“You’ve canceled a lot of appointments..”
“Yeah…you know…work and kids..” I trail off. “We need to talk about it. You need to talk about it.”
“I know. We will. I will.”
The contents of my bag are endlessly fascinating. My hair falls like a curtain across my cheeks as I rummage deeper.
“It was horrific and violating and..”
“So, two weeks then?”
But I would cancel that one too.
The first coherent thought that came to me when I heard her screams:
Why have I never learned Spanish?
Years of watching “Dora the Explorer” with my children when they were toddlers, two years of high school study, two entire decades of hearing my mother in law chattering with her Nicaraguan family.. these did nothing to solidify the fragments of a foreign tongue, words bereft of meaning floating around my head like fragile soap bubbles. Pop popping into nothingness. Gone.
My back hurt. I was lying in a strange, unnatural position. Almost upside down. I fainted. That was my first thought. Though I’d been living at a stable, healthy weight for several years, a near lifelong battle with anorexia and bulimia had me well aquainted with sudden blackouts. I came to at the sound of a hollow thunk. A stairwell door opening, a bitter rush of January wind slapping me hard in the face. My head too. It hurt. The screamer, dressed in the drab camel colored jumper worn by the hotel’s housekeeping staff, bent over me now crooning gently. Shielding me with her body. I realize that I’m only partially clothed. Attempts to sit up, valiant…. are ultimately in vain, and it’s then I notice my hands. Nails torn. Palms bruised. Polka dots of blood.
Not everything. But that I fought. I remembered that I fought.
(“You should talk about it.”
“No. Really..I don’t need to.”)
Weeks later I am walking through a parking lot of sorts. Wooded and dark, I’m looking for my car. And it hits me. I’m going to die. I know it. I see the look that was in his eyes and those eyes are suddenly watching me from… from everywhere.
I’m on the phone, my husband’s voice a salve,
“I’m on my way.. breathe baby..”
But I am breathing. I’m breathing so my head spins and diamonds dance before me. Those eyes. From each tinted building window, in the headlights of passing traffic, through the branches of the dying trees, naked and brittle as I feel.
(“You need to talk about it.”
“No! …No, I really don’t.”)
My mind speaks plenty. To me. At me. Never silent. If, by chance, I ever visit the elusive state of slumber, it’s jarring to wake. For a moment I feel again the heft of his body, crushing and immovable. My face pressed hard against the floor.I taste the well-worn carpet pilling on my lips.
I’m silent. Then and now.
I surrendered after a minute. Or an hour. A lifetime.
As is the case with so many things, fighting made it worse.
Then and now.
(“You have to talk about it.”
“I don’t want…”)
But that isn’t entirely true.
So I do. I talk. Some.
the ice thaws,
new life strains at creation’s lettuced edge.
With the Sonshine beginning to brush away my bruises, the road ahead seems slightly less endless. Slightly less impossible to navigate.
I will talk about it.
I will tell.
I will be whole again.
The world has darkened, my world, but I don’t have to let it darken me. I will not live as a victim. Not in fear and not in shame. I will survive. More than that. Thrive.
I will talk about it.
Need to. Have to.
As I write this, a child rolls lazily in my womb. A child whose soul came into being at the very moment I felt my own being ripped away. He is my son. An innocent as I was. The good come out of evil. The unexpected gift that reminds me that as life goes on, so must I.
I’ve never let pain define me.
Who I am is not a recovering eating disorder, a once abused child, or the crazy crosshatching of silver scars that adorn the body of every cutter, past or present.
And I am not a rape victim.
What I am is passionate and quick tempered and more than just a little off-center. I’m moody and introspective, impatient and stubborn. I speak when I should listen and I laugh too loudly and I love too recklessly. I am impulsive and loyal and fierce and altogether too much sometimes. But
I am not a victim.
I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a child of God. I’m a woman, again, standing. The ashes of yesterday cling stubbornly to my skin like melting snowflakes, but I am standing even so.
And I will be whole.