Making Myself Believe It: Rage Like a Living Thing

[Trigger Warning: Rape, Molestation]

I’ve written about having HPV before. Twice. Once about being baffled by the diagnosis and another about working out it was from an unconsensual experience twenty years ago.

And then I was done. I’m a Stoic (head nod to my guy Marcus Aurelius, sup, Marco!) and I was just going to deal with it in my silent, proper, non-emotive way.

I haven’t been saying ‘why me’—I haven’t said it once, because people who say that have always struck me as naïve. Or uninformed about statistics and science.

If you say ‘why me’, well, why not you? The belief that you don’t deserve something bad means someone else does. Or that you believe fate exists. Which means children deserve to starve to death or people in India are fated to handle human feces based on their caste.

During the Chechen Wars of the 90s the women living in the areas of contention said they didn’t care who was winning because it only meant the uniforms of the soldiers raping them changed.

People who say ‘if you send out positive vibes you get positivity back’ make me laugh.

That only works if you live in certain places, look a certain way, and have a certain set of circumstances helping you along to begin with. All the positive thinking in the world won’t help the people with no food or those who live in war zones.

Fate and positive vibes are for the already fortunate.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about the factors in place that facilitated my winding up with this thing that could give me cancer. Several things worked together starting with my parents and their sincere need for parenting skills and military-grade AA.

Then there’s this rage. Fury, really. It swells in my chest sometimes like a living thing and I don’t know what to do with it. I’ve written before about how emotions weren’t to be expressed in our house. To the point where I don’t know how to express them now.

Of course, like an idiot, I went to the man of the hour’s Facebook page. He died a few years ago, but his friends and family continue to post messages to him about how they know he’s in Heaven with God and how they know he’d be proud of his son today because he did this or that. Or how they sure wish he’d’ve been there for whatever moment.

Because what a Swell Guy he was. And he was Taken Too Soon.

And the rage swells in my chest like a living thing and I don’t know what to do with it. And I flip back through each moment that had to happen for us to end up where we did, and I end up back at my parents.

Why didn’t I stop things there? Or there? Or there?

Why didn’t my mother ask why I was spending so much time with someone twice my age?

Why did I trust him when I had just been betrayed by someone else so terribly? I had gone to him for help dealing with a man who’d been putting his hands on me for months.

I know the answers to all of the questions. I can play them forward like a Choose Your Own Adventure story and see why I made the decisions I did, but looking back so much would have been so different if my parents hadn’t been alcoholics.

Maybe I’d be one of those people who thinks putting positivity out there brings it back to you. Maybe I wouldn’t know that if someone sees someone who can’t properly defend themselves, they’ll take advantage no matter how well you think of them.

Because I trusted him. We were friends.

I trusted him so much I didn’t believe anything bad had happened for years. Even after reading articles about how rape survivors often act after rape over the long-term and recognizing myself in all of the points.

Not until I got this diagnosis—twenty years later—did I have to admit that it really did happen and I knew I didn’t want it and, oh yeah, all those articles said you’d been acting like a rape survivor…

I certainly I can’t deny it now.

But I still don’t believe it. Not really. Maybe it’s because I don’t look or feel any differently, as there are no outward symptoms. I had a different name then—I changed it after I moved away. I don’t see or speak to anyone I knew then.

And I feel stunted and angry and baffled and stupid.

My anger is a many-pronged thing. At myself for not being more insular and withdrawn, which I would become later, but if I had been from the start none of this would have happened. For trusting someone so quickly because I didn’t want to be a distrustful person.

At my parents for being more interested in drinking (my father) and staying with someone who drinks rather than moving out, while also drinking herself to sleep every night (my mother) than paying attention to who their daughter was spending time with or for how long or how late.

At the men who were older than I was, who, over months, said things to me that chipped away at what self esteem I had, or did what we’d now call ‘grooming’ or made sure no one would believe me—and who would? I did completely illogical things—that I now know are very common for victims of molestation and rape. I read those articles and said, ‘Huh,’ and kept on moving. I didn’t know what to do so I did nothing. I was a blank slate of a human for a long time. My interior world was the snow of an improperly tuned television.

At the way the world treats perpetrators versus victims and how I still blame myself because the world would blame me if I told them.

Then I remembered something… I had tried to tell someone. A couple of people. One had said I needed to ‘get over it’. And the other had shouted, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you!’ and that was the end of it. You’re not supposed to talk about it because it makes men feel badly about themselves.

I had forgotten about that until very recently. The years of my life around that time are a blur—I don’t remember when what happened but I must have known something and tried to tell someone something because I recall learning that people didn’t want to know. So I suppose my brain decided that if I couldn’t tell anyone about it I wouldn’t know, either.

But I have to know it now. And I know another thing:

Someone doing something bad to you is all on them.

If an arsonist sets your house on fire—it’s on them. Not you for having a flammable house.

If someone steals your car—it’s on them. Not you for owning a car.

I had a body that someone (two someones) wanted to do things to. I didn’t want them to but they did those things. It’s all on them.

I just can’t seem to make myself believe it.

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