I have spent the last 2 years writing this particular post. I start then stop then start and then copy and paste and share what I think won’t make people too uncomfortable. If you are uncomfortable by what I write that is on you not me, you can choose to simply move on… I know nothing I say will change some people’s ideas and that is not the intent. The intent is to no longer hide behind shame that is not mine to bare, to perhaps help someone else who is struggling with this self-imposed shame. A wise friend told me she thinks I am finally ready to work on moving on. That truly was my intent all along when starting this journey. Let me make it clear the only persons who shoulder the guilt are those 3 men. THEY alone are the guilty parties.
The flurry of comments surrounding Trump and his behaviors have set forth emotions I have hidden for years and some emotions I did not even know I felt. It brought forth memories I had buried deep. I am tired, I am heart broken, I am damaged and I want to heal…some scars will never disappear no matter what I do. I guess I just want to stop hiding and I want others to understand how damaging words and actions can be. How far reaching they are, that sometimes no amount of therapy or talking will erase that damage. I realize for the first time how truly deeply damaged I am and it has broken my soul. I want to have the day get here when I no longer feel I have to whisper the word rape. I do not want to have it define my entire being but reality is it is a huge part of me.
I have never been comfortable in my skin. At a very young age I had large breasts and an hour glass figure, well before many other girls. I did not understand why men looked at me or made comments. I spent most of my youth being stared at or having comments made. I was nicknamed jugs, tits, bongos, I was told to not run to hard or I would get a black eye, to not sit down to hard I would get a bloody nose. I would walk through a parking lot and have comments yelled at me, it was not flattering it was uncomfortable. It was never that someone considered me pretty all they saw were giant boobs and hips. Sadly my precious daughter experienced the same issues when we moved to the city.
I went for a ride that fateful day with someone who I trusted. I did not truly know them but they were related to another person I knew very well, they were simply in town visiting. He had been introduced to two local guys and they spent time together. They told him a place he could take me…they showed up shortly after and as I begged and pleaded and cried and turned away from my attacker I was relieved when I saw 2 people outside the car. I thought they would save me instead they stared in the windows laughing and smiling. One even took a picture. A part of me died a little in that moment and my trust of men completely dissolved.
I want people to understand that actions and words hurt. That saying it is not big deal to be spoken to in a demeaning fashion is inexcusable, that allowing that behavior plays a part in why judges give out slaps on the wrists of those abusers. Comparing real actions to those of a novel or movie is ridiculous at best. That one act and words said to me over the years took something from me I will never get back. They defined my interactions with men going forward. It formed who I chose to have relationships with and that was men who I knew were not good for me because in the deep depths of my mind I thought I did not deserve someone who would love me.
The scar tissue damage left me feeling like a virgin every single time I have sex, I am incapable of orgasms, I am incapable of relaxing and enjoying because the pain is always there. I am left fighting to not scream or throw up when being touched. I am left with so much baggage that I cannot allow myself to get in a relationship because it would be unfair to my prospective partner. How do you explain why you cringe or cry when they touch you? Those men took an innocent virgin girl and spun a tale that left my reputation in tatters. I have been with 4 men in my life one of which was my attacker and 2 that I was married to. I did not deserve that reputation. I was not “easy” nor did I sleep around. I had high school guys that would lie to their friends that they slept with me. I grew up in a community that can be amazing to its citizens but there is a side to that community that people do not want to see. That side nearly killed me.
That day eventually let me to using drugs and alcohol to ease my pain. It left me off and on for the next 38 years pondering if it was worth sticking around. It left me for years looking at a bottle of pills, a razor, a gun, or the yellow line on the highway. Thankfully my lack of thinking I could do anything right did not allow me to follow through, I thought I was so worthless that I would not even be able to kill myself. Then I had children and they became my reason to live.
I ended up dropping out of school, I will never forget the day my parents signed the papers for me…my dad had tears in his eyes, their hearts were broken by me that day. I ran away and moved in with a boy whose parents were never there. We drank, we did drugs and he could have cared less about me. In order to touch me he had to be drunk or high and in my desire at the time to be loved I stole so he could be loaded and pay attention to me.
