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  1. Amsekhmet

    Letter to myself

    So, this is something my therapist suggested I do and I've decided to try it. Basically it's a letter to myself to try to process my anger at myself over the things I feel I did that contributed to what happened. So how do you talk yourself in a letter? Starting it with "Dear Me," seems a little awkward, but who cares. Here goes. God, this feels weird... What do I want to say to you? That you messed up in a lot of respects that night? Well, yeah, you did, but so what? Everyone does. People blow off their instincts and do and say stupid things all the time. This just happened to cost you what it did because of who you messed up with, not how you messed up. Can we cut the bullshit and just be honest with ourselves for a minute here? You feel guilty for the reasons you turned him down and for what you said that he might have overheard. You felt guilty then and you still feel guilty now., and if we're going to be really honest, that guilt was a large part of why you weren't more blunt about correcting your answer to H's question. When you realized what you said, it didn't seem fair to have appeared to be giving in and then yank it back, not given how you knew he felt about you. After all, you're the one who made the mistake and blurted that out. You felt like you slipped up and you wanted to correct it, but you didn't want to hurt him in the process so instead you hedged, only saying something about wanting to sleep and hoping that would be the end of it, that he'd take the hint and not put you in the position of having to decide to either go through with it or risk crushing him by backing out. You were counting on him being enough of a gentleman to not try to go ahead after you said that, that he'd chalk it up to you being drunk, bad luck, etc., and leave it at that. You're mad at yourself because you gambled with something so important and you lost. The thing is, it didn't feel like a gamble at the time. You felt completely safe because he had spent weeks building up the idea that you could trust him completely, convincing you he cared about you, training you to hang onto the belief that he was a good guy in the face of any and all evidence to the contrary. Saying you wanted to sleep was a weak no, but it was still a no all the same. Just because it wasn't as direct as the apparent yes didn't mean it didn't carry the same weight and cancel out any perceived agreement, just as it was intended to do, and under normal circumstances it would have. Under normal circumstances that would have been enough to do it, or at the very least raise some questions, but the person you were dealing with wasn't playing by the same set of rules that people usually play by in situations like this. You had no reason to think you wouldn't be able to say no or stop him later if you needed to. You thought you had time and had no reason to believe it was about to run out, that the window to make sure nothing happened was closing. How were you supposed to know there was a chemical in your system that had you on a clock, a chemical that in the next few minutes was going to take away your ability to move and speak? You didn't know that, but he did. He was just waiting for the clock to run out on you. As far as you knew you were just very drunk and the worst that could happen would be you'd pass out, in which case he wouldn't try anything anyway. If he'd been who you believed he was, you'd have been right. You'd have been every bit as safe as you felt. Unfortunately, he wasn't who you thought he was. He had an agenda that he did a very good job of hiding until he was ready to act on it. Where you really made your mistake was thinking that what you said or didn't say would have made any difference at all. That would imply you had some control over the situation. You didn't. You may have thought you did and desperately want to continue believing that you did now, but you didn't. It was an illusion. The reality is that you lost control the second you took that last drink because he had already decided what he was going to do to you. Nothing was going to change that short of him getting found out beforehand or someone else intervening. You seem to keep forgetting that that whole exchange was spontaneous-- it wasn't part of the plan at all. He didn't ask that question, she did. He had already drugged you with the intention of assaulting you, so even if that part of the conversation had never taken place he would not have done anything any differently. It changed absolutely nothing. At best, all it really did was provide him with a little unexpected legal protection, it gave him something he could point to in case you did try to report him. He didn't give a damn about consent. He had a chance to try right then without it being forced and he didn't take it. Instead he ignored it and waited until he knew you were completely incapacitated. Why? Maybe he simply didn't want to push his luck and risk having you actually say no in front of a witness, but it's also possible it was because he didn't want you to do it willingly. That would have taken too much of his power and control away, and that's really what he was after-- absolute dominance, to make you do something he knew you didn't want to do. He wanted to hurt you and having sex voluntarily isn't hurtful. You were operating under the assumption that of course he'd prefer it to be consensual and that if he didn't take the opportunity when he had it then he must not have heard it as consent in the first place, not realizing that some guys don't want voluntary. You read about one just the other day who called normal, consensual sex boring, who was disappointed if he made his move and the girl was into it, who said that he liked knowing she didn't want it but that there was nothing she could do. He wanted to have to coerce and intimidate her. Having to use some form of force was the only way it was interesting for him. Actually that may have been why Lee looked so blank and bored through most of it. Maybe he didn't think it through and he lost some gratification from doing it because the drug prevented him from being able to see your reaction to what was happening, but by that time he'd taken it far enough that he figured he might as well go ahead anyway. So why are you showing Lee more compassion than you're showing yourself? Because you didn't show him compassion before with that comment you made? Do you think you owe him for that? By that logic, he got you back so you're even, right? Please, you know it doesn't work that way. Ever hear of a proportional response? That's not what this was. Your comment was hurtful, yes, but he gave you a drug, too much of it, in fact, to the point that it endangered your life. He and H. told you your vitals crashed, remember? Your heart started beating like a jackhammer while your breathing slowed to next to nothing, to the point that you were going so long between inhales that they kept thinking it had stopped altogether. People have died or become comatose from combining ketamine and alcohol like that. Did he try to get you to a hospital? No. He got lucky and you pulled out of it, but even after that he didn't come off his plan. He waited until it paralyzed you and then used it to terrorize you. He went out of his way to hurt you as deeply as he could, apparently tailoring the way he did it based off of things you'd told him precisely because of the trust he had fostered. Here's the difference, though. You hurt him inadvertently. It wasn't your intention to do that, but you blurted out something in the moment that you really shouldn't have. While that was wrong and should have either never been said or should have been handled differently, do you really think it was bad enough to merit him nearly killing you with an overdose and then scaring you for life? Put the shoe on the other foot. If he had said something hurtful about you, said you were nice but he wouldn't touch you with a ten foot pole and you overheard him, would you ever think it was justified to retaliate by drugging him and making him live what you knew were some of his worst nightmares? No, of course not. That's deranged. That's sick, but that's the person you were dealing with. Mentally healthy people don't subject others to what amounts to carefully planned psychological torture simply because they got their feelings hurt. And while we're on the subject of psychological torture, when are you going to accept that that bullshit about consent was just more gaslighting? He knew you weren't consenting. Him hurting you like that was just another version of him lashing out and then playing innocent, like it was you who misunderstood the situation, just like when he snapped at you and convinced you he didn't or told you you got mixed up about when he was working, only on a much larger scale. It was basically a very brutal form of passive aggression. Up until he said you consented and that it wasn't rape, there really wasn't a doubt in your mind that that's exactly what it was. Before that, you were so convinced of it that you were afraid he'd kill you to keep you quiet. Before that, you were seriously considering reporting it to the police as soon as you were safely away from him and that house. Get him and his poison out of your head, Lynn. All that turmoil and self blame? That came from him, not you. He triggered that. Why are you still letting him control the narrative? Why are you still letting him, of all people, be the one to define it for you, and in a way that's in his best interests rather than yours? I thought you felt he'd taken enough from you. Isn't that why there was never another suicide attempt after what happened, even though it was so horrible? Because after everything you did to make sure he didn't hurt you further, you were determined that he was not going to be what did you in, that you were not going to allow him to take your life too, even indirectly? So why are you still letting him take your peace? Why are you still letting him shake your trust in yourself? Why are you still letting him make you believe that your perception of what happened is wrong and that his version is right? You know he was a liar. He lied to you a dozen times before this and yet you're still letting his words influence your thinking. You're still letting him torture you and force you to constantly second guess yourself even now, all these years later. What are you doing? It's time to remove those hooks he planted so long ago. You've been basing your thoughts and reactions on how you think other people will react, but you're not even basing them on the right people. You're basing them on him and what he said rather than what he did and how you experienced it, and the things you've been echoing in your head that are making you afraid to say it wasn't your fault at all are the comments and beliefs from some of the worst and harshest victim blamers and rape apologists out there, some of the least compassionate people in existence on the subject, the ones who will grab at any perceived misstep on the part of the victim and use it to excuse the perpetrator's behavior. That's the attitude you've absorbed and turned on yourself. You're so terrified of the pain of being picked apart and called a liar that you don't even need to hear it from someone else. You're so afraid of acknowledging that you were raped and then having someone tell you you weren't that you're tearing yourself apart for them. As long as you keep doing that and don't let yourself accept it then you never have to take the risk of someone else not accepting it because you'll never say to them that's what it was. That's why every time you start to accept it, every time your own judgement starts to overcome those fears and reassert itself, you back away from it, you start rethinking and reevaluating it all over again until you talk yourself out of it and go back into the safety of denial. Those awful standards are what you've been judging yourself against and holding yourself to, and those standards don't represent the majority of society by a long shot, at least not anymore. They don't even represent your own standards as long as the person in question isn't you. So let's go back to how you felt after it happened but before you talked to him. Let's pretend for a second that that conversation never happened and his influence was never present. What do you think your narrative would have been and still would be if you remove that factor completely? I have to switch gears a little bit to answer, so I'm going to use "I" instead of "you" from here on out. The main thing it would have changed is that I don't think I would have ever questioned that what he did was assault, that he forced himself on me because he knew I couldn't stop him right then, especially not years later once I knew for certain that he really had drugged me, that he was what caused the paralysis. When we were first alone in that room, when he was undressing but before he touched me, when I thought he just didn't know yet that I couldn't move, I did give him the benefit of a doubt, assuming that he must be thinking I wanted to based on what I'd said before. It didn't seem unreasonable to me that he would draw that conclusion since I never really strongly took it back and I wasn't protesting now when it was obvious where this was going. I wanted to correct it then, to let him know something was wrong and I needed help, but of course that was impossible. I was trying so hard not to panic, thinking that once he started trying to engage he'd get it and stop on his own, that as soon as he figured out that I was physically incapable of responding there wouldn't be anything on his mind but calling 911. I was counting on his care for me to be what would give me a chance at still being ok. Once he touched my face and he didn't seem confused or concerned when I didn't react, that's when I started to see him and the situation differently. I was still holding out hope that it would click any second, that he'd see that something was off, but he ignored it and just started calmly repositioning me like a ragdoll. As soon as he did that, I realized he already knew the condition I was in and that he had no intention of calling for help, that was going to take advantage of it instead. Right then I knew I'd been wrong, that he hadn't mistakenly thought I was consenting, that this was him exploiting the fact that he knew I literally wasn't capable of saying no. I figured he saw it as the perfect opportunity, probably the only one he'd ever get, and so he wasn't willing to let it go. I wouldn't give him a chance on my own and so this was his way of forcing me to. That's when it became rape in my mind. I'm sure it would have stayed that way, too, if not for the smokescreen he threw up and H. reinforced, clouding my vision and making it nearly impossible for me to see the situation the same way I had before. If not for that, I wouldn't have felt compelled to re-categorize it as a "grey area", thinking that was the most honest label I could put on it. I still would have been terrified of him and I can't say for sure that I wouldn't still have decided not to go to the police for other reasons, but it damn sure wouldn't have been because I was thought it was my fault for not communicating clearly enough when I had the chance. As it stood, I was afraid that maybe while it was very much involuntary and terrifying from my point of view, maybe from his point of view he honestly believed that all he was doing was holding me to what I said. It didn't seem fair to blow up his life with a rape charge when there for a few minutes even I thought I may have led him to think he had permission. And is it even still rape if that wasn't how he thought of it, if that wasn't what it was from his vantage point? His intent, his mindset and perspective were vitally important to me in figuring out how to define it, and if something I did made him think it was ok then I didn't want to come after him for going ahead. I can see now how twisted that logic really was, but at the time I was so unbelievably confused about the whole thing. Granted, I wasn't confused until after I talked to him, but after I did it it all suddenly seemed so complicated and I kept turning it over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it. Looking at certain things from one perspective seemed so damning as far as he was concerned, but then I'd look at it from another and it would cast it in a completely different light. I couldn't seem to come to a way of seeing it that definitively answered the question of whether it was really rape or not. Everything I thought of that seemed to prove it one way or the other would always end up being contradicted by something else that seemed to point in the other direction. It would have helped if I'd actually been in possession of all the facts, but at the time I didn't know there were pieces I didn't have. I think I would have been a lot more forgiving of myself and lot harder on him about the whole thing, and I certainly wouldn't have been so careful what I said and how I said it. I don't think I would have protected his identity the way I did, or at least not out of anything but a fear of retaliation. I would have gotten the help I needed a lot sooner, I would not have felt guilty or fraudulent in accepting it, and I probably wouldn't still be struggling with it now. I think I would have dealt with it in a much healthier way. So part of my "assignment" was to write this and then reread it after a few days, which I intend to do, but already I'm surprised at everything that came out. I may need to do a second one as I'm sure there's more stuck in there, waiting to surface and be sorted, but for now I feel I've run dry and so I'll log off. Thanks, R. You were right to have me do this.
