I didnt tell anyone i tried to kill myself. Something else i buried deep. I often tell people that college saved. Which in part is true. Rutgers, only an hour from my home by bus, was so far from my old life and so alive with possibility that for the first time in the longest I felt something approaching safety, something approximating hope. And, whether it was that distance or my bottomless self-loathing or some desperate post-suicide urge to live, that first year I remade myself completely. By junior year, i doubt anyone from my high school would have recognized. I became a runner, a weight lifter, an activist, had girlfriends, was popular.
Passage From Enthusiasms, by bernard levin
Senior year, while everyone was getting their college acceptances, i went another way: I tried to kill myself. What happened was that in the middle of a deep depression I suddenly became infatuated with this cute-ass girl i knew at school. For a few weeks my gloom lifted, and I became utterly convinced that if this girl went out with me, if she fucked me, id be cured of all that ailed. No more bad memories. Excalibur on heavy rotation, so i was all about miraculous regeneration. When I finally got up the nerve to ask her out and she said nope, it felt as though the world had finally closed the door. The next day, i swallowed all these leftover drugs from my brothers cancer treatment, three bottles worth. You know why i didnt try again the next day? Because my one and only college acceptance arrived in the mail. I had assumed I wasnt going anywhere, had completely forgotten that I had any schools left to hear from. But as I read that letter it felt as if the door of the world had cracked open again, ever so slightly.
Night was the online worst—thats when the dreams would come. Nightmares where i got raped by my siblings, by my father, by my teachers, by strangers, by kids who i wanted to be friends with. Often the dreams were so upsetting that I would bite my tongue, and the next morning Id spit out blood into the bathroom sink. And in no time at all I was failing everything. Quizzes, quarters, and then entire classes. First I got booted out of my high schools gifted-and-talented program, then out of the honors track. I sat in class and either dozed or read Stephen King books. Eventually i stopped showing up altogether. School friends drifted away; home friends couldnt wrap their heads around.
And while other kids were exploring crushes and first love i was dealing with intrusive memories of my rape that were so excruciating I entry had to slam my head against a wall. Of course, i never got any kind of help, any kind of therapy. Like i said, remote i never told anyone. In a family as big as mine—five kids—it was easy to get lost, even when you were going under. I remember my mother telling me, after one of my depressions, that I should pray. I didnt even bother to laugh. When I wasnt completely out of it I read everything I could lay my hands on, played Dungeons dragons for days on end. I tried to forget, but you never forget.
(What did I see? I saw the crime, my grisly debasement, and if anyone looked at me too long I would run or I would fight.). By fourteen, i was holding one of my fathers pistols to my head. (Hed been gone a few years, but hed generously left some of his firearms behind.) I had trouble at home. I had trouble at school. I had mood swings like you wouldnt believe. Since Id never told anyone what had happened my family assumed that was just who i was—un maldito loco.
Narrative, essay on death custom Essays, term Papers
And always I was afraid—afraid that the rape had ruined me; afraid that I would be found out; afraid afraid afraid. Real Dominican men, after all, arent raped. And if I wasnt a real Dominican man I wasnt anything. The rape excluded me from manhood, from love, from everything. The kid before—hard to remember. Trauma is a time traveller, an ouroboros that reaches back and devours everything that came before. I remember loving codes and Encyclopedia brown and pastelones and walking long distances in an effort to learn what lay beyond.
At night I had the most vivid dreams, for often about Star Wars and about my life back in the dominican Republic, in azua, my very own Tatooine. Was just getting to know this new English-speaking me, was just becoming his friend—and then he was gone. No more spaceship dreams, no more azua, no more. Only an abiding sense of wrongness and the unbearable recollection of being violently penetrated. By the time i was eleven, i was suffering from both depression and uncontrollable rage. By thirteen, i stopped being able to look at myself in the mirror—and the few times i accidentally glimpsed my reflection Id recoil like id got hit in the face by a jellyfish stinger.
And anyone else who cares to listen. Not enough pages in the world to describe what it did. The whole planet could be my inkstand and it still wouldnt be enough. That shit cracked the planet of me in half, threw me completely out of orbit, into the lightless regions of space where life is not possible. I can say, truly, que casi me destruyó. Not only the rapes but all the sequelae: the agony, the bitterness, the self-recrimination, the asco, the desperate need to keep it hidden and silent.
It fucked up my childhood. It fucked up my adolescence. It fucked up my whole life. More than being Dominican, more than being an immigrant, more, even, than being of African descent, my rape defined. I spent more energy running from it than I did living. I was confused about why i didnt fight, why i had an erection while i was being raped, what I did to deserve.
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It could have saved me (and maybe you) from so much. But I was afraid. Im still afraid—my fear like continents and the ocean between—but Im going to speak anyway, because, as Audre lorde has taught us, my silence will not protect. X—, essays yes, it happened. I was raped when I was eight years old. By a grownup that I truly trusted. After business he raped me, he told me i had to return the next day or I would be in trouble. And because i was terrified, and confused, i went back the next day and was raped again. I never told anyone what happened, but today im telling you.
But I never really did forget. Not road our exchange or your disappointment. How you walked out of the auditorium with your shoulders hunched. I know this is years too late, but Im sorry i didnt answer you. Im sorry i didnt tell you the truth. Im sorry for you, and Im sorry for. We both could have used that truth, Im thinking.
away your books, and leave. When the signing was over I couldnt get the fuck away from Amherst, from you and your question, fast enough. I ran the way ive always run. Like death itself was chasing. For a couple of days afterward I fretted; I worried that Id given myself away. But then the old oblivion reflex took over. I pushed it all down.
You asked, quietly, if it had happened. You caught me completely by surprise. I wish I had told you the truth then, but I was too scared plan in those days to say anything. Too scared, too committed to my mask. I responded with some evasive bullshit. And that was. I signed your books. You thought I was going to say something, and when I didnt you looked disappointed.
Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, 7) by lois McMaster
Illustration by ben Wiseman; photograph courtesy the author. X—, last week i returned to Amherst. Its been years since i was there, the time we met. I was hoping that youd show up again; i even looked for you, but you didnt appear. I remember you proudly repped. During the few minutes we spoke, so i suspect youd moved back or maybe you were busy or you didnt know I was in town. I have a write distinct memory of you in the signing line, saying nothing to anyone, intense. I assumed you were going to ask me to read a manuscript or help you find an agent, but instead you asked me about the sexual abuse alluded to in my books.