1. I can’t sleep for longer than four hours.
I wake up, not intentionally. It just happens. I try to sleep. I’m so exhausted, so tired all of the time. But I can’t stay asleep long enough to feel well rested. I wake up consistently. But I can’t get out of bed. I just sort of lay here, waiting to pass back out of consciousness so the pain will go away for a while.
2. I get nightmares.
They’re not about the “thing” that happened. They’re random. People I love dying in front of me, but I can’t move. I just have to watch and no matter how hard I try I can’t yell or move to go to them. Swimming in the middle of the ocean at night and not being able to reach the shore, slowly drowning and wearing myself out, but not getting any closer to the beach as I’m swimming. Storms ravaging my childhood home while I hide in my bedroom closet or the basement. The house is eventually torn apart, windows break and the walls are torn away and I keep trying to hide, but there’s less and less there to protect me. Dreams of helplessness. Dreams where I can’t fix the problems around me. Not dreams, that’s the wrong word. Nightmares.
3. I wet the bed.
I pee before I go to sleep. I barely drink. I have no urge to drink until I get so thirsty that my mouth aches for water. Even so, I regularly wet the bed when I’m asleep. I’ve never done this before. I’m 23 and I’ve never had a problem with bed-wetting. But now I do.
4. I’m afraid of random men.
I’ve tried to face the world again, but it’s scary. Men make eye contact with me when I’m parked beside them at a stoplight and my heart stops. The first thought to hit my head is “They want me.” and my heart starts pounding. I walk through the grocery store and if there’s a man in the aisle I have to leave. I feel so trapped and I have to go somewhere else. I don’t want to be in the same area as a man. I panic. I hate men. They give me a sick feeling in my stomach.
5. I’ve cried.
The first three days and nights — all I did was cry. I cried constantly. I cried over everything. I couldn’t stop crying. I looked in the mirror and I saw the bruise he left on me and I cried. I took a bath and I saw my body — the body he took, and I cried. I felt sick and I cried. My friends texted me and I cried. My boyfriend called and I cried. My cats tried to cuddle with me and I cried. I cried over everything, and I couldn’t stop.
6. I’ve reached a point where I can’t cry.
And now, I’m dead. Well, alive, but I feel dead. I can’t even cry. I’m done crying now. I just sort of sit here. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know how I feel. I’m just sort of numb. I can’t cry. I can barely even think. It just feels like a daze now.
7. I’m afraid I’ll always be afraid.
I am so afraid. So deathly afraid of the world. I don’t want to leave my bed. When it gets dark outside I’m afraid to look at the window. I’m afraid to answer my phone in case someone I don’t know is calling me. It takes A LOT of courage for me to leave my home, leave my car, or even do something as insignificant as walk across a parking lot, in broad daylight, to get into a store. I’m terrified of everything, and I’m even more scared that I’ll be this terrified for the rest of my life.
8. I feel sick constantly.
I always feel like I’m going to puke. Nothing makes it go away. I don’t eat for hours and feel sick, and when I do eat, I still feel sick. I’m constantly sick and I don’t know how to make it better.
9. I feel gross.
I keep trying to take baths. I make the water so hot it turns my skin bright red and it hurts when I first get in. But I just want to feel clean again. No matter how hard I scrub I can’t feel clean. I just feel dirty. I feel disgusting. Nothing about me feels okay anymore. I just want to tear my own body away from me and get a new one.
10. I feel ruined.
My boyfriend knows what happened. Three people know outside of the police. My mom. My dad. And my boyfriend. He was good, at first. He was supportive. But he asked questions, and I answered. The more I told him, the more distant I felt he was getting. The more he knew, the more ruined I became to him. He’s trying to hide it, but I know he doesn’t look at me the same. I’m not good enough anymore. I’m broken, tainted, ravaged by another man. All he gets is the sloppy seconds of a broken girl. And I’ve never felt so unworthy of his love. Every moment I question if he even thinks I’m worthy of it anymore. I’m ruined for him now.
11. I had sex again.
I don’t think it’s normal that I did this, but I don’t know. I think my boyfriend wanted to prove to me he still loved me and he’s always used sex to show me that. And I wanted so desperately to know that he still loved me, so I wanted to have sex with him too. We had sex. It wasn’t bad. It didn’t raise any triggers and I felt okay. It’s only been a few days so I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about that. Am I suppressing something? Am I okay? Shouldn’t I have felt bad? I feel guilty that I enjoyed it. But then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. I had sex with someone I loved. I shouldn’t feel guilty for that, right? But I also enjoyed something that I experienced in an awful way such a short time ago — and that doesn’t seem okay.
12. I’m confused.
Just, genuinely confused. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. Am I supposed to feel strong? Because I don’t. I don’t feel like all of those “success stories” of rape victims who got their lives together and proved to the world they weren’t a victim. I feel like a victim. I feel self loathing and mad and hateful and hurt and sad and powerless. I don’t feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I just feel trapped in the dark. And I’m confused how anyone who went through what I have gone through could even get out of this pitch black place.
13. I’m mad.
I’m really fucking mad. I’ve torn apart my place more times than I can count. I have broken dishes sitting in the sink. Clothes thrown across the floor. Pillows tossed against the wall and houseplants ripped apart next to my windowsill. I’m so angry and all I want to do is hurt things. Is this normal? Am I supposed to be so fucking upset? I’m mad at things that don’t deserve my anger.
14. I feel like I deserved it.
I’m not a great person. I’ve done shitty things and I’ve hurt people. I’m a crappy girlfriend. I wear risque clothing. I behave provocatively sometimes. I used to crave men’s attention. I never locked my door. I never locked my car. I trusted people. I’m one of those people who they say “she had it coming” about. It was just a matter of time with me. I should have been more careful.
15. I don’t know what to say.
I don’t want to tell people. Everyone knows something’s different, something happened. But what do I say? I don’t want anyone to know. I just want people not to ask questions. I don’t want people to notice me. I don’t want to have to say anything.
16. I want to say everything.
I don’t want to say anything, but at the same time, I want to say everything. I want to say all of this. I just don’t want my name tied to it. I want to be able to share this article on Facebook and just be like “Wow, what a moving article.” I want to talk about it with my friends as if it’s someone else’s story. I want to say everything, but I don’t want ME to say it. Does that make sense? It’s like… I want the world to know. I just don’t want the world to know it happened to me. I didn’t want it to happen to me. No one ever wants it to happen to them. No one ever thinks it’s going to happen to them. But it can. It does. It did, to me.