Time Stood Still

TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE, RAPE

 

May 13, 2005
On a dingy bathroom floor in a house full of addicts, she waited. The test sat on the counter, scarce inches away, yet she couldn’t look. One… two… three minutes passed. It was now or never. Her hands shaking, she picked up her future, wrapped in a disguise of plastic and paper and urine. Positive. She closed her eyes, unsure if she was relieved or disappointed. Time stood still.

January 27, 2006
The hospital was crowded, as if everyone in a fifty mile radius had decided to give birth right then and there. A blur of lights and sleep and strange beeps and frantic calls and pain, oh the pain! She couldn’t quite remember how or why she had ended up in the operating room or why they wouldn’t let her hold her daughter right away or anything beyond the overwhelming agony that every second away from the child caused. A bundle was placed in her arms – The bluest eyes she’d ever seen, the blackest hair, the most perfect little mouth. The world melted away and she finally knew the meaning of her life.

July 15, 2006
She could smell the whiskey on his breath before he entered the room. Her heart beat faster as she clutched her baby closer. One foot out the window, easy does it, twist and turn and grab the ledge … – his hand wrapped around hers and in a single breath she was on the bedroom floor again. The baby bawled in his arms as he hurled accusation after accusation, stepping more firmly on her throat with every uttered syllable. Her life flashed before her eyes and in the moment before the stars became darkness, time stood still.

June 1, 2007
He stumbled in at 9am, drunk, though god knows he’d gone to work last night. She lay awake – eyes closed, breathing regular – hoping he’d think she was still asleep. Their daughter stirred; a heavenly coo from the cradle next to their bed. She jumped up to attend before his clumsy hands could reach the tiny being, but not before a slurred “Stunned cunt, let me sleep” escaped his lips as he collapsed into the pillows. When the darkness overcame him, she methodically packed her belongings and drove to the new apartment across town. Furniture would have to wait, but in that moment, her life started over.

December 17, 2011
The night was young, the music loud, the tequila flowing freely. Across the table, he winked and smiled and she had never felt so sexy. The bar closed, the after party started, and before she knew it, 3am had arrived and it was only the two of them awake. He kissed her, she kissed back, he reached up her skirt. She said no. He stopped. He tried again. The no became more urgent. He conceded and allowed her to drift into unconsciousness. She awoke long enough to kick him and roll over as he peeled her panties off, then returned to the nothingness she had been roused from. Seconds… minutes… ages later, her mind snapped out of the fog, feeling him inside her, momentum building, grunts of pleasure escaping his lips. Her body froze. Words caught in her throat. As he emptied himself into her, time stood still.

July 19, 2013
Eight hours of magic was coming to a close. She thought it was going well, but one could never quite tell with a first date. They placed a bet on the last bowling match – if he won, she had to say yes to a second date. She lost, albeit unintentionally, though she was far from disappointed at the prospect of more time in his company. He walked her to her car; she thanked him for a wonderful day. The sun was setting just behind him, a brilliant cascade of light gleaming over his left shoulder. He hugged her and she could feel the restless energy stirring within him. In a moment of impulsive desire, she pressed her lips to his and held on tightly as the rest of the world became irrelevant.

November 8, 2013
They lay in bed, her head on his chest, his arms protectively cocooning her. He kissed her goodnight, and just as he was dozing off, a timid whisper asked if he was still awake. Now alert, he asked her why. Seconds passed as she took a calming breath and responded with some off-pitch statement about needing to tell him something. With a hint of suspicion, he probed her intentions. Her heart beat faster as she attempted to gather her courage. “I love you,” she breathed, barely audible, as she buried her face in his neck. He gently lifted her chin, gazing into her eyes through the dark. “I love you,” he responded, kissing her tenderly as time stood still.

Release.

It’s reached a point where I feel the need to share the deepest, darkest, most hated part of my soul. I need to confess my sin, bare my inadequacy, and eliminate the pretense.

