The Big R – for rape…and resilience

A while ago, as I watched one of the shows I like to follow- the Big C- I start thinking about definitions. The things that people know or don’t about us that shape who we are, who we become. The things that we have no control over, that just get attached to us and shape parts of us.

Like cancer. Traumatic incidents. Loosing a person you are really close to. Becoming an addict. Being homeless. Diseases. Heartbreaks.

Rape.

When I first started telling some of my friends about what happened to me, I feel like I have peeled off all my skin and then went out- exposed, sensitive. As if I had what happen written on my forehead. For the most part, I was wrong. My friends didn’t see me differently- they just saw that I was going through hard time and needed them.

That hasn’t been always the case though. I’ve told some guys I’ve dated- it’s hard being close to someone and avoiding the subject. One guy friend laughed. I lost another friend because he though I had somehow provoked the guy, and I can’t be close to a person who would think that I could have inflicted something like that on myself. Another guy yelled at me for not having told him the minute we met, as if that is what I would like to start with when I meet someone.

Anyway, I won’t go into all the different ways in which rape changed me, good and bad, but the word is something else.

Sometimes, if you case is public for example, you may be seen like the rape victim. But for the most part, how much it affects you depends on how much you can deal with the fact itself.

I guess for a while until now, since I had to dig through my worst memories to reconcile with my past, I had let it define me. It is, after all, a life altering thing.

For the past months however, I’ve been doing amazing. It’s like every wall I’ve put since the rape happened has started thumbing down, and I am getting back everything I thought was lost. But every now and then I hear a song like Rihanna’s “Man Down” or Union of Knifes- Evil has never, and the song goes right through me like knife.

I’ve gotten a lot back in the past year, I’ve fought da*n hard for it. But there is a depth in feeling that I haven’t yet achieved, I can’t achieve it ever since the rape. I’m not sure I ever will. I’ll be okay if I don’t- I did tend to be over-emotional person. But the thing is, now I can even talk about rape, without blinking, discuss it calmly- but then one song can break through, cut through me, and suddenly the world explodes, and I feel, and it all comes back to me.

RESILIENCE
1
: the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
2
: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change
Rape, it has a way of playing games with your brain, of hurting places in you that you didn’t know existed, and changing in ways you didn’t see coming. The ways my brain reacted- the PTSD, the denial, the actual amnesia of parts of memories that came to me a lot later, it confused me.
Is my brain so weak, I thought, am I that weak that my brain can not handle that?
Rape is an extreme situation. One person may handle it better than another, but even if you think you know how to act in it, you can’t know. It’s always different than you expect.
If you go back through my blog, you will realize that I talk a lot about THE rape, as in the first time. What I don’t talk about so much, is that for me it was more than once. I lived in one house with the guy, and it happened few times. I won’t go into detail of the how and why yet. I think a part of me realized, after struggling to fight once, and being hurt more for it, that fighting isn’t always the best option if you are trying to save your life.
Either way, there is something in these songs I mentioned, that brings back the memory. It’s sticky and hazy, like I am having a great day and then the memory pours out and envelops me in its depths, and I forget I had other jobs to do.
I remember one of those times now. It wasn’t the first time or the second. My brain can’t handle what is happening, I guess, because all I know is, the memory comes with the feeling I’m a child. 6 years old. I don’t know why 6, just mind perception. The thing is, my brain recognizes the scene now. I’m where it happened, when I was 21 years old, in that house, with that person. But the memory my mind has, it twists and I feel it like a child would. I see the person and the house, and I know I should be 21 years old, but I feel like I’m 6. I feel smaller than him, every memory of that night is broken through that perspective. I remember moments of it and they crash together through my child perspective, loud and incomprehensible. I don’t understand what’s happening, I just know that it hurts and like a child I can’t understand how anyone would do that and I just want it to stop…
That memory used to worry me. It’s very confusing to my mind, feeling like a child. But it’s not even truly like DID. My mind doesn’t stay separated, I’m still me now. But the memory of that rape, it all comes through the eyes of a child.
That memory made me feel like I have a weak brain- one push, and I forget, one push and I feel like a child, one push and I change forever? But to a sense I think that this helps. Like our mind is like a sponge or some other material. It easily bends out of shape, especially if you push it too hard. But that’s just it- it bends, it twists, it can make you feel like you are lost forever. But that bending, that’s what keeps it together, until it can push outwards and regain it’s shape again. Sometimes the worst things we feel, the worst things we do as a reaction to something- they are what protects us.
Our mind is facing something too strong to resist it, and it bends in a way that would allow it not to break permanently. We, as humans, are ultimately weak, and ultimately strong too. Good enough push and we react in different ways, like I did. Some of those ways we can’t even comprehend at the time. But we have to trust that in most cases, our mind knows what is best to do to protect itself, so that one day, it can grow strong enough to regain it’s lost shape.
And yes, those songs, may be they will always get under my skin, always sting a little deeper than I would like them too.
Just like all strong feelings we experience, rape is hard to forget. And as someone with very graphic memory, may be it will always get to me. But my mind is resilient.
In the grand scheme of things very little people will see, or know, that I had once been so scared that my brain has snapped to the brain of a child. They will only see who I am now. What I do now. Whenever a song touches me like that, I let myself feel it. Cry if I need too. Walk around brooding, gloomy like a ghost, trying to realize how I feel. But then I let it go.
I let it go and return to the things I do now. I get back to writing and drawing and creating, I get back to regaining the strength I lost. I get back to my day, and to training all the muscles at my disposal- my body to dance and be in shape, my mind to try new things and take chances. At the end of the day, this is what people will see, and what I will see.

Resilience.

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