'It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story"
-Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind.
For 18 years the story that I told myself, the story I used to build myself, was a lie. It was a story about a girl who had never been raped. It was a story I didn't always like, about a girl who made some spectacularly bad choices, but at least she was the one making the choices. That part I liked. I told that story so well and so often that it became my truth. I made myself into a girl who made bad choices, thereby creating a very believable story. The present justifying the past.
I never talked about what happened to me. Ever. Not to my mother, or my sister, or my best friend. Not even to myself.
Fast forward. I survive being a teenager who makes bad choices. I avoid any serious consequences for my behavior thanks to the privilege I was born into plus a generous serving of dumb luck. I grow up and I make some really excellent choices. I marry a good man. We have beautiful children. I am happy. See me, drinking coffee in the silent morning before anyone else is awake, my phone in one hand, scrolling through facebook. That's when I first see #metoo. Remember how you only see #metoo and then the . . . unless you click the status. so it rolls past my eyes once, twice, I forget how many times before I get curious enough to click. And then I know what we are all chiming in about.
I don't hesitate before I change my status. Of course #metoo. I'm a woman in my 30s. I could tell you #metoo stories for hours. Me too I'm 13 when the old guy outside sunshine daydream on state street tells me I 'look like I'd be good at sucking cock'. Me too I'm 14 and the boy who sits next to me on the school bus is always masturbating. Me too I'm 19 and breaking up with my boyfriend. he says I owe it to him. Goodbye sex. I think maybe I do, but then I cry the whole time he's inside me. Me too learning to cross the street to avoid passing too close to strange men. Me too carrying my keys between my knuckles like wolverine's blades. All of that is in my head while I type #metoo. But not this: I was raped. It's buried so deep I don't see it even when I'm looking.
But then I start to. Over the next few days every time I'm online another woman I know adds her voice and her story to this mountain and it feels like a door that's been locked forever is creaking open. Like their voices are shining a light into this dark place inside me. I don't like it. I can feel this buried secret wiggling its way toward my surface like something dead that won't stay still. It's disrupting my story and misaligning my truths. One night I think 'I was raped' and it might be the first time I thought those words.
I know it's the first time I say them out loud. The next night, lying in the dark with my husband. "I didn't know this was going to be so hard" I tell him "I didn't know I was going to cry". I thought I could just let it out, casual-like, no big deal, it happened a long time ago...but instead I'm crumbling. My story is crumbling. I have to build myself again. With this new piece. I keep looking at it but I kept it in the dark for so long, my memories are all dirty. I can't see anything clearly.
Things I can remember: My friend Mary's house. A sleepover party, though not the kind my parents thought. Wine coolers. Curling up in a corner. Feeling like I couldn't move. Thinking 'I thought it would hurt more'
Things I can't remember: Was it a dare? I think so. But I don't really know. Can't remember if I ever knew his name, or whether there were really other people there in the room when it happened. How do you forget being raped?
I can't remember but I can't leave it alone either. Like a sore in my mouth that I keep poking with my tongue. It's like I dug up a corpse, a putrescent bloated rotting corpse and now its just laying there, in my mind, and I don't know how to get rid of it. It won't be re-buried.
I was raped.
It feels like a chunk of vomit stuck halfway down my throat. I'm hoping that the more times I say it, the easier it will get to swallow. That's what I'm doing here.