I’m not perfect, no matter how much he tells me I am. He knows almost everything about me: my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my quirks, my loves and hates. But every time I go to tell him this one thing, I freeze. My lips stop working. My thoughts slow down and my heart speeds up. My mouth goes dry and I find myself changing the topic of conversation to avoid telling him.

I don’t know why I’m afraid.

He’s never been anything but understanding. He’s never given me a reason to think that he wouldn’t sympathise, or would judge me, or would look at me any different. But yet, I hesitate. I’m scared to say the words. I’m terrified to feel their prescence looming in the space between us whenever we’re together. I’m ashamed to see the look in his eyes when he processes the truth, and I’m worried that he’ll start to read into the nuances of my personality and my preferences, finding causation that isn’t accurate in the slightest.

How do you tell someone you were raped without it colouring the way they view you? There’s no way to go back from that point. What has been said cannot be unsaid. And so I hesitate.

I had hoped that before we’d reached this point, I would have found a way to tell him. But I didn’t. Or maybe I didn’t take the chances that were given. Either way, the conversation is still pending and my stomach drops in fear every time I realise that I’m getting close to revealing the truth. It’s like I know that everything between us will change once the statement has been made, and I haven’t yet decided if it will be a positive experience.

I don’t doubt that he will support me. The very depths of my soul tell me that there is nothing I could say to change his feelings for me. But letting go and admitting my brokenness is a step I’m afraid to take. And so I resist, waiting for the perfect moment to drop the bomb, knowing that the longer I wait, the more I will fight the urge and keep the secret buried deep inside.

Dangling my toes over the edge has never felt so perilous.

I Think I’m A Grown Up Now

It’s official : I’m in debt a quarter million dollars. Normally, being even $100 in debt would cause me to freak out. Not this time. Why?

I bought a house.

Yep, it’s official – I’m a homeowner. I take possession June 15th.

I’m a little scared, a lot excited, and really, really proud of myself.

It’s not every day that you see a single mom buy a house on her own, with no co-signer, before the age of 30. (Not to toot my own horn, but BEEP BEEP).

I never planned on this – I wanted to find a nice guy, get married, buy a house, have babies, and live happily ever after. I’ve finally reached the point where I am okay with having my baby and my house and living happily ever after on my own. It’s liberating to realise that everything about this house, this life… it’s all mine. No compromising. 100% how **I** want it.

I couldn’t be happier.

BUT.

Now I get to spend the next month packing and checking paint swatches and de-cluttering and cleaning and allllll that fun moving stuff. *groan*

Survival.

Some days, when my past feels really hard to deal with, I remind myself that simply getting up and facing the world makes me stronger than I ever thought possible, and gives a giant middle finger to those who have tried to hold me down.

I am not the person I was then. For better, for worse, everything in my life has changed. And that’s okay.

One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. I will make it through. I will survive. I will thrive, despite my demons.

We’ve all been sorry
We’ve all been hurt
But how we survive is what makes us who we are.
– Rise Against

change.

There are moments in life that change you.

I’m not talking about slightly altering an opinion or making you consider a differing view. I mean, these events alter everything about you, down to the very core of your being. For the rest of your life, everything will be divided into two time periods: BEFORE and AFTER.

The trick is to not let that event define you. How to go about that… well, that’s something I don’t know. But I am more than this, and I deserve more than this.

 

(the trick is to) keep breathing [garbage]

Sisterhood Is Powerful

I adore my male friends. They’ve been with me through a lot. They’ve given me love, support, good times and true friendship.

However, every time I hear a girl go off about how she “can’t stand girls” and can “ONLY get along with guys” because “there’s less drama,” a little part of me dies.

Yes, women have faults. Yes, some women are mean to other women. Some women have treated me horribly, for a variety of reasons. But my lady friends have also helped me develop some of the strongest bonds I’ve ever known.

