Today marks the third anniversary of my last sexual assault. Or as I often refer to it internally, the last time I was drugged, raped, and belittled. But ya know, the first part sounds better. It rolls off the tongue easier and it sounds better to the common ear. Nobody wants to know somebody who’s been drugged and raped when they were incoherent. Nobody wants to know someone directly that has gone through such darkness. And I couldn’t even blame it on the alcohol like Jamie Foxx likes to claim in that one song back in high school. At least not fully. After all, he did put something similar to GHB in my water.
But anyway, every year I get further and further away from the actual incident, I feel the need to celebrate. Not necessarily the act itself but more so the act of surviving it. Celebrating the awful every year is a reminder in itself that I survived. That I made it through another year. It’s been difficult beyond belief and there have been times where I’ve wanted to crawl into a corner, hide away, and sometimes even stop existing. Over these past three years, I’ve drank myself silly, gotten myself into precarious situations, and have tried almost every unhealthy method of healing possible. But recently, something changed. I realized that subconsciously, I was still making myself out to be a victim. I was still making myself out to be somehow less than because of this heinous event. I was giving the monster and the events too much credit and myself nowhere near enough. And I was tired of feeling less than. Even though I was mostly comfortable talking about it and have never shyed away from having a conversation about it, I was still disassociating myself from it and still hadn’t accepted the fact that it was my time to run the Rocky stairs and take more initiative.
Being raped three years ago was the worst thing that’s happened to me. And I’ve been through a lot. This assault was the most difficult to navigate healing, and emotionally draining every time I tried to talk about it with a partner. For obvious reasons, I’m sure, also being diagnosed with PTSD didn’t exactly make things easier either. But what made the decision to actively become a survivor instead of navigating the murky water of the survivor/victim dichotomy was strangely enough, a weekend in Chicago.
I was at a friend’s wedding and I broke when I got to my hotel room. Chicago was the place where I celebrated one year and it was also the place where I had to file a restraining order against my attacker. It brought up so many painful memories and though I had good friends in town as well, I didn’t have my support system. And I hadn’t actively prepared myself for being back in that environment again. So I reverted back to old methods. I had too many vodka sodas and not enough food. I detached myself from feeling during an immensely important event and I was hurting. I was trying to jailbreak avoided emotions and I was having flashbacks in a place where I didn’t feel safe. This sounds overdramatic and like I should have just gotten over it, sure. And broken mental health is not an excuse to be a shitty person.
So what I realized over this weekend was that I was using my personal experiences of being assaulted and being a victim to be a shitty person. To not actively put my self care first and foremost was making me lash out and take it out on people who didn’t deserve it. I was living a vicious cycle of replaying the past when I could have been channeling that anger and sadness into something else. So this year, I’ve decided to shift the conversation and change the narrative in my own head about what happened.
I can never change what happened to me. I can never take back that night and make it different. And to be honest, I firmly believe that we are dealt the cards we are meant to handle. Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, or the great oak trees, we are given some sort of grace and expectation. And I’m nervous about my journey ahead but also strangely excited. I finally feel at a point where I can take on the narrative I am meant to live out and maybe I’ll finally teach these demons in the late night dark corners to jig.