I love the ocean. Of course I am petrified to go in it. But, I love the smell and the sound and the immediate peace you feel sitting on a beach and watching the waves come in. It is constant movement. That’s why it never freezes (besides the salt). The waves keep moving in and out. Sometimes they’re vicious and the waves are insurmountable obstacles. Sometimes they’re mellow and predictable. But just sitting on a beach watching them, it is almost as if they can wash away the world. I wish it were so easy.
I was a sophomore in high school. Actually, not a sophomore quite yet. It was the August right before my sophomore year when the relationship began. I was always such a tomboy and was the one who was friends with the boys but not a “girlfriend” of the boys. He was my very first boyfriend. The first boy I ever even kissed. Everything started out normal enough, I guess. I had nothing to compare to.
The first thing I recall is just beginning to feel uneasy about him. He wanted to be together constantly, he called me nonstop, he was very possessive and jealous. I understood none of these things. I assumed this is what relationships were like.
Quickly he began making me feel like nothing. Especially sexually – in which I had NO experience. (I told you he was the first boy I ever kissed). He always made me feel as if I was a prude, no matter how much I gave in. It started out small, doing things I wasn’t totally comfortable with.
He once forced me down on him in a movie theatre. He knew I wouldn’t make a scene. It didn’t last long, though, because I didn’t know what I was doing. And he was sure to tell me that afterwards.
Another time we were at my house, alone with my grandmother, who was dying of cancer and staying with us. He tried forcing me into sex right in my bedroom with my grandmother downstairs. He stopped because she was calling. To this day I’ll never know if she knew what was going on upstairs. So why didn’t I end it then? Why?
One night we were alone in his house. He fed me such a sob story about how his parents abused him. So whenever I even began to feel angry with him for anything, I immediately felt guilty and thought about what a tough life he had. And I would do anything to make him happy. But nothing was ever good enough. He criticized constantly. But in such a way that I never took it as mean, but it chiseled away and chiseled away at my self-esteem if I even had any left at that point. See, I still find myself justifying.
It’s not easy to believe that you weren’t to blame. I still think, “if I had only seen”, or “I should have known”.
On September 11, 1989, we met each other after school at a park nearby my house. We were in a fairly wooded area fooling around, and he got on top of me. He was being forceful like he was playing, but I couldn’t move and it was getting hard to breathe. He pulled down my pants and I was trying to talk but I could barely breathe, he kept putting more weight down on me. He kept trying to get it in so he used his fingers and they were dirty and all I felt was tearing. Then he proceeded to rape me. I could hear the children not too far off playing on the playground. He finished and got dressed all the while talking like we both wanted it. It was my first time and he kept saying it was his and it wasn’t that great and oh, what do you want to do tomorrow?
I dressed and just sat there, stinging, hurting, sweating. He told me that my skin was dry and kept flaking onto his face. But that was okay because he loved me.
I walked home, in such pain. I could feel myself bleeding before I even got home to check. My clothes were dirty from the ground and some blood from being underneath me.
I showered. I vowed I would never see him again and I would forget this ever happened. He called me. I avoided his calls. He showed up at my house. My father once caught him peering in our downstairs windows when I wouldn’t respond to the rocks being thrown against my window. I changed my telephone number.
He got it somehow. He continued to call. He showed up at my school. He talked to people I knew. He elaborated lies. I changed my phone number 3 times and he still managed to get it.
The stalking after the rape was almost as destructive to me as the rape itself. It was like it continued. For all that time. It just went on and on and on.
I never told anyone exactly what happened. But finally a friend from school knew he had been showing up to school and harassing me and offered to help. This friend was a fairly large football player with fairly large football friends, and one day…. I just never heard from the scumbag again.
So it’s been 15 years. That’s unbelievable to me.
The 15 years that followed had been filled with irreparable damages. Mostly.
I discovered Tori Amos, and when I heard her songs, it was like my own voice singing about all the things I avoided for so long. It was a freeing. I began to seek out information and I discovered Ripples, and the powerful effect of the healing process and the SURVIVOR.
I just love that I am not a victim. Not that I always agree with that.
But I would much rather be a survivor.
It’s fucking hard. Don’t get me wrong. 15 years and I somedays still don’t know my ass from a hole in the wall. But I’m working on it. And so are a lot of people and we are not alone. And we can do it.
No matter what wrongs and injustices and pain there is in my past, I can always wake up tomorrow and have a choice.
I choose to survive.