I look forward to this day all week.

It is set aside as this special time when I can finally breathe. Feel moderately comfortable. Completely and fully exhale.

This time it was different.

There is something dark and heavy in the air. I could tell myself I’m just imagining it. I know how to do that. But I’ve done that for too long.

I’ve ignored this exact feeling many times over, and eventually it comes back to haunt me. It rears it’s nasty two pronged head another day while I’m kicking myself, wishing I’d have headed the warning.

This fog is coming from one of two places. The traditional answer is that it’s emanating from within me. And only me. That’s the script that I’ve been trained to read. It says I messed up or missed something. I can correct it and clear the air.

The other, less palpable answer, is that it isn’t just me. I won’t be able to fix it. I can’t flip a switch and vanquish this darkness. It’s not mine to eradicate. This is the narrative I despise. In this version of the story I have to rely on faith.

Faith that somehow, some way, something else can mend this brokenness.

Hands in the air, no driving with my knees. Just allowing something else to take the wheel.

Nothing was that bad. 

I’ve heard it, and believed it, my whole life.  

And save one or two incidences, no maybe things weren’t that bad. For someone else.  But for me they created a world of cumulative experiences where I knew I could only be loved if I gave someone what they wanted.

Otherwise I was a bitch.

I’ve never had the self-esteem to walk away from that.  I had to fix it.  I had to make sure you didn’t think something negative about me. I had to be liked and loved.  And that’s how I learned what people wanted from people like me.

It wasn’t the rape that destroyed me.

It wasn’t the sexual assault by a state trooper that annihilated me.

It wasn’t the inappropriate baby sitter.

It wasn’t the hospitalizations beginning at 14 years old.

It wasn’t the boys who wouldn’t be my friend if I didn’t do what they wanted.

It wasn’t the girls who had those exact same expectations, though I thought I’d be safe.

It wasn’t the Sexual Harassment on an almost daily basis from the time I started working.

It wasn’t the countless nights I didn’t know what happened but could surmise.

It wasn’t even the fact that all these people could do these things and walk away with zero consequences, when the price that got paid came out of my pocket: My self-worth.

Now, add them up. 

Add each instance, from each column up.  

What you are left with is a person terrified to be back in the outside world. Skin crawling, self-loathing, can’t breathe mess of a woman.

Petrified of things that should not scare me. But they do.  They do because it all adds up.

A row of bushes lining the sidewalk?  I can’t walk past them alone.  I will walk in the street before I walk past a towering hedge at night.

If I am alone my back is to the wall, I will not allow you to touch me when I can’t even see you coming.

I can’t walk down a sidewalk and have someone else be coming up it.  I need to step aside and wait, I can’t take the stress of wondering if you are going to try to kill me.

I speed up when I pass construction workers, cops, men, groups.

I go into full defensive shut down at the doctor’s office.  Don’t touch me, don’t ask questions, move away from the terrified lady on the table.

No, maybe none of it was all that bad.

But for me, I think it just all added up.



Do You Know Who You’re Sitting Next To?

I can put up with a lot of things.

As a woman who is Gay, Bipolar, and a victim of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, I have sat at many an uncomfortable table in my day.

I’ve had to listen to my friends and acquaintances throw around words like “crazy”, “ugh, I wanna slit my wrists” and my favorite, “so-and-so belongs in a mental hospital”.  Ignorance must be bliss.

Many times, especially lately, with current events as they are, I’ve sat through parties, lunches and dinners where they are callously and ignorantly tossing out hate speech about “the gays” and “trannies”.  Both abhorrent.

What I can’t do, is sit at a table and listen to people blame a woman for being raped, assaulted or harassed. Let alone these people blaming little girls for the same.

This has happened to me twice in the past week. Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was associating with people, women even, that find a way to blame a woman’s short skirt, or online dating for her being a victim of assault.

I can’t hear that. I can barely read it on my news feed, let alone hear the sentiments uttered aloud.

Fourteen years and an exorbitant amount of therapy later, I still blame myself.

Listen, I’m smart. I know logically, factually that I didn’t cause my assault, but in my heart and soul I blame myself.

If only I wasn’t drinking.

If only I was wearing something else.

If only I had done this or done that.

Screw you, I didn’t ask for this.

If a man can’t control himself around a drunk girl at a party, maybe he isn’t quite ready to dorm at college anyway?

If a man can’t control himself around my 19-year-old self’s jean skirt, maybe he has not business being a cop?

Let’s all do the world a favor, and stop talking about things we know nothing about, eh?

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