It’s funny how the cursor flashes, pulses like a heartbeat. I stare at it. Blank. I’m not sure how to start.
I wrote a poem yesterday:
I am angry.
It curls and folds like burning paper.
Then, it reaches up
and crushes my heart.
I am angry.
It teases my nerves
until I can’t stand still.
I obliterate myself
so that I don’t have to feel
I didn’t know you very well. You told me I was beautiful. You were older. I was 14. We were hanging out with a group of friends. We were in the bushes near your house. We smoked a joint. I hadn’t smoked before. The bushes and leaves surrounding us turned bright, bright green. Fluorescent. They were glowing. We were huddled in a circle, everyone looking inward. Everyone’s big faces against the bright green leaves. At some point, I imagined that elephants came down from the sky and took me away in a hot air balloon. I felt dizzy.
We all went back to your house. I remember seeing everyone sitting on the couch in silence. You took me to your room. You put me on the bed and took my clothes off. I remember you above me. I remember looking at your penis in shock because I had not seen an erect penis before. I could not speak. I wanted to go home. I did not want it to happen. I didn’t know much about sex. I wanted to go home. I had my period and I had a tampon in, but my voice didn’t come.
I don’t remember the rest of it. I don’t remember how I got home. I sat on the toilet and tried to get the tampon out. It was so far inside of me that I could not reach it. I did not want to tell my parents. Later, I tried again to get it out. It was hard to grab hold of it because it had turned sideways.
I did not tell anyone. Instead of asking for help, I had a lot of sex. I even had sex with you a second time. We drove to the beach and this time I could speak but this time I let you do it while I looked at the sky. My vagina was dry and it was painful. I looked at the sky and ignored the pain.
This is when I started to hate the world. I was angry with everyone. Before you raped me, I had only loved the world, I had loved school and I had loved people. What you did changed that.
I had sex with lots of different people for the next three years. I was no longer an innocent child. I was choosing to do this. I ignored myself and I gave sex to others. It was always dry. I thought that’s what sex was, and I thought that was what men wanted. I was a slut, I was bad, and it was a choice. I got in trouble at school, I let my marks drop, I lost my appetite and I lost weight.
Over time, and with the help of alcohol, I blocked out the event and my feelings. I became really good at numbing and ignoring myself. Memory loss became part of my norm.
Eventually I decided I needed to change myself to prove that I was not bad. As I tried to drink less at social gatherings, I started to feel more anxious. When I’m inside and with a group of people, everyone’s faces reach into mine, peering in too far. I start to sweat. It drips down my back. My heart is pounding and the back of my neck is tightening up into the back of my skull. Thoughts are racing, racing through my head. I’m watching everyone’s movements, who is going to the bathroom, who is speaking to who, who is outside incase I need to go out there. Everyone is having a great time. I am very good at putting on an act. I can feel sweat coming through my clothes but I can still smile and play the part. It is tiring; managing my internal state. I hate everyone for having a good time. I am jealous. I can’t hear what anyone is saying, I can’t focus on anything other than pretending that I do not have thoughts racing through my mind. Sometimes I leave and I cry. These days I simply avoid social events.
When I am in the car with other people my mouth turns dry and my thoughts start to race. The others are having fun and I hate them for it. I spend the whole trip trying to keep my hatred inside and I focus on changing my voice so they can’t hear my anger.
At work, if I become stressed, I ignore the stress signals and I push harder. I do not speak up. I do not ask for help. I put on a fake smile, I ignore the racing thoughts and my colleagues tell me I should speak up. But my voice won’t come. I can’t string the words together to ask for help. My work is jumbled, just like my head. I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling nauseous. I can’t concentrate because of the racing thoughts. I cry. I cry in bed. I cry in the shower. Someone accidentally gives me a fright, and I cry. I am driving, and I start to cry. I hold the steering wheel and I howl at the highway, “I want to go home!” I imagine swerving the car at 100km’s an hour.
I am lucky because I have a supportive partner. I have not told my family or friends, but they support me with anxiety and depression. Sometimes I want to tell them, sometimes I want to explain what my body is doing, but, right now, I do not want to tell them I was raped.
I have a therapist who has helped me to see how my system is stuck in a loop. Yesterday I cried and cried, and I let out my anger. I am going to learn how to turn towards the part of me that is asking for my attention. I don’t know how to do this yet because I have been ignoring that part for 18 years. I’m in a habit of turning away from it. I don’t know what to do with that part of me, so I ignore it. The therapist tells me he will help me to learn what to do with it.
I remember when I was in my twenties and visiting my home town, I walked past you. You were sitting on the ground. I am pleased that you were on the ground, lower than me. You looked like a child. We made eye contact. It confirmed everything for me. You are nothing.