He barely touched me, he just moved the parts of me he needed to aside like I was a piece of furniture, never saying a word and barely glancing at me the entire time. My feet had been together, and I remember him going all the way to the end of the bed to pick up my leg by the ankle and move it away from the other. I had tried so hard to push back against his hand when he did that, thinking maybe that little bit of momentum would allow me to pick up control of the muscles, but of course it didn't. I might as well have been passively allowing him to do it, not trying at all for all the good it did me. He was treating me like an empty shell, like there wasn't a real person in there at all.
What really scared me was that I knew he could do absolutely anything he wanted with me like this, and I had no idea what he had in mind. He seemed to know he had plenty of time, he wasn't rushing, and I was terrified that now that he had the opportunity he'd use it in every way he could think of, especially if this was retaliatory. At the very least I expected his hands to be all over me, that by the end of it there would be nowhere on me he hadn't touched in some way. What if he seriously hurt me? How would he know? The sense of fear and revulsion that came with those thoughts was overwhelming until finally I teared up in spite of trying so hard to suppress it all. I just couldn't hold onto it anymore. I thought the hell with it, maybe that would be what got his attention and brought him to his senses if he saw it and so I just let go. It was the worst thing I could have done. Almost instantly my nose sealed off, making it impossible to breathe. Normally you can open your mouth to breathe when you cry if you need to, but that wasn't an option for me. I could not get air in at all and in seconds it felt like I was suffocating. I panicked so hard that it crowded out every thought except that if I didn't get air soon I was going to die, which only made me panic harder and produced more tears that continued to keep my nose closed.
It turned into a vicious cycle, but during the worst of it, out of nowhere, the panic vanished. It just stopped and suddenly there was nothing, just dead calm. It was such an abrupt change that I was startled and confused as to what had happened, but at the same time I could hear this voice in my head, gently telling me that if I could stop crying my nose would open and I'd be ok, kind of talking me through it, getting me back to where I needed to be. It sounds bizarre, but I swear I could feel someone else "with" me, this reassuring, comforting presence telling me exactly what to do and letting me know I wasn't on my own. I couldn’t see it, but it almost felt like static electricity all along the right side of my body, opposite him, like what you feel on an old TV screen, except the static “felt” like a person, calming and stabilizing. It’s hard to describe. I thought I was losing it, but I listened anyway. As I calmed down, my nose did open and I could breathe again, but I didn’t stop feeling the sense of that “other” with me. It stayed the entire time, helping me stay calm so that didn’t happen again. Every time I started to lose it from that point forward, it was there, reassuring me, pulling me back. Years later I would find out that that’s a defense mechanism the brain sometimes employs during situations of extreme physical duress, particularly with oxygen deprivation, that it’s not an unknown phenomenon, that I wasn’t losing it all when it happened, it was just a desperate effort to try to survive. It’s a way of splitting off a part of yourself from the chaos and giving it a voice so you can literally hear yourself think.
I know he saw it, but it didn't make the slightest difference. I remember that once I stopped I had trouble clearing the tears out of my eyes. I couldn't blink hard to enough to force them out so they just sat there, blurring my vision until he moved me again and my head shifted slightly, just enough for gravity to help. I remember the way some of them pooled in the curve of my ear, how irritating it was to feel the liquid just sitting there, getting cold, how desperately I wanted to get it out and then realizing what a stupid thing to focus on that was in light of everything else.
I think him seeing that I was able to cry concerned him, because after he positioned me, he bit me, presumably to make sure the drug wasn't anywhere near wearing off. He bit me hard enough that it broke the skin, not badly, but enough that I still have the scar to this day, and I remember how much it confused me that it didn't hurt. I could feel everything else like I normally would have, but as painful as that should have been all I felt was pressure. He'd looked completely blank, almost bored up until this point, but his entire expression changed in an instant when he did that.
