…or the 4th…who cares? After the first ones it gets a little confusing which was which.
Anyway. When I started this blog I wasn’t sure that I would write about each one here at all. But now, it’s time to tell the story about one more of them.
Writing about my issues with rape was enough, since it got me to getting back to my actual life and feeling better. Lately however, I have been going to regular jazz ballet classes. Dance has become some sort of a tool in recovery too, as well as a new home. It has constant challenges and it has let me grow in many ways during the 2 months that I’ve been going there. However, part of those challenges are that there are a lot of triggers. Some of them are small and I disregard; some of them are bigger, and it takes me days to shake off the feeling they leave and get back to the next dance class.
Two of those happened yesterday, and I will write about them separately. However, they brought some memories in my head, and unlike usually, I haven’t been able to shake them out yet.
So I decided to tell this one here.
My rapist was a guy in the house I was living for the summer. I was working in another country and was living in a house with a lot of other people doing the same, for about 4 months. This particular guy was always friendly, always flirting and saying that he isn’t, and always complaining about something I was doing. I’ve told about the first time he assaulted me before, as well as the second, so I won’t repeat myself.
After that point there were few more times. Each was different. I’d like to tell you that I was smarter and managed to protect myself better after the first times, but I wasn’t. I was in another country, without a job, and thinking if I’ll have food the next day. Dealing with something like a rape had no place in that. The brain protects us in strange ways. In mine, it was full or partial denial of what was happening, along with all kinds of excuses in my head about the physical evidence of it all.
And so that night came.
The first time had been in another room, and the second had been in my room. Despite my avoidance of the subject, the second time left me subconsciously very weary and afraid.
I resented the guy every time I saw him, and resented myself for not being able to tell why I feel like this about him. I avoided the parties he made with the other people in the house and they started looking at me like I was an outsider. He came to my door once each night, finding a reason to knock and talk to me- just talk. Sometimes he invited me to things, for which I always refused, sometimes he came to ask for a favor or bring something.
I awaited his coming to my room, and from the moment the day went towards evening, if I happened to be in my room, I was weary, jumpy, unable to concentrate on anything, waiting for the knock. I couldn’t admit to myself why I was scared. Despite my reservations with guys, in my previous world, such things like rape only happened in movies. I was still reluctant to call what happened to me rape (took me another year to really realize what it was). Each time he finally ended his talking at my door and went back to his party, I felt my knees weak and sat on the bed for a long time, staring in space. Those days, no matter how tired I got, or whether I slept for 2 hours only, I always re-checked if I locked the door, few times, just to be sure. Sometimes I checked it few times each hour during the evening before going to bed. For no reason at all.
Somehow, that night, I have left it unlocked- or so I assume…
All I know is, I woke up from his weight over mine under the comforter, in the darkness. My first instinct was to scream- a truly animal instinct, one I had before I can ever realize what was happening fully. That instinct was muffled just as quickly by the hand on my mouth.
I didn’t know what was going on, except that my brain was refusing to cooperate with me and reeling, freezing, panicking. I felt his hand sliding under my underwear, and I tried to push him away, but his weight was holding my in place. I couldn’t do anything, except feel terrified when he touched me. I held my breath when he pulled my underwear down, starting to realize that I wasn’t getting out of this. I stopped fighting. I froze, my brain suddenly flashing to the first time he did it, when I tried to fight with all I had, and ended up being scared that I won’t be able to breathe.
I cried while he was moving over me, but I cried quietly, silently, ashamed, and afraid that if I let myself really cry, my nose might close and with his hand on my mouth I won’t be able to breathe. The kid in me was terrified, frozen and afraid. The adult in me was calculating how to get through this in one piece. A part of me was panicking, because besides the first time he raped me, I hadn’t yet slept with anyone else. It still hurt immeasurably, and the fact that I tensed up because I was afraid didn’t help. I stared fixated on him moving over me, like waiting for a nightmare to be over. I felt like everything in me that meant anything was broken. Every notion I had of good and bad was turned upside down and twisted. That was still my friend (or so I kept convincing myself) – what had I done to deserve that? I felt detached from my body, like it was the body of a doll, and he was doing what he wanted with it. The pain kept piercing my stomach and radiating through my body.
Please stop. But the voice was only in my head and came out muffled and pathetic through his hand. I turned my face away so I wouldn’t face him. Some irrational part of me was embarrassed because I knew he could feel my heart beating like crazy in my chest, he could feel my tears sliding into his arm.
At a certain point I just stopped responding to anything outside of me. The pain numbed and I was grateful. And then I don’t know why, but I kept thinking, what about my rent, I still don’t have a job, how will I pay my rent? How? The pain stayed somewhere far away. When I registered him leaving, I tried staying unmoving for as long as I could, while taking in as much air as I could. I was afraid that any move on my part may provoke him and he might come back. I stayed like this even a while after I heard his steps fading down the stairs outside.
When I could finally feel I was truly and utterly alone, I stumbled up to lock the door- which seemed almost impossible with my trembling hands and legs that felt like jelly. I cried again and swore, until I could finally turn the key. I stumbled back to my bed in relief that left me within seconds. I wasn’t thinking anymore. I was safe and had to feel good about that, and after that- to get up in the morning, make myself look presentable and look for a job. Because I will find one. I know I will.
Suddenly I start shaking and crying, and I scream in my pillow until my voice is all raspy and broken. The night felt endless.
The morning came like any other morning. I really needed a job, so thinking about what happened was the last thing on my mind, despite the fact that I was reminded of it by my bruised body. The morning came with the relief that I am alive and in one piece, and able to go to job interviews. I had survived.
There was no space for thinking about the meaning of what happened- not then, and not for another 3 months- not until I was safely home, and on another continent.