First and foremost, a word of warning: I might be posting less frequently in the next week or so, as I am currently being borne on the first wave of midterms this semester. My life is a little bit bonkers right now, and that coupled with the fact that I just quit therapy and have spent approximately 10 hours this week making baked goods for Valentine’s Day…yeah, I’m pretty frazzled. Apologies if this post is less than coherent. I’ve had a lot of odd and conflicting thoughts bouncing around in my head recently and I’m attempting to lump a couple of them into something worth writing about.
This Friday, my college is doing its annual production of The Vagina Monologues. Last year was the first exposure I had to the event, and it made me remember a lot of things I’d pushed out of the way in order to have room in my mind for other things. Sometimes, when you spend most of your time thinking over how corrupt the latest IMF loan conditions are, you forget your own experiences as a woman, I guess.
Last year, after The Vagina Monologues, was the first time I ever was alone with My Rapist.
Being one of the international students (or close enough – I don’t actually technically know what country/countries he has citizenship in, but he lived in foreign countries for the majority of his life before college according to the history I was given) and also fond of recreational substances, he was invited to a lot of parties. I got a text asking if I’d like to come to one with him and “a few other people”, which I took to mean that our mutual friend, through whom I’d met My Rapist, would be attending as well. That turned out to be false, but there was a third person, who I’ll refer to as The Driver since that was the role he played that night.
To condense the evening’s events down to a paragraph or two, I ended up taking a dose of what was believed to have been PCP that night. This was not by choice, and to this day I’m not sure whether My Rapist knew it was spiked or it was genuinely by chance. Either way, I think it was then that he got The Wrong Idea. As I look back on it, maybe he took my severe dependence on him that night as a sign of interest. I don’t pretend to know what goes on in his mind; the man is severely unbalanced, so it’s sort of a pointless exercise to try to put myself in his shoes.
I had no choice but to be dependent on him.
I could not breathe, or talk, or walk. My face was numb and every noise echoed and intensified and then warped into voices or musical noises. For all intents and purposes I was rapidly fading in and out of even being conscious enough to realize where I was and what was happening.
I cannot for the life of me comprehend why he didn’t rape me that night.
To be fair, I can’t be 100% certain that he did not, as I was pretty far gone. But when I regained my senses ten hours later, the first thing I did was assess the state of my clothing while he was still snoring. There were no stains in the borrowed pair of pajama pants, nothing tender or bruised, none of the stretched and achy feeling I seem to inevitably get after anything has consensually or otherwise been shoved in my vagina.
So maybe he did sexually assault me, but all evidence suggests the contrary.
He got me home. He kept me alive. He kept me from wandering alone into the forest, delirious and frightened and very much vulnerable.
I am left to assume that he took good care of me that night to gain my trust – and he did. So much so that, several weeks later, I thought nothing of going to his room alone when he said he “needed someone to talk to” about the fact that he was suicidal and violent and knew he was losing it. That time, he did put a belt around my neck, and he did tell me that I was his property, and he did stick things in me that had no place being there, and he did grab me by my face and hit my thighs until he left welts, and after he was through he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand and told me that the more afraid I was, the more it turned him on.
And then he made a cryptic reference to “What if Your Best Friend Who You Met Me Through Found Out What We Just Did”, and asked if I wanted help with my calculus homework.
I hate the self-doubt that comes with writing out what happened that first time. I hate that I still can’t see it for what it was.
This year, I am going to the Vagina Monologues by myself.
This year, I am going to cry during the rape-themed monologues if I want to.
This year, I am not going to care what anyone else watching thinks.
This year, I am not going to be alone with anyone afterward.
This year, I am going to let myself have an experience without feeling bad.
I am going to have whatever emotions I have.
I am going to care about the stories.
I am not going to care about anyone else’s reactions to them.
I’m looking forward to this because for some reason I crave other peoples’ stories and perspectives. In the one-sided conversations they shout from onstage, I hear validation and camaraderie and comfort and someone who understands.
Oh god, do I need someone who understands.