men have raped me. https://t.co/56vhZTe9pi— oh!-'lighn (@oline_eaton) May 4, 2021
04 May 2021
17 April 2021
this is not an anniversary. there's not a word for what this is.
yesterday, i booked a 60 minute massage, because i'd almost recovered from the last one whilst still not having full feeling in my upper left arm.
it feels like COVID vaccine. the COVID vaccine felt like someone had punched the fucking shit out of my arm and that is how this feels, not just for a day but for forever.
zana-- the therapist-- says my neck is loosening.
she knows what happened. because i walked in all I AM HERE BECAUSE I WAS RAPED, because i didn't know how i'd react and i really need to be in control right now.
last saturday, when i hung out with a colleague, and he entertained the idea of eating indoors and was all but we're vaxxed, i was like NOPE. it is, in some ways, easier to ask for what one wants now. i do not recommend to anyone that rape is the best way to reach that moment of personal growth. i'm just saying that is where i am.
yesterday, three months after, zana asked if i was ok to talk about what happened. because she asked, i did. in situations where i have control, i am ok.
we sensing a theme here?
after my therapy session after that horrible last friday, when my therapist told me to go do something nice for myself, i snagged a copy of a sweet valley high novel from the little free library over on T street.
reading that was, quite honestly, granted the most peace i have been able to locate in months.
i don't want to say that i impulse bought 75+ volumes of the sweet valley high series on ebay. because that would not be accurate. i was very strategic. i researched. i read every listing for bulk buys. i considered the preponderance of sequential volumes. i bid ridiculously high on one set and lost, only to find an almost equally good set for less, which i bought instantly.
this is probably healthier than drowning myself in wine or clothes. a summer jaunt to sweet valley, some quality time with those silly size six twins and their matching laveliers...
14 April 2021
06 April 2021
i have paid admission.
i have paid admission and i will not go until i am due to present at 9 am on this saturday.
in part, because i am exhausted. how is this semester even still happening? how are we even still doing this?
a student emails me at 4:30 am to tell me their sister was shot by her boyfriend so their going to miss class today.
a student emails me at 5:30 pm to tell me that they have discussed with their therapist the possibility of inpatient care but they think they can power through this semester.
in the feedback N provided on this paper i'm presenting at this conference, she suggested i talk about how language empowers us.
reader, it does not.
it fucking cuts us up!!!!
i say that. i do not believe it. not wholly.
in today's live classes they were doing research. one student has been writing about ghosting but, in their essay, what they described sounded different.
today, they found the word for it: orbiting.
the way their face lit up on camera!!!
the way we feel when we find the word for the experience we thought we were alone in!!!!
but also jesus fucking christ. i refuse to be empowered. empowerment blows. it lets the systems and institutions off the hook. i refuse.
this paper i'm delivering is the one about kim kardashian and lost time. the one i spent the whole of the trump presidency working on. i quoted a bit of it in the post-before-the-last-post. maybe you are familiar.
i seesaw between feeling completely alive and joyous ("delight" was the word i applied when speaking with my parents the other evening, beholding my sunset out my window) and just utterly bombed out.
this is teaching. this is trauma. this is pandemic. this is rape. this is a whole tangled knot of things.
so many of my students are writing about sexual violence. which means i cancelled my therapy session this week, wherein we are processing sexual violence, in order to read student essays on sexual violence.
that isn't irony, but it's something.
i had the thought today of what if this isn't over? what if we have to do this again in the fall? but then, last night, as i was trying to fall into what would ultimately be my second night in a row of nightmares, i had the potentially even worse thought of what if i'm expected to teach in person next year and i have to go back to not being able to hear my own students??!
truly, there is no win.
in my ideal world, i would continue teaching online and they would continue loving me there and i would continuing being able to hear them whilst also not having to fear for anyone's life.
but nothing about this has ever been easy, so why would we ever expect that to change?
they really give you so much freedom, debo says when i tell her we're moving to just one live session per week. and i realize i never told her we're actually only required to do one live session per week.
i have been going above and beyond.
i have been going above and beyond and yet, still, i always feel guilty. i always feel it is never enough.
i do it because i think it genuinely makes learning easier on them. but maybe also because it makes life easier on me? as WRB said, they are the totality of our social lives right now.
which is maybe 75-83% true for me. because i also have weekly union meetings and therapy and walks with K.
in april 2015, i came to DC to do research. i stayed in a flat in capitol hill. the cherry trees were close to bloom or just past bloom. i don't know, but i took pictures of them. and i hiked across busses and trains to get out to NARA. and i viewed the collections at the LOC. (the man who raped me works at the LOC, so i will not be going there now.)
