Rape & Recovery: Preparing to tell my mom

“My mom saw the drawing as well, and said it was good, but perhaps too dark in emotion.

That was a perfect opportunity. Last year I would have bailed, but that was my chance.

I didn’t tell my mom what happened to me, but I did tell her that I had such emotions and I can’t always be cheerful.

I proceeded to tell her that I have before sheltered her from some things when I can, but that now I’m an adult. And as an adult, I want honesty in my life, and I don’t want to filter anything.

It was a clear message: no more lies, no more spinning the truth, and no more lying about bad things. I WANT honesty in my life.”

As you all know, there has been a good portion of years around what happened to me, in which I avoided the idea of telling my mom, as if it would set me on fire. I guess in full honesty, I did it half for her (to spare her the pain) and half for me (I was too drained to deal with emotions that anyone but me is having). In any case, once in university, I had spared my mom some bad moments, thinking I was protecting her. So by the time the rape happened, and things got a lot harder and darker, I started sparing her anything remotely bad- even me having the flu. It’s a bad cycle to be in. Until that time, we had the type of relationship where I could share anything. Pushing down all my emotions wasn’t good.

Anyway, somewhere down the line last year, I started occasionally attempting to admit a truth. I said when I was sick, I said when I had some other problems.

It wasn’t a huge thing, but it was still a big step considering.

Still, when it comes to a lot in my life, I am still pretty much leading a double life, and it’s exhausting. I bet there are people that live like this all their life, I’m sure of it- people with incurable conditions that they don’t want known, people to whom something happened and they never admitted a word. I’m not saying that I want everyone knowing- but I don’t want to hide so much, all the time anymore. A lot of who I was, who I always wanted to be, was based on honesty, and such thing weight on me. I didn’t tell a lot of my friends that I was raped, at least for year and a half after. I never told my mom I was depressed and why. In my dance classes, for the first months, I had too many panic attacks to count. I often had to stop in the middle of class, and just watch. Who knows what people thought- people that are now friends- especially when I often said I was dizzy or sick. Anyway. Then there is the other problem. I’m an artist. And I do, I write bad things, but that isn’t venting for me…in drawing however, I’m often unable to draw anything sad, or scary, or dark.

Again, I’m not saying I want to tell everyone- but for someone who wants to be an artist, someone who would like to lead honest lifestyle…I’ve pretty much been concealing all I can. With other people. With myself. At some point you forget that you wanted to be honest at all. The brain is like a sponge. The actions you take may not be who you are…but they always leave a mark.

Continue reading

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The 3rd time he raped me…

…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… Continue reading

End of the Semester: About Concentration and the Fragmented Life

I’ve blogged about most of that first year after my SA and what it was for me, in a way.

But before I move on to the second year, there are few more things to mention.

Oh, and for those of you new here who are new to the story, if you scroll over “Story and Background” you can choose time period, and then go backwards in it to see what I’ve written. I’ll soon add few pages with chronologically linked posts for easier access. I’m also possibly writing a memoir book/guideline for those going through rape recovery. I’ve learned some things on the way of getting here, and although I am not an expert, there are things I learned in the past year that I wish someone had told me when I was first struggling with this. Anyway, that book is in the process of making, and meanwhile, there are few more things I would like to share.

*

1. Counseling

I’ve mentioned in a previous post, that counseling somehow helped me, even though I told the counselor very little. One thing that struck me though- and that I tried to conceal from her, because I thought it made me a freak or crazy- was my inability to separate how I feel.

She started asking me things about how I feel.

I remember I mastered some answer, even though I knew that at best I’m twisting the truth.

But she kept asking me how I feel, and what was I supposed to say?

I was spending most of my time at my favorite university, with my friends, completely miserable? And despite that most of the time I am not sure how I feel? I can’t make difference between good, bad, sad, angry? Everything had somehow blended together and it wasn’t that I was running from how I felt. I had no clue how I felt. None. I ran her question through my head many times after that, for myself, and found it disturbing that I still didn’t feel in way. There was no separation of feelings within me anymore. I was an emotional time-bomb waiting to explode.