It was the only time he made direct eye contact, and I've never seen such a look of intense hatred and fury on anyone before or since. His whole face was contorted with it even after he let go and sat back. He was looking at me like he wanted me dead, like I'd personally and purposely caused every single thing that had ever gone wrong in his life. He looked like he was going to tear me limb from limb, and my mind flew back over everything, every conversation, trying to figure out what I could have done or said to piss him off to this degree. That look went well beyond what a simple stray comment he might or might not have overheard would merit. This was a deep seated sort of rage that had to have been building for a lot longer than I thought. Before right now I didn't think he was out to hurt to me physically, but now he'd purposely tried to inflict pain and looked absolutely enraged when he did it. Now he had my attention. Now I was afraid of him.
I really thought he was going to skip everything else and just start hitting me. I remember thinking that at least I knew I wouldn't feel any of it until morning, but then immediately the thought came that what exactly about tonight made me think I was going to make it until morning? He looked like he wanted me dead. Was that what this was? Had he snapped and decided to just kill me instead? He certainly looked like he hated me enough to do it. I was fighting tears again. I thought this was it, that he was just going to beat me to death right then and there, but all he did was sit back on his heels, still looking at me with that intense hatred, still keeping eye contact, and then suddenly all that malevolence vanished as quickly as it had come on. I remember watching as his distorted features gradually reverted back to normal and being relieved that ok, he's calming down, it's going to be ok. He went right back to looking blank, but just before he did, once all the anger was gone, I saw him smirk down at me. It was so fleeting, it was there and then it wasn't, but that sick, split second expression of enjoyment terrified me more than anything I'd seen from him so far. This wasn't what I thought it was at all. This wasn't about him taking advantage because he knew I had no choice. This wasn't just him getting back at me for turning him down or for some stupid thing I'd said. He wasn't just going to take what he wanted and then that would be it. This was viscious. He wanted me scared. He wanted to hurt me and he wanted me to know that he wanted to hurt me. The rage and hatred I understood. I didn't see how he could do this without hating me at least a little, but that twisted smile was so surreal and so out of place with everything else. It told me he just how sick he really was and made me think that I was not dealing with a sane individual.
What if he was so far gone he decided he couldn't let me go at all? The more I thought about it, the more sense it made, and that look convinced me more than anything that he was't going to. Maybe before he bit me he could have, but now he'd left a mark, he'd left his teeth marks on my breast. That was going to make it very difficult for him to say nothing happened. Assuming he was capable of the worst and preparing for it seemed safer than betting on a better nature I was no longer sure he had. I had tried that when this first started and I'd been very, very wrong, so I didn't dare hope for the best with anything else. It was too crushing when it didn't happen. There was no question now that he knew I didn't want to do this and it wasn't like I couldn't identify him. I knew his name, where he worked, where he lived, everything. If all that was occurring to me, then it could easily occur to him, too. The only way I could hold on to my sanity was to operate under the assumption that he was going to do it. I knew that was extreme, but he had done such a one-eighty on me that I didn't dare underestimate him twice. Everything I thought I knew about who he was had already gone out the window, and what he would or would not do was now no more predictable than it would have been with a complete stranger. I thought it would make it easier in case I turned out to be right, that if he did it, it would make those last few minutes less horrific if I was already at peace with the idea. I knew I couldn't fight him physically if he did, so why make things even harder on myself by fighting it mentally when I knew there was no way to defend myself? What would it do except make me spend whatever time was left being even more terrified, desperately trying to read his every move to try to figure out if he was going to do it or not? I think when you're in a situation like that, where all you have are your thoughts and you're completely at the mercy of someone who clearly wishes you harm, your mind can take you to some of the darkest possible places very, very quickly.
I think I blew through the stages of grief in a matter of seconds. I had already started working through them when I thought my heart might stop at any second, but now I tried to rush to acceptance because allowing myself to feel anything else meant tears, and I'd already learned that tears meant I couldn't breathe.
