Friday, February 21, 2014

In Another Man's Arms

The first man I was with after the rape was an amazing guy. When he held me, I felt safe. The feeling was never forced, and I enjoyed my time around him. More than anything he had been supportive of me in a very rough time.
Yet as hard as I tried I knew there was something missing. On all accounts I could swear he was going to be a great catch and I looked forward to being with him, but he lacked that je ne sais quoi. Forcing myself to like him only made me withdraw from him more.
There was something wrong with me. Or was it him?
So instead I returned to dating. Disappointing.
After a number of dates I ended up with a guy at a Starbucks. First impression visually was disappointing, so I was surprised how different he looked as he sat down and chatted with me. Hmm. Perspective not flattering on the neck, but otherwise good. He definitely did not have a number of girls pining for him, but he also was not a jerk. We laughed and talked almost nonstop. Our quick “meet and greet” turned into an adventure.
The date ended at his house. Yeah…. Ridiculous, I know, but I was incredibly sexually deprived. Don’t judge. It was consensual.
Our date lasted almost a day. There was no Way I had planned on anything like this happening, but we had such a connection. He was nerdy and smart, yet he made me laugh the whole time. This is the same one who caught me on the escalator that day. The firearm he was packing made me crazy as I accidentally bumped up against it throughout the night. One kiss goodbye had turned into a make-out session. Then the date moved to his house. We had been trying to end the date for hours!He showed me his place, I met his dog, we watched some tv on his entertainment center. No pressure for sex.
When a guy treats me with respect and lets me open up to him without pressure, I respond. There is nothing worse than going on a date with a guy who is expecting to get some. Total turnoff. This guy was different. He may have wanted to be with me, but he was not going to push it, which made me want him more. Literally, over and over in my head the words, “He could be the one. This is the kind of guy I want to marry,” played on repeat. STOP IT!  I had to tell myself. Stop being so female about this, just get to know the guy. Don’t get your feelings involved. You do not want to marry this guy, you barely know him.
That night we cuddled. We made out again, and in that he got off…… ok, I like to see a guy lose it, but I need mine too…. He said he would take care of me that night after a recovery period.
We cuddled to bed after he finished his nightly routine. The feeling of a warm body next to me as I slept was almost clandestine. Missing it for over a year, and then needing it for such a painful experience, the cuddling to me was so much more than a simple cuddle. Cuddling was therapeutic, and I needed all that I could get. Quickly I drifted off to sleep.
That’s when the nightmares came. One minute I am blissful, the next I am waged in a full-on battle. Different nightmare versions of the rape played for most of the night, but the main nightmares were about my ex fiancé leaving me. In the nightmare he was always belittling me and blaming me for the rape. Even though I had been living with the nightmares for weeks now, they were still vivid and difficult to bear. Multiple times during the night I woke up in a sitting position, taking in a deep breath as if I was about to scream.
God. What if he sees me acting like this? This will definitely freak him out and end it.
Even though he noticed, he never stirred from his sleep except to reassure me with a solid touch. Luckily he well knew what I was going through; he had been warned. As I struggled to return to sleep, my body shook uncontrollably. The experience had become the new normal in my life, but there was no one to scare with it. The last thing I wanted to do was scare this guy and scar him for life. The embarrassment was like a burning, searing pain that I could physically feel. Trying as hard as I could to stop the shaking, I was able to make the rough, hard convulsions into shudders, but they did not go away.
This is what I am reduced to? My ex fiancé left me when I needed him most, and I am stuck with this unending shame?
The hurt, pain, fear, and humiliation boiled over and I cried myself silently to sleep a few times. Sleep was hell, but so was being awake. The whole experience was exhausting. Yet, as I cuddled up to a sweet stranger, the unbearable pain was almost bearable.
For a moment, in his arms, there was a reprieve from this pain. Soon the unending torture was going to make me lose my mind.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weak in the Knees

