Monday, June 5, 2017

I Do Not Own This Body

Night time is the hardest. Because my body knows it should be asleep, but my brain won't get the hint. So I lay here, clutching the same teddy bear I've been sleeping with for almost 10 years now, praying for sleep to come. But I can't.

I have to go through the list of people who don't love me first. And then the people who pretend they want me around but don't really. Then the list of reasons my boyfriend should break up with me. After that its the bonus round of every horrible thing I've done or said in the past 23 years. On a really bad day it includes all the fights I've had with anyone ever. But lately it includes living a very new trauma.

A month ago I was sexually assaulted. Nothing, not selling the bed it happened on, not therapy, not upping my meds, can make me forget what it felt like to wake up with a man's hands down my pants. I will never forget as long as I live the feeling that I meant so little to the world that someone thought they could insert themselves into my body without permission. I can't stop seeing it. I can't stop seeing the look on his face when I wouldn't give him a hug before I kicked him out of my house. As if I was in the wrong. And then his dismissive apology "so that thing that happened....yeah that was weird". If I was a worse person I'd name him. I'd tell you all who he is, I'd whip the crowd into a frenzy and start a witch hunt. But I don't want that. I want peace. I want to stop seeing it in my mind. I want to forget it. I want to forget that I'm now a number, one of the many faces in the crowd, another college aged girl that fell asleep after drinking and was taken advantage of. The worst part? It was in my own home, and on the other side of me was my best friend. Also asleep. How sick do you have to be to do that to someone with such confidence?

And so now, when I can't sleep, I run through that list I mentioned before, and then the laundry list of reasons why I deserved it. Not the "oh she led him on" reasons, but the "I'm a bad person and this is karma" reasons. Is this somehow the universes form of balance?

It happened and then I had to go be in a show with this person. Two weekends of shows with someone who believed they had more rights to choose what happened to my body than I did. Two weekends of shows sitting next to them in the makeup room pretending I couldn't still feel their fingers invading me. Two weekends of shows pretending like just showing up wasn't a monumental feat for me. By the final show my body shut down. I had the worst panic attack I've ever experienced, I passed out just from standing up, I hit my head, I was puking, and I tried to not go. I couldn't say more than that I was sick. I was talked into going, I was accused of having a hangover, and all the while I was holding back this immeasurable rage and pain that I couldn't tell anyone about. I don't cry in public, and that day I couldn't hold back tears as I got into hair and makeup. The stage used to be my safe place and that whole afternoon I felt like a prisoner in what used to be my home.

Since then I've been the absolute worst. I've been clingier as a girlfriend than I've ever known myself to be. I feel like my strength is gone. I'm scared to be on my own. I'm scared to sleep. I'm scared to drink too much and then fall asleep. Sometimes I'm just scared to drink. I don't trust anyone or anything. I feel like I'm watching myself go through motions, not living them, just seeing someone else control the ship while I watch. I'm trying to put on brave face. I'm trying to be happy for everyone. I'm trying to sleep normally, but I can't. He stole that from me. He took the little amounts of joy, the little amounts of normalcy, the tiny bit of hope I had, and he crushed it with one action. And I don't think I'll ever be the same.

I'm so fucking exhausted.


Meagan McMillan said...

This was one of the hardest, gut wrenching entries of yours I've read Alexis. I am so sorry you endured such an awful experience. I know all to well the feelings you're experiencing. I've been assaulted twice. Once as a child by someone I knew and again as an adult by a stranger who broke into my home. I know all to well that nauseating heat that crawls up the back of your throat when a flashback intrudes on your day, the restlessness at night feeling as though you need to sleep with one eye open, and the shame you feel during one of the many playbacks in your head when you think of all the things you should have done differently that might have prevented it. I remember feeling like I was drowning in my friends and family's support when I finally shared what happened, although their intentions and encouraging words were golden and sincere I felt like I had to put on a happy face and act like as though I was moving on and I wasn't allowing the selfish acts of another dictate my life. In all reality the constant calls, texts, and social media messages just to "see how I was doing" were suffocating me. I was so concerned with appearing strong so that everyone would stop worrying about me that I even convinced myself I was fine. It took a small, miniscule event twenty years after the attack on my childhood and eight years after being assaulted as an adult for me to realize I was not fine. I had never been okay. I found a therapist 200 miles away, she was a game changer for me. I didn't have to pretend with her and I wasn't afraid to come off as "damaged." being able to tell my story in raw unfiltered detail without worrying about upsetting someone was the purest form of cleansing I had ever experienced since I had been a child. With each session I became braver and less and less ashamed of my story, I had never realized the weight this kept on my shoulders. Weight I'd been packing around since I was a kid. I confronted the man that shattered a part of my childhood, I sat down next to him and told him I remembered every filthy thing he did to me as a child and I prayed he burnt in hell for it. Than I told all his coworkers what kind of person they were working alongside. last but not least I told his family what he had done to me, unfortunately they weren't shocked. They had their suspicions about him throughout the years. The more I shared my story in all its gritty detail the more empowered I felt, the less I felt like it controlled me and the way I wanted to live my life. I can't encourage you enough to find a good therapist, one that you're comfortable with and one that specializes in sexual assault. As much as you promise yourself that this isn't going to inhibit the way you live your life I can guarantee it will, whether you're aware it is or not. Dont allow this to shadow over years of your life, find someone to talk to sooner than later. Naming your assailant does not make you a "worse person," taking the burden of his actions partly off your shoulders and onto his will hopefully force him to take some accountability and prevent him from doing this to someone else. I wish I had the strength to name my abuser earlier, it could quite possibly have shut down his mother's daycare center and saved lord knows how many other victims. You were absolutely correct when you said you were now a number in the statistic of sexual assaults. Unfortunately there is a lot of us, but there's also strength in numbers ❤. If you need someone to talk to who can relate please reach out. . .my phone number is the same. Love you Alexis, figure out a way to find strength from this rather than allowing it to swallow you whole. -Meagan

♥ Alexis said...

I'm so sorry I did not see this sooner. Thank you so much for your message and for sharing your story. The counselor I have now and will be seeing specializes in trauma victims and the mental health crises that arise from trauma. Even now just thinking about the guy who did it makes me sick. Makes me afraid to be alone around men. Makes me want to crawl back to my grandmothers home and hide in a place where I know I'll be coddled. The nightmares are horrible. The flashbacks are horrible. This whole thing feels like a 10 pound weight on my chest and it's honestly the worst thing I could ever imagine happening to someone. I want to scream cry and vomit all at once whenever it comes up, but I want to yell for the world to know that I am more than this. I love you. Thank you for loving me.

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