If you know me at all, you know I’m a crier.
The point at a child’s birthday party when the adults sing Happy Birthday, that always gets me. Couples in public, giggling and holding hands. Babies smiling with parents in commercials. Thinking about my grandmother’s beautiful hands. Cute animals.
Really, I cry at everything. When watching movies, my friends often look at me throughout to see if the waterworks have started yet. I wasn’t always like this.
Before I was raped, I rarely cried.
I cried when I broke up with a partner or friend, and when someone at school was mean to me. That was about it.
I didn’t know why I became a crier. It just happened and I decided maybe I’d softened a little bit.
In reality, I was trying to harden, but my emotions were cracking out in other places.
I’ve spent the years since the last time I was raped burying my feelings. Until the last six months, when I got a flashback, I’d drink. When I became so depressed I couldn’t leave my bed, I’d pretend there was no reason behind it other than that sometimes I get sad. I wouldn’t even admit to myself that being raped had any impact on my life, apart from sex.
I didn’t cry about being raped. I rarely acknowledged that it impacted my life, until I had to have that awful talk with a partner who I was beginning to be intimate with. When my thoughts turned to what happened, I’d start telling myself that I was blowing it up in my head, I was exaggerating what happened and it wasn’t that big a deal. It was really my own fault for not standing up for myself more, for not fighting back, for not wondering why that one drink was hitting me way too hard.
I can’t afford therapy, and I don’t think I’m ready for it either. But I’m ready to talk about it a little bit from over here, behind my computer screen.
I didn’t know I needed to hear that it wasn’t my fault and that I’m not the same girl that happened to, but when my ex held my hand and told me those things, I felt relief. Some of the shame and guilt lifted. I realized that it was, and still is, okay to feel sad, hurt, furious, confused and violated. What’s probably not okay is pushing those feelings away, because they’re just going to leak out sometime.
It’s become okay for me to curl up in bed and sob when thinking about what happened. I’ve told myself for the past 10 years that it was never a big deal. Now, I’m going to tell myself that it was a huge fucking deal. As I write this, though, I’m still arguing with myself that it wasn’t that bad. Clearly I have some work to do, but where do I go from here?
Anxiety sucks, I know. There are specific challenges to dealing with it as a feminist, vegan and freelancer. I’m no expert at chilling out and avoiding panic attacks, but I’m learning. Maybe we can do it together?
Podcast by Meg Crane, freelance journalist and editor. Music by Alannah Zeebeck. Artwork by Kate Winiarz and Meg Crane.
The episode of Guys We Fucked that I reference, which helped me realize this, is “Suck My Dick… Ma’am?” If you haven’t checked out this podcast yet, I highly recommend it.