After having such a hard time with sex my first time “back in the saddle” since the drugging, I did not know what to think. Personally, I thought I was broken. My anxiety rose with the thought that I was scarred forever and that intimacy would be incredibly difficult after everything. That guy was great, and I liked him, but something was wrong. As hard as I tried to wrack my brain, I could not figure it out.
Instead I decided to keep dating. Staying at home by myself, just my son and I, was killing me. Over and over, every time I looked at my son all I could think about was how the rape had ruined things for him. He waited all his life for a dad and some jerk had stolen that opportunity from him, and my son did not even realize it yet. Not to mention that I did not know anyone, I also had no friends in the area, and I was Incredibly horny, yet incredibly dissatisfied. You could say I was a frustrated mess.
Getting out with human contact may have been what saved me from killing myself, because truthfully I wanted to die. Even though I knew I was valuable and I was confident in myself, I felt hopeless; that finding someone to care about my son and I would be necessary. However, at that point in time, the hope of finding someone, or the odds either, was not enough to give me hope. Nothing gave me hope. The agony of what I was feeling had taken my soul. The thing I needed most was human contact and intimacy. It may not have been an opportune time, but it was necessary.
There were a few dates that passed by uneventfully. Between my disconnection with life and the failed connection between my dates, nothing amazing happened. But being around people perked me up, even if it was only for the short time. The dates were an escape from my incessant memories. My fiancé was done, there was no use waiting for him to return. Making new memories helped me forget about him. No one quite hooked me like he did.
On one date, I met a guy at a Starbucks. Not exceptionally handsome, but not bad. Oh! But he was so much fun! He reminded me of me with the way he talked, what he was interested in, his little idiosyncracies. Our quick coffee date kept getting longer. Eventually we walked across the street to the mall. As we were checking out the pre-Black Friday merchandise, I began to feel light-headed. The room began to spin and my face got numb. My visual field began to lose focus and the colors lightened while the overall picture darkened. As smoothly as I could I grabbed my date, who was only a few feet away, and quickly walked out of the store. He noticed I was acting funny as I mentioned grabbing something to eat, but I did not want to scare him. Instead I held his arm and focused my efforts on maintaining my composure.
The saturation of the colors returned, and my visual field brightened. While I still felt a little funny, I started to return to feeling normal. Luckily we were close to the Food Court, so we hopped on the escalator to get to the second floor, where the food court was. As we ascended up the escalator, the movement was discombobulating. Catching my balance early, I maintained my body language so my date would not notice. Halfway through the ride up, I began to fall backwards. At least 10 feet up already from the ground, there were likely over 20 people below me. My date, who I had been holding to keep me upright, noticed the change in my balance and pushed me forward until I was stable again. Softly I whispered thank you and held his arm tightly, trying to apply the least amount of surface pressure, so he would not notice I was holding on for dear life.
The near faint, and now the near fall, were really making me feel embarrassed. Still trying to maintain my sense of strength and pride, I stood with him in a long, slow line at Chick-fil-a. After ordering, I could not take it any longer. Practically running to the first open table I could find, I sat down. But I could not appear weak or troubled, so I did it as efficiently as possible. The food seemed to take forever, so I hid my low blood sugar by quickly drinking my lemonade. For the next 20 minutes I was weak and my voice had little strength in it. Instead I pretended to people watch. He took the opportunity to spend a lot of time doing most of the talking. Again the rape was ruining my life.
As hard as I tried to stay in the present, I kept returning to the rape, to my ex fiancé leaving me, to that empty feeling I had been overwhelmed with night after night. After another half hour I was finally able to get those thoughts back under control, but the effect had been devastating.

Friday, February 14, 2014


With as much as it was a relief that I had had sex, I was sent into a horrible tailspin. There was no reason the sex should have been so empty, yet it was. This made me feel terror that it was always going to be like this. In my mind, to get rid of those physical rape sensations, finding a nice, supportive sexual partner was all that I needed. Here I was though, and the sex was unsatisfying. My body was numb, my emotions were numb, and now I knew that this was not going to be a quick fix, if I could be fixe at all.

