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Sunday, December 31, 2017

#MeToo (delayed)

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When the #MeToo movement started in October I was in the hospital where I spent the better part of a month. When I got home and heard about it I knew I had something to write. But dealing with the collapse of so many of the remaining pieces of my life, I was distracted and not sure I even wanted to allow my brain to go there. To be honest, I've been writing the piece for over a year now in my head; trying to find the words and the strength. As we painfully crawl into 2018, I want to get it out and seek the closure I deserve.

As is common, I blamed myself for a lot of what happened. As is also common, I had blocked a lot of it, as well. Last year when the Trump video was released, allowing us to all hear him proudly proclaim himself as a sexual assailant, I was physically ill. As the media felt it necessary to play the video ad nauseam, I started having flashbacks. I feel confident hundreds of thousands of women and men had similar experiences of being retraumatized.

I was 16 when I was assaulted. I came home drunk from what my parents expected to have been a night out with one of my friends. They were not shocked that I was drunk, all of their kids partied to the extreme. The were certainly surprised, however, to find that my underwear had been left on the gate going into our back yard. I wasn't even going to tell them what happened until my dad brought them in. I was always shy about sex and my parents weren't the type of people you could talk to about important things. For fucks sake, when I got my first period I came home from school to find a box of pads and a book about my body on my bed. That was as much as either of them could try to talk about my period. How could I possibly tell them I was raped? I wasn't even sure that I was raped. I had chosen to drink so it was probably my fault. I'm pretty good at taking the responsibility for others' actions. It feels safer to do that in my mind. Then I can be responsible for fixing it. Of course, rape isn't something you can fix.

I was wrecked when my dad showed me my underwear. I snotty face cried before I could even get the words out to explain the evening. I HAD gone out with one of my girlfriends. Her boyfriend was driving and we ended up at a bonfire where this other dude came out with us. He rode in the back seat with me and was hitting on me. I was not remotely interested in him. I had a type and preppie jock was the exact opposite of the kind of man I would've wanted to hang out with. I remember finally realizing he was hitting on me (it always takes me a ridiculous amount of time to piece that together). I chose just to ignore him and carry on a conversation with my friend and her boyfriend in the front seat. We continued to get drunk and he continued to hit on me. He became more aggressive and I gave him the traditional Angie-style response to bullshit. I shut him down with plenty of profanity and was quite proud of myself for using words he obviously didn't understand. Yeah. I'm a snob. I'm okay with that. At least I'm not a rapist.

As the evening progressed and we both got more drunk, he randomly tried different approaches. He said he was sorry for being a dick (great you're a creep and still not my type). He tried inching closer to me in the back seat as if I was too stupid to realize he was doing it. He eventually just made his move. I was stunned and horrified. I was still a virgin. The year prior I broke up with my boyfriend for going up my shirt. I didn't even let him just be sorry and promise not to do it again or until I was ready. I just broke up with him.

I pushed him away and called him names for a while, but in my horror and feeling powerless because he was stronger than I was, I caved. I didn't actually participate. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even have known how to. But I didn't end up stopping him anyway. When you're a 16 year old virgin in a society that doesn't educate young women and men about rape, its your fault.

Of course I didn't go to the police. I didn't know it was illegal, exactly. I didn't even know what happened or how to put it into words. It was awful. I knew that. I felt gross. I felt shame. I felt ruined. My inability to even get a look of acknowledgement from my parents left me in a place where I wasn't even able to feel what I should  have - anger. The following Monday I finally graduated to anger. When we got to school the rumors were all over that he had fucked me. I didn't know what rape was but I knew that wasn't "sex." Whatever that was wasn't what happens in the movies. That wasn't sweet. That wasn't romantic. That was aggressive and mildly violent. For the next 2 years I didn't pass him at a party or in the hallway without saying, loudly enough for anyone to hear, that he did not have sex with me. He always countered by saying we did. Asshole.

I finally felt vindicated when he showed up at my graduation party (right?) and I screamed at him for even showing up and demanding he tell people the truth. He said we didn't have sex in that tone that basically says "here - let me say words to appease you and shut you up." That was enough for me, sadly. I had spent the last 2 years trying to get him to admit we hadn't had sex because the truth of what happened, which I should've been compelling him to admit, was too much for me to even admit to myself.

I googled him last year when the Access Hollywood video was released. He is a judge now. A fucking judge. The statute of limitations is far exceeded or I would want to sue him and force the jurisdiction he presides in to review every case he has ever heard about rape, domestic violence, etc.

Had I not had to witness the video of that grotesque monster repeatedly bragging about being a sexual assailant last year, I might still not have ever put it into context. Its easier to not think about it. Its easier not to deal with it. Besides, what good does it do me to dredge up even more pain from my childhood when I haven't been able to find a way to deal with any of the rest of it? Answer: Every good. It does good to add my voice to the countless women and men who have come forward to demand better of our society. It does good to allow myself to be a victim/survivor rather than mired in guilt and blame. It does good because I am now able to say, "fuck my parents and their complacent, willful ignorance of the human being I was." And THAT helps me to embrace the human being I was and love her, and myself today, a little more.

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