in april 2019, i came to DC for a long weekend, for a conference. i stayed in a flat in the neighborhood where i live now. i went to maybe two sessions (including my own) of the conference, in a neighborhood i later house-sat in. i made out in the street with a peruvian one street over from where i would, six months later, live. i bought sushi from the safeway where i bought that same sushi tonight.
the whole point of this kardashian piece i should be working on right now-- the whole point of everything i write, basically-- is that we do not know what will happen next, we do not know where the story will go and, in that messiness, lay all the beauty. the horror too, but also the beauty and the beauty is what matters most. the beauty is what sustains us as we deconstruct the horror.
last spring, i told my students how, in the fall of 1999, when i was a freshman in mississippi with no friends, after my grandmother died, i used to sit on a hill every night and watch the sun set.
in the spring of 2015, having just written the whole of jackie's 64-years-long life in, like, ONE YEAR of mine, i wandered DC somewhat catatonic, in love with a man who did not return that love and did not respond to my letter, consumed by the fact that we will, all of us, one day die, appalled by the evils people do upon others.
today, 80 days removed from my most recent rape, i walked in the sunshine. later, i watched claude snuggle into a stream of it.
i've a dim awareness that i am not ok, but i will be. we will be. in the end, inevitably, even as we go forward on the road to imminent disaster, it will all of it-- all of it-- work out ok.
there is beauty, if not in the disaster then in the mess.
03 April 2021
that is the word i find best describes where i am, though giddy maybe works too.
27 March 2021
we are both of us housed in a place wherein i have not yet been raped.
the thing that is different between now and the time wherein this happened before-- the whole fucking relationship wherein this happened before-- is that i am aware that this was the last time, as in the most recent. but it may not be the last time.
there was a safety in having been raped once, apparently. even if it happened then multiple times. it was one man.
what i now know is that it can be multiple men.
there are men out there who have not yet raped me but they still could.
that is fucking awful.
it is fucking really bad.
i am trying to be more open.
last tuesday, a colleague wanted to observe my teaching. claude was ill and so i cancelled class, and i texted him that i'd already taught half a semester four days after i was raped, i could not teach a class after my cat had a near death experience.
he wrote back: oof, sorry to hear about all that!
having lived in england, i will take that exclamation point and i will read into it that i have been seen. whilst also feeling that response is wholly inadequate.
this colleague will be attending my class next thursday. we'll be having a do-over. in the class that was cancelled and the one he'll now be attending next week, we'll be talking about profanity. language.
i think the thing that sets this rape apart from the prior rape(s) is that i am fully aware of the inadequacies of language within this moment.
i mentioned i texted him, yes? i've acknowledged that in this venue before, huh?
well, here you go. i have legit no fucks left to give.
[blogger will not let me put this text here so i'mma just assume you do not need to behold me trying to make this man comfortable by twice telling him that whatever unfolded between us was "entirely consensual" albeit "icky."]
i knew when she said this that i would have to. because my therapist is somehow someone i cannot keep anything from. so two mondays ago-- the day after i texted debo and asked her to tell garebear that this had happened-- i told my therapist. and i located this compulsion within having never been able to hold anyone accountable before and also within the fact that i was trapped within the space where this had happened to me.
i lived there.
for 58 days i lived there.
i cannot even begin to tell you how shallow were my breaths that whole time.
i no longer live there, and yes, still, it feels like i cannot breathe deeply.
there was a moment, between the texts of 3/4 and 3/9, the text to the person my therapist now calls "the date rapist" (the only one of these objectionable men i have not called by name in therapy) where i took a breath i felt i had not been previously allowed, a deep breath in the kitchen of my old apartment, upon realizing that i would, very soon, be free of the place where that had happened to me.
truly though, it is so fucking hard, the language. it feels so wrong to say that someone did this to me. as opposed to it having been done to me.
my therapist says it's like we're in a car, we're circling the block, we're in the neighborhood of what happened to me in college.
she asks when i'd like to meet again, and i say not for two weeks, not until after the move, and she seems surprised-- that i think i can bear (bare?) myself for all of that time, but also maybe because my one other two week break involved a panic attack and a phone call.
and someday really fucking soon we're going to drive this car into the house that is on fire.
and i will be free.
but until then what i remember is that i bled so much. like it was normal. and i worked up the courage and i asked the gynecologist if this was normal and she said yes, sometimes that happens.