What If I was never right again? I had enjoyed sex for years. After waiting for so long, I should have been overwhelmed by relief, but it never came. Literally. The idea that I could take care of it myself entered into my mind more than once, but it literally turned my stomach. My body wanted another person to hold me, to touch me, to comfort me. Intimacy is what I needed, not mechanical stimulation.

By night I was wracked with fear and anxiety. To keep my mind busy from my intruding thoughts of the rape, I watched tv. It halfway worked, which was the best I got. My ex fiance was commonly in my mind. My body yearned for the memory of his touch, but instead I grit my teeth and told it to forget about him. He left me like this. He gave me up. He forgot about me. When I needed him, he was not only not there for me, but he was unenduringly cruel. He was not normally like that, so he was being a class A jerk. Maybe when he returned home, it would be different. Maybe when he saw me, he could see how I was not lying.

But I knew better. My ex is a stubborn man. He was gone. If he could leave me like this, he was never coming back. Still, I think he would be able to recognize that I was not lying. Not that I would be able to take him back when he apologized. Not after this. He ruined my trust in him.

At this point I was nauseous. All day long I could barely handle the idea of eating food. For the most part of the day I starved. My depression was so thick that I did not even want to eat. To top it off I got the stomach flu, which caused me to lose 8 pounds in one day. That week I lost 10 pounds.

My house was trashed. Wherever it came to rest, it stayed. Not that I am a clean freak, but I love a clean house. Sitting in the filth was torture, but I was such an empty shell of myself that I could not care enough to clean it. Not that I could. Being so starved, I was weak and faint.

Suddenly taking the stairs (I live in a third floor apartment) was treacherous. There were times I almost fell from fainting, but most of the time I was so weak I had to drag myself up the stairs using my hands, stopping frequently to rest and regain my balance. It became scary to take my son to school. When I would start to faint or fall, I would sit, because I was horrified I would pass out and fall head first into the concrete stairs. Times like these made me feel incredibly alone. The act of taking the stairs would make me cry uncontrollably. Someone had hurt me, my ex had left me, and I was alone. It was breaking me to my core. The loss I was feeling was so overwhelming that it was stealing who I was as a person.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sex after being drugged

After scaring away the light hearted men by telling them my story about the recent rape, I was left with only 3 men to choose from. Of those, one I did not have a connection with, one scared me a little, and the other was surprisingly attractive, sweet, and kind. This was a guy I felt a surprising amount of connection with.

At first I thought it was just the excitement of the first date. So I let a few days pass. By the second date, I realized the feeling was only growing stronger. This was not a fluke, there was genuine chemistry.

Not that I was terribly exciting to be around. He did not know the difference, but I did. As hard as I tried to keep in the present time with what I was doing, my thoughts were difficult to control. For the most part it was easy to get my thoughts back under control with a little effort. It was the exaggerated startle response that gave me away.

The startle response is of course jumping in surprise at normal things, for instance being startled by someone as the jump out to scare you. That is a normal response. An exaggerated startle response looks like someone touching you and you jumping with the same fear. Or being shocked by loud noises that normally would not shock you. What that looked like for me is jumping every time he touched me, such as an accidental brush of his arm against mine as we stood in close proximity to each other while waiting in line. The jumping from me as I heard him walk up to me, only to turn and be startled that he was a few inches closer than I realized. Sometimes I jumped and pushed his hands off of me, even when the touches were socially appropriate touches. Even when it was touches I wanted.

I was a mess.

Luckily I was fun to be around, and he was well aware of why I was reacting odd. It was SO embarrassing. There were a few times I almost cried from the sheer terror of being exposed to this stimulus and being unable to control my body. I just wanted my body to stop. I wanted to return to normal. The feeling of being trapped and tortured like a puppet on a string forced to react when I did not want to was uncontrollable. Crawling back into my fiance's arms crossed my mind more than once, but I swallowed that bitter pill with grace I think. How could I go back to a man who could love me and yet leave me like this? I TRUSTED him. I Needed him, and he left me like this. I deserved someone better.

