TW: Rape, victim blaming

(This was initially written almost two weeks ago and has been reworked before being posted here.)

Tomorrow is six years since the last time I was raped. What a terrible thing to have to say. The last time. A signifier of other times. Times that hide in the shadows of memory. Lurking. Waiting. Each time a ghost that plagues me. A specter to haunt me in the night. In darkness, I am surrounded by the ghosts of the traumas of the past. I can’t even count them. I know not their numbers.

6 years. 6 years. 6 years.

Words that echo and rattle and reverberate. Building. Consuming. Inescapable.

I feel alone.

My husband doesn’t know how to help. My wonderful, caring, compassionate, loquacious husband is at a loss for words.

I am alone.

Delusions of paranoia keep me from speaking to him. Words catch in my throat, unable to make the leap to lips.

And who else is there?

Echoes of venom words poison my mind. Her voice carries through, exact and cold, as if I were back in that dimly lit basement sitting across from her as she blames me for the flashback that had just passed. Her icy words pierce my chest like daggers.

In the game of competing trauma, hers is worse and I was wrong to talk about mine.

Can’t talk to her. No one to talk to. Can’t talk to her.

Not bad enough. Weak. Pathetic. Brought this on myself

Angry thoughts swirl through my head. Too fast to catch. Misdirected rage. Thoughts I am ashamed of. Arguments I will never have. Words of poison. Words that viciously attack the caricatures of loved ones inside my head. Words I’ll never say.

It’s your fault for choosing to stay.

You let it happen

It’s your fault she’s gone

I blame her for the abuse. Except I don’t. Even in my angriest of moments, I am disgusted by the sharpened thoughts that stab her distorted form within my mind. A childish urge to hurt her like she hurt me. That’s the thing about best friends, you know all the best ways to cause each other harm.

But the angry words stay within the confines of my seething mind. I dare not utter the words that make me sick with shame. Why, in this moment of darkness, does my mind fill with victim blaming thoughts I would never believe?

Panic hides around every turn. An errant thought leads to gasping breathes and racing heart. I focus and refocus and refocus and… Can’t let thoughts stray. Fight the very nature of my brain.

I force myself to be ok, or at least to make it seem that way. It’s been six years. I should be over this. No one wants to hear me whine about the swirling mess inside my head. I’m ok. I’m ok. I’m ok. Reinforce with every beat of the heart. Until one small thing, one tiny comment or movement, shatters the illusion and sends me falling back into the dark abyss.

Dirty. Worthless. Slut. Weak. Pathetic. 

 Self-degradation echoes through my mind. Over and over and over.

“How are you?” he asks.

“I’m alright.” fall the words from my mouth. A script that’s lost meaning. Uttered again and again, over and over, always a lie. Why must I lie?

All the while, my soul screams out, begging to be heard, desperate to be seen.

I’m not ok. 

Pain. So much pain. Fear. Anger. Shame. 

Help me. Please. 

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be alone. 

But these words stay trapped. Echoing through my being. Consuming me.

But who would want to help me? When viscous words escape my lips and I sulk and go silent and struggle to move.

Why should anyone care?

Dirty. Worthless. Weak. Pathetic. 

Why would I ever think myself worthy of help?

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be alone. 

But I wasn’t alone on that fateful night. My two best friends slept just downstairs. But it wasn’t enough. My cries went unheard. There was no one there to stop him. I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t loud enough. I didn’t fight enough.

Not enough. Never enough.

Maybe it’s just that I don’t want to be me.

Dirty. Worthless. Weak. Pathetic. 

I wasn’t strong enough. I wasn’t loud enough. I didn’t fight enough.

Help me. Please. 

But now I paint on a smile and go about my day amidst the sea of familiar faces who will ask “How are you?”

I will lie “I’m alright.”

All the while, unsaid words lodge in my throat and my eyes hold tears captive and my soul screams out in desperation.

I avert my eyes and force a laugh at the mundane words I failed to hear.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. 

It happened around 2 am. I cried in bed until sunrise. I wrapped myself in layers upon layers of soft things and my way out into half lit dawn to a world still sleeping.

Help me. Please.

The campus police turned me away. Said there was nothing they could do.

The town police interrogated me. What was I wearing? How much did I drink? Why didn’t I know his name? Who I had I fucked before?

My fault. It was all my fault. 

“You have to remember that this was at least half your fault.” Said the head of the psychological counseling center who I had gone to for help.

Dirty. Worthless. Weak. Pathetic. 

My fault. It was all my fault. 

Tomorrow, I will get up and finish my costume. I will go to a party full of people I don’t know. I will hide my horror and all the pain behind a painted on smile and an “I’m alright.”

Help me. Please. 

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be alone.