Time has passed. My vision for this blog never came to light. Everyday I wake up with a list of things to do. They include, paint, read, write, clean, and either sew or make jewelry. Typically, all I accomplish from that list is a small bit of cleaning. I spend the rest of the day walking in circles trying to choose a direction and hating myself for the lunacy of that. Something momentous happened two days ago. I sewed. I didn’t sew well, because I don’t know how. But I sewed and completed, not one, but two dresses. They look like ruffly floral potato sacks, but my girls adore them and think I am strictly magical for producing them. I have big plans for some polka dotted potato sacks in the near future. And yes, the sewing machine and piles of fabric still cover the dining room table am am currently sitting at, finally writing. No thing thrills me more than the notion of possibly painting tonight. Anything could happen.
For now, I write. There is so much to say about my assault, the investigation and court martial, and the host of intense and confusing feelings these things produce. Maybe I should tell you a little more about what happened. Twenty-Two Days gave you a pretty clear and disgusting picture of my actual assault, and I apologize for that. However, I don’t regret it. My pain in those first days was so intense, it was physical. My head hurt so bad I couldn’t see. I didn’t feel like I could even drive safely, most days. I oscillated between these pure and intense moments of delicious clarity, and not being able to figure out how to walk into the kitchen, let alone make one of my four kids a peanut butter sandwich. It hurt all over and it scared me. I thought I was coming undone.
On that twenty-second day, my husband, who had been uncharacteristically patient with me and our kids, was being really hard on our oldest. It wasn’t unfair. Our son needed some… firm guidance. I was too sensitive for even the smallest perceived hostility. I found myself on my bathroom floor crying, hard- full on, body shaking sobs. Also uncharacteristic was that I hadn’t done this yet. My husband left to go jog. And I laid on the neglected bathroom floor, not caring about germs or weeks of bathroom dust and cried my whole belly out. I knew it wasn’t about my son or husband. It was a hard summer rain after a long dusty drought. It cleansed and renewed. I started typing into the notepad on my cell phone. When it was done I knew I just pickeded up each of the feelings that had been controlling me and I set them down gently on paper. I could finally clearly see them. Later that night I went out to dinner with my husband and his sister and for the first time in twenty-two days, my headache was gone. A few days later, I would go to California to spend a few days with a couple of friends. These two events marked a major leap into the healing process for me.
There were many challenges ahead, and the headaches would come and go, but from that week forward I could think. I could make the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I could go to the grocery store without worrying about finding myself in a catatonic stupor staring at the cereal shelf without any idea how long I had been standing there. I wasn’t moving forward yet, but I was standing up. A notable change I observed was that I no longer felt any sympathy for my attacker. It’s something I verbalized in Twenty-Two Days that was confusing for a handful of readers. Why? How beaten down was I that I was sorry for HIM? I think this contradiction split me in half and sent to two parts spinning rapidly in different directions. It could explain the searing headaches and disorientation. Maybe. But I was sorry for him. I still had a hard time seeing him as anything other than my nice friend, but a nice friend with an awful sickness. It was so horribly sad to me. My heart broke for him and his family. What the fuck is wrong with me?
He was my friend. My was my friend’s husband. And he was my husband’s friend. He was a neighbor that my children knew and were familiar with. He was my husband’s coworker. There were multiple layers of betrayal, each with unique consequences and suffering. The first two were the hardest for me to deal with in the beginning. That first morning was unearthing- my head split from too much tequila the night before. It wasn’t like a typical hangover, where the past night’s events slowly come rolling back. It was all right there. It had never left. Like I never slept. Crystal clear. My husband still didn’t know exactly what happened- just that it was something very wrong. He knew I was violated. I knew I had to tell him the rest. And, GOD. His wife. Jane, my new BFF here on the island. We had just started hanging out and really clicked. I was so excited about the friendship. This would destroy her. Do I have to tell her? Do we have to tell? I started to cry softly. Half-heartedly. None of it was even real yet. It was a movie with credits that just began to roll. My kids were awake. Headache. Knife in my head. Fuck you, tequila. What do I do? What do I do? I remember asking my husband so many times. Still drunk. So tired. Headache. Barking dog. God, the dog. She’s so loud. She needs out. But the SUN is out there. And reality. I should stay in bed. It’s not real unless I move. There’s a knife in my fucking head. I didn’t need to replay the movie. I could still feel it. I CAN FEEL HIS FUCKING HANDS STILL. I was sleeping. GOD. I was sound asleep! There’s no getting away from this.
I crept downstairs toward noisy kids and barking dog. So thankful for my saint of a husband. He braved the cruel sun with the barking dog. He came back in and shook me hard into reality.
“Jane is here. She’s on the front porch. She’s crying and she wants to talk to you.”
“JESUS. What? No! I can’t… I mean. WHAT? Hang on. Fuck.”
I went out. She handed me a redbull which might have helped my splitting head any other day. We sat in my driveway and smoked her cigarettes. She was shaking and crying. She apologized so many times. I couldn’t believe he told her. Already. That burden was no longer on me. She kept asking if I was okay. I kept insisting I was fine, but worried about her. The conversation quickly became focused on her. What would she do? How could she let this happen? How did she not see this coming? I asked if there was any kind of porn addiction. There’s some pretty sick shit out there. I was trying to make sense out of how a trusted friend could do a thing like this. She had no idea. He seemed so perfect. He went to church. She never thought she would be good enough for a guy like him. She thought she was the messed up one. He’d been aggressive lately and wanting to do different things. He was always so perfect. What would she do? What would she do? What would she do? She occasionally looked up and seemed startled to remember that it was me and this actually just happened to me last night. She would express sympathy again. I thought I was fine… compared to her. I told her to worry about her and her boys. I would be okay. I felt really okay. I didn’t want to report anything because I didn’t want to hurt her and her boys, but my husband may have very different feelings. WHAT?! She was so startled by this notion. Report it? Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God…
I went back inside after what felt like an incredibly draining 47 hours, but was probably two. I left it by telling her we would still be friends. I think in my head I still thought our families would still be friends. Stupid. It wasn’t until I said that to her that it started to sink in. I tried to move through my day, but the hangover. And I couldn’t escape the feeling of his hands and replaying every second from the time I woke up in that car to the time my husband arrived. I had to be 7,000% certain of what happened. And I still had to tell my husband. I can’t remember actually telling him. I just remember trying to force the words. I remember his energy changing once I did. He was in it, too.
He was assaulted, too.
We tried to talk about it throughout the day. We would sneak away from the kids. We would stare at one another, lost. Thousands of miles away, but one and connected like we hadn’t been in a very long time. Nothing made any sense. I told him I didn’t want to report it. I couldn’t hurt Jane and her boys. What would that kind of investigation do to my kids? We live on a small military base on a Caribbean island. Most of our base community doesn’t speak the language here, which drives us uncomfortably close. It would be a scandal. No. He said it would be much harder to not. They live in the house right behind ours. Our backyards are separated by a narrow alley. They work together, both helicopter pilots. They would be in the cockpit together. Our kid’s and neighbors’ safety from this sick motherfucker. No. I knew he was right. Then I thought of all of the women I knew that had been raped or assaulted**. So many women that felt no other choice but to remain silent. What if he did this before? WHAT IF HE DOES IT AGAIN? So many women that didn’t speak up and fuck every one of them. Shit. FUCK. Now this. And I’m standing up. And I’m sorry for hating their silence. I’m saying no more- for my daughters and every woman that wasn’t empowered to fight back.
This Ends Now.
**I’m still unclear what to call my attack. Most legal entities, including the federal government, call it rape. The Uniform Code of Military Justice calls it sexual assault.