Feeling the warmth and strong, silent affection of this new man was scary, but was even more relieving. As I grew to trust him more, I worked my way into hugging him. That hug was like gold currency for my soul. He held me with gentle care. He earned my trust, and I was uncontrollably in need of his help.

After hugging, laughing and flirting, I worked my way into a kiss. It was a great kiss. Yes. This was a guy I could have sex with.

One night after a date, we snuggled on my couch. Leaning towards him, I let him make a move to kiss me. He kissed me sweetly and passionately. The feeling was nice and comforting. But as he kissed me, the feelings of the rape, the flashbacks began to overrun me. My stubborn will kicked in- I knew that I had to push through this to get past those feelings. My body was difficult to keep controlled, but I did the best I could.

When you first become intimate with a person, their body language helps you understand how they feel about you and gives you an idea about how they are reacting to you, especially while you try doing different things. It took considerable effort, but I was able to keep my body relaxed for the most part. But then my body began to react in very weird ways. I started to tremble uncontrollably. It was not like a cold chill, or even a quiver from being tickled, it was a full on convulsive movement. It made the feelings of helplessness all the more powerful.

The feelings and physical sensations were building up in me. As hard as I was going to fight their eruption, I knew there was a certain amount I would not be able to hide. I stopped kissing this guy, closing my eyes to hide my fear and took a deep breath.

My body is going to start doing some weird things. Ignore them. It's because of what happened.
We dont have to do this. If I am hurting you I can stop.
No, you don't understand. I cant control this and the only way to get rid of it Is to do this. I'll be fine if just ignore it, ok?
Well I dont want to hurt you.
Not doing this will hurt me worse than just doing this. And I will tell you, I promise, if I need you to stop.
Ok. As long as you are ok.
I'll be fine; just ignore it.

With that we slowly returned to kissing. As his hands touched me I could not stand him touching me in even PG-13 ways, so I would quickly move his hands to my outer frame- my arms, my hands, and my hips. Breathing was difficult. My muscles took effort and conscious ability to get them to relax. As I kissed him I had to relax them one by one. They would quickly tense again as the memories and flashbacks entered into my brain.

My body was electrified with sexual tension. It was so intense I felt like the desperate tension was a turnoff, or that the walls would begin to wiggle back and forth like the Matrix. My jaw clenched uncontrollably, no matter how hard I tried to relax it. We began to remove outer layers of clothing. The flashbacks came on strong. The physical effort it took to keep myself in presentable fashion was draining. Luckily I was so desperate for sex, my body had that extra boost of energy. My body became rigid and board-like because I could not keep up with the tension.

We kissed while our clothes were in different states of removal. He touched himself against my intimate parts as we kissed, but he delayed actually penetrating. That was helpful I think, because it gave me time to mentally prepare for what came next. Often he stopped to check to see if I was still comfortable with what was happening. I'm sure it was because quivers would rip through my body of shear physical terror, but I barreled through it. Stopping now would give that fear power.

Finally we were both so overcome with sexual excitement that he penetrated me. For months I had waited for sex. The idea I would be having sex with anyone new was devastating. But I had mourned that loss already a few weeks before. Now the sexual tension through my body was practically electric. If the wind blew the right way, I was sure I would have an orgasm. I was almost crying from the need to be relieved from the sexual tension I had had. My body was literally in pain from waiting.

As he penetrated me, I drew my breath and.....

nothing. I was so numb I could hardly feel him.

Not that he wasnt endowed enough, but there was something emotionally wrong with me. I was numb emotionally and it had affected me physically. It has happened before, but it was Never that bad.

With frustration I tried everything I could think of to enjoy it. Typically I can orgasm multiple times easily, but no matter which position we tried I could not orgasm. As I would near an orgasm and feel myself go numb I got incredibly angry from frustration. Again my stubbornness kicked in, but it didnt solve the issue.

Thats when it happened.