I ended up a ward of the court which is the best gift my parents gave me because it ultimately saved my life. Even though that led me to getting pregnant and marrying a man I met when living with my foster mom that child also helped to save my life. We had so much fun at first, for the first time in a long time I was enjoying life again then I got pregnant and all that shame came flooding back and what joy I had went out the window. My shame at being a pregnant teen was overwhelming (self-imposed). My sweet precious son paid a price that he did not deserve. I loved him beyond measure but was so incapable of being the kind of mom I should have been to him. Eventually I had two children with this man and my sweet daughter also did not get the life she deserved.
We did not have a good marriage. I was young and had so much baggage it really was not fair to either of us. He tried I did not, I tried he did not, that was the story of our marriage. The lesson I taught my children regarding marriage and relationships was not what it should have been. I spent those years making myself even more overweight thinking that would protect me, when we got divorced I set about keeping anyone at bay.
Then I met and married the single most narcissistic man I have ever met. One who systematically emotionally and verbally destroyed what little bit of love I had for myself. I did not believe I was worthy of love and he drove that point home daily. He cheated and he rubbed it in. He reminded me constantly that I was lucky he was with me, that people would look at us and wonder how I ended up with someone like him (in his mind he thought he was a good thing). I spent several months at the end of that marriage barely able to get out of my bed and to go to work, my depression was back at suicidal levels. In my depressed state I subjected my child to the horror of this man and I will forever live with that guilt.
That marriage ended and I successfully made myself the heaviest I have ever been. I walked slumped over never looking anyone in the eye. Avoidance was my best friend for the next 11 years. Many things led up to me deciding to take control of my life. I was diabetic, on the verge of a stroke or heart attack and found out I was going to be a grandma. Something clicked and I finally decided to do something about my weight. Never did I think it would be as painful a process as it has been. Losing that weight was basically losing that 14 year old girl. I no longer have an identity. I am no longer scared rape victim, I have no idea who I am. I lost that protective layer and now people look at me again and that scares me. I never used to share pictures of myself and now I likely overshare. Not because I am proud of the person I am but because it forces me to go outside my comfort zone. That is part of this healing process, forcing myself to step outside my norm. It is frightening, uncomfortable and unpleasant. It is opening myself up to ridicule and attention that I have spent decades hiding from.
I have spent the last year pretending that my life is finally amazing and the truth is it is not. It is better in some ways but it is frightening in so many more ways. My depression has returned and not talking about it or pretending all is ok makes it worse. 38 years later and I still cannot shed that one act on that one day. I still cannot imagine a day I will be ok being in a relationship, I still think I have no self-worth, I still feel as if I deserve every single bad thing that has happened to me.
That one act on that one day not only messed me up but that trickled down to my innocent children who deserved so much better. So next time you think words or actions do not have lasting ramifications please think about the overall picture. The next time you think about making an excuse for someone’s horrific words or behaviors remember not everyone has walked in the shoes of an assault victim and will never understand how it feels. Not every assault is physical, nor are some of the worst scars physical ones.
I have been asked why I did not speak up, people condemn the women who are just now coming forward. We have all seen how the victims are made out to be deserving of what they got. Most are women whose attackers are normal everyday people. Can you imagine if your attacker is a billionaire or a famous actor who has unlimited money and lawyers at their disposal who can publicly destroy you….that is why we do not speak up. Being physically brutalized is horrific but being publicly brutalized is even more painful.
Last night I did something I have not done in a very long time. I bought 2 bags of pita chips and I laid down and I ate both bags…. I made some mashed potatoes and smothered it in crappy packaged gravy and I ate myself stupid. I thought I had combated those issues in my life….
The emotions of the last week have snuck up on me and I sunk back into the depressed going to eat myself fat habit again. I will take it day to day and pray I do not sink lower. I am not asking for sympathy, a pat on the back or advice I am asking to be respected for what I feel and to be allowed to speak of it without fear of reprisal. I am hoping one day the past will be just that, that is will stop rearing its ugly head. I will never forget what happened but one day I hope it will stop being center attention.