They never seem to go away.
Even the people who caused them. Fuck. ESPECIALLY the people who caused them. Somehow they find a way to creep their way back in. They find the smallest crack in your shield and rip it open.
You’ll be surprised to know it’s not even my rapist who does this. For whatever reason, he actually got the message that I never wanted anything to do with him after we broke up. I hope that if the person who still taps those triggers finds this and comes to know that YES EVEN MY RAPIST FOUND AND HAS MORE RESPECT FOR ME THAN YOU DO. WHAT KIND OF JOKE IS THAT.
To spare the people involved, myself included, this is the short version: my first experience with sexual harassment was when I was 15. It could be better classified as stalking and manipulation. He wanted me to cheat on his girlfriend with him, just to know what I would be like. He didn’t care that I had dated her younger brother. He made me believe their family hated me. No matter what I said, they wouldn’t believe me. No one would, not even my parents. He was the only person who would ever love me. He was the only person who I could trust.
I tried to negotiate my way out. I tried to tell him that everything he was doing was wrong and it was cheating and I had no interest in him.
He found a way to isolate me.
I had blown that whistle only after my parents confronted me with an astronomical cell phone bill because I went over the limit for text messages. I told his girlfriend what happened. Her brothers and his sister were confused, so they asked me why everyone was in an uproar. They believed me. They didn’t even need my proof, but they took it.
One thing led to another and years passed. 10 years to be exact. That trigger is still fresh.
Unfortunately for human beings, there isn’t a safety that you can click on. God. How I wish that I could just shut that experience out completely. But of course, as soon as I see his name flicker across my phone I turn into the scared 15 year old girl who saw no way out. It’s only ever one word and I know exactly who it is. Exactly where it will lead. Exactly what he’ll apologize for and bargain for and then find a way to tell me how good I look and how attractive I am to him. It all comes flooding back to me.
Fuck the power of empathy, sometimes. Fuck. It. BECAUSE I FEEL SORRY FOR HIM. I feel sad that for whatever reason he cannot understand that I want nothing to do with him. HE STILL DOESN’T GET IT TEN YEARS LATER.
Friends, I challenge you to ask others if they’ve ever experienced something like this. This needs to be talked about. Parents, I don’t know how to tell you what signs to look for, but I’m begging you to not let your child isolate themselves. As much as they might hate it in the moment — one day they WILL thank you for paying attention. (Mom and Dad, I think it goes without saying. I’m glad you wanted to be involved once you saw a red flag. Sorry about that phone bill.)
It’s the kind of pain that lasts a lifetime.
I find strength in transparency. I find power in my story. Holy shit it’s so exhausting. I’m so tired.
Having this guard up is such a burden. And no, it’s not worth a restraining order. He doesn’t know where I live now. Thankfully, blocking him across social media can usually do the trick. Somehow he found his way through this time.
Hopefully never again.
Note: I’ll be smiling this weekend. I’ll do my best to find joy in everything happening. But I might not, I might need encouragement to not retreat into isolation. I’ll be praying with my eyes wide open and begging Jesus for mercy and for this weight to be lifted. Oddly enough, this trigger is far more sensitive. Perhaps because the person who caused it never seems to want to go away, maybe it’s because I was so young. I can’t say for sure. I won’t be at my computer much. I might not respond to texts, but I’ll always answer a call. I’m thankful for my people. I’m thankful that you listen. You’re all such gifts.