As the New Year strikes, I know I am supposed to feel excited, hopeful. Truthfully, I am struggling to even smile.
Looking back over the year, this year was different. It was supposed to be a hard year, but not like this. On the eve of 2013, I was sad but hopeful, depressed but excited, happy but hurting. When I said goodbye to my fiancé for the last time of 2012, he had been gone all month and flew in for my birthday at the end of October. For less than 24 hours, he came to visit me on my 30th birthday. It was the only present I wanted. The next morning we lay in bed staring at each other, holding each other. Before he left, I made sure he knew I was waiting for him faithfully and that the only thing I was afraid of was him forgetting about me- letting go. He denied that would happen and told me how much he trusted me to stay celibate for him- that I was the only one he ever trusted at that level. When he said goodbye I made sure he knew I loved him. You can never be sure what will happen, so I made sure he admitted he knew I loved him. Then I let him go. Man it was difficult!
To touch someone, to let go when you know you may never see them again, to willingly walk away has always been the hardest thing for me. This man had my heart and I would do anything for him. With my past, letting him walk away was incredibly painful. Being strong for him was important. It was not until I knew he would not return and catch me that I let myself cry. Leaving me for a year was hard, and crying in front of him was only going to make it harder for him. The thought of hurting him or making him hurt any worse was unbearable, so I clenched my teeth and focused hard to make myself sound cheerful and loving- but not sad.
My ex husband used to abandon me with the kids, no money, no food and steal my car. He would leave me for days, weeks, and sometimes months, even though I still had to work and pay bills. When he left it was for a binge, so he took everything of value, like money for rent or food. The sudden emergency mode I would go into helped me cope, but the fear of being homeless was always there around the corner. When I realized he was gone, or even times when I was just alone for a few hours, I would be overcome with anxiety. Laying in bed waiting for my husband became torture, so I would wait by the door on the couch to hear him the second he came home.
After I left my husband, that coping mechanism was still there. Effectively, I have only slept on the couch since my fiancé left. Again, staying strong for him was paramount for me. Suffering in silence was a vow I made to him, but not one I shared with him. Instead I would tell him when he returned. Until then I kept my guard up. No other man, not even movie stars, crossed my mind in some emotionally or sexually intimate way. My fiancé was the only man I had in my heart; he was the only man I thought of.
I missed him terribly.
When I felt a naked man next to me, I woke up startled. The dream I had just had about my fiancé was sexually charged and I was elated because it felt like he was there with me. I had been waiting so long at this point. But then my mind realized he was not home yet, so this naked man would not be him. Fear overtook me as I breathed in sharply, waking up. Without making my movements noticeable, I registered my situation. My heart broke when I realized what had happened- but the drugs I had been dosed with buffered that feeling until they wore off. This was the closest I had come to cheating on anyone I had ever dated, and this was the person I loved the most. None of it was intentional- I had been taken advantage of by someone who noticed there was no man with me.
Staying strong and celibate, staying home with my son, working hard at full time college and working full time as a nurse, moving across country by myself, spending each holiday alone, staying in instead of going out, carrying everything up three flights of stairs in a strange place with no friends and no help. All of it had wiped me out. Fortunately I was only weeks away from it all being worth it.
That’s when it happened-my lowest, hardest moment. I begged my friend not to leave me alone; to cheer me up because I was losing the strength to stay strong. All I wanted to do was call my love and beg him to come home, even though I knew he couldn’t. He would be powerless to do anything. Hearing me break would be too painful. Every moment of that day was agonizing. I tried to get drunk to help me pretend to be happy- to make the day go by faster, but I could not even drink I was so sad. Plus it gave me a wicked stomach ache from all the beer fizz and nerves.
When I woke up and it began to slowly hit me what happened, I paced next to my phone waiting for a charge to use it; waiting to hear from him. Instead of comforting me, he blamed me. I did not get drunk and cheat on him like I had first thought; I had been manipulated with drugs by being slipped something into a drink I do not even remember having. The weeks building up to this day had been difficult, but the deadline had only been extended a few weeks. I could handle that- maybe not that specific day, but I could wait a few weeks longer.
Running to the only person I felt completely loved and safe with, only for him to kick me while I was down and blame me for something I never wanted and had been unable to control was the biggest betrayal I ever felt. Now I couldn’t trust my family, trustworthy seeming men, friends, strangers, or the man I loved the most. Nowhere is safe for me now. Not home, not public, not drunk, not sober. At any moment my life can be stolen from me, wrecking the lives of all those I care about because someone wants to rape and chooses me as their victim. Rape happens in private, so public was the last place I felt safe. Now not any more.
So as the New Years approached, all I saw was the emptiness of all my hard work. The unhappy ending to all of my struggling and delayed gratification. The futility of trying. Its called helplessness and hopelessness. That makes you incredibly vulnerable to suicide, and believe me, I have struggled with wanting to live ever since my fiancé abandoned me. NewYears Eve is a celebration of new beginnings and exciting new possibilities. People like to talk about the new engagements of the holidays. They spend time with family and friends, all of which has been stolen from me.
So instead of feeling happy or even hopeful I have been incredibly depressed for the last few days.
You question what life is worth and what is important when it has been all stolen from you. You feel powerless to affect change in your life when someone rapes you. They steal the power of your most intimate space. Physically there is nothing more that you can give them. Emotionally and spiritually you question nearly everything you know.
For me, I struggled to smile New Years Eve, but I smiled anyways. Instead of making resolutions, I told myself it was ok if I was depressed and disappointed. I chose to grieve my losses- my dreams and hopes and loves. I told myself it was ok, giving myself the space to let it out. Some days are harder than others. New Years Day was one of them. The only hopes I had for the future was an end to my grief and a silver lining for my pain. One day I will be whole again. Until then I will live one day at a time, trying to see the beauty of each moment.
That’s what rape taught me- that there is beauty in the small things that people take for granted. Don’t waste those moments. You will regret it if you take the most precious moments for granted.