After the denial and the anger, the fear kicked in, not of dying or what waited once I was gone, but of the means he might use. I knew there weren't any weapons in the room, but that didn't mean anything. He could still strangle me, suffocate me, if he was smart he could make it look like an accident, like I just got drunk and passed out face down on the bed or drowned in the tub, and there would be no way for me to stop him. How long would it take? It had been so torturous not to be able to breathe, to feel so desperate for air, to feel it being burned up as I struggled against it and not being able to get more in no matter how hard I tried--how long would that last before I passed out and couldn't feel it anymore? Would I pass out any faster if I tried to not breathe too deeply now? Would it help me to reduce the oxygen I already had? Then the hope that I'd be found, that he would make it look like an accident, that I wouldn't end up at the bottom of the river a short distance away, that I wouldn't just disappear, leaving my family to wonder what happened. I didn't even care if no one ever figured out he did it as long as my family wasn't tortured like that. Then realizing none of it mattered. I remembered there was nothing I could do. Whatever was going to happen was beyond my control.
By the end of things, I'd done such a thorough job of accepting it that I convinced myself I would actually be better off if I didn't survive, that it would be better if he did kill me. If this really was a permanent condition, if I wasn't going to recover and this was the best I could hope for, then a relatively quick death was infinitely preferable to being forced to continue to live this way. I couldn't tolerate the thought of spending the rest of my life locked inside my own body, imprisoned in my mind with this being the last thing I ever experienced, never even able to tell anyone what really happened. If that was the alternative, then death would be a mercy. Even if I did recover, I knew I didn’t want to live with this.
To make matters worse, my body responded even though that was the last thing I wanted it to do. I didn't want to do anything encourage him, I didn't want to give him any reason to think that I wanted this, but as hard as I tried to fight it, it still rebelled. It was infuriating and I didn’t understand it. I have never hated my body more than I did that night. It felt like it had grown a mind of it's own, like it had become a separate being that was betraying me at every turn, a defector that was doing everything it could to make this easier for him and harder for me. It wouldn’t let me fight, it wouldn’t let me say no, at times it wouldn’t even let me breathe, but it would react exactly the way he wanted it to? I knew how he’d interpret that and there was nothing I could do to make it stop, in spite of how hard I was trying, begging it to listen to me, to obey me on just this one thing. That had been the last possible deterrent I thought I had, the last thing that might possibly make him stop, even if only because it was uncomfortable for him, and now it was gone.
I felt him a few seconds later, and as soon as that happened all the fight drained out of me all at once, like someone pulled a plug. I gave up. I'd done everything I could think of, I hadn't stopped trying to move since the whole thing started, but nothing had worked. I heard that voice again, tugging at me, telling me I didn’t have to be here for this, that I’d know when it over. I was pretty sure he wouldn't kill me during the assault itself, and I just couldn't handle being "present" for it. What was the point? The damage was done now. I checked out and pulled inward hard, into some little deep corner in my head where the outside world couldn’t reach, where it was just me and that comforting presence, just waiting. I remember making random lists in my head of anything I could think of; words in foreign languages I knew, historical figures and dates, that kind of thing. Anything to keep what was happening out there blocked out. That was such a strange time out of all of it, it set up such an internal conflict. One one hand, of course I wanted it over as soon as possible. On the other, I knew I could be facing a very brutal way to go once it was. After however long, I became aware he'd stopped and I tried to brace, expecting him to either reach for my neck or a pillow, thinking if he was going to do anything it was going to be now, but nothing happened. I waited, trying to decide if I should open my eyes or not. Did I want to see it coming? Was it better not to? Did it matter? Still nothing. I could feel my calm starting to slip and anxiety starting to creep in. Come on, I'm ready, just get it over with. What are you doing? Just do it before I lose my nerve, before the fear comes back. I can't hold it like this forever.
