My first kiss was ten years ago today. I remember it pretty vividly.
I actually wasn’t supposed to even have a boyfriend yet. My dad didn’t want me to “date” until I was 16, but we had just spent 17 days camping and road tripping with our families and my mom had gotten to know him and his family. Fathers might be the head of the household, but mothers are certainly the neck — and mine definitely was on my side with this one. Of course she was going to let me date the cute redhead; he had perfect grades, played piano, went to church and respected his mama! What more could anyone ask for?!
There was no PDA allowed on that trip where I finally noticed him (he had later told me that he had a crush on me leading up to this trip). I mean yeah we held hands… but we were “sneaky” about it. It was the Wednesday night after we got home from that trip that I invited him to youth group. My mom picked us up (because he only had his learner’s permit or had JUST gotten his license – that detail is fuzzy) and took us back to my house. We were watching CSI: and cuddling on the infamous leather couch in our family room. He was kissing my shoulder and without any regard for the possibility that this was an emasculating statement, I blurted out that he should just kiss me for real.
Good one, Bonnie Jean.
Since I’m impatient I didn’t really even let him “pluck up the courage” to kiss me and I went for it. Of course I made the first move.
I think that’s what I miss the most about being 15 — nothing had yet tainted my relationship with boys. I was still so excited that one even wanted to cuddle on a couch with me. We ended up making out on it but honestly, everyone in my family has made out on that couch. It’s magic. Would definitely recommend. Sorry if you didn’t know that and you’ve sat on it. I still only had cautionary words from my parents that I should be careful and calculated about the boys I let near me. But of course I would be the first to kiss the one who was (is) exactly as good as he seemed.
How could I expect that six years later, almost to the day, I would find myself on the date with the boy who became my rapist?
He let me pick the movie. We were watching The Incredibles. Who could do something so evil with something so innocent in the room? I’m sure there’s some bull shit Disney kind of symbolism hidden in there. You know… like what happened to him when he was small that made him this way and think that my body visibly shutting down was a yes? Even still, I can’t watch it. I was driving home last night and saw it playing in the van at the stoplight next to me. I looked away as soon as I realized what it was.
Listen, I don’t feel like a victim. Not anymore. I think a few years of victim blaming from sources who should have encouraged me to fight back and finally being four years removed from it just makes it a sad story that is the most important one I have to tell. He was a wolf disguised as a sheep dog. He wasn’t the first, but he was the worst. Three months of him led to two years of misery until being put around the ones who did everything they could to repair that damage they had nothing to do with.
“Stop dating assholes who don’t let you put you first.”
I don’t stay with anyone who doesn’t understand that trauma is a lot like grieving. It feels like a never ending process, though it does get a lot better if you focus on it. When you let yourself feel the hurt and accept it for what it is. There IS moving on.
No. I never reported it. I’ll never get “justice” as people like to put it. Though honestly, at this point I just want him to admit what he did was wrong. I’m also not an idiot and I know that will never happen.
I don’t talk about it because I want sympathy or someone to stand up and defend my honor. I talk about it because it’s important that you know how to react when someone else you love tells you it happened to them, too. I talk about it because people need to know it’s okay to talk about it. It’s more uncomfortable for you to hear about it than it is for me to tell the story at all. You can’t relate and you don’t want to want to. I talk about it because it fills in the blanks for the people who didn’t understand why I was acting like a complete psychopath for the two years that followed. I talk about it because 20% of women share my experience. I talk about it because it’s all of our problem.
Here’s a tip for anyone who hears the story of a girl they love who was raped: stop apologizing by saying “I’m so sorry that happened” BECAUSE HE ISN’T. Just flat out say “what a piece of trash” or “that’s awful” or “fuck him I hope he rots somewhere.”
I’m not angry anymore; not at myself and not at him. It wasn’t my fault. It was his. On the day that marks four years since it happened, I can say that I haven’t said his name once since I didn’t have to. That’s how I show him grace. Not because he deserves it, but that’s how I kick my trauma in it’s ass and because I freaking have Jesus in my heart.
Fellow survivors: I’m here four years later and it only gets better. Just let it.