So...today is twenty-five years. A quarter of a century. Which one sounds better? Or worse? Especially when something that happened twenty-five years ago is still fresh in one’s mind?
Three years ago, I wrote a letter to my rapist and posted it as a blog entry. I found myself reading it again the other day. Why? I don’t know. Nothing’s changed. I still stand by all of what I managed to say to him, knowing that he’d never read the letter. I guess it’s different when you know that all of your anger and frustration is safe to release because there’s no consequences attached. He will never know I am speaking to him and he will never be able to respond. I couldn’t find him if I tried – I know and have accepted that he’s either a) in prison because someone stronger than me has put him there, b) dead because someone even stronger has put a bullet between his eyes, or c) living the American dream – has a nice house, fancy car, wife and kids, high-paying job, and spends no time thinking about the pain he’s caused people.
Every year, I cannot help but wonder. Which is it? Where is he now, 25 years/a quarter of a century later?
I almost always, ALWAYS gravitate towards ‘c.’ The answer I hate the most. The answer that is the most unfair. I’m still disgusted, angry and completely repulsed by the damage a single person can cause in such a small amount of time. I also, every day, see that this pain is widespread – for people like him unfortunately still exist. They multiply, they breed. It’s like a fucking episode of The Walking Dead, sometimes. No matter where you turn – there’s danger looming. No one is safe, no one is immune. Being a member of this site for over 14 years has shown me that. It has also shown me that although I am a warrior (ironically my college mascot, too – the Warrior) that I still feel like every day is a battle. Some days are easy, some days are hard, some leave me feeling wounded, some victorious.
Link to my letter to him, below – please be advised that I did not hold back – there was a lot to say three years ago. Much of what I said there still applies, so - trigger warning for anger, for swearing and for some details:
This battle is always tougher in the fall - AKA ‘trigger season.’ I’ve NEVER been able to get through the last twenty-four autumns without contending with the familiar underlying feeling of pure and utter dread. And I spent some time thinking about this last week and have come to the realization that it’s not even the changing of the seasons that triggers my feelings of anxiousness and overall unrest. It’s the impending arrival of Fall; because when the leaves started to change 25 years ago, I was still reeling from what had happened, and there was no joy involved in experiencing the summer-to-fall transition. No desire to stop, look around and take in the (and this is hard to even admit) the beauty of the foliage. I isolated myself in the days and weeks that followed the rape. That hasn’t changed, either. I still tend to withdraw during the fall months. I teeter the (very) fine line between wanting company and wanting to be alone, which usually ends up being my choice. Being a helping professional will always have me believing that to clam up and shut others out isn’t ideal, but yet, there’s still great appeal in kicking aside those things whenever the Fall comes around.
Time has made it easier in some respects. The hurt isn’t as severe. The nightmares have lessened (even though I did have a disturbing dream about a week ago). The flashbacks are few and far between. What doesn’t get any easier, though, is the feeling in the pit of your stomach – that something is off, something is wrong, something is going to happen. And it shows up, every single year. And then it begins to lift as we creep closer to the winter season. A friend mentioned the word ‘fog,’ which fits quite well when trying to describe my mental state these days. I’m holding it together as best as I can and trying to stay focused on work, on home, on my wife and kids, on life. My head, though, feels as if it’s enshrouded in fog. I can see the things next to me clearly, but what’s ahead feels uncertain. The fog brings forth a swirl of questions. Am I EVER going to be able to enjoy the Fall, including the natural beauty of it all? Am I going to wake one October 4th with a smile on my face and without a concern in the world?
I thought I’d have a lot more to say today than I do. I guess I also thought I’d have additional reflections on the 25th traumaversary. Sometimes the words just flow and I can write page after page of feelings, thoughts and frustrations. That’s just not happening this year. I don’t think it happened last year, either – it seemed that the isolation was never-ending because of the pandemic. The feeling of dread was there, but it was extended, almost, for months longer, because the WORLD was shut down. We were all unsettled, we all had no choice but to isolate, to allow for space and distance.
But - I guess, like other things, the words can't be forced. When they're there, they'll let me know. And then, I'll share them.
I'll come back to this, later.