  2. Endless hugs back and enjoy your "stolen", but well deserved, day off!!!! ❤️
  3. Amsekhmet

    Revisions Pt.2

    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.
  4. Amsekhmet

    Revisions Pt. 4

    By the time I actively started looking for a counselor, I knew that in all likelihood what he gave me was ketamine. It was the only drug I found that explained the condition I’d been in, and once I figured that out I spoke with a pharmacist, an ER doctor (through the pharmacist), and an addiction treatment center to confirm that I was on the right track. I didn’t even mention ketamine to them when I contacted them. I only described the symptoms, made sure they knew it was in combination with a large amount of alcohol, and then let them tell me if there was anything they could think of that could have caused all that. I wanted to see if they came up with the same answer I did without me inadvertently biasing their answers. All of them said the same thing, that it sounded like ketamine and that nothing else they knew of would cause all the same symptoms, certainly not alcohol on its own. I think it’s safe to say for sure that’s what it was, and it turned out to account for a lot more than I realized, things I hadn’t even thought to attribute to it. I found a good therapist through a friend of mine, and a total of nearly thirteen years after that night I was diagnosed with delayed onset PTSD. She said that from what I told her about the years before, I had been experiencing subthreshold symptoms off and on, but then when Tom passed away it developed into full post-traumatic stress. I was shocked. I thought only soldiers got that after being in combat and I thought it was much more immediate. I didn’t know it could take years to develop, and I thought the conditions that caused it had to be much more extreme than what I had gone through. Yeah, I’d had the night from hell, but it wasn’t anywhere near comparable to a warzone. Apparently the brain doesn’t make that kind of distinction when it comes to trauma, and relative to what my experiences were up that point, as far as my mind was concerned dealing with him and what he did was the equivalent of being in a warzone. I was so resistant to that diagnosis. I didn't like what I thought it said about me. Considering that some of the toughest, bravest people we have in our society are diagnosed with it after months of being in the most harrowing conditions imaginable, after having their lives truly be under threat, it was humiliating to think that all it took for me was one bad night. It felt like such an overreaction even though it wasn't one I could help, kind of like the subconscious equivalent of calling an ambulance over a paper cut. The thing is, I would never think that about anyone else who'd been through it. I'd get immediately why they reacted that way and I would never think it was unjustified, but for some reason I couldn't give myself the same level of understanding. Looking at it now, I think a lot of that came from the still unresolved issue of consent, the thought that I may have somehow brought this on myself in the first place and therefore I didn't deserve to be so upset by it. I tried every argument I could think of as to why it wasn't PTSD including picking apart the diagnostic criteria. I actually had her get out the DSM and explain point by point how each one applied to my specific circumstances. I thought I had her when she got to the part of the definition that mentions things "outside the normal human experience". I seized on that when she said it and told her, see, that on its own proves it doesn't fit. Assaults like this happen all the time, most of the girls I know have been through something like this, so how can it be considered "outside the norm"? In the world I came from, the rarity was to find someone who hadn't been traumatized in some way. What I didn't think of is that the clubs tend to attract the wounded, so there tends to be a higher concentration of us in that population than there is in mainstream society. In the mainstream it's not at all normal. Actually, as I'm writing this it strikes me that that's probably why H. and Shana reacted the way they did, because it had been normalized for them in exactly the same way it was for me. They were telling me the same things they'd been telling themselves about what had happened to them, the same places of refuge I had tried to take in my own thoughts for so many years. Nancy tried to explain it to me in every way she could think of, but it still took me quite a while to buy off on it. Looking back, I do not envy her having me as a patient; that stubborn streak of mine is a killer. My pride kept getting in the way and I didn’t want to admit that he'd been able to do that much damage or that I was that fragile. It took a lot of time, but she did manage to convince me that it didn't mean I wasn't as strong as I thought, that it didn't mean I was overreacting or somehow less than. One of the things that finally got my attention was when she pointed out that this wasn't the result of just one night, but the culmination of the twelve years I'd been constantly fighting to keep it tamped down. We talked a lot about my reaction in the days right after, and she got me to see that in a different light, too. I’ve always hated how I handled things immediately after with H. and that I caved like that with him, I hate how cowardly and weak it felt, although I did get just a little of it back when I came to get my stuff. I had still brought one of my larger guy friends with me just in case, but I remember seeing him as I was walking out through the living room that day and something inside just snapped. Chris had gone out ahead of me, but the second I saw him I felt that same stunning surge of anger and defiance I'd felt right after the drug wore off. I'd felt a little of that when he tried to come back in the club about a week after it all happened. At the club he didn't make it much past the door before I saw him, and I had to go within several feet of him to get around the bar to the nearest bouncer. I was angry when I saw him, but mostly there was just fear. He stopped when he saw me, glaring and apparently waiting to see what I would do. I didn't wan't to go past him, but there was no way I was going to try to do my job with him in the building. The thought of having to get onstage and undress with him there was enough to override everything else I was feeling and push me to do something. I know I avoided eye contact as I went past, I'm sure I looked terrified, but I got to Buddha, told him there was a problem and that I couldn't be there if he was and asked him to make him leave. That sounds a lot calmer on paper than I actually was, and I'm pretty sure the look on my face and the way I said it played a large part in his decision to help me out. I never, ever, had people thrown out or caused any drama, so he knew I wouldn't do that without a damn good reason and thankfully he just did it with no questions asked. Lee didn't even protest. He clearly wasn't happy but I stood there as he left and I know he never said a word. Thank god Buddha backed me up on that one. I doubt it would have been pretty if he hadn't. When I went back for my stuff, though, the feeling on seeing him wasn't primarily fear. I think something about being back in that house made a difference and seeing that he had positioned himself on the couch where I'd have to go past him again, looking at me like I was the one who wronged him, I felt my anger full force all over again. I just couldn't let things stand the way they'd been before I left, letting him think I'd stayed where he'd put me. Neither one of us said a word, but I remember he made eye contact and glared at me, trying to stare me down, only this time I held it and glared back at him as I passed by on my way out. I'll admit, it took all my nerve to do that, but I've always been glad that was the last thing he saw from me, rather than how I was on the porch or in the club, too scared to do anything but let a bouncer handle him for me rather than ordering him out myself. Not backing up, not weakened, not intimidated and off balance, but walking toward him, head up, looking him in the eyes and returning his glare for as long as he held it. It was the closest I'd felt to my usual stubborn, rebellious, five-foot-three self since all this began. I was so happy to see that that girl was still in there. I was so relieved to find that that part of me hadn’t died after all, that it had been waking up as I recovered my strength. I was so afraid it had been burned out of me for good. Never mind I started shaking as soon as I was in the car. As long as he hadn’t seen it, I didn't care. Nancy didn't see me playing dumb as cowardice, she saw it as smart, at least in that situation. Given everything that happened, the level of shock I was in, and who I was dealing with, she didn't think I handled it badly at all. I was doing my best to think on my feet after a severe trauma and doing what I thought would keep me the safest. As far as she was concerned, that was still a form of fighting back, it was just in a way that I was able to handle at the time. I was in a temporarily weakened state, I didn't want to start a fight that would likely end badly for me, so I came up with an alternative. That's not something I'd ever blame anyone else for, so why was I beating myself up over it? She was actually kind of taken aback that I warned Shana, had him thrown out of the club when he had the nerve to try to come back in, and then went back for my stuff later. I didn't think much about it when I did those things. All I was thinking about was not letting him take anything else--he was not going to hurt my friend, he was not going to run me out of my place of business, and my fear of him was not going to cause me to abandon everything I owned. Between her and some other factors the nightmares and panic attacks improved significantly over time, down to a very small fraction of their former intensity and frequency. They didn’t go away completely, and it may be that they never will, but at least I know how to manage them and keep the impact to a minimum when they do crop up. Most people never even know when I’m going through it; at most I may seem a little more scatterbrained and startle a bit more easily than usual, but it never lasts long. Several years after I left that house, but before I started seeing Nancy, James and I reconnected, and he was there for me when the worst of it hit. It was long after their divorce, and he cleared up a lot for me. We got to be close friends, still are, and we ended up talking about all this one night. It was kind of inevitable that it would come up, there were things I needed to ask him, and we started comparing notes. I’d always liked him, and it was nice to find out that I had at least one person from that house pegged correctly. He knew something happened, but he didn't know what because I hadn't dared say anything to him when I was still there. I could hardly expect him to believe me over his wife and what I thought was his friend, and the last thing I needed was one more person to be worried about. He was supposed to be my way out, so alienating him was not a good idea. As it turned out, that was another one I had all wrong. They weren't friends. He didn't trust Lee as far as he could throw him, he was just too polite to be obvious about it without grounds. Lee was someone H. had met at the club some months before and brought in to rent one of the spare rooms. He and H. always acted like old friends, so in my mind he'd already been vetted. I thought they all knew each other from before she started dancing and I never thought any more about it. I made too many assumptions and didn't ask enough questions. If I'd had any idea he started out as a customer of hers, I never would have moved in and I certainly wouldn't have trusted him like that. Those lines are there for a reason. There was quite a lot about that relationship I didn't know. James was at work when everything happened, but she had been calling him throughout the night, starting with when the kitten died. When he realized he was in the room with me, he had told her to get him out, not to leave us alone if I was that out of it, but she’d hung up and he never knew if she heard him or not. He had a much better read on his character than I ever did. He started questioning her about it after he got home, and she said she’d left as soon as he “started messing” with me. I was never sure what she meant by that since he hadn’t laid a hand on me when she was still in the room. He asked why she would do that and what my reaction was, if I was even conscious and coherent, but all she said about my response was that I wasn’t saying no. There was no mention of anything after that except that I’d eventually left their room and gone to bed. There was also no mention at all of verbal consent, regardless of what she said days later. I should never have mentioned anything about reporting it when I was trying to get answers from her. If I’d straight up gotten drunk and voluntarily given in after so many weeks of him trying, she would have led with that. It would have been more of an amused, “So you won’t believe what happened last night” rather than “Well she wasn’t saying no.” It was well known that he was interested and I definitely wasn’t, so