Remember this girl from season 5 of American Idol? It was the one where Taylor Hicks, the one who bore a slight resemblance to Jay Leno, won. About a month ago, you couldn’t tell me her single below wasn’t my theme song:
and not because of the music, but the lyrics:
I’m over your hands,
and I’m over your mouth.
Trying to drag me down,
and fill me with self-doubt.
Moving on, it’s my time,
you never were a friend of mine.
Hurt at first, a little bit,
but now I’m so over.
I’m so over it..
don’t come by,
ain’t no use,
don’t ask me why,
you’ll never change,
there’ll be no more crying in the rain.
I took a break from my new blog back in September for an emergency trip I had to make, got lazy, and weeks after I returned I missed blogging. To be honest, though, I wasn’t in a hurry to come back. :-s
Hear (Read?) Me Out
I mentioned yesterday that I was struggling with time management, which is true. A lot has changed for me between September and now. I got involved with an attorney. I did some more “spring cleaning” down my list of friends and got rid of a few so-calleds who claimed to support me, but really were just loving the E.A. is Falling Apart Show. In October I found a new job that I actually like, where I get along with my co-workers and the pay is great. I’ve even started creatively writing again, something that I used to love and lost interest in after the incidents of last year. Thoughts of being raped didn’t take up so much of my day. Compare this all to, say, July 2011: nursing wounds from my church community, running with not much more than a suitcase and the contents in my wallet to my mother for support and getting none, dumped by the criminal justice system, nowhere to go, no hope for the future, lots of rage.
Finally, I’m through with this shit! I had myself convinced. I’d come back to the blog from time to time to approve comments, but I put off replying to a few. I thought, “well…I’m kind of in a different head space these days. Things are looking up for me. It wouldn’t be genuine of me to keep posting when I’m pretty sure I’m over being raped.” But I noticed while I was away that my number of blog hits really grew. People were typing terms like “i was raped” and “fran drescher rape” into search engines and reaching this tiny unfinished blog. They reminded me of when I used to wake up every morning already in tears. I felt guilty that I had nothing to say.
Rape: The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Then, yesterday happened. My half-sister C, one of the relatives who lives in the city where I met N, called to say hi. We had always been close, and C stuck by my side when she found out what happened. At one point in our conversation, C mentioned my uncle and his wife at my former church, living as though they never heard of me. I was okay until C told me that she was disgusted that, even after I posted pictures of proof on Facebook, no one in the church cared, everyone still supported N and his family, and N’s career was really taking off. I’d always suspected that was the case (after all, to this day only 1 member of that church reached out to apologize for the way she treated me), but hearing it confirmed from an eyewitness hurt me more than I thought it would. I actually spent the rest of the night crying.
I pulled up this blog, re-read the posts, re-read the comments, and realized that on the outside, my circumstances are improving, but internally not much has changed. Some things like this post (Chris’ e-mail) still make my blood boil, and questions like this (where’s God?) are still on my mind. I wanted to “get to the finish line” in the beginning, and tried to rush through the recovery process. But if outward success is an accurate way of measuring inner healing, then why are accomplished celebrities like Tyler Perry still finding it necessary to get on “Oprah” and pour out their bitterness? Because 1, 5, 10, 20 years down the line, the effects of rape still pack a pretty mean punch.
You Have to Pass “Go”, But You Don’t Need All Properties to Win
A reader’s comment I read yesterday really helped bring the truth back home to me. It can take days, and it can take years. There really isn’t any way to run from the healing process, speed it up, or take any short cuts, and thinking you’ll be the exception is one way of denying yourself some sorely needed and deserved TLC. Because of the heavy sense of shame that came with my experiences, I put pressure on myself to get free. But in one of my earlier posts I compared being a rape victim to going through the death of someone you loved, and there’s nothing shameful about losing someone you’re close to. When people find out you’re grieving a death in the family, most will instantly give you the benefit of time and sympathy to recover. Should it be any different for a rape victim: someone who suffered a debilitating violation of their body and spirit through no fault (or invitation) of their own? Even if no one else is sympathetic to your needs because of rape stigma, you should be sympathetic to yourself. It’s incredibly hard to heal, but when you make yourself identify the rape as the obstacle, and not the wounded self that you want to escape, your efforts will be concentrated in the right direction. This is a distinction I want to start making for myself.
The other thing about the healing process I’m learning is that there are no rules in terms of what you need and need not to do to help yourself recover. By that I mean, what works for one victim may not work for another, and vice versa. Based on experience and studying several cases, counselors and survivors may suggest things that have a known record of being helpful, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take those suggestions in order to heal, especially if you feel you’re not ready or that the suggestion would make you uncomfortable – such as praying if you’re not religious. I tried a few unconventional things that helped me, which I’ll definitely share in the near future. I’ll also share my experience with suggestions that I tried and found unhelpful, even though they’ve been great for other rape victims.
Back to WTS
The long and the short of it is that I still have a lot of (admittedly scary) work to do to get to the point where I see being a rape victim as just another part of my past. I’m just really glad that this blog is still here for me to do it in.