Real Men Have a Sweet Tooth.

When a woman is mistreated in a relationship it is not only her heart that ends up breaking. The pain remains in her body and also creates cracks in her logic. Emotional walls build allowing her self-esteem to suffocate, which may result in the emergence of self-destructive relationships and negative patterns. How do I know this, you may wonder? Because I’ve lived it and for many years I was this girl. For a long time I took comfort in unhealthy relationships with men because it was all that I had ever known. I was afraid of the men who wanted to offer me love and support because I didn’t think that I actually deserved it. After four years of internalizing my trauma and turning anger for others on myself, I began to break the cycle.

Within a year I have not only spoken out about being raped but I have encouraged others to speak out as well. I landed an internship with Suzanne Roberts, a somatic coach whose life’s purpose is to empower women and girls starting by alleviating the pain and trauma we hold in our bodies. I have to come to terms with my experiences and am currently on the verge of learning to forgive. I have let go of friends I once loved as well as let old ones return. These outstanding women have helped find the love that I desired within myself. All of these stepping stones have inspired me to reform my life and become the powerful woman that I deserve to be. In other words, I am on my way.

I met him in early September when summer was politely making it’s way out, allowing autumn to enter through the back door. It was short and sweet. A light-hearted romance that filled me with new feelings and even newer ideas. On our first date we laughed and talked for hours. We parted ways giggling in the same way we had when we met. When he spoke, he spoke to me. When we touched, he was touching the real me, the one I usually try to hide away. After we slept together I had realized that for the first time, I had actually stayed present. I didn’t leave, I didn’t retreat to the dark places in my mind. I stayed put, beneath him the entire time. Being treated as an equal startled me. He gave me back a sense of humanity that I was all too used to throwing away in sexual situations.

“It’s because he’s a man, he’s older and he’s not a little horny boy like you’re used to!” My cousin spoke with reassurance from the other girl’s in the room as she cooly smoked her cigarette. It made me think, is that it? Do men simply grow out of being cold and sexually distant? Do they hit a certain age and eagerly drop their immaturities at the door before calling, “Honey I’m home!” Perhaps, but perhaps not. In my case, I know that it was something more than that. Because I had developed a budding sense of self-care and a new found love for myself, I had allowed men with the same self-worth into my space. I was beginning to attract those on a higher level because I too was occupying that same place.

“He may be a man, but he has the sweet tooth of kid. You should’ve seen his eyes light up when he was talking about cookies the other day.” I laughed, rolling my eyes and feeling giddy about the day that had passed. “Well, I’m sure tons of dudes like cookies but you wouldn’t know because this is the first one who’s gotten to know you as aperson!” This was also true, it was the first time since I was seventeen that I wasn’t being treated as a sexual object. As wonderful as it was, he had explained upon meeting me that he was moving overseas for a year. Like all good things, it had to end. A bitter sweet goodbye to a bitter sweet affair.

Even if I never see him again, even if we never speak to each other from this point on, I have been changed. Feeling fully appreciated by a man that I was intimate with was a stepping stone towards empowerment that I needed. As women we need to break the vicious cycle of the careless men that bind us. We need to free ourselves from mistreatment so that we don’t perpetuate unhealthy patterns. If we never leave our comfort zone and face our demons before we are too set in our ways then we face the risk of being stuck in them for the rest of our lives. I deserve to feel good about myself, just as I deserve to find fulfilling love with men. I’m letting myself enjoy my sexuality and be present throughout sexual situations because I finally feel like I deserve to be.

Sometimes good people come in and out of our lives. They change us, they inspire us, they cause movement within us that results in permanent growth. It’s important that you take away from this piece that we must be secure with ourselves before secure people feel moved to enter. Happiness starts from within and once it is released it is an unstoppable, impermeable force. Some may say that meeting him just weeks before he left was bad timing. This isn’t true, but timing is everything. If we had met any earlier I wouldn’t have been ready. Now that I am, I will take this experience and carry it with me.

This is the Day I Lay My Shame to Rest.

My intention is usually to candy coat important issues with humor. I believe laughter is the best way to touch people, and although my posts are meant to inspire and be taken seriously there is nothing wrong with having a little giggle. A spoonful of sugar really does help the medicine go down. However there are issues too sobering that must be discussed. Direct crimes against women are happening right under our noses. These issues must be addressed so that we can change our society. Rape is just one of them. Using sexuality as a weapon against another is completely immoral but somehow perpetrators walk around free everyday as their victims are left to repair the damage done to them. I could give you statistics and theories about sexual assault and hope you choose to run out into the world and make a difference. I won’t, I don’t expect anyone to feel moved or even remember sets of numbers. Instead I have realized that the best way to bring this issue to light is to give my own first hand account.

Trauma is a funny thing. Before it happens one might expect to remember every detail, like it was yesterday for example. I can’t remember the date. I think it was October though, maybe before halloween. I don’t remember how I got to his house or what we talked about before it happened. What I do remember is how exactly it happened and the way it felt to want to climb out of my own body and run away.