much so that both of us took a lot of good-natured ribbing about it from the other roommates at the time. He knew what she was telling him didn’t completely add up, he just didn't know the extent of it. He wanted to ask me about it but I was insisting I was ok, just severely hungover, and we weren't close enough at the time for him to see the difference. Since I didn't say anything, he let it go. He was so appalled when he got the full story. He felt awful and told me if he'd been home it never would have happened, but I already knew that. He's been one of my biggest sources of support over the years and a very dear friend, and I'll be eternally grateful for him. Strangely enough, Kyle tried to look out for me too, going to Robbie the way he did. I didn't even know he'd done it or that he realized what had happened until Robbie told me, but he went in to talk to him while I wasn’t there so that he would know to watch out for me with Lee and H. Kyle was always so overt that he was always the one I was worried about. If any male in that house made me feel a little uneasy, it was him, and then with that awful fight we had I thought he was the last person I could expect help from. I was such a horrible judge of character back then. I took everyone at face value. After I talked to James, I was mostly reassured that I really hadn’t agreed to anything, but the uncertainty still nagged at me. Whether I consented or not didn’t change the psychological fallout because of how it happened from my point of view, but it’s always bothered me nonetheless. It’s why I questioned so much so hard, it’s a large part of why I didn’t report him, and it’s why I was always so careful never to identify him to anyone else who didn’t already know who I was talking about. If he wasn't lying about what I said, then while it was no less traumatic because of it how it felt, in reality it meant I wasn’t really forced regardless of what he put in that glass and regardless of what I remembered. It made him dishonorable and callous, but not a rapist. Nancy always tried to convince me that my concern over it was just another form of denial, and I'm finally starting to see what she meant by that. A little over a year ago I found Lee's obituary online. He lingered in the hospital for three days as the result of a massive stroke at the age of 45 before dying as a result of it. I know he had loved ones and I did feel for them, but I cried with relief, knowing that I would never have to worry about running into him again. The first thing I did was run to the little statue of Ganpati, the god of new beginnings, that I have in my house and thank him. I'm Pagan, and while my pantheon is mostly ancient Egyptian, I ended up with Hinduism being a heavy influence during the worst of it years ago when I'd been seeing Nancy for awhile. Therapy had helped, but it had also made everything so much more intense emotionally while I worked through it all. It actually got worse before it got better, and my panic attacks had gotten so bad that I had resorted to using slight physical pain to shock myself out them. The first time was an accident. I was where I'd ended up so many times over the last several months, sitting on my bathroom floor at 3 in the morning, chest in a vice, caught halfway between breaking down completely and being unable to breathe, desperately trying not to alert my family, and I dropped my cig**ette. It hit my arm and the sudden pain jolted me out of it just enough that I was able to regain control. After that I started using it as a last resort whenever it got so bad that I absolutely could not calm down any other way. I never did any major damage, I never left anything more than a red mark that only lasted a few hours, but I found I was becoming increasingly quick to do it straight off instead of trying other ways to cope first, and I was having to hold it in place for longer and longer to get the same effect. I knew I was going too far and it was starting to scare me. I never told Nancy about that. I was too embarrassed and I was afraid of what she'd say. The 14th anniversary was approaching, so things were hitting me particularly hard. When I got within about a week of the day, I was so sick of going through it that I gave up fighting and prayed, not really caring which god was listening. I prayed that I would find something, anything, that would help me break this awful cycle, anything to keep me from being right back here this time next year, anything that there wouldn't be a next time. Two days later I was driving my son to school, and again I noticed the beautiful white building half hidden behind the trees along our route. I admired it every time we drove by, especially on foggy days when it looked like it was emerging from so many swirling clouds. I had always thought it was a mosque, but now a sign had been put out that said it was the Hindu Cultural Center of (my city here). I had always loved the art and the spiritual philosophies of India, so I went home, looked the place up to make sure that non-members of the faith would be welcome, changed into something appropriate and went, thinking I'd learn something, appreciate the beautiful statuary, and that would be it, that I would never come back. I had no idea how vital it would become to my being able to fully heal. The place was amazing. I loved how it felt from the minute I stepped through the door, and the priests were very welcoming, thinking I was a student or something. I told them the truth, that I was curious about the building and wanted to learn more about Hinduism, that I was already polytheistic and that I had always loved what I already knew about it. There was one diety I was particularly drawn to, and when I asked who he was they said he was Sri Ganesha, the god of new beginnings and the lord of obstacles. He was known to remove obstacles in your path, but he was also known to put them in your way if you needed to change course. They actually took me through the whole blessing for him, including the prasadam. I came back the next day with an offering in return, just kind of as a thank you, and they invited me to a major festival that was being held for him that weekend. It sounded like just what I needed and I readily accepted. I ended up going there quite a bit, every Sunday for the regular aarti and puja and at least once during the week for many years. As it happened, I had always thought that the anniversary was September 2 and the event I'd been invited to was on the 4th, but I thought it was close enough to take as a good sign. The timing seemed so perfect. It seemed to be working already since I wound up spending that 2nd out shopping with my best friend, trying to find something to wear since she was coming with me. I still don't know how I got that date wrong, but I did. That first year I was looking up the dates out of curiosity to see if the anniversary and Ganesha Chathurthi would fall on the same day the next year, and I realized that that Saturday in 1996 wasn't the the 2nd. September 2nd was that Monday when I left with James and went to Robert's. The real date was actually August 31st, the same date that I had first noticed the sign and walked into the temple. If someone did hear me and this wasn't all coincidence, then that prayer had been answered and I had found what I needed not just near the anniversary like I'd thought, but ON it, on the actual one; the date I'd had in my head all those years was actually meaningless. I had unknowingly spent the real one, the 31st, happy and engaged, not having panic attacks and intrusive thoughts, but trying to learn everything I could about what was later to be so instrumental in making sure that day was never something I dreaded again. Two days before that, I had asked for a way for there not to be a next one and there wasn't, not even the one that was coming up when I asked. I may not have known I had the date wrong, but apparently someone did and they'd timed their answer for the correct one. Go figure. The next year, I missed the anniversary. I didn't pay attention to the date approaching, and for the first time in all those years it came and went without me noticing. The devotees were all so welcoming and generous with their faith. They welcomed me in, teaching me prayers, meditations, how to properly make an offering and accept the blessing after, how to hold my hands to absorb the energy from the small oil lamps at the gods' feet. Of course I never told any of them what had actually brought me there, they had no idea it was trauma related, but I started learning Hindi and was invited to join a Gita study class that helped me understand what had happened to me, why we go through what we go through in life sometimes. Sometimes when negative things happen to you, it's not because of your own bad karma; sometimes it's to put you where you need to be. There may be a reason you need to go through it, perhaps to be able to be someone else's good karma down the line. It all balances out in the end. Psychologically it helped because it was so far removed from my usual environment that there were no triggers there whatsoever. None. It was like having this island where none of it could get to me, where I could escape it for long enough to grow my strength. I had a physical place I could go where I felt totally at peace, where I felt completely safe, where I could check Lee and his baggage at the door and recharge and then leave to face the rest of the week. It was incredible. I fully realize this sounds like I'm ripping off Eat, Pray, Love, but I swear it was before I ever even heard of the book or saw the movie. So this last year after finding that obit is really where I did most of the work to finally get closure on all this. Seeing it did rip open the old wounds a bit, and resurrected all the old questions I'd had. The difference was, with him gone it felt safe to talk about it and actively seek out those answers. It wasn't like it would get back to him somehow and put me back on his radar. Like I said, I spoke to H. and she explained what really happened from her point of view. She did not leave thinking Lee was going to do what he did. She knew he was unstable, but she didn't think that he would just do it with me in that condition, without making sure I was awake and ok with it. Her saying "Well she's right there..." was more of a shoulder shrug, a way of saying, yeah, try if you want to but I don't think you'll get very far. She thought I was too out of it to wake up long enough to accomplish anything. She never thought he'd be deranged enough to do something to me while I appeared to be out, as she thought I was at the time. She left him there to keep an eye on me, to make sure I didn't start throwing up and choke in my sleep or something while she went and called James. She told him to let me sleep and that she'd be in the living room if he needed her, but I missed that first part. It was so obvious to me what was going to happen if she left that I assumed it was obvious to her too when it wasn't. It actually makes what she said and did make a lot more sense when you look at it that way. So that's pretty much it. Once I got those questions answered, all that emotional turmoil settled and it actually feels like something that happened 20 years ago. It's just another memory rather than something always right next to me, something I'm constantly turning over in my mind, trying desperately to understand the truth of it. I never forgot the kindness of the people at the clinic, particularly the first lady I encountered. The first thing I did was explain to her about them telling me I consented and about the physical response I'd had. I felt an obligation to disclose anything that might tell them my situation didn't "count" as any sort of assault, regardless of how it felt or how I was reacting to it. I didn't want to lie even by omission or waste their time. I was shocked when she told me the same thing had happened to her during her assault. This volunteer, who was married, who seemed so happy and so put together, was, as they termed it, another survivor. She had somehow healed enough to be there for the ones coming up behind her. Just meeting her showed me it was possible to make it through this and have a normal, whole life. I never forgot the impact she had, and I knew then that if I ever got to the same place myself, then I wanted to be able to be that example for others. I didn't think I'd ever be able to, but if I ever did make it that far then I wanted to pay that forward and help others get there, to do for them what she had done for me and show them it isn't hopeless. No one is there who remembers me now, but I went back to that same clinic this last April, signed on as a volunteer and went through their training program. About two thirds of the way through, a position opened up on their staff manning the chat lines. I didn't think I'd get it, but it was such a perfect opportunity that I applied anyway. I've been working there almost a month now and it's the best job I've ever had. If you've read all this, thank you, and I hope it helps in some way. I hope it tells you that you won't always feel the way you do now, that the damage isn't permanent, that you can recover and regain the things your assailant took. I hope it tells you they're the weak ones, not you. Thanks to all, both human and not, living and dead, who helped me get here. A'net h'rak.
