27 March 2021

0 claude is home (/texts to my rapist)

i am home. we are home. we all of us, in my tiny family, are home. 

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. 

what i am aware of now is that this could happen again.

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.

i am comforted, this go around, by being more open, less ashamed. my therapist seems confused when i tell her i do not feel shame about this one, that i feel nothing but anger. which is maybe inaccurate-- it seems likely that could be true-- but that is how it feels and i'mma run with it. 

what happened to me was not my fault. that is one of the differences between then and now. i know that now. i did not know it before.   

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.

1/20:

[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."]

2/19:

2/25/21:

03/04/21:
03/09/21:
03/19/21:

two weeks ago, i told k i was doing this-- texting him. and she said i should tell my therapist.

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. 

i think it was the last time in therapy that i talked about foreboding joy. and then i bought an apartment and claude nearly died, so i feel like i'm going into monday's therapy session like SEE!?!?!?!? SEE?!!!!! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS!!! I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG. 

which, i grant you, is maybe not the right attitude. 

***

ten weeks ago today. 

there is a time that this event will come untethered from time. 

that time has not yet arrived. 

because the thing i am struck by this time-- as opposed to the last time, when this was all i knew-- is the banality. how life carries on. how i can teach a class four days after i was raped. how i can tell my mother two weeks after i was raped. how, seven weeks after i was raped, i can write my cousin in prison and tell him i'm sorry to have been so MIA but i was raped on a date seven weeks before. 

he wrote my father he'd not heard from me in awhile. 

our letters crossed in the mail. by the time my father told me he'd written that i'd already written him that i was so terribly sorry that i'd not written but i'd been raped whilst on a date and it'd been really hard to piece myself back together. 

i know he asked his mother for my new address. 

in the informed delivery, i saw a letter from him is coming. but it's being forwarded to my new address-- an address for which the key the seller gave me doesn't work so i had to ask the USPS person to leave the mailbox open so i could have a locksmith come on monday, so god knows when his response will get to me. 

i'm aware this is a thing i never would have told him were he not in prison. 

i'm aware this is a thing i never would have shared with anyone had i not had to go through it alone twenty years ago. 

***

i bled so much then. 

every fucking time. 

i thought something was wrong with me. i thought i couldn't have sex. 

i read all these memoirs now, these stories of women being raped and bleeding, and i cannot even feel who i once was, the woman who bled all of the time, because that was just how it was. that was just how i was. 

we are so quick to blame ourselves. the sentence structures, they work against us. 

jesse called him a "predator" and i felt vindicated. 

jesse called him a "predator" and for the first time i did not have a suspicion that i had, myself, made up what happened to me. 

i bled a lot. until jesse called him a "predator," i honestly did not believe that mattered. 

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.

i'm writing about language everywhere, talking about it everywhere. the whole kim kardashian piece i've been working on for years has become a meditation on the inadequacies of language, the failures of words in now time when the words do not yet exist for experience. 

in therapy, i protest, i feel super academic but i nonetheless continually locate my anger in the failures of the language, the words i did not have then for the experience in which i was trapped. 

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.

because i'd made myself have painful conversations and i'd felt i was circling the block alone, and what i really need right now-- the only thing that is keeping me here right now, the only thing that is keeping me writing right now-- is the fact that i am not alone in this car. she is here too.

and someday really fucking soon we're going to drive this car into the house that is on fire. 

and i will be free.

we've agreed to that.   

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.

what i remember is laying in his nephew's bunkbed, and being in his mother's shower, and being on my parents' staircase, and faking pleasure and powering through because i just wanted whatever was happening to me to be over, and i wanted to be good, and i wanted it not to be real and not to count and not to be ruined, because it didn't mean anything to me. 

it was done to me. 

a man did that to me. 

i was not... he did. 

the language is inadequate. there is not language for the blood. there is not language for the silence. 

we are circling the neighborhood. i am not alone, i am safe, i am home, and we are both in the car and we are going to drive it into the burning building, and-- godwilling-- no one will ever do this to me again. 

because that is the thing that has, perhaps, most horrified me. 

this was not my first rape. it was the most recent. we do not know that it was the last. 

***

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.

***

another disparity i hate in all of this is how much i am reliant upon the impressions of men. 

***

truly, i just cannot do endings. i wasn't good at them before and i cannot handle them now. 

i'm giving a talk on kim kardashian and lost time at a conference next week. nanette's already told me it's got to be but here's the current ending. i'll leave you there...











24 March 2021

0 omg, claude

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

0 i'mma be honest

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. 


16 March 2021

0 two months

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

0 where i am right now (as of march 4)

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!