Suddenly my arms from my neck all the way to my fingers went numb as I tried to straddle him. Almost as if they had fallen asleep, i felt the numbness create a weird dissociative sensation for my arms. By shaking my hands, I began to feel a little more sensation, but the feeling did not go away. Then the walls started to move and the room began to spin. Panic overtook me. There was an incredibly intense feeling in my chest as I wanted to scream in terror and anguish. The tears welled up in my eyes as I became light headed and nearly passed out. Smacking myself in the face so I didnt pass out was the only thing I could think to do. My eyes stayed closed and my breathing became ragged like I was nearly sobbing.

Suddenly the ominousness of the situation hit me. This was going to be a battle, but this was going to be a battle I was going to win.

Again I clenched my teeth. I forced my ribs to control my breathing. My fists clenched the couch for dear life, but I pushed through.

But I only became more numb.

He finished shortly after. Which was practically a relief. I may not have completely "won," but I hadnt stopped. We never spoke of my weird body reactions, but he held me tightly and verified I was ok. Even though I was frustrated and angry, I was ok. We tried two more times that night. Never before had I tried so hard to orgasm, and never before had I failed so miserably, and for what seemed like no reason.

By the end of the night, between the drug flashbacks, the rape flashbacks, the numbness, and the lack of an orgasm, I was beyond frustrated; I felt hopeless.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Rape Victim in the Dating Game

Ugh. So there I was, freshly dumped. My body ached from the sexual tension of waiting for my soldier to return. I had had sex for only 15 days with only my soldier in the last 15 months. The tension made every muscle in my body hurt. The tension was painful and truthfully, I cried from the conflicted emotions of needing the intimacy I had waited so long for and the reality it wasn't coming. There would be no release from this pain; it was only going to get worse. The next person I would sleep with was not going to love me and I was not going to love him. Instead he was going to have to deal with a tortured individual,and in a new relationship where we had not established trust, especially at that level. My next sexual experience was going to be scary and with a new person who would likely be freaked out by my response.

I was basically doomed to being a psycho rebound. It hurt my pride at the thought. I take my reputation rather seriously. The idea of this label was powerful and depressing. My ex had left me in an incredibly vulnerable state. I had to make a decision to jump back on the horse, or falter and develop intense, debilitating phobias. Neither decision was one I wanted. My idea was to coast into another great relationship. However, my body was so twisted by the sexual tension and tortured by the physical flashbacks, I felt dating so early was the lesser of two evils.

After I was emotionally capable of being seen in public, I started slow. Divulging my recent trauma to every single guy I thought about dating was hardly the sexiest dating conversation, but I was so jumpy and awkward, that not divulging it was worse.

Slowly I went on a number of dates. Being out in public was as traumatizing as developing a romantic relationship with a new person. Yet it was healing. Painful, but healing. The fact that I'm an extrovert made going out at a crucial stage in my recovery an absolute necessity. My sense of humanity was waning. Initially I felt like a lost and frightened girl, at other times I felt like a robot. There was no one to run to. I was alone in this town. There were no friends to run to. The only way i could think of to pull me back into society was dating. Terrible idea i know, but i dod not know anyone. The necessity to have in person social interaction was crucial. All my friends on Facebook kept me grounded, but I was sinking further into a dark, dark place. My brother in Italy realized I was suicidal, so he called daily. He made me promise each day to talk with him the next day.

That is a trick they teach you in suicide training. Get the person to sign a pact, make an agreement, delay daily until everything gets better. With my training I knew what he was doing, but I let him do it. As much as I thought my son needed a family- and I knew a few friends who would take him in and give him that- I knew he would always regret not having me around.

So I met a few guys. Narrowing down the guys I had met to sweet guys was my first priority. There were 2 or 3 guys I met that fit the profile. They may not have been the most handsome men in the world, but they were all attractive. One guy in particular I had clicked with. He made me feel truly safe, which was surprising, considering the circumstances. Another I quickly wanted nothing to do with. Nothing particularly "wrong" with the guy, just not a good match. The third guy was handsome, but tall and muscular. He was intimidating next to my frame. We had had a great time together, but his playfulness was a little too tough for me in my delicate state and I was actually afraid of him. Not for any good reason. But I was not sure he would not push jokes or other things too far. There was incredible chemistry otherwise, but I was scared. But the size difference intimidated me. He could easily have raped me and I would never be able to stop him.