  5. Amsekhmet

    Revisions Pt.3

    Posted Thursday at 09:14 AM (edited) I had tried to stay awake, I didn’t want the vulnerability of sleep, but I couldn’t manage it. I woke up again after only a few hours, not long after dawn, when normally I sleep like a rock for as long as anyone will let me. Everything came rushing back and I stayed still, trying to make sense of it, trying to decide if any of it had actually happened or not. The whole thing just seemed so unreal, like it just wasn’t possible. That wasn’t like him at all, people don’t just become someone else like that. People don’t spontaneously become paralyzed and then spontaneously recover for no apparent reason, either. Alcohol poisoning wouldn’t cause that, would it? I kept trying to remember if I’d ever heard of it doing that. I had heard of being frozen in terror, but I wasn’t scared when it started. I became alarmed because I couldn’t move, not the other way around. It couldn’t have been real. I wanted so badly to chalk it up to a bad dream that I almost had myself convinced that’s all it was, but then I remembered how hard he bit me. I decided if I looked and there were no marks, then nothing happened. It was just an alcohol fueled nightmare and I could go on with my life like normal. If there was anything there, then I was going to have to face that it was real and try to figure out how to deal with it. It took me awhile before I could actually do it, I didn’t want it confirmed, but of course there they were, clearly etched into my skin. I kept trying to tell myself there had to be a mistake, that it couldn’t have been the way I remembered, but it wasn’t working. Those marks and the bruising made it impossible to go completely into denial. I stayed in bed most of the day, still feeling so wrung out, not wanting to run into anyone and staying on lock down as far as any reaction since either of them could come up at any time. If one of them did, I didn't want it to seem like I was dealing with anything more serious than a nasty hangover. I didn’t know what the response would be if I came off as anything else, if it was clear I remembered everything, but I didn’t want to risk it before I was strong enough to deal with it. I wasn’t completely alone, though. H. had this grizzled old orange tom that I’d been trying to make friends with for weeks. By his own choice, he was mainly outdoors and wanted nothing to do with people, thank you very much. He wouldn’t let anyone within ten feet of him, including me, no matter what I tried. I think animals can sense when something is really wrong though, and for one day only he made an exception. He stayed curled up with me, right next to my head for the entire day, purring and being unbelievably sweet. The others came and went at random, but he hardly left my side. Once I got up, though, that was it and it was back to business as usual. I’ve always been so grateful to the little bugger for that. It was such a small thing, but for me, at that time, it really wasn’t. It sounds silly, but that exception meant a lot. Late that afternoon she came upstairs, saying she and James were leaving for a bit and asking if I wanted to come with them to get out of the house. Since I didn't know if Lee was home and I didn't want to be there on my own if he was, I decided to go with them. I could have just asked, but I didn't want to seem like that was why I was going if she said he was there. I was trying to do everything I could to maintain the status quo, to make sure it seemed like I really didn’t remember enough to act any differently than usual. I was so afraid of things blowing up if I scared either one of them about what had happened. Right or wrong, it was all I could think of to do to keep things calm and stay relatively safe. It seems so paranoid now, but in the moment I no longer knew who I was dealing with and I didn’t want to take any chances. Nothing made sense or seemed predictable anymore. I was in the back seat, and at one point she turned around after she noticed how quiet I was being and tried to talk to me about the night before. She told me I shouldn't be hurt by what he did, I should be angry. It seemed like another odd thing to say, since right after it happened she'd told me it was no big deal. I didn't want to risk being drawn into contradicting what I'd already said, so I told her I was fine, that it had to be a misunderstanding, I just really wasn't feeling well. I didn't want her going back to him and saying things weren't as settled as he'd thought. It surprised me that she said anything in front of James, but I had no idea what she might have told him. He asked if I was sure after I said I was ok, I insisted I was, and that was it. I doubt I was very convincing, since even to me it sounded wooden and hollow when I was saying it, I couldn’t seem to put any emotion behind it, but I just did not feel safe saying anything else. I had nothing to worry about from them in all reality, but my survival instinct was still very much in overdrive and erring on the side of caution seemed like the best thing to do. It definitely wasn't my normal way of thinking, but then, there was nothing normal about my world right then, either. My whole sense of reality had been blown apart, and it's not like anyone trains you on how to handle something like that, how to navigate it. She let it drop, and when we got back, they went in and I stayed outside on the porch for awhile, wanting to take a minute to regroup before going inside. Paranoid, I know, but I was stuck in that house for at least one more day and I was afraid that they wouldn't let me leave if I didn't act like everything was fine. I was stuck. I hadn't been there long enough to give anyone directions, I didn't really know the area, I didn't have a car, I couldn't suddenly ask to leave or break routine without arousing suspicion, I was still incredibly weak and drained physically, and everyone else I knew was at least twenty minutes away in the next city over. If I really wasn't being over cautious and something did happen, there would be no one who could get to me in time if I needed help. I just was not willing to take any chances. I really thought the safest bet was to just maintain the status quo as best I could for the rest of the day, stay in my room and avoid contact as much as possible under the guise of recuperating from all the alcohol, and then leave as planned the next morning. I knew I'd be able to get out then without a problem, that I'd be free and clear if I could just do that and hang on for a little bit longer. Lee came out after I'd been standing there a few minutes, and my heart stopped when the screen door opened. I'd been standing at the corner of the railing, but I moved over by the stairs as soon as I saw him. I wanted somewhere to go if I needed to. I thought he might be apologetic because of what I'd seen as we passed by his room, but I was also prepared that he might be aggressive, threatening, that he'd drop the act now that I knew better about him, but he didn't do either of those things. He'd gone right back to his old, harmless-seeming, friendly self, the same person I'd gotten so close to, acting like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Only hours before he'd been boiling with so much rage and hatred towards me that I'd thought he was going to beat me to death, and now suddenly he was fine again, right back to the same old Lee that had hung out in my room with me so many times after work. It was summer, it was so hot out, but I remember suddenly feeling cold, like my blood turned to ice water. It was creepy and disconcerting that he could do something like that and then be absolutely fine the next day, I didn't see how it was possible, and for a split second I thought maybe he really had snapped that badly last night and honestly didn't remember what had happened. He'd heard me say no over and over, I know he heard me screaming, so how could he possibly be acting like nothing was wrong if he remembered all that? As soon as he started talking I knew that wasn't it. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it made it clear he remembered just fine. My head was buzzing with fear and confusion, trying to get a bead on him. Whatever it was, his being able to be so nonchalant after the night before only scared me more and made him appear even more dangerous. It reinforced my need to be cautious and my gut still said to just play dumb, to act like I didn't remember enough about what happened to be a threat. I tried to say very little, I let him lead the conversation, and I remember he didn't go straight into what happened. I had thought that if he was going to try to act like his old self that he would ask about my reaction off the bat, or at least ask why I'd started screaming. The version of himself he wanted me to believe he was would have shown concern that I'd gotten that upset, whatever the reason. It would have been the first thing he brought up and he would have shown some degree of care simply as a friend. I was planning to say I didn't remember doing it, but he never brought any of that up at all. Instead, he immediately started trying to see how much I remembered from earlier, which honestly wasn't much. After the initial shock, I noticed he still wasn't quite acting like himself though. It was like the mask wasn't quite all the way back up and there was still some of last night showing through the veneer, or maybe it was just because I knew that person wasn't real now. He kept standing too close, almost over me, and it didn't feel like it was in a friendly way, regardless of how he was talking to me. Every time I tried to step back he'd close the distance until I was almost back in the corner, and he was between me and the stairs almost before I knew what happened. I finally perched on the railing just to stop moving. I was already feeling dizzy and having to look up at him was making it worse. Once he did get to what happened, I continued playing dumb, like I only remembered little flashes, telling him that I was really out of it and wasn't clear on anything. I didn't expect him to flat out admit anything, but since he wasn't being aggressive, I thought maybe what I'd seen last night really was remorse. I expected he'd use some halfway apologetic excuse, like maybe "I didn't realize how drunk you were", or something similar. We'd have both known he was lying to cover his ass, but I could have worked with that for the sake of being able to walk away. I gave him way too much room. Instead, he essentially blamed me, saying he thought I was fine with it because I hadn't said no or done anything to get him to stop. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. If he had taken even a modicum of responsibility or expressed even a shred of regret about what he did to me, I could have kept going along with what he was saying, but that was too much for me. He had drawn blood, he had terrorized me to make sure I couldn't move, and hearing him use the fact that I couldn't stop him to justify why he went ahead was more than I could take. As if he didn't know. As if he hadn't gone out of his way to ensure I wasn't able to say a word or raise a hand in my own defense. I didn't want to challenge him too much, but that pissed me off and I wanted him to account for something in all this, even if it was only within the context of his own lie. I didn't dare mention the teeth marks I woke up with, I was trying to tread lightly, so instead I said something about how I could see how that could confuse him, but then I asked how the fact that I wasn't moving at all didn't clue him in that there might be something wrong, that that didn't strike him as odd. Stupid move. As soon as I said that, that switch of his flipped. Up until then I had been avoiding any hint of even implying he did anything wrong for fear of pissing him off, but I slipped when I said that and it let him know I remembered way too much. I'd been aiming for "misunderstanding" and had been trying to match his tone like we were just clearing the air, but I definitely said the wrong thing there and set him off anyway. Everything about him just seemed to darken, I don't know how else to describe it. That friendly facade I'd been talking to vanished in an eyeblink and he instantly became the person I'd been so afraid of the night before. He wasn't quite in my face, but it was close enough to force eye contact and his voice dropped. I was still sitting on the railing and if I had tried to move back this time I'd have gone over backward. Those damn eyes of his. I remember being struck by how intense they were when I first met him, but now they were cold and flat, just like they had been the night before. I swear he could pin you in place with them, make you afraid to look away. He was speaking very quietly, like he didn't want to be overheard, but he still managed to sound just as menacing as if he'd been yelling. He said it didn't matter because I had consented earlier whether I remembered it or not, that he hadn't raped me and not to try to say he did. His words, not mine. I swear it came out more like an order, like a threat, like I'd better go along with it, rather than a statement of fact. I was shocked that he had jumped straight to that, especially since I purposely hadn't gone anywhere near that word. That was a huge escalation from the tone we'd both been maintaining up until this point. He hadn't said one word about actual consent before this, either, only that I hadn't said no. He probably had been counting one me not remembering anything, but now that I'd shown I did he was taking what I'd said and using it as cover. His sudden anger scared me and I didn't have the nerve to push him any further. All I could see was that look on his face when he bit me. I just stammered out something about how I knew he wouldn't do that, that I was just trying to understand everything. As soon as I backed down he was fine again, like that flash of aggression never happened. I could feel myself finally starting to unravel. That jolt of fear I'd felt was too much, I'd been keeping a death grip on my composure since I had been with her last night and now it was slipping fast. I didn't want to let him see me lose it. I said I still felt sick, that I needed to lie down and he let me past him to the door. As soon as I got to my room, it all hit. I just could not hold it back a second longer. I started half hyperventilating, half sobbing, finally just letting it all go, but within minutes I heard someone coming up after me. I pulled it together one last time, trying to calm down, and it was him, still with that creepy friendliness he'd switched back to. I knew it was obvious I'd come undone as soon as I was away from him, I hadn't had enough time to cover it completely before he came into the room, but he ignored it and kept up the act. We both knew the score by that point, regardless. We'd both shown our hands minutes before. I knew he was acting, and he knew I was scared out of my mind. The last thing he ever said to me was to make me promise not to tell Shana, the friend of mine that I thought he'd moved on to, what had happened. I told him what he wanted to hear and he left me alone after that, but I knew I had no intention of keeping that promise. There was no way I was going to leave her to be caught unawares like I was. Everything had happened on Saturday, and I'd been stuck there through Monday morning when James took me took to my brother's as planned. I had known he was going to be near Robert's place that day and I'd asked if he could drop me at his apartment several days beforehand. I knew I was safe there, but I didn't want Robert to know what had happened. I didn't want to say anything until I got a handle on it myself, so all I said about why I was there was that H. and