I opened my eyes, and I saw that he had gotten up and was getting dressed. My mind started racing again, and the first thing I felt was confusion, panic, and denial, frustration. What if this really is permanent and he just walks away and leaves me like this? Does he know what caused this and that it isn't going to get any better? Is that why he's not concerned? No. He has to finish it. I need him to do it so I'm not stuck this way. I can't live like this, just do it already. To put me through that and then not kill me, to gut me the way he had and then just leave me to rot, trapped in a useless body, seemed unimaginably cruel. It seemed even worse than what he'd just done. I'd been so focused on accepting the possibility that I was going to die that I never prepared for the possibility that I might live, and the thought of what that would be like terrified me. That thinking didn't last long. Those thoughts flew through my head in seconds before survival took over, and it clicked that I had at least a few more minutes while he was getting dressed, that I had time to keep trying to fight whatever this was, that maybe there was still a chance. Around the time he was reaching for his glasses, it finally broke. My breathing eased and I started being able to move. I could finally open my mouth and really breathe, get the oxygen I'd been needing. My whole body felt heavy and leaden, but at least I knew it wasn't permanent. I felt a desperate need to get out of that position, to sit up so I wouldn't be so vulnerable, but the most I could manage was to turn onto my side. What I really wanted to do was turn the other way, to just curl up into a ball until he was gone, but I wasn't sure this was over yet and I didn't dare turn my back on him. I made myself turn towards him instead. At first I'd just been relieved, pulling in air and knowing I could at least put up some semblance of resistance now if anything else happened, but on the heels of that was the most stunning surge of anger, of outrage that he had done this to me, that he had put me through this. It was white hot and blinding, and I all I could get out was "no" over and over again. I knew it was way too late, I knew it could provoke him, but all I cared about right then was finally making him hear me say it. He looked so startled that he almost looked scared. I thought good, now you know what I've been feeling. It's about time. He froze with his glasses halfway to his face and just stared at me, but I must have passed out before he could respond.
When I started to come to again, I was aware of this sound coming from off in the distance, sort of like when your alarm clock goes off and invades your dream. It starts off sounding so far away, but then it gets progressively louder and more insistent, dragging you upwards out of sleep. I kept trying to figure out what it was, it sounded horrible, but it was nothing I could identify. I didn't think it was a person, so maybe an animal? Had it gotten run over-- why wasn't anyone checking on it? As it got louder it started to sound more like one of those old war movies where someone is covered in napalm or they've lost a limb, it was that sort of inhuman, agonized sound. I was getting annoyed. I was trying so hard to stay asleep, to not get dragged to the surface and that sound wasn't letting me. Why the hell would have the tv up that loud this late? Right before I opened my eyes, I realized it was coming from me. I was screaming and couldn't stop. Everything that had happened came flooding back and I kept thinking ok, I'm awake now, I can stop now, but I couldn't get control over it. It was completely involuntary. It was like everything I hadn't been able to express when I was in that room with him, all the hurt, all the anger, the terror, the confusion, the panic and desperation, everything I'd had to keep clamped down so I could keep breathing was coming out now, condensed and then released in that one sound. At the same time though, I didn't actually feel connected to any of it, almost as though my body was a completely separate person and I was just being dragged along for the ride. It was like I was sitting three feet back watching someone else scream, unable to do anything but give up and just wait them out. Before I'd passed out I'd had full control, I'd thought that part was over, but now I was partially locked out again. I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to regain full control and keep it. I was in the bathtub with it full of water, and he was nowhere to be seen. H. was in there, though, kneeling at the side of the tub, looking upset. I assumed she was must have thought I was ok with it because I didn't say anything at the time, that that was why she left. I was still convinced he knew better, but maybe she didn't. She could not have known I couldn't move and that's why I didn't speak up, but he definitely did know. Now that I was reacting the way I was, I thought she realized that she made a mistake in leaving and now she was trying to help me. If I could just stop screaming I could explain what happened and she could get me out of there. I could see her talking, but it was so loud I couldn't hear what she was saying.
