17 May 2021

0 fire in the hole!

today, i got in a fight with my parents because they took their masks off in church. which surfaced the deeper truth that i do not trust church to keep anyone safe. 

so that's fun. 

i called a family meeting. they came. we talked emotional dynamics and came up with two new phrases for the familect. 

i'm coming in hot.

fire in the hole! 

yesterday, it was four months since a man raped me. 

these events are maybe not unrelated. 

i'm texting him again. 

do i feel shame? i don't think so. i think i recognize it for the coping mechanism that it is and i am ok with how i am coping. 

this afternoon, as a very round-about way of getting to the grocery store, i walked down to lafayette square. a guy i went on date with in march had texted that they've opened up the park. 

and, yo, lookit. 


the fence is still up so it could be closed at any moment. but look at that green green lawn, those gorgeous clouds, that blue sky and that white house. can you tell? is it obvious that i teach descriptive writing? 

garebear tells me that debo has reminded him that i am traumatized in other ways, which they are not. that, in being here, during the protests and during the insurrection, i've maybe got some view on the world that they do not share. 

pretty sure they're not wrong. pretty sure there is not time enough in the world for us to cover that in therapy too. 

on 29 may 2020, i turned 39. 

on 30 may 2020, i got claude. (well, really, claude deigned to live with me, let's be real.)

on 1 june 2021, i watched live on CNN as the military and the police gassed people 0.8 miles away from my home. i watched live as the president walked across the street and held a bible upside down. i lay in bed as, all through the night, a helicopter hovered one story above L street, 7 blocks away, so loud it was as though it were in our alley. as i lay there, the police entrapped and held 200 people captive 3 blocks north

six months later, i watched live on CNN again as, 2 1/2 miles away from my home, hundreds of people who had been terrorizing DC for the previous three months, organized and attempted to overthrow the government. the silence then was stunning. 

there were no helicopters. there was no shouting. there were no shots. there were surprisingly few sirens even. 

there were more sirens in the twenty minutes immediately after the verdict in the derek chauvin trial than there were on the day of the insurrection. 

hell, there were more sirens during a phone call i had today than there were on the day of the insurrection. 

i do not want to be raped, i do not want to be touched, i do not want people to put anything in my mouth, i do not want to leave my home but i want to see my parents. 

there's that passage from the john berger book that i always quoted in relation to immigration:

The mouse enters the cage to take a bite. No sooner does he touch the morsel with his teeth, than the trip wire releases the door and it slams shut behind him, before he can turn his head. 
It takes a mouse several hours to realise that he is a prisoner, unhurt, in a cage measuring 18cm. by 9cm. After that, something in him never stops trembling.
i'm wondering more and more though, what if it wasn't just the one box, but a box within a box within a box within a small sound-proof room. how do you even begin to bust yourself out of that? 

the massage therapist says i'm doing so much better. the knots are so much better. still, my left arm hurts. still i have dreams. still i am texting this man. still i see people on the street and i think they are him. still, i tell myself, it is recent and so it is ok, i am not ok but i will be. 

i thought i left him at the old place. this is the thing about the texting. i wanted a clean break. i wanted to leave him there, in the place where he did that. but turns out life doesn't work that way. we bring this bullshit with us when we move. 

but the sun is out and the cicadas are coming and i am going to memphis and claude is producing solid poos and all will be well, all will be well, all matter of things will, ultimately, be well. 


13 May 2021

0 some day we will talk about something else

on tuesday, i went to the dentist. it was the first time something i didn't want went into my mouth since his dick. 

i warned my therapist of my fear last week. i said, my fear is once we get going this is going to be like one of those magicians with the handkerchiefs, on and on pulling them out of their sleeves.

the hits keep coming. 

it was the x-rays that did me in. i already knew i was going to have to tell the dentist that i'd been raped (ie. a man had raped me). i knew i was going to need to do that in order to feel safe. what i didn't factor in was how out of control i was going to feel before doing that, nor how activating it was going to be to endure discomfort. 

to lay there and take it. 

to open up. 

i seriously do not know how i will ever go to the gynecologist again. 

what are you feeling in your body? my therapist asks. 

i wonder if my numbness frustrates her. 

in the moment, after the x-rays and before the arrival of the dentist, i noted the adrenaline was in my torso so that i could tell her later. 

