I have postponed talking about this in public for years, mostly out of fear. However, in that time, I have learned that silence doesn’t help others survive. Silence is dangerous. Silence is an enabler. Silence is a fickle bitch who promotes shame. It is only in the open discussion of difficult situations that others can gain courage if needed, reassurance if desired and strength to live outside of the shadow of fear, face pointed toward the sun.
Five years ago, in my 32nd year of life, my boring yet somehow frantic life was altered suddenly by a crime committed against me by someone I was trying to evict from my life. Someone my inner-self had warned me about in increments increasing for years — eleven years in fact. In that year, my 32nd, I was changed forever. Life changed forever. It is only after this occurred that I chose to live.
I recall boarding a plane after the incident (that’s what my friends call it — it’s too horrible to speak of in other terms) I escaped to safety with my girlfriends dodging press interviews and conducting police matters from another state, both literally and figuratively. My stomach contained more Xanax and vodka than a horse should consume, yet I was not able to sleep for nearly a week afterwards. That’s what shock does to you. It keeps you from danger. Keeps you in a state of high alert. Protects you. It keeps you from feeling. Shock is your friend — it keeps you safe. It paralyzes your sensitive parts. Makes you move unaided. I always assumed that I was safe. Strangely, you don’t actually know safety until you feel, true danger.
I wanted to live.
Today I’m more or less haunted by my inner-self. The self that warned me a thousand times over eleven years. Why had I ignored her cries? The inner-self that led me out, in baby steps, from a place of danger, slowly and methodically out… of harm. My inner-self, who on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 allowed me to break several bedtime routines to ensure my safety that evening. My inner-self saved my life. She moved fear to a desolate part of my brain and locked it away for not just hours but weeks to get my physical body to a place, a point of safety. My inner-self gave me courage to run, through danger and modesty out from under the blade of a butcher knife and the stranglehold grip of fingers wrapped so tightly around my neck you could see the fingerprints over a week later. My inner-self propelled me through broken glass in bare feet into a dark street, nearly naked and bleeding. My inner-self demanded I scream using a voice I had never before summonsed, in an effort to cry for the help that I had actually been in search of for eleven years. I wanted to live.
My shame is a private blame. A heaviness most won’t ever see within me as it lies deep under the surface. The kind that undulates in my belly like an earthworm through mud. I fall without landing through a continuous blackness that I don’t understand, nor can I escape. I carry it like a heavy weight in a backpack marching onward as I must continue to move. It has an effect on the speed at which I walk, talk and think. For a long time it impacted the way I love and how I am able to be loved. While this crime against me was heinous, I feel that I prevented an even more brilliant wreckage by getting run over systematically for eleven years. I feel that I have served a sentence that was not my own. I think by trying to provide and maintain grace, I actually dove from it into an abyss. However, on the eve of this crime, I somehow managed to slowly drag myself off of the bottom of the lake, started to make way for the surface for my first breath in eleven years. I wanted to breathe. I wanted to live. I chose to live.