Thursday, January 21, 2016

The important story I'm terrified to share

     Have you ever had this thing that you desperately want to talk about and share because you need to let it out, you need to be heard, and you know that your story will  help others? Have you ever had the equally desperate desire to keep that same story buried deep inside you and pretend it doesn't exist and not ever let it out ever for the hope that it will eventually disappear completely from existence even though you know that will never happen?
     If you have, you know that it's very confusing. In the process of trying to share, because you really really do want to, you spend a lot time staring at a blank page, or looking at the person you're trying to talk to and not saying anything at all, wishing the words could just be pulled from you because you want them out there but you don't want to actually go through the process of putting them out there because it's painful and heartbreaking and terrifying and horrendously embarrassing and humiliating.
     Yeah, that. I have one of those and this giant preamble is just my way of continuing that stalling process yet I wouldn't be writing this at all if I didn't truly believe that sharing is important. All right, I'm going to stop typing and stare at this page for a while before continuing.
     Yep, staring.
     I should probably cut to the chase before people stop reading.
     Still staring.
     Okay, here we go. Doing it. Of all the many, many insane hardships and crap I've been through (and there's a lot of it) there's really only one experience that has caused so much dissonance in me. (Stalling some more.) That one experience is what I've started to think of as That Night. Of all the many nights in my life there is only one That Night. That Night was January 30th 1999. Yep, not forgetting that date any time soon. I feel like I should, because it was seventeen years ago and that's a long to go not getting over something. I used to beat myself up over that, but I guess there's some things you just never get over.
     That Night was the night I went on a date with this guy who I only went out with because three of my girlfriends thought he was hot and were totally jealous that he asked me out and not them. Stupid, I know, but I was 19 and stupidity is a part of being 19. I actually didn't really like him all that much. He wasn't my type and he seemed kind of conceited, but I was ridiculously shy and NEVER got the attention of guys so I decided to go.
     I met him at a club and the horrible irony is that I was dancing and he was watching me for a good ten minutes. He was just standing there watching me. He was seriously creepy. I knew he was creepy. I knew he was bad. So I glared at him, kept dancing and tried to pretend he wasn't there. The problem was, he was standing by the stool I'd sat my jacket down on. He may or may not have known this, I'm not sure if he watching me before I went out on the dance floor. Eventually I was too tired to keep dancing, so I stalked off the floor and grabbed my jacket without looking at him at all. I then went into the very crowded smoking room and found a seat on the crowded bench and forgot about Mr. Creepy.
     A few minutes later this guy came up and started talking to me. He was really nice and really friendly. Really, really charismatic and friendly. So friendly in fact that it took me a good five minutes before I noticed that he was the same creepy guy who'd been watching me. (Plus, it was dark on the dance floor, and much lighter in the smoking room.) By the time I realized it was the same person, I convinced myself that my instincts were wrong. I'd misread him. So we talked some more, 2 AM rolled around and we exchanged numbers. That was when my girlfriends found us and later told me that they'd been checking him out for weeks. I may have even been thinking, "well, you can have him" but of course my ego was given a boost, so, like I said, I went out with him two nights later.
     It didn't end well. Not for me anyway. For him, I suppose it went exactly as planned. I'm not going to give more details than that just yet, because I can't. I should probably say the word, but I can't, so I'm not going to.
     I was left with a ridiculous amount of crazy emotions. Guilt squared, shame squared, confusion, regret, blame, blame, blame, sex issues, etc. etc. I've talked to my best girlfriends about it, some boyfriends, a therapist, and written many poems about the experience. These things have helped, but nothing makes the pain stop. Nothing makes it go away.
     Every time I hear about a publicized rape (there, I said the word), date rape, this crazy shit on college campuses, rape culture, and blah blah blah, I really want to share my story. I've had this post planned for months and just kept stalling on sharing it, thinking eventually I'll share it. I'm writing it now and will probably have a panic attack when I hit post, but that goes with the territory.
     Back in 2011 I helped moderate an online poetry group. I had the major poetry bug back then. Most of the poems I've shared here were written during that time period. I was reading a poem a woman had written about her sexual abuse. One of the commenters had suggested that she write the poem through the perspective of the abuser, for healing purposes. That was when I had the idea to do the same thing. It was a horrible/wonderful, crazy idea. But, like everything I write, once an idea is in my head, I cannot ignore it.
     So, I wrote a poem about my date rape (there, I said it) through the perspective of the rapist (there, I said it.)
     Is this insane? Maybe.
     Am I masochistic? No.
     Did it help me? Yes.
     It helped ease some of the guilt. Putting myself in his position helped me to see what he may have been thinking and to see that things were not my fault and I was not at blame.
     Unfortunately, sharing the poem was a traumatizing experience and spent an entire day hiding in the walk in closet crying. Mainly people understood that the situation the poem was about was bad, but they didn't see it as rape because no physical force was involved. After freaking out, I got online and told people that date rape doesn't usually involve physical force. Just because physical threats or force isn't involved doesn't mean something isn't rape. Trust was violated. In my situation I was roughly 30 miles from home with no transportation, no phone (it was 1999), and no money. If I didn't do what he wanted things might've been much, much worse. I don't actually know this for sure, because we can't ever know what might've happened. This is part of what plagues me. I said no three times before I stopped saying no. You shouldn't ever have to say it more than once.
   Side note: (  There was this one time I was making out with this guy, and I stopped things before they got out of hand. I of course felt bad for stopping things so I said no, then apologized. He said, word for word, "Never be sorry it it's what you want." I can't even remember this guy's name, but I'll always remember what he said, because it's important and it stuck with me. )
     All right, back to the poem. I was freaking out over people's comments and I wished I hadn't written the stupid thing. I was ready to take it down when a woman commented, "Thank you for sharing this." She went on to say that she had gone through something similar and that my poem helped her. So I decided to leave it up. A few days later another woman sent me an email giving me similar thanks and urging me to submit it to a magazine. Two people. Two people were helped by my poem and that was enough. I have submitted it a couple of times, but it's long and ugly and without the explanation of what it is it can be taken in a very different way than it's intended.
     I want to note that I usually put a lot of time and effort into my blog posts. Meaning, I reread and edit them several times. I'm not going to do that with this one, because it was too hard and painful to write and if I think too much about it I will chicken out and not share it. So, there may be more typos than is my usual standard.
     All right, now that I've explained myself, I'm going to share the poem, but not without a warning. First I want to be clear: it is not sexually explicit. It describes the events leading up to and following the event (can't say it) not the event itself. That being said, it isn't pretty. It is probably triggery. I personally think it's one of the best poems I've ever written, but it's ugly. However it did help me heal. Okay, now I'm rambling.

