Fragment V

Another taste of the story I’m writing…


The call came in the middle of the night.

She woke with a start, her mind still in that foggy place between sleep and wakefulness. She could not tell if she had been dreaming. This was good; lately her dreamlife was made of memories of rot, of bodies beaten and broken and screaming for help, accusatory eyes staring holes into her soul…

She sat up and dug around the couch cushions for her cell phone. When she found it and saw the display, she cursed loudly.

2:30 a.m.

Her mother was calling. She let the phone ring and ring, wishing like hell the bottle on the coffee table was full and not pathetically empty. In the darkness, she moved from the tiny living room to the tinier kitchen. She set the phone on the counter just as it stopped ringing.

She counted, one, two, three, four, and yanked open the freezer. The pretty bottle of vodka nestled between the ice tray and bags of frozen veggies was supposed to be for special occasions. Or so she told herself.

She didn’t bother with a glass. She unscrewed the cap and on the third burning gulp when her cell phone rang again, she almost felt prepared to answer.

Only when half the bottle was gone did she finally pick up.

“Hi, mom.”

“My God! Finally! I’ve been calling you for almost -”

“- an hour. I know.”

“You’ve been ignoring me.”

“Been trying to.”

“Are you drunk? What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m fine.”

“Don’t lie to me. You’re an awful goddamned liar and I can’t deal with your shit right now.”

“Right, mom. Sorry. It’s all about you; I forgot. Spit out whatever you have to say so I can hang up and we can go back to our merry little lives.”

Silence.

She thought her mother had ended the call but then, quietly: “Your gran died. The funeral is in two days. Show up, or don’t. At least you can’t say you didn’t know.”

She pulled the phone away from her ear and clicked the small red ‘end call’ button. She brought the bottle of vodka back to the couch with her and stuck her cell phone back into the cushions.

Her mother’s words were crushing. So she took a deep, shaky breath and then took another drink. And another.

Soon she was floating; there was a blissful nothingness here, a numbness where her brain did not fret about the future or agonize over the past.

Sleep took her with a quickness typically reserved for the dead.

Gardening

The word ‘trigger’ and the meaning behind it has unfortunately become a joke. I take triggering content seriously, and this post will be one that deals with difficult topics – consent and rape in relationships – that I’ve never spoke out loud. So, if such topics are hard for you to read about, turn back now.

I don’t consider myself a survivor. Or a victim. Maybe because I haven’t fully articulated – or dealt with – the stark fact that I was raped. I hope that, by writing it down and sharing my story, a) I’ll be able to process what happened and b) possibly help others who are, or have been, in my shoes.

Let’s rewind about three years ago. I’d just gotten out of a nine year relationship with my daughter’s father. I was reeling; directionless. Numb. I told myself I would give myself lots of time to figure out my next steps and hold off on another relationship indefinitely.

That didn’t happen. Instead, I met and fell in love with someone just two months later. I was head over heels and my mind was full of warm fuzzies and visions of  happily blended families.

I waited four months before introducing him to my daughter. I wanted to do this right. However, in those months I ignored a lot of red flags. There was a lot of manipulation on his part. Along with jealousy, anger, and blame. He had a lot of his own deep issues and dark pain. I thought I could help. I thought I could heal. Yeah, I believed I could fix him.

One night, a few weeks after we’d gotten back together after breaking up for the second or third time, we were having sex. We were both into it. It was consensual, fun, vaginal sex. In the past we’d explored anal play; I wasn’t a huge fan. On this night, he decided to shove his penis into my ass. He pushed it in, despite me saying, “No, that hurts!” The pain was so awful that I felt dizzy and nauseous. He pulled out and was amused by the blood on his dick. I went to the bathroom to clean up afterward and I was shaking.

Until very recently, this situation did not compute in my brain as rape. Because in our society, we see rape portrayed as something that strangers do to screaming women in alleyways.

I was raped by someone I loved.

Life went on like normal. I went to class, hung out with friends, spent time with my daughter.

My romantic relationship suffered, though. We argued a lot and didn’t trust each other. He drank heavily after being sober for most of our relationship. He was one hell of a scary drunk. I was afraid of him and afraid for him at the same time. Now, I was having trouble focusing. All of my energy was spent worrying about him and about us, our future. How could I make life better and easier for him?

July 2017. One night, I went to the bar with a girlfriend. I had a drink and watched some people play pool. It was a long overdue night out. The entire time I was there – three hours at most – my boyfriend was texting me and messaging me, constantly. He demanded to know who I was with, who I was talking to, how much I was drinking, and when I would be leaving. Eventually I got fed up and told him to fuck off. I turned off my phone notifications when I got home and went to sleep.

In the morning, I woke up to hundreds of messages and a couple photos of his knife stabbed into objects. That was it for me. Shaking, I texted him that we were done. Over. I couldn’t do it anymore and he needed to leave me alone. After I said my piece, I blocked and deleted him from all of my social media. I was freaked out and genuinely afraid for my safety. Luckily, my daughter was at her dad’s.

I kept looking out the window, expecting my now ex boyfriend to pull in the driveway. (I haven’t seen him since July 2017; I still check my surroundings constantly, especially when my daughter is with me).

I saved the threatening photos and texts and took them to the police station. The male officer listened to my complaint. He also downplayed my concerns. I pressed on, however. I’m glad I did.

Victim? Survivor? I don’t relate to either term and I’m not sure I ever will. Sometimes the entire relationship I had with that particular ex seems like it was a dream.

I haven’t fully come to terms with the trauma or the fall out. There has been a lot of denial. Maybe some acceptance?

The fall out – the trust issues, the paranoia – combined with my severe depression and acute anxiety have made daily life hell. I put on a mask, though; I’ve fooled many people into thinking I’m okay. I’ve even fooled myself.

Things we bury have a nasty habit of sprouting back up, uglier and heartier than before. I know this, I swear. So why do I keep forgetting?