2. Fragments and concentration

Now, that is the other thing about my first year that I’d like to share. Mostly because while going through it I constantly wondered if I’m going crazy or have somehow broken my brain beyond repair. Only now, getting out of it, I can see how it was, and that it wasn’t forever. I wish I’d known that what I was going through was perfectly fine considering. Continue reading

Getting through the Storm

“Right now, you aren’t making difference between fantasy and reality.” I look at the counselor, not so convinced.

The reality of what happened, it’s engraved in my memory, in every scar on my skin, in every night I wake from nightmares. What does she know?

*

That was 2 years ago, when I went to a counselor, to get help so that I wouldn’t want to drink all the time anymore. It helped, even though I never told her that the main reason that I want to drink is the broken memories I had of my rape, and trying to move on as if it never happened.

*

People are learned constantly that we need roots. Familiar things. That in a hard situation you have to try to contain your life in normal routine. When we get into a situation which is hard but we have no control over, we hold onto what we know, until the storm passes.

But no one tells you what do you do if the storm doesn’t pass.

*

Let’s rewind a bit.

That summer.  Continue reading

2. Starting recovery


Sometimes, you start the right thing for the wrong reason or for no reason at all. Sometimes in the midst of a nightmare, you find something to hold on to. In retrospect, the reason doesn’t matter. The reason has no meaning when that one thing is the one thing that keeps you holding onto life.

Until things get better. Or if they do.

         It’s the past August and I have just realized, my life is falling apart. I have just graduated, I have an internship at a great place, and I’ve just recently fallen in love with the perfect person for me(we are still together and crazy for each other)- so you can see how that would come as a surprise. But when you realize that you’ve stopped caring enough to brush your teeth or hair, food has become a chore, and you cry all the time…that has to give you heads up.

I’m breaking down. You’re too weak to deny it anymore. Continue reading

Lessons Unlearned pt.1

Note: That may be triggering, but I’m not sure. I may have to write it in 2 posts, so the first 1 may be okay.

For that summer, I am like a person with no learning curve at all. Every time I try something- finding job, getting better- something happens and I’m back down again.

I have no memory of that night at all, besides the beginning and the end, and I push that out of my mind in pursuit of finding a job and keeping my sanity at the same time. I’m like a broken clock, I remember and then forget again, and find good ways to explain all strange things and black holes in my memory.

There is no such luck.

Nevertheless, I keep looking. And somehow keep resenting that guy from my house, and avoiding him, and feeling stupid for not being able to pinpoint why I feel this way. The strange bruises fade and I very successfully manage not to think where they had come from. I put the clothes I was wearing then in a bag, and stash them away, so I don’t think about what happened to the zipper. Out of sight- out of mind. Continue reading

Rotten Pies and Sobriety

Sometimes in life, you know you are falling, only when you are already heading full-speed half way down the cliff…

Once upon a time, I lived in a different world. It was the first week I arrived in that foreign city, before I was abused. That first week constituted long streak of seeking (jobs, apartments), making payments(hotels, taxi, bus, food) and settling in the new place. I was living on borrowed money and fairy tales. 

See, I had spend the last 3 years in my own university bubble, where you spend 24 hours being thought new things, writing academic papers, meeting new people, and being convinced to express your opinion, take chances and be a leader. Or pretty much that it depends on you how successful you will be.

Then I was going back to home, where truth hit me on the head every time. My parents had not had the same chance as me. Whether I approved their choices or not was besides the point. But after spending one semester home for leave of absence, something was forming in my head, loud and clear.

I can not depend on my parents money(or lack of them) anymore.

When I started university I had thought my fight for making my own living would start after I graduate, but it was becoming more and more obvious it was time. And so I did what people around me did when they had university and needed to make money over the summer. I went abroad.

I borrowed money to go, certain in my success. To the last moment I wasn’t sure if I had borrowed enough to pay for my trip, and kept borrowing. It was all set. I was going to travel, work, pay back my friends. And for many people, that was how things went.

Oh, how naive of me… Continue reading