The Predator

I recognize her in the crowd right away.
She’s exactly what I’m looking for.
It isn’t that she’s aesthetically pleasing; oh, she is
But this club is filled with attractive women. 
It’s the sight of her darting doe eyes that arouse me.
It’s clear in the way her shoulders shrug forward:
A turtle slinking back into her protective shell.

She scoots against the wall, her black clothing camouflaging her.
Or so she thinks; she jumps at my approach.
Her eyes show the war between desire and caution but
Common courtesy won’t allow her to ignore me.
My warm smile and friendly words easily penetrate her barrier
And her digits are in my hand in less than five minutes
And I’m saying a swift goodbye with a glint in my eye.

She answers on the first ring when I call her.
When I come to get her I keep her waiting,
Show up an hour late; she isn’t mad.
I find myself fascinated by the way in which
I’m disgusted by the type I love so much,
But even I sometimes tire of my own voice.
The meek little thing is so nervous she barely answers.
Has this one never had the attention of a man before?

It’s going to be a long night.
She won’t eat; coffee’s all she wants.
She relaxes as I offer her a bite of mine
With a compliment about her delicate hands.
Finally she’s loose and its time to reap the rewards
Of my tedious night’s work. 

She stiffens again at the sight of my apartment
But not enough to stop her from entering my bedroom.
The way she teeters apprehensively
On the edge of my bed pumps my blood
More than the sight of the red bra strap
Poking from her black tank top.

She isn’t as bad a kisser as I thought she would be.
I easily maneuver her from the edge of the bed so that
Her back is against the wall.
She freezes as my hands plunge downward and
Tells me no with a shaky smile
And a distinct hesitation to her kisses.

Her wishes don’t stop my roving hand.
This time I’m taken aback by the strength of her grip
As she removes my hand from her belt buckle and says
No, not tonight
In a stronger tone than I thought her capable.
The little thing has more fight in her than I thought.

I’m not deterred as I calmly recite my respect for her.
Her lips soften again as she’s reassured of her control.
But soon my actions defy my words and
Her grip is ever so lighter as she lifts my hand away.
It’s her voice that shakes in the absence of her smile
As she again utters her protest. 

But I’ve had enough of this foreplay.
So I again grip the waistband of her jeans
And meet her gaze where I see
Reality flash in her wide eyes
As she see’s through my disguise.
The excitement of my victory charges through my veins
Thrilling me more than the sight of her surrendered body.

The ride home is silent.
I don’t care to pretend that I enjoy speaking with her.
The music blares as I swiftly kiss her goodbye
In the car.  I don’t walk her to the door.
I drive away, thinking that I’ll call her tomorrow. 
Cover my bases in case she decides to call the police.
I’ll call her and pretend I want to see her again
After our night of passion between two consenting adults.
But it’s only a precaution.
She won’t call the police.
They rarely do.