What do you do when your brother’s drunk 20-something girlfriend throws her leg over your head as you’re cleaning the house and promptly begins to hump your face?
No, really…I’d like to know. I don’t know exactly how I was expected to respond. I wasn’t really “partying” at that point. I was cleaning. I had warned her that I didn’t have time to play and she probably needed to sit down while I finished up some of the cleaning before my brother got back home. I’d warned her earlier in the day that I’m not the kind of person you can grab on or touch for no reason. At the very best, I’ll just jump, but at my worst I might have a total meltdown. Like I did that day to poor Sarah.
I spent the next few hours trying to get my limbs to stop shaking. I can’t remember the day after that, or maybe I can and just don’t remember it at the moment. Hell, I don’t remember much at all from that night until today, and I can’t even tell you exactly which night that was. It was that traumatic. “Normal” people would laugh at such nonsense, but her nonsense sent me back to that moment again. Her game made my reality hit me hard. I’m a rape survivor. I’ll never lose that label. It will always be there. I will always have those memories. Nothing will ever change the fact that he raped me. Nothing will ever change the fact that I was raped. Nothing makes that go away. You just learn to live through it. Until girls like her do dumb things like that and then you have to learn to live through it all over again because it is LITERALLY like it happened all over again. Sure, you do heal a bit faster each time, but you still get set back way more than what seems reasonable or fair.
[Side note here: I’m not blaming Sarah for my meltdown or my set-back. We discussed things, worked it out, we’re good now and she understands now. We agreed that she should have been better informed of WHY I’m not the kind of girl you just grab. But again, that goes back to the “always having the label.” I have to warn people that I’m not “normal” which is problematic and creates…well…have you been reading this thing?]
To be fair, she was warned. Her friends heard me. They defended me, stating that they had heard me warn her multiple times. Granted, she was drunk. I get it. It’s hard to maintain your composure when you’ve ingested half a bottle of Blue Zombie. Does that mean I have to deal with the setback in my healing? It shouldn’t, but that’s what it meant. Does it mean that she should have had to deal with me yelling at her and telling her that if she ever did that again I’d drag her outside and beat her ass? No, of course not, but I can’t say that I won’t do it. If you push me to panic and make me relive something that horrible in my life…then I can’t really make any promises about how I’ll react.
For months after my rape, my husband of (at that time) 5 years couldn’t even touch me without having to deal with me cringing away from him. If he forgot and kissed the back of my neck unexpectedly I could burst into tears. Any sort of sex life was out of the question. I healed after a while and things got better.
Finally, I’d gotten better, but I was still having to force myself not to jump or cringe at the touch of all but a select few people (my children, my (soon-to-be-ex) husband, my mom, my dad, brothers, etc). I met Andrew in 2013 and he was no exception. He didn’t usually touch me. We were friends. We had a strictly-no-touching rule. I can remember one time specifically that turned out really bad for him. His hand innocently touched my shoulder as he walked up behind me. I snapped, spun around, and I’m pretty sure I cussed him out. I just couldn’t handle it. It was too much.
Then, something insane happened. After I left my husband, my children and I were staying with my mother. Andrew came to visit one day. For the first time ever in our relationship, I hugged him. Not the “friend” hug that you’d give anyone. No, what actually happened was that I finally let him hold me. He held onto me so tightly, and I couldn’t understand what was happening.
I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t feel the need to cringe. I felt only the desire to bury myself in his chest and stay there in his arms for a while. It took a while for me to accept that.
So, what happened? A drunk girl humped my face. Now, we’re back to cringing at the slightest touch. My brother brushes my arm, I have to force myself not to jerk my arm away in response. Andrew rests his arm across my leg (for what felt like an eternity but was really only about 15 seconds) as he passes something to my brother, and I have to ask him not to do that because I can’t pull away and it begins to send me into a panic attack. At other times, Andrew can still wrap his arms around me and I’m fine. Sometimes, still…even his arms are the only thing that make me “fine” or as close to it as possible.
It’s not really fair, to me or anyone else. However, that’s part of my struggle. It’s something I’m dealing with again. So, if you want to hug me could you at least give me a heads-up before you do it? I’d like to be prepared so I don’t have the anxiety attack. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I attempt to get better again. Now, I think I’m going to go curl up alone and hope that tomorrow I can be in Andrew’s arms again…without the shaking, panic attacks, and desire to flee and/or hide.