Living through a traumatic or stressful experience hits people in different ways, we may suppress our feelings, we may deal with them and heal properly, or we may break.
[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault]
I’ve talked about it a lot, wrote endless posts about ryan and what he did to me; but I’ve never really addressed the toll it took on me emotionally, physically and psychologically. When I was sexually assaulted I was thrown into a whirlwind of emotions. Not just because of what happened either.
I was 16, its been ten years and I haven’t been able to form a meaningful relationship since the night I lost sight of who I was. Beyond the crippling feeling associated with being assaulted, I hurled myself into the dark hole that has become my life. I thought that because my “friends” didn’t believe me, including the one person who was lying in that bed with me, no one would. My mom would say I was just drunk and because he was native people would assume that I asked for it, or perhaps that I lead him on. Those thoughts often run through my mind, maybe I did lead him on, but whether I lead him on or not I said no. I pushed his hands away and I said no. I wanted to sleep, that’s all and so I was the only one who convinced him to get out of the bed my “friend” and I were sleeping in, while two grown men watched on. I was the one who got him to the couch and then ran to the bedroom to lock the door. I was alone from that night on.
I suppressed myself, I suppressed the memories of that night as much as I could. I tried with all my energy to ignore the pounding in my head and the triggers and memories that enclosed around me. Until I couldn’t take it anymore, until the walls around me began to close in and I avoided people and places that he knew and went to. I avoided the world. I lived in a make believe world on the internet, where I could pretend I was happy, full of life and unharmed. I flirted and engaged with men on the internet, I took pictures that showed a side of me that wasn’t really there. I did not feel sexual, I did not feel like a normal 17 year old, or 18, or frankly today an almost 26 year old. I lost all need for intimacy and for sex, I began feeling as though I was broken, that he had turned off a switch most humans (and dolphins) have. It was hard enough when I was just living with the fact that my ex boyfriend came out after I lost my virginity to him but now I was broken goods, I was used and abused and afraid to tell anyone. I couldn’t tell my friends that the reason I dropped out of school and couldn’t come back was because being in that school, the school his picture hung on the wall of, was more difficult then I imagined. And I couldn’t explain to them why, at times, I was unreachable. Why I went months and years before I would work up the courage to see them again. They did not know me, this me, and I didn’t give them the chance to. I hid away so much that even my mom, dad and sister rarely saw me for more than 10 minutes. I stayed in my dark room for days, with my laptop and my fake smile photos and slept all day. I often thought about ending it all, it would be easier, it would be peaceful and I would be free. I would be free. Over the span of 6 years I watched as the world turned and aged around me and I felt as though I was trapped in the same place and time I was shortly after that night. I lived in a constant state of fear, fearful of being touched, being within two feet of a male. I was fearful of someone seeing it in my eyes that my world had gone black. I began to lash out in anger, I banged on doors trying to break them down, I told my pregnant sister I was gonna kick her in the stomach, I resented the world. I sat alone in my room and saw pictures and videos of other people living life, having babies, falling in love and I hated them all. I hated the fact that because I didn’t know how to heal, I didn’t have the courage to face what had happened that night, I wasn’t able to move on. I wasn’t able to fall in love, or trust someone. I felt stripped of the one thing all these girls were taking advantage of – being a mother. I can’t proclaim that it was only his touch made me this way, because there are girls and guys out there that have been sexually assaulted who have sex more, have kids from different dads, but my own self hatred over what I allowed to happen that night, the fact that I didn’t trust anyone to talk about it, I allowed his memories and his touch eat me alive and change the person I was suppose to become.
I realise now that the sexual assault was the first of many things I couldn’t heal from.
I didn’t know how to be happy, or how to move on from things, I still don’t. I didn’t know how to put my anger and pain aside to be happy for my sister and my friends when they had their first bundle of joys. I wasn’t able to put aside my selfish emotions long enough to be genuinely happy for anyone. I lost sight of my own health and I gained weight I still can’t lose. I hated myself more with everyday that passed, every pound I gained, every night I laid in bed and visions of that night circled in my mind. I just assumed I was depressed. I assumed a lot of things, okay I assume a lot of things. It hasn’t changed. Nothing has changed. I am still that 16 year old girl who was to scared to do anything about the night I was ruined. I speak about it, but I’ve never confronted the people that were involved, I suppressed my voice on subjects that needed to be expressed in a hopes that I would never be put in the position where I wouldn’t be believed – because I never told people my thoughts, my opinions, I never expressed my voice. I allowed the boy who molested me add me on facebook, and while he had no idea how broken I had become with every message he sent me asking me to hang out, I marinated in the pain. With every message the pain sunk deeper into me, with every “wanna grab a coffee” the memories and smells and feelings rushed back to me. I couldn’t move, I cried, I froze, I wanted to scream but had no way of explaining it to my mom had she heard. I cut myself hoping it would stop, but he still continued to message me. I finally blocked him from ever messaging me again, in hopes that if I was not readily available he could not make his way into my life. But I was wrong I was wrong to think that just because I was able to block him on social media I was blocking him from my life. He started messaging me on any form of social media or dating sites (which I made in hopes of finding a person who would help me heal) reopening a healing wound. He referred to that night as a little mistake or something he didn’t remember and my entire body shook in anger, in fear, in realizing that he will never admit to being or doing wrong. And I know that I must forgive someone who will never apologize and I must grow from this experience but with every minute that goes by, and every memory that resurfaces I lose hope and manifest in this anger and pain.
People have often asked and wondered why losing Jayda was so much more traumatic for me than losing my dad, and I tell them because she was always here. I tend to leave out that she was my comfort, she calmed me down and kissed(licked) away my tears. I would snuggle up with her and stroke her soft fur and it felt safe. I felt like no one and nothing could hurt me in that moment. That’s why it hurts so much. I am now without the only thing that kept me alive in the darkest days. I stayed alive because I didn’t want Jayda to be alone, I am still here because of her; and I failed to keep her here. But that’s a whole other story. I guess it was the fact that she would lay with me and I had someone who always wanted to be next to me, even to the point that she would sleep inside a sweater or zip up jacket. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I miss having someone close to me, and I think that is the worst part of all of this. The fact that being physically and emotionally close to someone scares me beyond belief now. I use to love to be close to people, to hug my friends, to interlock arms while we walked anywhere, hug people, be near people; and now the only person I get that close to are my nephews and sometimes my mom. I miss the feeling of a strong, steady arm holding me, that sense of security and love. Now if an arm goes near me I flinch in remembrance of that night. I forget what its like to look into the eyes of a man and feel love, and the gentle touch of a hand while watching a movie or driving. I miss being able to feel calm in the presence of a man. I miss being kissed, I miss the rush that goes with new love, and those feelings that could almost make you sick. I miss love.
I know I need to face the people and things that hurt me, I know I need to stop living in the past and suppressing who I am, but knowing and doing are two drastically different things and I don’t know how to fix the way my brain has adapted to my trauma. I don’t know how to fix the scar the molestation left on my soul, or how to love another man when I’ve always been hurt.
I pray to you in hopes that you can lead me towards the path of healing. That one day I will be free of the pain that started in the hands of a boy who was lost. I pray for the strength to forgive him for his wrong doings, to move on from the darkness of my past, and to grow into someone who perceivers through the pain.