The nice guy drew me to him quickly. Mentally I acknowledged that I needed to pick a good guy. Strong and yet gentle. Sweet and yet sexual. Whoever I picked next could hurt me worse or comfort me in a time of need. Whoever I picked needed to be good for me. Not necessarily the one. Just a good match. This sweet guy was a surprise match. He made me feel safe and respected. He was kind and doting, without being overbearing. He was confident and intuitively reacted to my needs as I slowly opened up to him. But he was not intimidated and actually initiated intimacy with me.

In that moment, he was just what I needed. He made me laugh, our conversations were exciting, and he wanted to be around. Being around him helped me to feel human again.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

He gave me a new identity

After a relationship, I always look back to see what went wrong, what went right, and what I learned. Knowing what I liked and didnt like makes it easier to find something new.

Looking back I see warning signs about his issues. He used to never pry into my past. However I kind of liked that.

We had dated for about 2 months before I began to feel this overwhelming need to divulge my past. Not that I have made a ton of mistakes, I really have not made series of bad choices. Unfortunately, instead my history of abuse and forced decisions were going to pop up. Not that I felt the urge to divulge all of that crazy nonsense to him, but I knew he would start picking up on things as time past.

For instance, we had a number of great nights together and fell asleep cuddling. A few hours into sleep, I would wake up to myself sitting in bed screaming. He had luckily slept through it all, or so he said, but it was a matter of time before he might start noticing things, like how as I lay next to him my body was rigid because of the muscle tension and fear I had to consciously relax my body over a few minutes. Or that some nights I silently cried myself to sleep. He would never hear me since it was silent, but he might notice my makeup was ruined, or my pillow was wet, or that I would go for a number of seconds without breathing to control the sobbing.

Soon he was going to notice.

It took me a few weeks to talk myself into bringing it up to him in a conversation. The idea was to slowly bring it up with a few general topics, and then repeat the conversation with more details over the next few weeks. When I finally did bring it up, he quickly stopped me. He knew I had a past. So I ended with a warning that he may notice some weird things, but to ignore them or ask me about them if they bothered him.

This partly bothered me that he could put his head in the sand, but even more it comforted me. For the first time I got to pretend that I was who I was and not what my past had been. He gave me a new identity in a way. I got to be Margaret, not some abused person. He did not know that I had picked myself up from nothing. He only knew that I worked hard and made responsible decisions.

Suddenly I was a person of value, instead of thrown away leftovers.

But there were other times where he encouraged me to do better and I felt ashamed. Or when I was sleep deprived and killing myself to make ends meet by working two jobs (~50 hrs/week) and going to college full time the entire time. Instead of understanding why I was the way I was, or what my motivation came from, he tried to "fix" it or point out that I was lacking in some area. So I sat in silent shame and listened as he tried to encourage me to do better, when he did not understand the situation. It was never a choice to settle for what I had settled for. It was a stepping stone to what I really wanted.

Being with him was like having a new identity. He rarely noticed my issues. The second hand clothes that did not fit well he did not realize were second hand. I did not realize I was poor. I dont know why. He thought I was beautiful, even when I was at my heaviest. He encouraged me to be better, but still liked me right where I was at.

When I moved to be with him and marry him, I left almost all my old clothes (they were 3-4 sizes too big at this point) and spent a couple hundred dollars getting new clothes because I wanted him to be proud to introduce me. Then I spent money to get my haircut and nails done. Since he had not seen me for nine months (this was in July when he visited for his to weeks off that year), I wanted him to know I was taking care of myself just for him. I had done the same thing leading up to his return in November. For the most important man in my life, I wanted to fulfill and be everything I could be.

Basically he made me think of myself in new ways and never treated me like trash. That was a new experience for me and it changed my life. It instilled in me a new identity, finally giving me the experience that someone could care for me even at my worst. He made me love him, no matter how hard I tried to remain disconnected. He was always there to love me. The experience healed me. The relationship was amazing. I am forever grateful.