but what i remember is that that never happened since.
i've such a vivid memory from senior year of college, the english teacher with whom i am still in touch, after i'd already decided to go to chicago for grad school, after i'd already broken up with him, she said this thing-- i'm not entirely certain but i think it was in relation to andrea dworkin-- she made this stray comment about how sometimes there are these relationships where, once you get out of them, you just thank god you survived.
i have no memory of writing that sentiment in my notes but i remember how it hit my heart like a hammer and i felt, for the first time in a long time, like maybe i wasn't alone.
i didn't know whether she's been made to bleed, whether she'd been in a relationship that was abusive, whether she'd been raped, but she said that in class about a book and i sat with it for weeks afterward.
because by that point i felt i was free.
i'd broken up with him. i was (secretly) dating someone else.
often, i wonder what donovan would have made of all of this.
the phone call with my therapist was precipitated by two things.
(1) a phone call with jeremy.
(2) a text exchange with jesse.
jesse was there. jesse was his roommate.
i do not remember bleeding until he lived there which means that every time i bled, jesse was in the next room, on the other side of one wall.
this is what he wrote me:
I always felt he had this darkness to him. Always felt a need to ingratiate himself to people, and put on a public show... control everything around him. I honestly hated it. He tried to make us all feel like we should be grateful to have us around. To feel like he was the big man. He would say and do so many infuriating things that I just tuned him out most of the time. As for you, I never understood the relationship, but felt you must have known what you were doing. You were smart, attractive, and came across level-headed. I appreciated the time I spent around you. In terms of the relationship, it never came across as truly loving or as a romantic relationship at all. Now that I am older and wiser, I can look back and see signs, but in the moment it just seemed awkward. It was more of an companionship publicly. I had no idea what happened privately, but it didn’t feel right... but again I was naive. As time went on, I just assumed Clark was going to be a forever predator on college girls or worse so I cut ties completely. I didn’t really want to know or think about him.
25 March 2021
24 March 2021
claude was very, very sick and had to be hospitalized.
so monday was the first time i took a lyft in the pandemic, the first time i rode the metro in the pandemic, the first time i went to tenleytown since i left school for the last time before the pandemic on march 5, 2020.
i did all of this thinking he was going to die and crying in public-- in the lyft, on the patio at the hospital, on the metro.
masks are good for this, turns out. they catch the tears and snot, so it doesn't go dripping all down your chin, but is absorbed in the mask and it's almost like no one knows you're crying. i've never so freely cried in public before. usually, one has to expend so much energy worrying about one's face and the comfort of others. masks spare that.
there was this moment when i got him on the day after my birthday last may, where i was super panicked and thought i should get rid of him because i didn't know if i was ready to love anyone just yet. cats, man.
the vet couldn't read my handwriting so they kept calling him clavde, like he was norweigan.
he returned home drunk as a skunk and in the cone of shame. a toxic combo as it meant that he couldn't get his bearings and, as garebear always says, he didn't know how wide his car was. so he just careened around, trying to transfer his scent but thwarted by his conehead.
that night, he ate ravenously while i sat on the floor looking at him.
at the hospital, under sedation, he seemed to have been dipped in dust. too ill to groom himself, he returned home looking scuzzy, like he'd just emerged from a fire only to endure a bar brawl.
a day later, he's starting to return to his beautiful self and begun to ever so slightly liven up.
i watch the litterbox with an unbecoming vigilance, waiting for him to shit. because apparently that's the thing that will make me feel like we're ok.
my left calf aches. i was aware of this every time i paused at a red light or on a train platform or sat down to pee on monday. how my left calf was constantly shaking and i couldn't control it, because of the adrenaline.
yesterday, i cancelled class. i bang on and on about how everyone should prioritize their mental health, and if this wasn't a moment for that then i don't know what is.
the kids are amazing. they sent notes wishing claude well, saying they included him in their prayers, saying they were so relieved when they heard he was back home.
everything is so hard right now. like, everything. even the joyous things. because they're layered with hard things too.
on monday, before we went to the hospital, after i spent the whole night up with claude throwing up, debo was trying to take my mind off things by talking about the apartment, and we got to talking about how different it would be if there were no pandemic.
you know, we would have been up there partying with you for a whole week, she said and this completely pierced my heart. because i know it's absolutely true.
the losses are so vast and varied. i keep returning to the idea of running to stand still, inertia. which was pretty much my whole career in academia, pre-pandemic, so it doesn't feel all that alien except that the whole rest of the world has joined me here.