I had a falling out and I needed a place to stay for a while. There was too much I was confused about and too much I was afraid of to want to involve him. I already felt like I was endangering him just by being there. I was so afraid Lee would change his mind and come after me, that he'd decide he shouldn't have let me go. I should never have confronted him on the porch like that. I should have never let him know I remembered so much. I didn't want Rob to get hurt going after him. I was also terrified of how nice a person Lee could come across to be. What if Rob just talked to him and he convinced him I was drunk and just didn't remember correctly? I couldn't have stood it if he turned on me too, if he got pissed because I got him into a fight over something he thought I'd been willing to do. And how would Lee react to being confronted, to knowing that I'd talked about it? Those first few weeks were brutal. I had shut down hard after that last conversation and I hadn’t loosened my hold on it since. I’m not sure how long it was, but the first time Rob was out of the house for any length of time after I’d gotten there I thought I could finally let everything out, that I could finally let it hit me and deal with it, but nothing happened. It was like it was just gone. I wasn't exactly numb, I was still hurt and confused and scared, but that overwhelming crush of emotion I'd been expecting never came. I didn’t know that wasn’t a good thing, that it didn’t mean what I thought it did and that it wasn’t really gone at all. I had the worst time sleeping at first because I couldn't close my eyes without seeing him. I found that it didn’t happen as long as I wasn't lying down, so I ended up sleeping sitting up, propped against the wall. After a few hours I'd usually wake up to find I'd worked my way down during the night, but I'd have to reposition to go back out. More than once I woke up in tears when that happened. I just could not tolerate being in that position, even if I was already asleep when I went into it. I refused to let any of it out when I was awake, I was still trying to maintain the status quo at home, so it was coming out at night, in my sleep. G.N. was a good friend of mine, the DJ at the club we worked in. He had been giving me rides into work, and that first day back he could tell something was wrong. I hadn't intended to say anything, but when he showed concern and pushed a little I completely broke down. I made him promise not to do anything and to keep it between us, and then the whole story tumbled out. Talking to him was different. This was a friend, not my brother, so it was easier to tell him the worst parts, including that Lee had said I consented. I was so sure I hadn't, but becasue there were some parts I didn't fully remember and others I didn't remember at all, I felt I had to at least mention it and acknowledge the possibility. Once I got through the whole thing, he said it sounded like I could have been drugged, but neither of us could figure out what it could have been. His exact words were that it was "something like date rape", but I still didn't want to attach that word to it in any capacity. Date rape was a relatively new term at the time and I remember saying no, it couldn't have been that because I wasn't dating him. Regardless, I'd seen a very frightening side of him and I did try to warn Shana the first chance I got. There was still that rage I had seen, the bite mark, the callousness of him being willing to go ahead even with me in that condition. I knew it would piss him off if it got back to him, but there was no way I was leaving her at his mercy if I could help it. I could not get her to take it as seriously as I'd hoped. I was only able to catch a spare moment before work to pull her aside and give her a rundown, so all I had time for was the basics of what happened. I at least wanted to let her know not to let him get her alone, and certainly not to drink around him and why. I was so afraid she'd wind up getting hurt the way I had. As soon as I mentioned alcohol being involved, I don't think she really heard anything else I was saying. She seemed convinced that there had to have been a miscommunication between us somewhere in there and she just couldn't believe it was malicious on his part. She advised me to just be an adult about it, to talk to him and straighten the whole thing out, that something similar had happened with a guy friend of hers one night and they had worked it out that way. She was sure that if I just let him explain his side, it would all get cleared up and I'd see I had blown it all out of proportion. My god, we were all so screwed up in our thinking back then. This was the second female I’d had since it happened telling me that it happened to them too and that it was no big deal. I told her some of the conversation we had and what he said, but she seemed to think it just proved her point. I still pleaded with her to be careful around him, but she just could not imagine that he'd hurt me or anyone else intentionally. He had her just as fooled as he'd had me up until a few days before. She and I ended up switching clubs very shortly after that, so it wound up not mattering anyway. I ran into her years later and she said she never saw him again after she left SD, so at least I know she still came out unscathed. Things got even more confusing after I talked to H. later in the week. After that talk with G.N, I approached H. absolutely the wrong way trying to find out what she knew. I wanted to know what, if anything, he had given me. I wanted to know why I hadn't been able to stop him. Her attitude towards me was completely different, not at all like it had been that night and the day after. She seemed hostile and annoyed. I thought she was being evasive, that she knew more than she was admitting, and as soon as I mentioned possibly reporting it if that was what it took to find out what happened, she said I couldn’t because I’d consented. My first reaction was anger and frustration, asking if that was what he told her, that he had tried to tell me the same thing and no, I didn't, that neither of them said a word to me before she left. She said that, yes, they had, and when I asked her exactly when that had happened and what I had said, she told me I had laughed and said “Sure, just don’t get me pregnant.” Her saying that stopped me cold. She meant that conversation when I had that second of panic, trying to decide if I needed to correct what I'd said or not. So that was what did it. That didn't sound like something I'd say no matter how drunk I was, but it was still way too close to what I remembered about mentioning protection and he had used a condom, so I thought maybe she was right and that was what she was asking. Maybe all he did was wait until he knew I wouldn't be able to take it back and that was why he didn't act on it immediately. He had to know I would if my head cleared enough to register what was going on and he didn't want to take the chance. Technically he still had permission as long as I didn't say no, so... It still didn't make it right, but after talking to her I was glad I hadn't given a name to what had happened when I talked to G.N. Years later when I spoke to her again, I would find out that I was right the first time and I didn't consent at all. Those claims were made out of panic because I mentioned going to the police, but I had no way of knowing that at the time. A few months ago I decided I was ready to finish resolving all of this once and for all and got back in touch with her. I asked her about what she said, and she told me that while she didn't remember telling me that, if she did then it was "because she was afraid she'd be implicated", not because she'd actually heard me say anything of the kind in regard to Lee. Enough time had passed that she was willing to be a lot more open, so was I, and I finally got her side of the story. Unbeknownst to me, G.N. had broken my confidence, told her what I'd said and let her know how pissed he was that she let it happen, so by the time I started asking her questions, she knew I thought she might have been involved and was covering for Lee. She told me that after she talked to G.N. but before she spoke to me, she confronted Lee and asked him what exactly happened after she left the room. He is the one that told her I consented, saying we had talked about it while she was out of the room the first time. That conversation after she came back in that I was so worried about had nothing to do with anything. He didn't even try to use it. He knew she'd know better since she was there at the time, so he had to go with something she wasn't present for. I know for an absolute certainty it did not happen when he told her it did, so he definitely lied and I never consented at all. He never even tried to obtain it. When I talked to her later and jumped off at her the way I did, I scared her and so she said she'd heard me herself. Basically she took what I said out of context and used it out of self protection. I didn't know any of that back then, of course, and her backing him up cemented all the self doubt and self blame that had started when he said it. It did what it was intended to do and got me to back off. It was why I never, ever referred to what happened as rape and I never mentioned either of them by name to anyone who wasn't there in the beginning and didn't already know who I was talking about. I was always careful to mention that they both had said I consented, if I was really comfortable with the person I would tell them exactly what H. had quoted me as saying, but I was too ashamed and too unclear to admit that I remembered saying anything close to that. All I would do was admit that I couldn't remember everything and acknowledge that it was possible I said something that caused a misunderstanding. It was all so disjointed I didn't know how to put it into words, but I knew how convenient it would seem that while I could remember exactly what he did, when it came to what I may have said that made him think it was ok, I was fuzzy? I knew they were trying to use it, but I didn't know if it was because they really had taken it as consent or if it was simply something I said that could be used for a convenient cover now that they needed it to function that way. I wanted to be honest, but I didn’t want to invite the judgement I knew it would bring if it wasn’t actually relevant and they were lying about the context, so I split the difference and said it was possible without going into detail. When it was happening I'd been so sure of what it was, so sure that I thought he was going to kill me to keep me quiet, but what if I was wrong? If I could just remember what I'd said that in answer to then I'd know one way or the other. If I gave him permission even inadvertantly, then that was on me. The thoughts I had about wanting her to leave and then that moment of panic certainly seemed to imply I had. God knows I was in and out, not tracking well at all, so maybe I really did. I had thought he could have been lying when it was just him, and while it was in my mind that they'd had a week to get their stories straight, having both of them say it was too much and the turmoil it touched off sent me down a rabbit hole that took me over twenty years to climb out of. I shut up about it for the most part after that and I certainly didn't report it. If they were telling the truth, then there was no crime, and if they were lying, then it was clear they were going to back each other up to the police. Nothing would get done, I might end up facing charges myself if I wasn't believed, and then what? Now I'd really pissed him off and I knew what that temper looked like. If he was willing to do what he did with little to no provocation, I didn't want to think about how he'd react if I went to the authorities and got him questioned. I tried again and again and again to look at things from different angles, trying to see how it might have looked from his perspective, from H.’s. I went through it so many times in my head and I kept going back and forth. He had a point, I hadn’t said no and I hadn’t resisted. He obviously knew I couldn’t, but did that even matter if I had given consent earlier? Did that override everything else? If I really had caused a misunderstanding and then physically couldn’t say “no” later when I was more aware, could it really be considered as being against my will if I wasn’t able to fully express what my will was when it mattered? That fractured memory I had of mentioning protection and expecting her to leave haunted me. I felt so guilty over not correcting what I'd said. This whole thing could have been avoided if I had just spoken up when I still could, but instead I had given him the excuse. I had given him something he could use to justify what he'd done. Hell, even I was unclear on what I'd agreed to there for a few minutes. I based my decision not to retract it on their lack of reaction to what I'd said, thinking it meant I hadn't said anything I needed to worry about, but clearly I made the wrong call. Nothing in his demeanor said he thought I was a willing participant, I know he knew I wasn't, but if he could claim I said anything like that then while what he did and the way he did it was still viscous, it didn't matter. I should have spoken up. I kept trying to logic it to death, to convince myself that I was overreacting and what happened wasn't that bad. It wasn’t violent, there were no weapons, he didn’t threaten me, there was no physical force involved, so I kept trying to tell myself I really was making too much of it. If he was getting back at me for what I'd said in the kitchen that day or because I wouldn't go out with him or whatever the hell it was I'd done to push him to that point, then he'd done it, we were even, and that was the end of it. Logic wasn’t working, though, and I was still very much afraid of him. I’d seen all that rage he had and how quickly he could change, and I couldn’t get the way he'd looked at me out of my head. No amount of trying to rationalize things made it feel any less vicious, and I still couldn’t sleep well. I’d started being able to sleep in a normal position again, but there were times when I’d start to drift off and out of nowhere, I’d jerk awake with the sense of the physical memory, the feeling of him... "with" me. I know that sounds odd, but I don’t really know how else to describe it. After about three weeks, once it became clear there wouldn’t be any after effects, I couldn’t take it anymore. I said the hell with it, firmly decided I’d overreacted, minimized the entire thing and went into full blown denial, bite marks or not. It's hard to put the headspace I was in at the time into words. It wasn't that I felt nothing, far from it, but I still hadn't broken down the way I'd started to after we talked. I kept expecting to, I kept waiting for it to hit the way it had before, but it never did. I thought maybe that meant I wasn't as torn up as I'd thought, that maybe it really wasn't that bad, that my initial reaction was just from how scared I'd been and now that some time had passed my response was more reasoned. I decided I was fine and that it was time I was over it. I told myself that as frightening as it had been, at the end of the day I wasn’t really hurt, I was lucky it wasn’t worse, and I should just forget about it and move on. I couldn’t even figure out what it was because I couldn’t settle the issue of consent, so all I was doing was going in circles and getting nowhere anyway. Trying to out-stubborn it like that and make it go away through sheer force of will really wasn’t the best idea, but I had made up my mind that this was a non-issue and that there was nothing there to deal with. It was just a bad night, nothing more. The problem is