Eventually I started to run out of air, and as the volume dropped I could hear what she was actually saying. She wasn't trying to console me, she was half yelling at me over and over to shut up before the neighbors called the cops. There was an urgency to her voice, a hard edge that made me desperate to stop, afraid of what she'd do if I couldn't get it under control soon. I thought her fear of the police meant she was on his side. How could I have been so stupid? She had been there at every turn, for all of it, from pulling me back to keep me from going over to him when he made that last drink to not shutting him down the way she had Kyle. Of course they didn't want the police involved. Of course they didn't want anyone knowing about this. I thought it meant that I wasn't out of the woods yet, that she knew and she was doing damage control, protecting her friend. Why else would I be in water immediately after? What little evidence there might have been was now gone, literally about to go down the drain as soon as the plug was pulled. I couldn’t afford to run out of air. What would happen when I did? Would I even be able to inhale on my own? Would I inhale automatically? The force with which that awful scream was pushing air out was astonishing. I kept trying to make myself inhale against it, but it was too strong. It was almost painful, like it was straining my vocal chords. I was feeling light-headed. Again I started to panic as I felt my air running almost completely out, and again, there was that voice, telling me it would be ok, that it would stop soon, getting me calm so I could think about what I needed to do next. I could feel it again too, but this time the static almost felt wrapped around me. Once I ran out of air completely, I was able to stop. I paused, realized I could breathe again and waited, but nothing else happened. It didn't start again. It was like whatever had had a hold of me finally let go. I wanted so much to yell at her, to ask her how the hell she could have just left me like that, but every instinct I had was telling me not to scare them, that I needed to make them to feel completely secure if I was going to get out of here. I didn't want to make them panic and do something without thinking. I pushed everything down as best I could and forced myself to apologize, to say I didn't know what that was but it wasn't on purpose, that I was fine. Even as I got everything under control and started trying to reassure her, I could feel how badly I was shaking. I knew she could see it but I couldn't help it. I couldn't suppress everything completely so all I could do was try to palm it off as just being sick from over drinking. Once I was quiet I thought she'd reference the question she'd asked, that she'd use that to say she thought I was ok with it, but she didn't say much of anything, certainly nothing in reference to what had happened and so I just started babbling, saying that I was ok, that I was sure it was just a misunderstanding, saying whatever it was I thought she needed to hear to make sure she let me leave that bathroom and that she would tell Lee there was nothing to worry about once I was in my room.
That seemed to get her to relax, and as she was getting me out of the tub this massive wave of exhaustion crashed down over me like nothing I've ever experienced. It felt like it came out of nowhere, and I was suddenly so physically weak, like I was in the middle of a severe case of the flu. I felt numb and unsteady, and all the turmoil inside just stopped and went quiet. It was like I'd been completely hollowed out, and nothing around me seemed as solid as it had been minutes before. Even the floor under my feet felt strange and infirm as I tried to walk on it. I remember having to hold onto her arm for support. All I wanted to do was get out of that room, to get away from them both and try to work out what the hell had just happened. We were about to leave and she had her hand on the doorknob when she stopped and looked back at me. I tensed back up for a second, thinking I hadn't been convincing enough and that she was going to double check, but her expression softened a bit and she told me that her ex had done that to her twice, that it was really no big deal, that I'd be fine. In my mind, that confirmed that she understood that it hadn't been voluntary, that there was no misunderstanding, but I was so paranoid by then I was afraid she was only saying it to get me to admit that I knew it, too. I know now I was just in severe shock and not thinking clearly, but at the time I wasn't sure whose side she was really on and I didn't want to risk saying the wrong thing. I was way too scared of both of them to trust her, so I think I just nodded and said something like I was sure I'd be fine in the morning, that I just needed sleep.
I saw him as we left. His bedroom door was open and he was sitting there with his head in his hands, and I wasn't sure what that meant. I wasn't sure if that was remorse of if my reaction had scared him and now he was worried. That's one I've never figured out, and his behavior the next day definitely didn't shed any light on it. Anyway, after that, she got me up to my room and that was it. The presence was still there, staying with me until I fell asleep, but when I woke up the next day it was gone, like it had never been. I'm sure a lot of that had to be the drug itself, and I guess it finally completely wore off as I slept. As hallucinations go, at least it was useful. It gave me what I needed at the time to get through what I had to.