when the economic collapse occurred in 2008, us maphers-- with our MAs in humanities-- laughed because it was like suddenly everyone else's prospects had fallen to meet ours. we were young and naive and didn't realize that we too would be knocked down several rungs.
i've talked about and, i think, even written about here how EL and i have repeatedly felt that we're drawing on past trauma to navigate this one.
yesterday, someone asked how my life had changed since the pandemic, and i said it actually didn't feel like it had that much. what i remember about january and february 2020 was teaching more than i'd ever taught before and being profoundly exhausted.
what i feel right now is that i am teaching more than i have ever taught before and i am, still, profoundly exhausted. i'm just maybe also better at the teaching than i've ever been and i'm now a homeowner too.
but it's moments like debo saying that where i realize how things have changed-- maybe not so much in the taking away of things but more so around the additions. my parents haven't met claude. they haven't seen where i'm going to live. i bought an apartment in a room with one other person whom i'd never met before. time is moving, things are happening, but in this anemic way.
it's like i'm submerged in petroleum jelly, i told a friend last fall and i'd say that still holds true, mostly. (excepting moments like monday when calamity strikes and it's like you're suddenly, vividly, alive and without skin.)
it's weird because teaching is like tv now. you watch and then you turn it off. the ending is so abrupt. there's no clatter of chairs as everyone leaves the room. we don't walk out together. i just end the recording and am alone in my home.
i've always hated endings. i've basically given up on doing them here.
19 March 2021
what i did was i woke up at 3 am like it was the first day of school or some such and then i went to the secret closet outside of the liquor store and i lifted a lot of boxes then i went to a row house and i signed a lot of documents and i went to a union meeting then i drank a bottle of cheap champagne bookended by two gin and tonics so that i wept on the floor of this room i was raped in because this is all so fucking ghastly. the things we do to each other. such that i am a woman and women are fucking awesome and yet, as a woman, i need to mix multiple alcohols to access the feelings i need to feel, which is kind of the whole problem of modern womanhood whilst also denying me the joy i should be feeling about getting out of this fucking place where i was raped eight weeks whilst almost all of the feelings i am feeling to day are almost entirely about the man who raped 20 years and one week ago tomorrow.
life is kinda quite shitty, yeah?
whilst also being kinda awesome?
people, i am coming to deeply abhor dissonances, having occupied them for all of these years...
we had this moment, my therapist and i, something like 3 to 4 weeks ago, where she posited as two separate things my sense of foreboding joy and something else quite honestly i do not remember right now.
she posited them as two separate things and what i remember about the moment just after she did that is how pleased she seemed when i put the two things together. when i brought together the disparate threads to cohere the story.
i am a writer. i am in therapy. i actively struggle not feel narrative pressure in therapy, when my therapist approves, i feel like i am tonya landing the triple axel.
i have lucked out. at last, i have found a therapist i do not have to protect. i have a net in all of this.
what i realize now, what i did not know before, is that i was flying without a net. i have a net now. and that makes all of the difference.
i bought a home today. i bought a home in which i have not yet been raped today. today, i bought a home in which i can reestablish the sense of safety that i lost eight weeks ago tomorrow, today.
dear man people whoever you are reading this: do not rape the women in your life. seriously. listen to your oline. do not do this. it is a really fucking beastly thing to do. especially in their own homes, in the safe spaces where they live.
in six days, i will be home again. i will be safe again. i will exhale again.
17 March 2021
16 March 2021
this is not an anniversary i want nor need, but i am aware of it.
yesterday, i painted my nails. like, properly. reserving time in the day to paint my nails for myself.
i knew things were bad when there was a period where i was content to let my nail polish chip and flake off. when the idea of painting my nails sparked no joy.
that sounds silly, but it is true.
and that is all i have to say about that.
11 March 2021
is wanting to speak with men who will not rape me.
men whom i have dated who maybe did me wrong in the past whilst also not being men who are in the tangle of bullshit currently being unwrapped with my therapist.
a weird place to be in, let's just call it that.
j asks how i am and offers to talk.
i respond with a text saying that i would maybe like to chat but also, in order to do that, i need to hold him accountable for having gaslit me 11 years ago.
this is where we are.
it feels healthy, it feels like progress. but also no one ever tells you how really fucking weird progress feels.
my therapist is amazing. we are really unpacking things. we are really getting somewhere.
today, i gave my students a mental health day whilst also taking one for myself.
they emailed me and i have not responded. i will respond tomorrow.
a colleague texted me. i responded that i am taking a mental health day.