that while you can deny it intellectually and try to suppress it all you want, you can't fool your emotions and it doesn't leave you any less traumatized in the long run. If anything, it makes it worse, and it always catches up with you eventually. It would come back periodically, but I was always able to push it back down when it did. I did wind up going to a crisis center about a year and a half in, when H. started working at the club I'd moved to. Seeing her every day made it impossible to keep everything in check the way I had been, and a good friend convinced me to at least try it. I was half afraid, half hoping that once I explained what happened and what he and H. had said that they'd tell me I was right, that it was an awful experience but it wasn't actually rape and I didn't belong there, that I wasn't a victim of anything but my own bad judgement, but they didn't. They were great to me, some of the kindest people I've ever known who did their damndest to get me to see reason, but no matter what they said it still felt wrong to be there and accept their help. I could not get past the claims that I'd consented, that, if true, meant I'd brought it on myself. They disagreed, telling me how common it is for perpetrators to say that and that H. clearly had her own motivations for wanting to convince me of the same thing. They tried to tell me that even if I did it didn't matter, that I wasn't in my right mind at the time and he knew that, but I just wasn't ready to face it and it wasn't long before I just stopped going back. Every time I went, I felt guilty and fraudulent for using a resource that was supposed to be for people who had really been hurt, real victims of a violent predator, not some girl who had too much to drink one night and trusted the wrong person. I just could not put what happened to me on a par with what happened to them. It wasn't the same thing at all in my mind and I didn't want to trivialize what happened to them by equating the two. Besides, believing anything else was just too painful. Denial was easier than trying to force myself to walk into that wall of knives. H. left the club shortly thereafter, and I was able to lock everything down again. That worked for well over another decade, bringing me to roughly 12 years after it happened. I sealed it off and buried it, and only rarely did the lid weaken. I settled, I got married and had a son during that time, I was happy and living a normal life. I got to the point that I thought it was gone, I thought I’d all but forgotten it, at least until the next major emotional blow blew it wide open and I found it hadn’t gone away at all. I never realized what a stabilizing force Tom was until he was gone, but his death was devastating. I couldn’t stop moving. I stayed frenetically active for days, helping with his apartment, making phone calls, anything to keep from being still because I knew once I stopped, the shock would wear off and the pain would be unbearable. My husband was great, he was so supportive, and I got through it, but by the end of it I was left without the emotional strength to maintain the hold I’d had on everything else. All hell broke loose a few months after Tom’s passing, and I found it had all sat there waiting, perfectly preserved, until I was finally forced to deal with it. If anything, it had gotten stronger as it languished in that box all those years. It wasn’t going away this time, it was worse than it had ever been, and I could not regain control of it. I didn’t sleep a lot, and when I did I had nightmares. Some had to do with him, some were just in general. When I was awake I was jumpy and anxious, and my thoughts would go in a hundred different directions. If I was at work or out running errands, I was constantly watchful, I couldn’t relax. If someone resembled him in the slightest or even appeared to take a little too much notice of me, I’d move aisles or wait to get out of the car until they moved on. It was like a dam had burst. I had spent so long avoiding thinking about it, and now I couldn’t stop my thoughts from demanding my attention. If someone rang the bell or knocked on the door when I wasn’t expecting anyone, if I broke a dish or the dog started barking, it was enough to make my heart start pounding and my chest tighten from being startled. It got so bad that one day I grabbed a ladder and pulled the wires out to disable the bell after it triggered a particularly severe panic attack. It was just so over the top and it dragged on like that for months. I didn’t know what was going on, but I kept trying to tell myself that it would stop if I just gave it long enough. I’d always been able to get a handle on it the few times when it tried to flare up before, but this time was different. Instead, it just kept getting worse. The harder I tried to push it aside and tell myself I was overreacting, the harder it pushed back. That overwhelming crush of emotion I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it finally hit. I can't tell you how many times I wound up in the bathroom in the middle of the night dealing with it, trying not to wake my son or my husband. S. knew some of what was going on because when I finally decided to go into therapy I kind of had to explain why and he was unbelievably supportive as usual, but I knew this was already hard on him as it was and I didn't want to worry him by letting him know how bad it had really gotten. I never did tell him about the doorbell. At the same time, I was researching. Once I started having the panic attacks and anxiety, I found that actively trying to find answers helped. It gave me somewhere to channel that energy, and I discovered that if I could catch an impending attack early enough, I could head it off by grabbing my computer and trying to resolve all the questions I'd been left with-- what had caused the paralysis, the alleged hallucinations, what could raise my heart rate but have the opposite effect on my breathing, why my eyes seemed to be the only thing left unaffected, the voice and the presence I'd felt, the involuntary screaming, all of it. I wanted to know what the hell had happened to me that night. I would sit there for hours until I was too exhausted to stay awake, much less fall apart. It was how I coped to a large degree before I started seeing Nancy, and with each answer I found, I felt a little more sane, a little more in control. In a weird way, it felt like I was regaining parts of what he took that night by figuring out the things I was never supposed to know about. The more I understood about what had happened and why, the less frightening certain aspects seemed and the more they lost their power. The problem was that while each time I resolved something the anxiety would diminish for a day or two and I’d think I was ok, it would always come right back. You can only keep that pattern up for so long, I was exhausted, and I knew it was hitting a point where I couldn’t handle it on my own anymore. I was not going to be able to tough it out this time. Even so, so much of what happened that night sounded so farfetched, even to myself, that I was always afraid people would think I was either crazy or flat out making it up, so there was no way I was going to go into a therapist’s office until I had solid explanations for as much as possible. I was too afraid some of it could sound like a psychotic break. Once I knew for sure that it wasn’t all in my head, that something chemical and very much beyond my control really had been what caused it all, then and only then was I willing to start seeking outside help.
  6. Amsekhmet

    Revisions Pt.1

    It's important to me to state off the bat that I recently got back in contact with H., we had a very long talk about what happened, and she really didn't know what was going on. I believe her, and her not knowing his intentions explains a lot of her words and actions during all this. Pt. 1 covers what happened, Pt. 2 covers the aftermath and the effects of going into denial, and Pt. 3 covers how I managed to finally find a sense of peace with it all. The whole story covers almost 23 years, so I needed to break it into smaller sections for easier reading. *****Trigger Warning**** I was drugged by someone I thought was a friend many years ago. I had just turned 19 about a week and half before and I was roommates with both of the people I'm going to mention, one male and one female, although they weren't the only ones living there. Lee is the male, and the female I'll call H. I knew her from work and she introduced me to him there. He very quickly became one of my "refuge" tables that I'd go to when I needed a break from the patrons, and I was always happy to see him come in, which he did with increasing frequency. We'd end up talking the whole night and then go wander around Walmart together when my shift ended. By the time everything went to hell, I had known both of them for a total of maybe two or two and a half months, but I only lived in the house for about the last month of that period. The entire time I'd known him he'd been this consistently gentle, friendly, funny guy who I'd thought I was forming a close friendship with. I knew he was interested in more but I'd made it clear I wasn't and he seemed to respect that, so I still felt safe moving in when she offered me that room. He always came off as a perfect gentleman, always so respectful of the boundaries I had set. We'd hung out in my room alone just to talk with no problems numerous times, so the side I saw that night came completely out of left field. I actually thought he had given up and moved on to a friend of mine. There were several red flags along the way, but I missed them. My therapist years later didn't, though. When I described his behaviour, she told me I was giving textbook descriptions of traits associated with sociopathy and narcissism, although she couldn't say for sure that's what he was without actually talking to him. I started looking into it and saw exactly what she'd been talking about. For one thing, he'd been gaslighting me from the word go, but if you've never encountered someone like that before it's almost impossible to recognize it for what it is. He had been toying with me since we met without me realizing. We had talked about a lot of things in the club over those first few weeks, but he didn't start changing what he said until after I was in the house. I remember once fairly early on after I'd moved in he did that with the city he'd told me he was from during one of our talks between sets at work. He'd told me one thing, but then when it came up a few weeks later during one of our now near--nightly talks in my room and I asked what high school he'd gone to in that city, he looked puzzled and told me no, he was from XYZ, not ABC. I could have sworn he said ABC, but he convinced me I must have forgotten or that I was thinking of someone else. It was such a simple thing, the sort of thing anyone could make a mistake on with a new person so I decided he must be right and let it go. That's how it all started and it only escalated from there. It seemed like the harder I tried to pay attention and keep my facts straight with him, the less I was able to do so. Before long, I had also gotten where he was stationed in the Army wrong, and I couldn't keep his work schedule straight to save my life. He would tell me when he'd be there so I could pop in, then when I got there I'd find out he'd been scheduled off. I thought maybe it was a last minute change or something, but no, I'd be told that the schedule hadn't changed since it came out, I'd just gotten mixed up on what he'd said. Towards the end it turned into him snapping at me when my back was turned and then denying it when I tried to confront him. By the time I turned around, there was nothing about the way he looked that supported him being irritated or anything, so I'd figure I must have misheard him and apologize. It was always little stuff, easily dismissed, things that were totally out of character for him or that wouldn't make any sense for him to lie about, so I figured it really must be me. I thought it was just sleep deprivation from adjusting to working nights. I almost wanted to start using a tape recorder or take notes every time we talked just for the sake of my sanity. It got to the point I was constantly double checking with other people too, thinking I must be getting things wrong with them as well, but he was the only one it was happening with. Of course I questioned it, but it didn't make sense. I tried asking one of the other roommates, (I think it was Kyle) how well he knew him, if he'd ever known him to do things like this or caught him in a lie, but he couldn't shed any light on it since they never really saw each other that much. I felt wrong even asking, that I could even suspect him like that. I decided I was being silly and dismissed it. After all, what would be the point of him confusing me on purpose like that? What would he possibly stand to gain? Nothing, at least not that I could see. It must just be that I was tired by the time we usually had our really long talks and I just wasn't tracking well. That had to be what it was. It's important to note a conversation I had with two of the other roommates, Jason and Mercedes, a couple who moved out shortly before "that" night. I came into the kitchen where they were some weeks before everything happened, and some comment I made started them teasing me about Lee's very obvious interest and asking why I wouldn't give him a chance. I got embarrassed and tried explaining that the chemistry just wasn't there, that he was too much like my brother for me to feel any attraction, that it would be weird, etc, but they wouldn't lay off. It was all good-natured joking around, but it embarassed the hell out of me. I knew Lee was a good guy and I felt a degree of guilt that I couldn't return his interest. He would have been perfect for me if it hadn't been for a few things and I knew that. For the sake of full disclosure, Lee had a severe weight problem, and I have to admit that his appearance was a factor in my lack of attraction to him. I knew it was shallow of me and I felt guilty about it, I knew it wasn't fair, but it was one of those things I just could not get past. Of course, even if he had been smaller it wouldn't have mattered because of the other issues, but I'm sure he thought my wanting to just be friends was only about his size. I was trying to shut them down and finally told them to stop, that it was never going to happen and that the whole idea was disgusting. The problem was that I said that last just as he was coming out of his room into the kitchen where we were. I froze and my stomach dropped through the floor because I knew how awful it would have sounded and I wasn't sure if he'd heard it. I knew he wouldn't have heard the first part about my brother at all and I knew why he'd think I said it. I felt horrible, but he didn't act like he'd caught it, and I was too mortified to ask. A day or two after that was the first time he snapped at me, and my first thought was, ok, he did hear me and he's pissed. He has every right to be, but now we can get this straightened out. I thought he was being what we would now call passive aggressive and tried to ask if there was anything we needed to talk about, but he said no and denied he snapped in the first place. I very stupidly let it go at that. The other red flag was that he told me he'd been accused of sexual harassment in the Army. He said it was dismissed as groundless, that she had misinterpreted what he'd said or something and reported it, but that his superiors had cleared him. I was dumb enough to believe his explanation. It was Lee-- it had to be a mistake. He wasn't like that. The one that really struck me as odd was one he told me not long