You know that moment when you have a traumatic experience and life changes for you?
Some people seem to be able to flow through the seven stages of grief or the twelve stages of restitution or the fifty stages of denial with such ease and grace.
Well, turns out, I’m not one of them.
My life is really broken into segments. Huge segments. Segments that are each represented by a traumatic event. There’s my life, pre-death of my parents. Me aged 1-16. I look back on this as my happy life. But really, only the last two or so years are what most people would think were truly “happy”. Prior to 13, 14 years old, life was pretty tumultuous. Nothing I want to get into, nothing so earth-shattering that people would feel shocked over. Just many little things that made being an introverted young girl tough.
Post-parent’s death is another section of my life. This life was a lot of fun that masked a lot of pain. This age was from 17-25. It’s when I fell in love. Twice. It’s where I started to see a future for my life. It’s where I was surrounded by friends and life was easy. If I had to go back to a group of years, these would be the ones I would relive over and over.
Then I had my first child. And another. Between 26-32, life was pretty much a blur. Lack of sleep, single parenting, dating – all a blur.
Then came the time that shall not be named and sometimes it seems like it hasn’t ended.
Yet I’m in another segment now. A segment I was starting to love.
But within one of these segments, I was in another event. I was raped. At a party. By someone that was a friend of a friend of a friend. I’ve never admitted this to anyone. Not even myself. I never wanted to. I still don’t. But I am. I don’t want your sympathy, I don’t want your psychological babble about being the victim and not my fault. I don’t even want you to read the sentence. And mostly, I don’t want you to look at me differently. Or think about me differently.
But sex until that point meant something to me. I guess I’m pretty old-fashioned. It meant I was in a committed relationship with someone I cared about and that I thought, cared about me. But then it wasn’t. That night it wasn’t. And this lone act sent me into some of the most self-destructive behaviour I’ve ever experienced. (This says a lot coming from the girl that was so close to a successful suicide attempt.) I started drinking daily. I started going out regularly. I had my first one night stand. Then another. And another. Because I no longer valued myself. I didn’t love myself. I felt worthless. Actually, I felt less than worthless. Someone I thought was one of my best friends dropped me because she didn’t like my behaviour. Then another. And another. These lost relationships cemented how I felt about myself. If some of the very best people in my life thought I wasn’t worth saving, then I had to be worthless.
I didn’t want this to affect me. That’s why I hid it. Even from myself. I relived that night over and over and tried to pretend it was consensual. I tried to turn my screaming and crying into laughter, the forcefulness into enjoyment, the pain into pleasure. I tried to tell myself that he wasn’t laughing at me, he was laughing with me. But deep down, I knew the truth. And I hated myself. I hated myself for being there. I hated myself for drinking. I hated myself for finding myself alone with him. I hated myself that obviously I didn’t cry and scream ‘no’ enough. I hated myself that I wasn’t strong enough to push his 6’4″ body off of mine. I hated that I couldn’t run fast enough. I hated that I had to see him the next morning. I hated that I let him tell everyone how “easy” I was.
I still don’t want to believe that it affects me. But realistically it does.
You see, I have spent the last year dating someone whom I actually really adored. (I say actually because I’m still surprised by how strong my feelings grew.)
But now it’s over. Even writing those words I want to cry. Oh, we don’t hate each other. We didn’t even have a huge fight. There was no infidelity, no circumstance that became too great to overcome. Except that there was. He doesn’t want to be with me. Oh he likes me well enough as someone to hang out with and even to have sex with. But hey, if he or I found someone “better” then, great! Only it’s not great. I don’t feel very great. I feel used. And I feel hurt. And I feel worthless again. And I’m shocked and ashamed by how the end of a relationship has brought me back to this memory.
But I’m mostly scared. I’m scared that the ending of this relationship will spiral me right back into that dark, dark place I came from. The dreams will come back. The self-destructive behaviour will return. I will hate myself again.