TW: Sexual Assault. Based upon my own personal wheelings and dealings with the topic. (Thesis, research, emotions.) This doesn’t represent everyone's story but it is mine, and when I share it, I feel like living so I’m sharing. I hope it can resonate.
- Denial (1–2 Months)
Nothing happened. No one did anything to you. What person? What assault? What room? Nothing happened. I am the same person I was yesterday and the day before that. I am actually a better person. There was just a blip and now we’re moving on. Who wants cake? I can bake a lot of things. I can cook a lot of things. I can continue with my career and bake. Maybe I can take up 20 other things too. Maybe I could be a teacher! Maybe a Therapist! I can help people who have problems! Maybe a football player! Maybe a football playing artist teacher therapist! I can talk to everyone at once. I can be on the phone. I can take phone calls. I can answer all the texts. I can show up to all the meetings. I am funny! I have jokes! I can sing! I can perform! I am here! I am a reliable human being! Nothing ever happened to me to make me crack and break apart! Nothing out of the ordinary! My drinking is functional. Just a drink after every meal. Just a drink after lunch. My smoking is functional! Just smoking to go to sleep. Just smoking to wake up. Just occasionally smoking before work. I am so functional. Weed actually makes me function better. I smoke so I don’t have to think about that thing that happened. You know the thing that happened? The thing that you should be over because it’s been five years, and three therapists later. The thing that you haven’t really breached in therapy. The thing that makes you talk about childhood rather than the truth. The thing you dance around. The assault. That was your fault.
2. Rage at Self (1–2 Months)
The assault that was your fault. You can’t deny it. You can’t hide it. You can’t try to put it off on anyone else. You could have prevented it. If you didn’t respond to that text message. If you weren’t so stupid. If you weren’t so young. If you weren’t so naive. Let’s replay every moment that happened up to the day that it happened. Wow you should have ran. You should have spoke up. You know how to say no didn’t you? Did you say no? What did you say. Let’s rewind. Maybe you said yes? Maybe you said something in another language. You’re mouth barely moved. You should have said something. You should have broken something. You claim to be so tough. Why didn’t you move. It’s all your fault. You can scream and rant and rave and pretend it was their fault but it was yours. You can write a thesis about how women survive but you are falling apart. You can talk about it without actually going and being honest about it. You can claim to have healed while your soul is hemorrhaging because you know it’s your fault. Wrong place at the wrong time. Why were you wearing shorts. You chose to wear shorts. Why did you wear your hair like that. Why did you talk to him. Why did you go into that room. Why. What is wrong with you. You are such a liar. Everyone knows you’re a liar. Everyone knows it.
3. Fear & Anxiety (2–3 Months)
Everyone knows it. Everyone knows it. Everyone gives you a piteous look because they know that it was your fault. Keep trying to deny it. Keep showing up to events. Keep trying to do things. The harder you work the more it was your fault. The more you talk about it the more they worry. The more you show up the more they think it was your fault. The more they know it was your fault. The more you write about it the less they care. That tv show you watched last night. That rape scene you tried to be brave through. Your partner heard you crying about it. Everyone knows you’re crying about something that happened five years ago. Whats wrong with you? Keep it together. Keep it together. Everyone knows it. You claimed to be so tough. They know you are weak. They are all laughing about how it’s your fault. They all know it’s your fault. They all feel like its your fault. Some of them feel bad for you because you brought this upon yourself. You can’t even dream. You can’t even sleep. You are always running even when you don’t need to. Prove it. Over compensate. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine. Overdo it. Talk too loud. Laugh too loud. Make a scene. Be dramatic. Distract from the fact that you’re shaking. If you don’t tell a joke right now everyone will see your hands shaking. Just go into the bathroom. Just try to get up in the morning. Try to eat food. Try to breathe. It’s impossible. Just lie down. Call out of work. Hide away. Then they won’t see you. Then only you’ll know that you are trash. Just go to sleep.
4. Disassociation (???)
Good morning. Or is it evening? Or is it the afternoon? It’s nice to be alone. It’s nice to be away from everyone. It’s nice not to have expectations. Even though you’re a failure and you’ve called out of work. Even though you called out of class. Oh well. It’s nice just to float. It’s nice just to sink under your blanket. What day is it? How long have you been here? Have you always been here? When did you wake up? When did your hair grow? Your toenails are so long. What happened yesterday? Last week? Last month? How many calls have you missed? Where have you been? You thought you would just lay down to take a nap and it’s been two weeks now? Or two days? Or two years! You feel so lucid. What were you even laying here about? Why are you still laying here! Who cares about why you’re laying here, YOU need to get up! You’ve let so much time pass! You have wasted so much time!
5. Rapid “Puttingselftogether” (New Years, Birthdays, Holidays, Moments)
I’ve got to get up! Gotta send so many apology emails. So many apology texts. I’ve bailed on my family, friends and everyone again. Okay. I can message about it. I can write about it. I can show up. I can be strong. I’ve always been strong. Everyone says I’m strong so I am right? I wrote a whole thesis about being a survivor facilitator. I can do it then. I can keep showing up. I’m not depressed anymore. I’ve healed myself. I need to remember that I’m not there anymore. I need to meditate. I need to do some yoga. I need a schedule. I need to do my hair. I need to be present. I need to be a voice. There are people who need me. I need to show up and be there. I need to. I need to stop having such a bad attitude. I need to pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again. I can do it. I need to prove to others that I can do it. I am better. I am better. I am fine. I am fine. I am fine. It’s not my fault. (I don’t believe that at all. I’ll try again with that sentence later.) Where’s Beyonce I need to put on some music. I am back. It is I not you. I am not the voice in my head. I am fine. I am fine. I am fine.
Yes you’re fine. Nothing is wrong with you. You can do this.
And then the whole cycle repeats.
Hopefully not for eternity. I think it will stop when I forgive myself or something like that. I’ve tried everything and I still won’t let go. One day hopefully I will be sick and tired of feeling this way and I’ll be better, but I guess for now we’re still here.