This is partly inspired by Shjadeís post above.
I was going out with this guy a few years ago, well after the incident mentioned in my first post, and after a few other unpleasant incidents in my life as well. One of the things I both loved and hated about him was that he was one of the most painfully honest and blunt people Iíd ever met in my life. No bullshit from him Ė he didnít sugarcoat anything. Conversations with him usually went right to the point. Which most of the time, was something I really appreciated Ė I can be painfully blunt as well Ė but sometimes it led to some very uncomfortable moments, and on more than a few occasions, an ugly screaming match.
I forget how we got on the subject, but we were talking about something, and I mentioned that I wasnít comfortable with a situation, and brought up being raped as a reason that I wasnít comfortable with it. And so Ė and I mean this, he meant this without any maliciousness Ė he asked me with all sincerity so, when are you finally going to get over all this?
And my response Ė without the loud volume and the four-letter expletives, and the slamming doors Ė was essentially this: If I fucking knew how to Ďget overí this, donít you think I wouldíve already?
In hindsight, in his weird way, my then-boyfriend was trying to be helpful. But he wasnít, although he genuinely intended to be helpful Ė it just didn't come out that way. And in thinking about it, I think itís because he saw rape as an event. To him, it was a finite point in time. It was something that happened to me, something very painful and traumatic Ö but as far as he could tell, it was just something in the past, something that could simply be left behind.
However, for me, and for anyone I know whoís ever been raped? Itís not an event. Itís an experience. And itís probably the most brutally personal violation anyone can ever experience. Itís a total, humiliating loss of control, where someone does something so intimate to you against your will Ö itís not something I think someone can ever fully leave in the past. It haunts you. There's times I can still smell my rapist's cologne, cheap and shitty as it was. I can picture every last detail in that apartment, and remember every single word of the conversations we had that night. I wish I could forget it all, but I can't Ė it's burned into my mind. And like a burn, it's slow to heal, and the scars won't go away.
There's the obvious ways the experience affected me. For example, for a long time, around New Year's Eve, I became an insecure, paranoid mess, to the point that I'd lock myself in my room that day and that night and turn off the lights. I didn't want to hear any celebrations, and I definitely didn't want to hear a goddamn countdown. And if I happened to be in a relationship at the time, under no circumstances did I want to see or talk to my significant other at the time. I wanted to be alone, even though I was miserable and depressed, and was doing little but reliving the whole thing in my head. I did that for ten years. It's only been the past two years that I've gotten past that Ö and even then, I don't drink, I don't go out, and I try to have an extremely quiet evening with the people I love most in the world instead.
But this experience also affected so much more in my life. I've mentioned my trust issues Ö by that, what I mean is that I would (and still occasionally do) intensely distrust most people when I first meet them. Especially if they're nice Ė I automatically assume that they've got an ulterior motive. But beyond that, assuming I don't push them away completely and then they somehow get my trust Ö well, then I tend to trust them too much. I put them on pedestals, and then expect too much from them. So when the inevitable breach of trust finally comes (which, a lot of time, isn't actually a breach at all, but at the time it happens I sure as fuck perceive it as one), the pendulum swings back too far the other way, and once more I'm back to intensely distrusting someone Ė sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad ones, but either way it's way more intense that it probably should be.
Also Ö well, sex. I mentioned in my initial post how it had been something special to me, something with an emotional component, something that was very personal and intimate. After being raped, the obvious happened at first Ė I didn't even want to be touched by anyone, let alone have sex with them. But later on, when I starting having sex again Ö the emotional component was gone. Vanished. Bye-bye. I got a lot of physical pleasure out of it, but absolutely zero emotional pleasure. Which, I'm sure, worked for a few of the guys I went to bed with, but for others, it was a problem. They wanted to make love, I wanted to fuck. Sex became very distinctly 'not special' to me for a very long time, at least on an emotional level, and certainly not personal and intimate. Being unable to connect the physical pleasure with that emotion caused a lot of destructive things to happen in my life, and ruined more than one good relationship in my life.
There's many, many other ways this has affected me Ö probably too many to mention, or at least coherently write for this blog. And for me, probably the most awful part of shit like this becomes the realization of how profoundly this one incident Ė fuck it, being raped, I'm sick of typing 'this incident' Ė has affected so many aspects of my life Ö and not wanting that to be an excuse for the bad things that have happned in my life. I think Ė and if I'm wrong, I apologize Ė but I think that depression can be sort of like this, too. I don't want the thought of yes, I was raped to be an excuse or a crutch for my shitty behavior in good relationships, or my severe trust issues, or my inability to connect emotionally with people, or in anything. To me, it sounds like a cop-out. I've consciously made a lot of bad decisions in my life, some of them appallingly bad. Nobody forced me to make these bad decisions, and rape didn't hold a gun to my head when I made them. So to say things like "well, I don't trust people because I was raped" and 'I didn't connect well to people emotionally because I was raped" doesn't sit well with me.
But at the same time, if I say that the experience didn't have any effect whatsoever on these things in my life Ö well, that's a lie. Because it did. It's not the reason such things happened Ö but it's certainly a reason. Acknowledging that can be depressing at times, but it's also true. Pretending I wasn't raped and everything's fine in my life and it didn't affect me in the slightest doesn't really work, and not only that, it's stupid.
A lot of this stuff, I guess, is mostly stuff that seems obvious. And to me, it should've been obvious Ö but it wasn't, not at all, at least not while I was living through it. There were plenty of nights I'd come home after fighting with one boyfriend or another about something stupid, and telling them what miserable, untrustworthy pieces of shit they were, and only then would I realize what I'd done Ė and why. I've found that it's one thing to be aware of the scars you have, and quite another to know how to live with those scars.
A couple of people have asked me if I've found the catharsis yet I was looking for by starting this blog. So far, the answer is no Ö but I'm feeling better for writing it. And I feel like I'm slowly inching closer to that day.
I also feel like I'm learning to live with scars a little bit better as well. :)