Ugly Truth

 

mesquite_ice

Warning – I’m going to share about rape, and fear, and being a woman in 2017.

 

My fear of vulnerability and fear of tears have made me hesitant to write the following. Honestly, I have rarely ever even discussed it.  But now is the time for these stories to emerge. Sadly, if you’re a woman, the odds are very high that you have experienced some form of sexual assault.*

Once upon a time, my friend (we’ll call him Chucky) had a party at his apartment. Chucky and I were buddies. He was one of those guys you thought you could trust. You probably had a male friend like that in school.  He never came onto me – never touched me inappropriately or even made “those” kind of jokes.  I trusted him.  So as Van Halen blared on the stereo,  I felt perfectly safe slamming golden shots of tequila at his kitchen table.

As the music grew louder and the night grew later, we decided a game of quarters was a good idea. I vaguely remember the room swimming as I aimed my body for the door, trying to go home.  I fell down the first flight of stairs, staggered across the landing and rolled the rest of the way into the shrubs.  I also remember friends laughing, dragging me back up the stairs.

“Chucky, can’t she just sleep it off here?” My friends all trusted him as well. He’d never been anything but a perfect gentleman. And Chucky agreed, “Just put her on my bed. She’s close to the bathroom that way. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

Darkness…

When I woke up, it was still dark but he was on top of me, grunting, wiggling…raping me.  I was so dizzy…I couldn’t even fight. I couldn’t even roll away or push him off…I was trapped under his animal musk and groans. I couldn’t even cry.

then more darkness…

Later I woke again…silently… I didn’t make any accusations. I felt so ashamed, so sick. I pulled my pants on and left.

I tried to tell someone. This woman I loved and trusted told me it was my own fault…that I was a drunken slut.  I tried to tell someone else, but she warned me that it would be a waste of time to go to the police. I wasn’t really raped if I was in his bed drunk.

I dropped it. I even continued my friendship with Chucky on a superficial level. I never mentioned it to him.  I did stupid little childish things to get even – ping pong balls in his gas tank, threatening notes on his door…but I couldn’t go on…so I left school, left town, left the state, joined the Army.

I was never the same …never ever the same…

you know all those situations that frighten you as a woman…the drunk in the parking lot of the local bar demanding sex because he bought you a drink, men brushing up against you too closely, breathing into your neck, strangers staring at your ass…being grabbed, being fondled…

these things terrified me. So I just acted tougher…

Once you’ve been assaulted, you never feel safe again.  I still find myself holding my breath in certain situations…unable to find my voice…

I’m 50 years old – not a hot, young, sexy babe – still I can’t even run down the side of the highway without mace or a dog or both…because I’ve been followed and stalked. Because for some reason, my sweaty body conveys I want to get laid. “Hey baby”, cat calls, honking…just a few weeks ago, one man in a white van actually did three u-turns to follow me. It was obvious enough a neighbor driving by noticed and stopped to check on me.

I recently read one of the most moving essays I’d ever read “Becoming Ugly.”  I do not try to be beautiful. I do not fix my hair, color my cheeks and nails, because I do not want to be beautiful. I want to be strong…because so often I’m afraid.

AND there is more…

Our bodies and souls are breached…

Our strength is ripped from us as girls when we are told we are not smart enough….as women when we are paid less…when we are told our blood is dirty and our bodies are weak…we are told that we are original sin…

and when we speak…when we finally clear our throats, take that breath, and speak out, we are again slapped down…and this time not just by the men who would harm us, but by our own sisters.

And each time, it takes longer for our voices to regain volume..and each time it becomes that much harder to rise again..

But we WILL rise again. TOGETHER we will find our voices, and TOGETHER we will run down the highway fearlessly someday.

 

*Nearly one in five women surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, and one in four reported having been beaten by an intimate partner.  www.nytimes.com/2011/…/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexualassault.htm.

 

 

 

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Java

The beautiful people drink theirs in the sun,

The poet in solitude.

I smell the aroma before it is done,

Perking and boiling and brewed.

 

When Van Winkle arose from his very long rest,

Yawning and shaking a dream,

He asked, with a yearning, for a cup of the best,

Black – no sugar – no cream.

 

The onyx liquid poured from the spout

The elixir, the healer, vaccine,

Chasing the demons of sleepiness out,

Fulfilling the need for caffeine.