after I moved in. We were sitting in my room as usual, talking about who we lived with before and why we moved. He told me that he had lived with another couple but that the wife was crazy, that she'd go off for no reason. He said one night she started screaming at him and hitting him with a cast iron skillet. What threw me was what he said his reaction was. He said he just stood there and took it until she ran out of steam and then calmly looked at her, totally deadpan, and asked "Are you done?". It almost felt like he was bragging about his reaction, but the way he talked about it gave me the creeps. It's hard to describe how he looked when he got to that part, but he was almost glowing, like he enjoyed the effect it had had on her. If he'd said he got angry and yelled back or defended himself, I would have understood that. That's what most people would do, but no reaction at all, not even to block the pan or get it away from her? Looking at it now, I think what bothered me was that he seemed proud of being able to intimidate her that badly rather than it just being something he used to get her to back off. It bothered me that he took pleasure in it. On the other hand, the lady was hitting him with a frying pan, so I thought maybe I shouldn't judge what he did in response too much. Maybe it was better for him to make her believe he was crazier than she was to get her to leave him alone. He said she steered clear of him from then on out, but it wasn't long before they asked him to leave anyway. It crossed my mind that maybe he was exaggerating, that he was trying to make himself sound tough or impress me with his self control. Ultimately I dismissed it, not giving it another thought until after everything happened. Again, I had dismissed something that I should have paid attention to because it was incongruous with who I thought he was. I was getting very good at that. After what he did to me though, I had to wonder what the real story was on what caused her to go off. I had decided not to go to work that night. It was a strip club, I had only been at it a few months and I was still adjusting to it, and for some reason that night I got to the door and I just could not do it. Lee had given me a ride in and I decided that since I'd had to work on my birthday, I wanted to get a bottle of something and go back home to hang out with him and H, like a belated sort of thing since it had only been a week and half or so before. I gave him money and sent him to the liquor store next to the club. Once we got home, he was making my drinks all night, although H. decided not to drink at all and he stopped after the first one. I kept going and they just sort of kept an eye on me. Everything was fine through the first several, but at some point I went too far and went into the bathroom feeling sick. H. came with me, I was ok, and she went out ahead of me. I don't want to go into too much detail about what happened, but when I came out there had been an accident involving one of the cats' kittens that upset me badly. It just happened to be the same one I'd been playing with earlier, the same one I'd been considering adopting from H. once it was old enough. I do remember Lee's reaction though, or his lack thereof. He was leaning up against the counter, arms folded, just watching it with this weirdly neutral expression. No concern, no upset, just...nothing. That wasn't like him at all and I couldn't understand it. I sort of chalked it up to shock because he was the one that caused the "accident". I went to it, asking why they were just standing there, trying to convince them that it needed help, that we needed to get it to a vet, and H. kept trying to tell me it was gone even though I could see it wasn't. It was very still but it was still breathing, it still had muscle tone and it wasn't losing heat. The only thing wrong with it that I could see was that it was unresponsive. I know their version of what happened to it, that it was a completely accidental head injury, but there were no marks on it at all and it just didn't add up. I'm not convinced he didn't test the drug he gave me on it first. From what I saw, it was in exactly the same condition I was going to be in later on. H. pulled me back into the bathroom, still saying I was wrong and it was gone, that Lee would take care of it. She got me somewhat calmed down, accidents happen, etc., and again, she went out first. When I came back out a few minutes later, Lee was at the counter with his back to us. I noticed his movements were odd though, like he was trying to keep his arms too close to his body. I sort of looked at her and asked what he was doing and tried to cross the room to see. As soon as I stepped forward, she stopped me and steered me back against the wall, saying he was making me another drink, that it would help me calm down, just to let him bring to me because I'd fall if I tried to walk across the kitchen. I was very intoxicated by this point so I decided she was probably right and stayed put, talking to her, and when he came over to us with it I noticed that weird look he'd had was gone and he was back to the Lee I knew. I wondered if I'd really seen it at all, or if I was just so flipped out that I misinterpreted it. I knew that damn drink didn't look right, but I blew it off, thinking it was probably just a little stronger or something. I downed it, and I've never had a drink make me feel that sick that fast. It turned my stomach almost as soon as made contact, way too fast for it to have even begun to be absorbed, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't even remember leaving the doorway after I drank it. I must have passed out because I woke up in the bathtub, undressed and leaning against the far corner with the rest of me in the water, disoriented as hell. I tensed, trying to clear my head and figure out what was going on, then I saw both of them standing there and relaxed. I knew it was ok, that they were looking after me, and I slipped back out. The next thing I knew I was waking up on her bed in her room with both of them standing over me. I asked where Michael was, (the guy I was seeing), for some reason thinking he was in the house. My eyes were closed and I heard him say, “I’m here”, but when I opened my eyes to respond, I saw it was still only Lee and H. in the room with me. I must have looked confused because H. told me no, he’s not here, then glared at Lee and told him not to mess with my head like that. It seemed to piss her off that he did that, and I remember him not looking too happy with her, either, but I thought he was just playing because I was so drunk. I didn't understand why she came down on him like that. I found out the next day that I was half hallucinating, not making any sense before I wound up in her room, so it’s not surprising I was convinced Michael was there when he wasn’t. I remembered waking up for those few seconds in the tub, and I asked them about why I'd been in there. I was still completely undressed, uncovered, and they told me that my heart rate had spiked while my breathing had gotten sporadic and then slowed almost to a stop, only a few shallow breaths per minute, to the point that they that would start to get worried it had stopped entirely and then suddenly I'd inhale again. They told me I was undressed because they had put me in the tub until my vitals settled down, but when they tried to get me dressed again I wouldn’t let them, saying I was too hot, so they left them off and laid me out on her bed as I was. I really wasn’t too worried about it to be honest. I thought I was among friends and it really wasn’t much more than they’d seen in the club anyway, so I let it go, too far gone to give it much thought. I remember the three of us talking, joking around like always after that, and I think they were amused by how out of it I was. I know I was laying down the whole time and I kept wanting to close my eyes. It feels like there's a blank spot here, it's fuzzy, like I was going in and out. I can’t remember what we talked about, just that the overall mood was good and they were sort of teasing me about overdoing it. I know she left to go call James and then came back. Everything felt very far away, like I was 20 feet below them, sort of dreamlike, like nothing was quite real and everything they said seemed so funny. She came back in, we kept talking, and the conversation turned to sex at some point. I know Michael's name came up again somewhere in there, but I can't remember when or what the context was. I didn't know any of this was going to be important later, so none of it really stuck. It was nothing specific that I remember, just in general, just friends talking, and I remember her asking me something but I can't remember what. I remember still feeling so far away, kind of in a haze, eyes still closed, and the exact question and my exact response have always been blurry. It seems like it was part of a line of questions, like we were talking about different guys we knew, but that's only a very vague impression I have of the discussion, more of a feeling about the tone than anything. It was something like, "What would you say if he wanted to" but that's as close as I can get. I've tried for years to remember the exact words, the exact context that she asked it in, but I was only half paying attention and while I know I said something about using protection before drifting back out, that's all I've ever been able to recall. I felt like I was floating there, feeling so far away and content, so peaceful, and I just sort of said the first thing that came to mind without thinking. It was almost like an auto response. I always used protection and so that was the first thing I thought of, not of who would be using it. For some reason the idea didn't set off any alarms, it felt like the most normal thing in the world, just like with my clothes when they explained why they hadn't put them back on. It's hard to describe the state of mind I was in, but it was like how in a dream, nothing, no matter how insane it would be in reality, seems out of the ordinary at the time and you just don't think to question anything that's happening until after you wake up. I don't know how long it was after that, but I remember being annoyed, wondering why she wasn't leaving. They were still talking and it was irritating me, it kept pulling me out of that deep, peaceful place I was in. In that moment I honestly didn't care what happened as long as I could stay there. I think focusing on why she was still there snapped me back to reality and I had this this moment of panic like, "oh god, wait, what did I say", remembering where I was and who I was really with. This was Lee, what the hell was I thinking? I had to stop her from leaving. I opened my eyes and went to correct it, to take it back, but it was like it hadn't happened. I was relieved because there was nothing in their behavior or the way they were talking to indicate I'd even spoken out loud, so I thought there was nothing to worry about. I figured I must have misunderstood, that she wasn't talking about him at all. The reaction would have been very different if she had been and I answered that way. H. wasn't leaving, Lee wasn't acting like I'd just agreed to anything, so I thought it must be ok, that I didn't say anything that needed to be walked back. It was just an offhand question, part of the conversation and no one took it seriously. Thank God. They'd already moved on in the conversation, talking about a bill that came in or something. They talked for a bit longer and the subject never came back up, but something inside was still yelling at me to fix it. It nagged at me and wouldn't let it go. It would have been weird to abruptly bring it back up then when it seemed like it wasn't even an issue, but what if he did try to start something thinking it was ok? How much more awkward and hurtful would it be to try to shut him down if I waited until then? I wound up saying something about going to sleep just to make sure he wouldn't actually try anything, but that was as close as I got to reversing what I'd said. I never stated it flat out. I didn't want to embarrass him or me if I didn't have to, and I thought that saying I wanted to sleep was enough to gently let him know it wasn't going to happen without making it personal if he was thinking along those lines and without making things awkward if he wasn't. I knew if he tried anything anyway I would have to directly shut him down then, but I was trying not to have to do that. I can't count the number of times in the years since that I regretted that decision. I should have been more clear. At some point later Kyle stopped in the doorway and made a crude comment about me laying there like that, making me stop floating and open my eyes when I heard him. I paid attention, thinking I was going to need to say something, but H. froze him out before I had to. She seemed irritated, as did Lee, basically telling him, "hey, she's drunk, we've got her, you don't need to be in here". I remember being relieved and feeling grateful to them for being so quick to look out for me that way, like ok, I'm fine, they're taking care of me. It was the same feeling I'd had during those few seconds in the tub. He left, but it seemed to open the door to the subject and I heard Lee start telling her about how he'd been trying to get with me for weeks and gotten nowhere. I thought H. would shut him down, too, for the same reason, but she didn't. I heard "Well, she's right there if that's what you want to do", and I immediately tried to sit up, to reiterate that no, all I wanted to do was sleep this off, but nothing happened. I hadn't felt anything change, but suddenly I couldn't move and I couldn't make a sound. My body simply would not do what I was telling it to do, like a computer with the keyboard unplugged or a remote with no batteries. It was just suddenly non-operational and I was trapped inside, down to nothing but my thoughts with no way to express them. Confusingly, I could still open and close my eyes at will, but that was it, that was the only movement I could produce. I was panicking, I couldn't figure out why I was paralyzed, but I kept thinking it would be ok, that she wouldn't leave without asking me if I was ok and then when I didn't respond they'd know something was wrong. They kept talking about various things that were unrelated, just like before, but neither of them said another word to me. I kept closing my eyes, thinking that they'd try to wake me if they thought I'd passed out again, but as far as I know neither of them even looked down again. I couldn’t get their attention to let them know I needed help. I desperately wanted them to just look down, to just check in with me one more time before she left, to ask if I was sure I was ok. I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t. I wasn't speaking up so I assumed they must be thinking I was good with it, but I had turned him down so many times that it would only make sense to check with me. My mind was racing and I kept looking for saving graces, thinking she'd at least tell him to move me to his room if she really thought this was about to happen and then when I didn't get up to go with him they'd question why. I thought surely she wouldn't let him use her own bed, right? Nope. She just kept bitching about that stupid phone bill and going on about how pissed she was. It was like I was no longer in the room at all. In fact, neither of them said another word to me until well after it was already over. I heard her say she needed to call James back about the bill and then she left, telling him she'd be in the living room if he needed her. I kept waiting, thinking he'd check in with me, make sure I was ok with it. I knew there was no way he'd go ahead without doing that. I was