My lady friends helped guide me through my first relationship, through my second relationship, through the extremely public trauma that is a highschool breakup. They tell me that I’m smart and funny and beautiful and incredible, even when especially when I’m feeling like none of the above.

They cried with joy when I announced my pregnancy, when my daughter was born, and throughout her life to date. They welcomed us into their lives, their families’ lives, their pregnancies, their children’s lives.

My sisters have held my hand, both literally and figuratively, as I left an abusive ex. They’ve helped me dust myself off and carry on. They’ve given me shoulders to cry on and tissues for my runny nose. They’ve inspired me with their own tales of strength and triumph.

My girlfriends were the first ones I confessed my rape to – almost a decade after it occurred. They were an unwavering pillar of support. They believed me, supported me, helped me to move on from a painful memory I had never quite gotten over. Those same girlfriends were the ones who texted and called and held my hand after my second rape. The ones who let me rehash the details and refused to let me blame myself. They stayed in touch, made sure I got up every day, made sure I carried on. They wouldn’t let me curl up and die, even when that’s all I wanted.

My ladies have stayed up all night with me, dissecting pop culture, current events, oppression, fashion, music, racism, sexism, the beauty myth, what makes Tim Hortons’ coffee so addictive, why that guy hasn’t called yet, and if I even want him to. They’ve held my hair back when I’ve drank too much, put me to bed, and then laughed hysterically when I woke up hung to the tits.

They’ve been there for birthdays, for anniversaries, for graduations and funerals and everyday bullshit. They’ve talked me through breakups and rejection and shared their own stories of heartbreak to make me feel less like an unlovable wretch.

These same women have given me hope, laughter, love, and cast-off clothing. They’ve joked about my big ol’ butt and my penchant for dating assholes. They’ve told me when a guy’s a complete dickwad and then watched me ignore their advice for years. They’ve also helped me move on when that same asshole broke my heart. Not only that, but they did it without even an “I told you so.”

My sisters live far away. I don’t see them nearly enough as I would like or they would like. Distance and finance are formidable foes. Despite this, my sisters are a part of me, and I, a part of them.

Ladies, if you “can’t stand girls,” maybe you haven’t met the right ones. Maybe you’re intimidated by them. Maybe they make you feel threatened, feel less unique, feel inferior. Maybe they challenge you, your beliefs, and your actions.

But me, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my sisters. My sisters hold me up. They inspire me. They challenge me and support me and help me better myself each and every day. My sisters are my strength, and I am blessed to have them in my life.

Unbreakable.

**TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE**

Today I was introduced to an amazing project: Project Unbreakable. Created in October 2011, this project helps survivors of sexual abuse, violence and rape take back the power of words used against them. Creator Grace Brown asks survivors to make a poster showing a quote from their attacker and be photographed holding it. Many survivors outside Grace’s area are taking their own photos and submitting them as well.

This project resonated with me for several reasons. One: I’m a feminist. Sexual violence does not ONLY occur to women, but the majority of it does, and the pain of my sisters is my pain. Two: Rape culture is all around us. It pervades everyday  life. One third of women have experienced some form of sexual abuse, violence or rape. And three: I, too, am a survivor of rape – more than once, in fact.

As I devoured page after page of these photos, my emotions ran the gamut from angry to sad, discouraged, horrified, pained, and yes, even inspired. The strength shown by these survivors is admirable. The stigma around sexual violence often places blame upon the  victims and ignores the responsibility of the perpetrators. Speaking out about these topics may be triggering. It may cause conflict with friends or family members. And, let’s face it, speaking out is downright scary. In a world where most of us care to some extent what others think of us, it’s incredibly hard to open up about a topic that many are judgemental about.

So, in the interest of furthering my One Word project, of healing myself, of learning to speak out against injustice… I will take this step. I will be strong. I will be unbreakable. (And in typical over-achiever fashion, I’ll be submitting two pictures – one for each rape.)

(July 2001 – age 16)

(December 2011 – age 26)