My Two Year Anniversary

(The following entry was actually written in September of last year. I have now had my three year anniversary, and I am proud to say that I didn’t even notice when it happened. Recovery is a beautiful thing.)

This week was the two year anniversary of the last time I was sexually assaulted. This last time was the most traumatic to me for several reasons. First, It was the only one I actually shared with people in my life, second, there were witnesses, third, there was the combined trauma of the sexual assault and the victim-blaming, 4. my attacker wrote a letter of apology to my boyfriend for attacking me (but not to me, because apparently I’m just my boyfriend’s property), and 5, I had a mental breakdown afterwards and had to quit my job, and 6, because the attack happened in my own home I no longer felt safe there, and 7. I couldn’t sit through a class without having a panic attack, so I had to withdraw from all my classes, even though I was supposed to graduate that semester. With my previous attacks I was able to cope somehow, but not this last time. Not two years ago.

To someone who hasn’t been sexually assaulted, it’s hard to explain the phenomena of the “anniversary,” but I will try. For some reason, the memories come back in full force – unwelcome and all-consuming. The nightmares of being attacked returned this week as well, the uncontrollable crying, and the intense feelings of anger towards the people in my life who victim-blamed me. There are the feelings of intense shame and humiliation, and the inability to control my emotions.

There are some positive things that came out of my anniversary – it forced me to deal with the fact that I am not yet recovered, that I still have a lot of work to do. I finally had the courage this week to seek out sexual assault counseling. two years overdue but never too late. I am now able to hold down a job and a loving relationship. These are things I can be proud of.

To the Reader: your input is welcome, so long as it is not victim blaming, slut shaming, or advice on how YOU would have dealt with being attacked. If it’s not your trauma, then you have no idea.

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I Had an Awful, No Good, Very Bad Morning.

Today I had an awful, no-good, very bad morning. Let me tell you about it.

I dragged myself out of bed later than usual, because my 10-week-old daughter was up half the night crying and feeding. All I can think about while I’m walking downstairs is “coffee, coffee, coffee – now, now, now.” I pour myself a cup and sit down at my laptop (well actually, at my husband’s old laptop, because he had accidentally broken mine after inadvertently stepping on it a few days prior). I then remembered the overdue writing assignment I needed to do for my part-time writing job. As I opened up the blank word document to start the creative process, my mother bustled into the kitchen in an irritated fashion (Yes, I am a grown-ass woman living with my mother. No, I’m not proud of it). Before I could even say “good morning” to her she rattled off a laundry list of criticisms on my parenting and housekeeping skills – “You know, when i checked on the baby this morning she had a wet diaper and spit up everywhere and I don’t really like the way your husband crushes cans before they go into the recycling, I really prefer if they are crushed a certain way and I left the vacuum cleaner on the landing for you….” I just stared at my now neglected full cup of coffee and waited for her to finish her passive-aggressive rant.

(Side note: I love my mother very much. Among many things, I admire her for her strength in leaving an abusive marriage and starting a new life on her own. But her communication skills are just terrible.)

After my mother leaves for work my equally sleep-deprived husband makes his way down the stairs. He had overheard my mother’s little speech and was not amused. After complaining about her passive aggressive tendencies for a while, he began to take his anger out on me. He wanted to know “what do you do all day?” that I might not have time to do the laundry later. He also pointed out how silly and pointless my writing job is. “It’s not going to lead to anything,” he reminded me – meaning that it can’t be used as a catalyst to start a real career.

When he sees how upset I’ve become he genuinely apologizes and attributes his frustration to stress. After he leaves for class I strap the baby to my chest so I can work and supervise her at the same time. What I really want to do is to hide under my bed covers, curled up in a fetal position. Instead I begin vacuuming the house, fighting back tears while I work. I kiss the top of my daughter’s head as she sleeps peacefully against my chest, and I feel grateful that she is too young to judge me for my many shortcomings.