This was a bad person. A bad person that I had loved so completely and perfectly it would have made you sick. It makes me sick. To think of his, as a face I used to look at endearingly. There was a time when I wanted his body on me. A time when I wanted affection from him and I would have done anything to get it, just a taste of what I thought love was. By that warm October night my desire for him had long passed. All I wanted was closure. For him to tell me he was sorry, for him to hold me and make all those old nasty feelings disappear. I wanted a “Hey, I care about you. Let’s be friends.” This is the funny thing about me, I can never let go of things on bad terms. I can’t let it die, not when I invested so many beautiful feelings in what the other person tried to destroy. Instead of sexless intimacy our new routine had become one of quiet submission. He would grab my wrists, and God I hated that, I hate it still. Just thinking of it makes me want to shake the feeling out of my hands. Then he would pull me on top of him, hushing my “no’s” and my “stop’s” until I understood that this was how it was going to be. I chose to leave while it was happening. I would shut my eyes tightly and pretend to be someone else. If I just moved around enough and made enough noise it would all be over soon.

That night was different. It started out normal, though I tried to fight it. Tried to be happy and playful, tried to get him to speak to me. To realize that I was a real person and to recognize that I was even in the room. It didn’t work of course, but in the midst of our morbid rendezvous he did something evil. He entered me in a way that had never been done before and was not allowed. I was pinned between him and the wall against his bed. Screaming and begging for him to stop. I don’t know how long it lasted. There was a pounding in my head that I couldn’t control and when he finally stopped my body fell limp. I was shaking at an unbelievable, uncontrollable pace. He panicked and told me he thought I was screaming because I liked it. He cried and slept on the couch. I tell people that I left, but I didn’t. I pretended that it was an accident like he said it was. I made the decision to be quiet. To not deal with what had happened. To maintain that he missed and it was just another hilarious story. Laughing at my own innocence in order to distance myself from the truth.

I stayed quiet for two years. I let it sit and fester inside me while I wrapped myself up in complete denial. It wasn’t a part of me, it didn’t happen to me, that’s not what rape is or ever was. Rape happens in a dark alley, because you chose to walk alone, because you weren’t protecting yourself. Your rapist is “the other” not the boy you lay next to you in bed. No that’s not rape, he didn’t mean it. He couldn’t hate me this much, not when I loved him the way that I did. For two long years this was my mantra. My body knew what really happened, your body always does. It would shake when I would get close to men. I found no pleasure sexual situations, just fear. Just the incessant desire to leave and run away. I pushed it down deep but the universe placed road blocks in my path that encouraged its exposure.

Feeling support from women was never a problem. I have the most beautiful friends who have stood beside me through all of this. My innate fear of men however, is palpable. There are some good ones though. There’s this one I know who always has a soft shoulder to cry on. Sometimes I wake up in his bed hot and afraid, forgetting where I am. He doesn’t know it, but when this happens I look over at him. At his quiet sleepy face. I study every bump and stubble of hair, all the imperfections that become perfect in the morning light. I know I’m safe here in this place. I lay back down grabbing him a little tighter, burying my head a little deeper into his chest and allow myself to breathe. When I throw drunken tantrums, screaming and sobbing throwing out meaningless accusations he stays quiet. He remains quiet at the times when my rapist would’ve stood in my face yelling at me with a booming voice, so loud it stung my ears and made me tremble. He doesn’t belong to me. I’m temporary in his bed but forever by his side. When we met, he caused something to move in me. That move started a chain reaction of growth. He’s not the one I love, but he is one that I love unconditionally. I trust a little more now, I’m a little bit stronger, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

My rapist pretends he’s not a rapist. He pretends that I’m crazy and obsessive. He hates me in a way that I could never hate anyone, not even him. He speaks to girls I used to consider my best friends. They don’t care, because they don’t understand. Like the rest of our society they don’t know that rape can happen with anyone, in any setting and that my story carries weight. He speaks to the girls that I’m still friends with, too. I asked him to leave them alone and to stay as far away from me as at all possible. He responded yesterday with, “Fuck you you crazy bitch. I fucked all of your friends after that happened and they all know what a crazy bitch you are.”

I’ve spent the last 6 months being sad and hating myself for what I thought I “let” him do to me, but after reading that I got pissed. An anger so filled with fire I could’ve self combusted. After reading those two grammatically incorrect sentences I made a decision. I will take my power back from him, I will stand strong and be brave. I will stop feeling shame for once loving an evil man. No longer will I be the victim, today I am waking up from my years of slumber. I have a voice and I will use it to speak profoundly and powerfully for people like me. I will not live in a world where this kind of sickening crime is permitted. Where law requires a harmful rape kit as a means of conviction. Where it’s our word against theirs, where they look at you like you’re the dirty whore who drank too much, or wore too tight of a skirt, or who had invited him in before so why not again? I didn’t invite him in, I just didn’t lock my doors. I was hopeful and naive for thinking my neighbors wouldn’t steal from me. There is no power in silence and I cannot help anyone else with out telling my story.

There is power in the collective. Let’s wake up every morning and tell ourselves that, “We will not be victims” and we will not stand for hate, abuse, and degradation of women and girls. Let’s come together to support each other. If you have been a victim at any place or any time in your life, then you have my support. Women are the mother’s of culture and society and mistreatment shall not stand in my life. Let this story move you, let my words cause a shift inside you, let that shift push you towards growth in supporting your fellow woman. He took everything he could from me but he will not take away my drive and ability to help women and the victims of these senseless crimes.