31 years ago I was raped. 31 years ago on this day. You’d think that after 31 years, the anniversary of that day wouldn’t matter—that I might not remember. After all, I was 29 and the rest of my life was ahead of me. Ahead of me except on that day, the me that was poised for whatever that life was actually died. I am not whoever I might have been if I had not opened the door on a sunny September afternoon. If I had been out biking or at the grocery store or taking a walk, everything would be different. But I was home and I opened the door.
It took two decades to recover from that 2 hours after I opened the door. Not that I was sitting in a closet all that time. I was living the new life of me—one that included many new experiences with great fear and great compassion. I was working hard to be good and caring and productive. I was working hard to heal some invisible wound that tore me apart. And to the most part, I was able to do that. But still, I hate that what happened on that day can still shake me, transport me, rip me open. it can never be like it never happened. I love that that day opened my heart to hear others, filled me with energy for change, for protection of people’s souls and broke the walls of my thinking. But still I hate that I have such a hard time feeling safe in my own soul. I am constantly working hard.
There is no better, there is no worse between the two of me…it is just that the truth is something happened that can not be undone. Something died and today I grieve for that.
My neighbor Julie lives across the alley. I often get phone calls from her complaining that my dog is barking and all she wants is some peace. I usually apologize and get Shya inside. But after the last phone call I realized I want my dog to bark—I want her to bark loud and long and tell anyone who is near me that I am protected and to get away. I did not have a dog the day I opened the door to a man in a suit who turned out to be a serial rapist. If I had, he would have not come in my house. Messing with me would have just been too much trouble. But instead, it was easy. Knock on a door, tell a story about losing your dog and then pull a gun.
He had been serving a life sentence for several brutal rapes but had been befriended by a church who supported his parole. He behaved well and was living in an unidentified halfway house in the neighborhood. After a month of good behavior in the halfway house, he was allowed to go out into the world unsupervised—for long enough each day to rape 5 women.
This is the first year that I have allowed myself to speak out loud that my life would have been very different and many things I might have wanted were not possible after that day—most tangibly, I think is being able to create a family to have a partner and to raise children. I know that many women in all circumstances have been able to make that happen in their lives, no matter what the trauma they experience. I know my life is all about my choices. I had a lot of children in my life and committed to them fully but I was not able to create my own family or relationship. I have not been able to ever feel whole enough and safe to do that. I still constantly battle depression and anxiety and physical pain. I have to specifically work hard to not fall into the hole in front of me.
On today, it seems like I have fallen and my adult life has been pretending I haven’t fallen. Maybe tomorrow will feel different. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to not be deep in today’s grief. I do that all the time actually but today I want to acknowledge that the last moment when I felt truly free in the world and in my body and in my future was the moment I heard the knock and put my hand on the door handle. And that pisses me off. I don’t say that out loud, it is not what I want to hear. Because noone can fix it and make it not have happened. And that pisses me off too.
When Julie calls again, I am going to tell her to fuck off…that when I was raped I did not have a dog and if I had, my life would have been different. That I want my dog to bark long and loud and tell the world that hurting me is not going to be easy. And she should be glad that my dog barks, she is being protected too. A little peace depends on that big bark. And get some earplugs, the world is not quiet.