and then i wrote in brackets about a specific concern relating to our work but we've scheduled a convo for tomorrow so that doesn't really count.
yesterday, in therapy, i talked about how i'm moving soon and about how i was conflicted about when to give notice on the apartment i currently live in because i did not trust that things would work out and that the apartment i am buying would actually be mine.
late last night, i gave notice on the apartment.
this morning, they acknowledged the receipt of that email.
this afternoon, someone who got the apartment numbers confused, tried to enter mine and i woke up from a nap with claude.
the chain lock was secure, so they did not get in.
i bolted from the bed.
my heart continued to beat double-time for twenty minutes.
the building manager, with whom i've cultivated a strange relationship over the last year largely based on my stress baking and deferrals of his romantic advances, called to make sure i was ok.
i informed him i am moving.
in his text, he used this emoji: 💕
i had previously used this one: 💖
i've not named my latest rapist in therapy.
as of yesterday, i've named everyone else. clark, donovan, alistair.
adam has been mentioned in relation to the ridiculous dinner of lawyers of which i have written but not yet published:
There was this one dinner in a Szechuan restaurant in Chicago’s Chinatown, a whole bunch of lawyers, a lot of laughter. And the man whose date I was declared it one of the most stimulating meals he’d ever enjoyed. He’d not noticed the women, their silence, their refusal to discuss their own interests when I asked them. He’d not noticed how we’d played wallpaper the whole evening. I was there but I wasn’t and I clearly was not missed.
adam has been written but not mentioned because i do not count him among the worst three.
i mean, we all of us only have so much time here.
i realized tonight that there's a bizarre leitmotif of ethiopian food here. (and, full disclosure [because i am all about disclosing these days] writing this already, i have googled "chain lock" and "leit motiv." because i am still learning, as we all of us are.)
oh, but wait, i did not finish that thought.
my therapist, yesterday, when we were talking about the man who raped me most recently, who has not yet been named in therapy, she called him "the date rapist," and then she paused and asked if i was ok with that and i laughed maybe the fullest laugh i've laughed since january 16th, and i said, yes, yes, yes, please, can we call him that.
i told her i went on a date a few weeks ago. with someone inappropriately young. whose communication style i did not love.
his profile identified his love languages.
i am 1000% touch, whilst also being entirely repulsed by people who want to discuss their love languages on the first date.
on this first date, this young man touched me multiple times.
even after i told him i was in a place in life where i was only on tinder to meet men with whom to go on walks.
even after that, still he texted me and said he was open to being friends but would also like more.
i have not responded to that text. because, whilst it feels ok to tweet that i'm not responding to emails because i was recently raped, that feels like a lot to say in an early acquaintance. and, really, why start off a friendship with a whole hell of a lot of unwanted touching and a lie?
i fucking hate that this has happened. i fucking loathe that this is a thing i'mma be talking about on future dates and in future relationships.
i have told the date rapist this.
because, oh yeah, i've not mentioned this here, but yes, i text him.
i text him reading recommendations and thoughts and links and screenshots of relevant passages from books.
because, god bless him, this is the one man out of all of the men whom i feel i can hold accountable.
i assume he has blocked me and draw comfort from that assumption whilst also drawing a hearty dose of release from my texts to nowhere.
i write, not out of anger, but in search of release.
it helps, sending these texts out into the dark. displacing the horror, shifting it away from my self onto him.
i've not told my therapist about this.
i have told KBG. and she was onboard. which means it's ok. it is all going to be ok.
i wrote this on march 4th. i'm publishing it on march 11 after a terrifically blue week, a week wherein i read everything i could get my hands on and still felt deeply, desperately wounded and alone.
my therapist always ends our sessions saying i can call her whenever i need to. on monday, after a series of validating yet excruciating conversations with People From the Past, i emailed and asked if we could have a "quick chat."
by which i think i simply meant that i needed a reminder that i am not alone with this.
twenty years, ya'll. twenty years somewhere in the week of feb 18-25. twenty years since i was raped for the first time. 7-8 saturdays since i was raped most recently-- which, i would very much like to believe, will be the last time but also that is not something i know for certain. which is a pretty terrifying thing of which to be aware of, a pretty fucking dreadful thing to sit alone with in the apartment where all of this happened.
this is, again, a post with no ending. i do not do endings at the moment apparently. onwards, onwards, we press!
04 March 2021
27 February 2021
18 February 2021
on the night of january 16th, i was raped on a date.
on the afternoon of february 14th, my offer on an apartment was accepted.
on the morning of february 17th, i got shot 1.