquet to me at work, which kind of creeped me out. Then he started talking about “the future” and got quite upset when I mentioned that I would not be having any more children. I decided to not see him again.
Fast forward several months later, he talked me into giving him another chance. We met up for a coffee date, which went reasonably well, thus morphed into dinner and drinks at his place.
Dinner never happened. One glass of wine later, he refused to take no for an answer. He choked me unconscious, and raped me. It wasn’t until several days later that I discovered I also had cracked ribs.
After Rape. I was an absolute mess. I went home, showered, scrubbed myself raw, and tried to process what had happened.
I don’t want to rehash everything, but suffice it to say… I have fought a long, HARD battle to reclaim myself, my power, and my self-worth. Still fighting, actually. There were many, MANY times I wasn’t sure I could make it through.
In a month, it will be two years since that day. Two years since I was pushed into a pit of self-loathing & fear. My anniversary.
Anniversary seems like such an inappropriate word to describe it, though. According to Mirriam-Webster, the definition of the word “anniversary” is
an·ni·ver·sa·ry noun \ˌa-nə-ˈvərs-rē, -ˈvər-sə-\
: a date that is remembered or celebrated because a special or notable event occurred on that date in a previous year
Well, I suppose that does partially fit. I will certainly remember that
notable horrific event for the rest of my life.
“Anniversary” just doesn’t seem right. The very word conjures up warm, fuzzy thoughts of family, togetherness, and love. A couple celebrating their love and commitment to each other, or perhaps a family gathering honoring another happy event. But not the actions of a selfish scumbag who ripped my soul apart almost beyond repair.
We need a new word for this kind of thing. I think antiversary will do just fine.
So I received a comment from a “friend” that I get far too angry about things I have no control over. Things I can’t change, as just one person. My question for them is this… When is a good time to get angry? Really, that is not a rhetorical question…I’d like to hear the answer.
When an unarmed black teenager gets shot and killed for being outside at night while wearing a hoodie, while a black woman get 20 years for firing warning shots to protect herself from her abuser, that makes me angry.
When women are prevented from accessing safe, LEGAL abortions or even affordable contraception by religious zealots, that makes me angry.
When women who are survivors of rape or incest are told that their resulting pregnancy is a “gift from god”, that makes me angry.
When we are told we don’t have the right to know what’s in our food, but the government has control over the contents of our uteruses, that makes me angry.
When people are discriminated against and kids are dying because of who they love, that makes me angry.
When a member of upper management at a non-profit agency cares more about the bottom-line than they do about the people the agency is supposed to be supporting, that makes me angry.
For me personally, when I was told that my rape on December 9th, 2011 wasn’t really rape but just “rough sex” because I had had a glass of wine, that made me angry. And when my rapist had ZERO consequences for what he did to me, that made me angry, too.
So really… WHEN would be a good time to get angry?
And as for one person not being able to make a difference? We have to start SOMEWHERE. People have to start giving a damn about other people and things, whether or not they directly involve themselves. Too many people just turn the other way when they are aware of an injustice. Is that really who we want to be? Is that who we want to raise our kids to be?