right on the edge of the bed, so I was sure if he thought we were going to do something then at the very least he'd ask me to move over to give him room, that he'd say or do something, but he didn't. He just started getting undressed. He wasn't saying a word and he didn’t look right. He was completely blank, almost bored looking and I couldn't figure out why he wasn't talking to me, trying to get me to engage in some way. I thought maybe since I wasn't protesting then he must be assuming I was ok with it, and I kept trying everything I could think of to get his attention, anything I could think of to let him know I needed help. I tried closing my eyes every time it looked like he might see it, thinking that if he thought I had passed out it would get him to stop, to check on me, but as far as I could tell he never actually looked down at me. I tried looking like I’d stopped breathing, but I couldn’t keep it up long enough. I was having trouble with that as it was because my chest felt so heavy, like there was a weight on top of it that I was having to fight against. It felt like I was having to drag air in, and so not breathing at all was nearly impossible for more than a few seconds at time. I was perpetually feeling like I’d held my breath underwater too long as it was. He wasn't paying enough attention for any of it to do any good anyway. Once he was finished undressing, the first thing he did was reach out and run his thumb over my lips, just sort of watching me with that weird blank expression. It was such a bizarre thing to do and it confused me, but I thought, ok, I'm clearly not reacting so now he’ll definitely get it, now he’ll know something's off, but he didn’t. He didn't even seem concerned when I didn't respond, and I started to have a growing sense of unease even as I tried to keep telling myself he wouldn't. This was Lee, surely he wouldn't. He turned and started to walk towards the end of the bed and I thought ok, he just hasn't figured it out yet. I know I opened my eyes during that, but I wasn't sure if he'd seen me do it or not. I remember the frustration, thinking I'd missed the perfect chance to get his attention, to get him to question things and figure out something was wrong. He stopped about halfway to my feet, stood there for a second, still without a word, then took my arm by the wrist and moved it off my stomach to my side. I was so close to the edge of the bed I was worried that any shift could cause it to fall off, dragging me with it and pulling my head into the corner of the nightstand. He must have noticed the same thing because he stopped, sort of looked at it like he was deciding something, then pushed part of my hand a little bit underneath me before he moved on. As soon as he did that, I felt this sickening shock hit me that, oh my god, he already knows. He knows something is wrong and he just doesn't care. He isn't going to stop. I had been so certain that as soon as he figured it out then everything would be fine, that the first thing he would do would be to yell for H. and then call an ambulance. I remember how crushing it was to realize that it wasn't that he didn't know, it was just that he didn't care. I had been clinging to the thought that it would all be ok soon, that help would be on the way the second he knew I needed it, that the paramedics could figure out what was wrong and at least try to fix it, but now that hope was gone. Help wasn't coming. Somehow he knew I was paralyzed and instead of calling anyone, he was going to use it to his advantage. He knew I couldn't say no this time. It was crystal clear where this was going, the the condition I was in didn't matter to him. The swirl of hurt and confusion, the sense of betrayal I felt is impossible to describe. I had stayed calm because there had been no doubt in my mind that I was safe specifically because it was him in the room with me. I'd expect this from Kyle, maybe, but never him. This was my friend, why would he do this to me? He had to know I needed to get to a hospital. Why would he take such a horrible risk in delaying getting help? And for this reason? I was trying to keep a grip, to stay calm, and I held onto the idea that even if he did go through with it, I wouldn't be able to feel it. I thought that because I couldn't move I wouldn't be able to feel anything either, so all I would have to do was keep my eyes closed and it would be like it wasn't even happening.Then it registered that I had felt it, I had felt it when he touched me. I wasn't numb like I'd thought and I was going to feel everything. I started trying to throw every rationalization in the book at it in an effort to stay calm. I thought ok, he's just going to take what he wants and then he'll get me help. He can't just leave me like this. Then the horrible realization that if he went through with this, he wasn't going to be calling anybody. He couldn't. He had to know this wasn't right and he wasn't going to want anyone to know that he did this. Getting me help was not going to be in his best interests. I had this fear that maybe the longer I was like this, the more likely it was to become permanent without medical intervention, that there was a finite window of time before it would be too late for them to do anything for me. In my head I was pleading, begging him to stop and think about what he was doing, reminding him that we were friends, to just stop and pick up the phone. He could still call as long he hadn't crossed that line yet and I was desperate for him to snap out of it and do the right thing before he hit that point of no return. This wasn't him, this wasn't the person I knew, this couldn't be happening. Finally I couldn't take it and thought ok, never mind that, I need to focus on why I can't move. That's the real problem, not what he's going to do. I can't help that. I kept telling myself that yes, the circumstances were horrible, but at the end of the day it was still just sex. It wasn't like it would be painful and it wasn't like I'd never done it before. It wasn't like it would kill me. I couldn't say the same for whatever was wrong. I still didn’t know how serious this was. I thought at first that maybe I'd fallen and hit my neck the wrong way, but that didn't fit because I hadn't gotten up. Maybe a bad reaction to the alcohol? It occurred to me that he might have drugged me, I knew that last glass didn't look right, but I couldn't think of anything he could have gotten hold of that would do this. But then how did he seem to know in advance that I couldn't move? Had he seen someone react to alcohol this way before? What if it was progressive and it was about to shut down my heart and lungs the way it had shut down everything else? The heart was a muscle too, so what was to stop whatever this was from getting worse and paralyzing it as well? I was trying so hard to stay calm. I remember having this thought that it might be something like a spider bite, that maybe it was something in my bloodstream and I could slow the progression if I could just keep my heart rate down as much as possible. I remember being worried about what would happen if he put any of his weight on me. I was already having trouble getting air in as it was, so any significant pressure on my ribs or abdomen was going to be impossible to overcome. Just having that little bit of weight from my arm being moved off to the side had made a difference, so I knew if he wasn’t paying attention I could asphyxiate underneath him and there would be no way for him to know it was even happening. He had to have weighed at least three hundred pounds, more than enough to force the air out of my lungs and make it impossible to inhale again, and because of the paralysis there would be no outward sign at all. I could suffocate and he would have no idea until it was too late. It was at that point I decided the only thing I could do was start trying to accept that I might not live through this. I had no idea how much longer I really had, if the rest of my life meant years or if I was down to my last few minutes and I just didn’t know it yet. Between him and whatever was wrong, there were just too many ways I could wind up dead by the end of it and there was nothing I could do about any of them. I remember making that decision and then realizing I had absolutely no idea how to do that. It was like knowing you have to change a fan belt when you’ve never worked on a car. I had no idea where to start. I felt stuck, trying to find a way forward with it, feeling like it was my only choice, then furious that I was having to think about it at all, then realizing how useless anger was in that situation. Anger is energizing, it makes you want to move, so feeling all that with no way to release it was just making things worse, more tortuous and frustrating. I gave up and went back to trying to just accept it. That I had control over. I wondered if it was true what I’d always heard, that you saw your relatives when you died. I hoped it was. I’d never met my grandfather and I missed my grandmother terribly. I remember latching onto that thought hard, how good it would be to see her again. It allowed me to calm down and think that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if I went. It certainly sounded better than where I was now. I didn't even bother praying that it wouldn't happen, that I wouldn't die or that he'd come to his senses and not go through with this. I knew things didn't work that way, so I just prayed that someone would be there waiting for me when I got here and that it would be fast, painless, and hopefully before he actually did anything. That was what I really prayed for, that if I was going to die anyway, I would go before he started. I realized it was the only way I was going to avoid having to go through it, and it wasn’t long before I found myself actively hoping it would happen. It wouldn’t matter what he did to my body then; I’d be gone. Then there was him. The way he was acting was so strange, so far from the person I knew I might as well have been with a complete stranger. When he'd first reached for my arm, I was expecting his hands to be sweaty, nervous, but instead they were dry and cool. I knew that was odd, it surprised me, and the thought ran through my mind that he'd done this before. He was just too calm and too methodical, which in a way only made the whole thing more frightening and confusing. I still wasn’t scared of him directly, but his whole demeanor was so cold and so detached that it was unnerving. I'd never seen anyone be that flat. He looked bored, like he was no more engaged than he would be if he were doing the dishes or laundry. It actually pissed me off. I was scared out of my mind, terrified that every passing second was bringing me closer to never being able to recover, and he was costing me that time in order to take something he didn't even seem to really want. I didn't understand how he could do this so casually, how he could look so indifferent. It was the same look I'd seen on him earlier in the kitchen, only now it was directed at me. If it had been someone I barely knew it would have been one thing, but to be put through this by someone who I'd thought of as a trusted friend only an hour ago was just... It made it so much worse. It was like he saw I was injured and instead of trying to help, he decided to burn me alive because he wanted to see what it looked like and he had some time to kill. He came back towards the head of the bed and for a second I thought that he had changed his mind, that something had clicked and he realized how wrong this was, but he had only come back towards me to get a condom out of H’s drawer. On one hand I was relieved, if he was going to do this at least it made certain things less of a concern, but it also told me he was serious, that he really was going to go through with it. Nothing was going to intervene. He wasn't suddenly going to have a crisis of conscience and come back to himself. He wasn't suddenly going to turn back into the friend I knew. He wasn't going to stop. I kept trying to figure out what I had done to make him turn on me like this, what I done to push him to this point. There had to have been something. This felt vengeful, like he was punishing me for something, and you don't do something like this for no reason. I thought I must have provoked him somehow, and then I felt a violent stab of guilt as I remembered what I'd said in the kitchen a few weeks before. I knew him reacting this way was over the top, but it was all I could think of that even might have done it, that made how he was acting towards me make any sense at all. There hadn't been any other problems between us, so that had to be it. I actually relaxed once that hit. He wasn't doing this for no reason. He did hear me, he'd been simmering for awhile, and now that I was down it presented him with the perfect opportunity to get back at me for it. I hadn't acted as a friend when I'd said it or in how I handled it, I'd let my embarrassment get the best of me on both counts, and now that I needed that friendship to protect me it wasn't there. I broke it, not him. If I just hadn't been so superficial or if I'd had the courage to straighten it out right away then none of this would be happening. It felt like karma, the consequences of my own bad actions. It didn't mean I wouldn't keep fighting to move, to keep it from happening, but at least now I had a way to get my head around why it was happening. It made it less frightening to have a way to understand it.
  7. Wow, Chica, you've had one hell of a journey. I knew some of it, but certainly not all, and I'm so glad for the "was" in "wasband"! I have to say that while I had a very high level of respect for you and how far you've come before, reading this has increased the esteem I hold you in that much further. And by the way, it's nonsense thinking that this installment wasn't as "flowy" as the other two. It was beautifully written, as always. You should be proud of yourself for a myriad of reasons and I hope you know that. Much love, my friend.
  8. Amsekhmet

    Who Abused You?

    A neighbor as a small child (possibly- memories are very unclear), a foster-type parent in a group home at 17 (unsuccessful attempt), and a roommate at 19 (drug facilitated assault).
  9. You did such an incredible job with this, and I am so proud of you! I know how hard you worked and what it took to get it all out. ❤️❤️
  10. We’ve talked about a lot of this already, but I want to say again how proud I am of you for everything you’re doing right now. You’ve come such a long a way, but you’ve also been smart about it, going at your own pace and practicing self care. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the installments. I know it isn’t easy to focus on it enough to tell the whole thing, and you’re brave for facing it head on like that.
  11. @VintagePanda Hi and welcome! I think you'll find a lot of really good support here. I've only been here a few days myself and the other members have been amazing. I was terrified of counseling too, I thought it would make it hurt more to work through what happened, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It was painful, I won't lie, but it wasn't nearly as painful as keeping it all in and letting it rot me from the inside out. I'm not trying to push it on you or rush you into something you're not ready for, all I'm saying is that when you feel ready, it really is nothing to be afraid of, especially not compared to what you've been through and are going through now. In the meantime, you have all of us anytime you need us Feel free to message me whenever you want should you ever feel the need. I can't promise I'll see it right away, but I can promise that I'll respond as soon as I do.
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