hey, look, i felt something in my body!!! like a cat laying a dead mouse at its owner's feet. 

this is a thread i do not want to pull. it feels like some sort of rape/assault hide-and-go-seek. 

our metaphor was driving around the neighborhood and pulling the car into the driveway of the house of the abusive relationship from college. 

i don't know what the metaphor is that describes how it is that i am actually going about this. 

there are black spots. there are a lot of things i do not remember. 

i'll allow the possibility does exist that some of it was wanted, some of it wasn't coercive, but then again, it seems like you can only be told you're a cocktease so many times before you're totally worn down and all of your decision-making is taken away from you and you have no choices left. 

looking back, there were no choices. only grad school. 

grad school got me out. 

i want so very very hard for it not to count. my brain works overtime for ways to make it not count. because he wanted it so it can't be unwanted, right? even if i wouldn't have done it had i any choices left. 

mercifully, i seem to have edited him (this is "college man"-- not "the date rapist") out of my memories. what i remember is waiting for the adults, bracing for the adults, to come and catch me and blame me and save me. 

the adults never came. 

i do not blame them. 

debo reads my essay and expresses her guilt and i tell her NO. NO. we are not to blame here. in therapy, i say i do not blame myself, i do not feel guilt, but as i tell her this, i'm aware i'm extending to her a generosity unavailable to myself. 

but this man abused our daughter, debo says and i am distraught for debo's daughter. 

how dreadful for this to have happened to debo's daughter. 

that it has happened to me feels less severe. 

but stick it in the constellation of family relationships and i'm all like, omg, debo's daughter has been harmed!!! 

my therapist asks if i want her to investigate whether the statute of limitations is up and i say no. because what even is there to say? how is this a story that can be prosecuted? how is this a story that can even be told? 

there's the time in the lower bunk of the nephew's bed. 

the time in his mother's shower.

the time on the back stairs at my parents house. 

there are all the times i bled. 

there's the way in which he took over my whole life so that i would go to the gym for three hours a day and, junior year of college, claimed wednesday nights as my alone night where i wouldn't be expected to shave my legs or see him. 

this puts that picture from your graduation in a whole new light, debo says. 

and i'm not sure whether it does or if this is something we're imposing upon it. 

i was angry at him, undoubtedly, for showing up to my graduation, uninvited. i was dating donovan (albeit secretly, because we both feared that, if this man knew, he would beat him up). i did not want this man there. i didn't want him talking to me or my family. 

there are actually two pictures. in one, i look fine. 


this is the one debo is thinking of: 

it was an awkward moment. the three of us seem to know it. garebear and i appear similarly alarmed. 

so i don't know. 

it feels like... i don't know... sliding doors... a rorschach... it can equally be a ridiculously awkward moment with an ex-boyfriend or it can be me making eye contact with the man who'd been abusing me for the last 2 1/2 years. 

choose your own adventure. 

so much of this feels like that. so arbitrary. like i actually have a choice to maintain the fiction i've been telling myself for years. that this was just a "bad relationship." 

it is like lifting the train and moving it from the other track, to go back and see it for what it was. to call the harm what it was. to acknowledge how incredibly fucking scared and helpless and hurt i have been for years. 

debo looks beautific in that other picture. proud of my lashes, i lowered my eyes. joe, also, is smiling. but burvil and garebear. they don't even know it, but they sit in judgement. they don't know but they do, right? 

pictures are deceiving. pictures lie. but, across the years, i appreciate their seeming unwillingness to tolerate this bullshit. 

some day we will talk about something else. some day i will write about something else. 

i like control. i am fine to tell the story when it is mine to tell. 

what i resent is the moments, as was the case at the dentist, when it is still mine but i have no choice and i have to tell it. when i have to tell it and then open wide and lay there and take it just as i lay there and took it again and again and again and again for all of those years. 

what i resent is that, let's be real: odds are pretty high both of these men's lives are largely unaffected by what they did to me. yeah, sure, maybe it occurs to them every now and then that they didn't behave great, maybe occasionally they remember and they are ashamed, but i bet you a million bucks neither of these dudes are rocking up to the dentist and saying they raped someone. neither of these men have tears rolling down their cheeks as they're told to open wider so their gums can be critiqued. 

and that, my friends, is fucking unfair. 

04 May 2021

0 elsewhere...

in maybe one of the weirder mother's day tributes ever...