I've seen a lot of blog talk lately about some rather weighty issues: death, adoption, feelings about family, sexuality. What I've seen leads me to believe that the blogosphere is populated by hundreds of wonderful people who are courageous enough to share their pain. I've seen stories of great fortitude, harrowing decisions, and triumphant courage. I'm here to tell you that all of you have overcome the obstacles put in your way with such dignity and grace that I feel humbled and enriched.
It is with much trepidation that I will share a story that goes to the core of who and what I am. I feel it necessary that I divulge it simply because I feel like I am lying if I do not. I don't ask for sympathy. I don't ask for labels or judgment, either. I feel sure that no one I've met yet will grant me a harsh reception, but it's happened before, and I'm prepared for it.
I have always been fat. I have always been on the outside, looking in. I gradually got used to being ignored and made fun of, though it still hurt like a thousand tiny knives, nicking at sore flesh. In high school, I had few dates. I found out later that some of the one-time dates were of the "set her up so we can make fun of her later" variety. I soon became almost addicted to finding someone -- anyone -- out there who could love me for me. I lost my virginity very early, way earlier than I ever wanted to, simply because I had come to equate sex with caring. It didn't turn out well. The boy I gave my virginity to never looked back. I was another notch on his belt.
Fast forward a few years, to college. I was relatively happy in college. I wasn't dating anyone seriously, mainly because no one asked me out. I drove all of my frustration into doing college and local community theater. I performed 45 plays in about 5 years. I stayed busy. I took a full load in college, and worked three jobs, all the while, racking up theater credits. It was much more about my love for escaping into a role on the stage than it was about getting college credit. I met some great people. I was the happiest I had ever been, up to that point. Then, disaster struck.
I was working at a local movie theater, and one day, a guy buys a ticket. He gives me the once-over and says, "Don't I know you?" Great line, right? But, it turned out that he had dated a theater friend of mine, RedHair. We talked, he asked if I was performing in anything. I told him that I was, and he asked if he could come see the show. I said, sure -- anyone who can afford a ticket can come, right? So, he comes to see the show. Several people recognize him as RedHair's former squeeze. He goes along with the gang to our after-show hangout place.
While at the hangout, he asked me out for a date. I demurred, thinking it was another of those set up, date-the-friend-because-you're-desperate things. He begins to tell me that he's always been fascinated by me. I fell for it. (Can you believe that I freakin' *fell* for it? You'd think I would learn.) Anyhow, he says that he had always been attracted to me, but was in a relationship with RedHair, and felt it would be dawg-ish to ask me out while he was dating my friend. Now that they had not dated for quite a while, and he'd run into me, the time was finally right to ask me out. So, like a colossal dumbass, I begin to date him.
We date for a few months. One night, during a date, it begins to pour down rain. He says that he's worried about me making it home in the rain -- it's very bad out there. He'd like me to stay the night. I was anxious about staying the night, but he's been very gentlemanly up until now. So, I decide to stay the night. I end up sleeping with him. (*Such* a dumbass!) He says that he'll sleep on the couch so that I can have the bed. I think, my, how nice of him. I wake up at 3am, tied to his bed, while he has sex with me. I struggle, try to get away. I tell him no, I don't want this. He tries to reason with me, saying that I wanted it earlier, so it must be all right now. I begin to yell, scream and cry. He gags me. I beg him to stop. He tells me that I'm not so uppity now that I'm tied down, helpless. He has sex with me for two hours.
Once he decides to let me go, he tells me that no one will hold him responsible because I consentually had sex with him earlier in the evening. I am shell-shocked at this point. I, even more like a dumbass, go home, shower, and convince myself that he's right. That I *had* wanted it, and he was only taking advantage of what I offered. I continue to see the asshole. My life is so screwed up, and my vision is so distorted that I continue to date the man. I discover that I am pregnant. I go to this man, insanely believing that the two of us will make it all right together, to tell him that I am pregnant. He pulls a gun on me, throws $150 my way, and says "Kill it, or I kill you." I am so wracked with guilt that I don't leave the house for days. I miss my finals, and fail most of my classes that quarter. He follows me everywhere. He demands that I abort the baby, or he will kill me.
I have an abortion. I have my roommate take me to the clinic for the "procedure." I see him, standing on the opposite corner. I cry soundlessly as the life is sucked out of me by an engine of destruction. When I leave, in pain because I could not afford the anesthetic, he is no longer on the corner. He has changed his telephone number. When I go to the counselling session the clinic has set up, the whole story comes out. The therapist asks me why didn't I report the rape. I tell her that I wasn't raped. She makes me see that not only was I physically raped, I was also emotionally raped.
The police can do nothing. It's out of their jurisdiction, and any evidence that might have exisited is LONG gone. He has covered his tracks well. All the time we were dating, he was putting his plan in place. He had informed his coworkers that I was "some chick" who had recently been let out of the local mental institution, and formed some kind of attachment to him. He instructs them that when I call, they're not to "set me off," but just to take a message, and record it in a log. (I had always wondered why I could never reach him at work, and why his co-workers seemed so weird.) He says that he's been instructed by my doctors that I'm not to be angered in any way, as this will cause my fragile psyche to splinter, and I may end up doing myself, or others, harm. The night he raped me, he had clocked in to work, but had never clocked out. His job entailed a lot of out-in-the-field work, so if his timecard says he was there, there's no one to say that he wasn't on the job, and just out on the road. This is his alibi he uses when the police telephone him. He is never arrested, much less prosecuted. The police can do nothing for me. He is soon transferred out of town. Meanwhile, I am a basket-case, and a murderer to boot. My guilt is tremendous. It is a long while before I can sleep, much less date.
About a year later, I meet a very nice man who takes it so slow, and treats me with such care that I allow myself to trust, and to live, again. He never rushes me. He never makes me feel as if I am substandard. He treats me like a precious jewel. From the start, I tell him the whole story, and instead of disgusting him, and causing him to flee, he makes it his mission to change my perception of men. He tells me that not all men are violent freaks. He proves it to me.
That nice man was Juggling Freak. We were married in late 1992. I considered myself so blessed. And, then, in 1996, our daughter is born, and I see God's face in her. I now *know* I am blessed.
When the Offspring begins school, the Asshole Rapist returns to town. I see him one night, fleetingly, across a crowded restaurant. I am shaken, but I manage to hold myself together until the Offspring is in bed. I tell JF what had happened, and that I'm not sure if it was even him, but I am shaken enough that he's aware that *I* believe that it was him. Two weeks later, as I pick up a birthday cake for a co-worker, I am approached from behind. It is the Asshole, and he says, "Was that *my* daughter I saw you with the other day?" Him, knowing full well my daughter was not his, just wanting to turn the screws and mess with my head. I bolted from the store, praying that he didn't follow me. I was livid, and scared out of my mind. When I told JF that night, JF wanted to round up a posse right then, and turn over every rock in town until the Asshole slithered out from underneath one of them. I've never seen him again. Thank God.
The *only* thing that made this hellish experience any better was that a few years ago, I had an online friend who had a close aquaintance of his that had been raped. I was able to give him some helpful pointers about how to approach her, and gave him phone numbers and addresses of shelters and rape crisis lines. He said afterward that his contact with me was the most instrumental thing in his relationship with her -- that he got her the help she needed because of me, and that she wanted to thank me for sharing my experience with her through him. The idea that there was was life, and happiness, after this was the only thing that kept her going most days.
I had to convince myself that I did not deserve this, but the hardest truth that I will ever face is that I am a murderer. I will feel guilt until my dying day. Despite the mitigating circumstances, I am a killer. And I will die with that hard truth ringing in my ears.