Blackout: On Feeling Validated

I had a dream last night. In this dream, the person I love most in this world exited a cab crying. She grabbed me, as if holding on for her life, saying “He fucked me, he fucked me in there.” over and over again. Who this he was, is unknown, but I’m presuming the driver, and presuming the tears and the emotional voice I’ve never heard her utter in reality – it was not consensual. In my dream, I held her. I told her it would be okay. A part of me didn’t believe that it would be okay in the dream – this I think stems from knowing how this dearly beloved copes with issues in reality. Dream me knew that. As I held her in my dream, I could feel that I couldn’t give her what she needed in that moment. I held her with a cold indifference, with an emotional state that was ten feet away from her. I wanted to badly press my love and warmth and reassurance upon her, but as I stood there in my dream, I couldn’t get past a hardened emotional wall.

In my dream, I felt jealousy as I stood there holding her. Jealousy that she could emote what just happened to her. The same thing that had happened to her in my dream — had once happened to me.

It happened. I was shocked, and confused. It did not happen in a cab, it happened in the home of someone I trusted and would never have seen a reason not to. I will spare the details, but partly out of cowardice of reliving them. It happened in a way I never thought it could happen. It wasn’t like the movies, or anything I had ever heard of. Afterwords, I was paralyzed in fear, shaking. It took me about 6 hours to muster up the courage to leave. I went to spend time with my family, and treated them with an ugly spite that to them — came out of seemingly nowhere.

A few days after, I told a few friends. I knew if I could do one thing for myself in that moment, it would be to tell a handful of people, all of whom were very close to me. I knew this needed to be out in the stratosphere, and not just ping-ponging my head in silent misery. I am thankful I felt comfortable enough and close enough to others to share this so soon — even though I downplayed the severity, my reaction, and let it rest untouched for several years after.

Some reactions were puzzled and doubtful, some said nothing, others cried as I tried to keep my cool and downplay the seriousness of what had happened. At the urging of a friend who was also a victim of non-consenual sex, I headed to a treatment center. I spent about 30 minutes talking to a counselor. I put on a face that seemed like I wanted help, wanted to heal. I left knowing I would never return — the only way I knew how to heal was to hide this and deny. My friend did the smart thing — she kept going, attended a therapy group, and is now happy and confident in her own skin. I myself have strayed down a path of questionable recklessness and irresponsibility in dating and sex. A path I had never strayed before. I can only assume it is related to the trauma.

I developed a sense of edgy and fidgety uneasiness, that had never before consumed me. I became highly, highly paranoid. Standing alone in an elevator with a man was enough to make me cry in fear. How was it that a matter of hours had the power to change my life, to change who I was? The only way I knew how to warrior against these impacts was to black it all out and engage in full blown self-denial.

The most hurtful effect of this “incident” as I refer to it in my head, on the occasion I allow myself to think about it (affirming it as rape would be the next step in my admittance and healing), has been the response of invalidation. The few friends who assumed I was overreacting, or being dramatic; the friends who thought I should have expected his sexual advances and welcomed it; the friends that knew him and refused to believe me; one boyfriend who said “he could have guessed” based on my sexual trepidation towards him; the one boyfriend who said if he ever met him he would “kill him” — and then proceeded to hurt me in a way unforeseen; the loved one in the dream who years later made a comment that it probably wasn’t as it seemed, and I should sort out the thoughts in my head.

The first step in my healing was acknowledging the hurt and the weight of these comments. I never vocally fought them. I accepted that  the people around me were responding in whichever manner they assumed would be most helpful to my recovery. The first step has been validating it as rape myself — and knowing that I am validated in my responses and reactions. I was there. I know what happened. I survived. I am trying. I am validated in that. I found in writing this I blacked out — similar to the way I’ve blacked many of these feelings out. This saddens me on levels I can hardly comprehend, but joy is brought at the arrival of my self-imposed saving from self-destruction.

As long as my validation is harbor and harnessed, I can take the next steps towards not viewing myself as secretly damaged goods, waiting to be found out and left for ruin. I look forward to continuing the healing process. I hope to not rush the process — in the years between the occurrence and now, much residual damage has been done. I need to assess and slowly return to the person I was before, and the person I want to be now. I watch survivors of rape bravely tell their stories and help others — I hope I can one day feel comfortable enough in my skin to do the same. To not post this story anonymously, and to acknowledge the damage done and the good that has arisen from this awakening. The need to heal became to strong to fight, and for that I am thankful. I could not continue living in fear and unease. I could not let him change me eternally.

He controlled me once, but will nevermore.

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5 thoughts on “Blackout: On Feeling Validated

  1. jennavagts says:

    Thank you for sharing. You have a very powerful story and your journey in healing is inspiring.

    Like

  2. sarahbrammershlay says:

    Thank you. I have been thinking a lot about how we invalidate our own experiences, myself included. Like Jenna said, your journey in healing is inspiring.

    Like

  3. Took me a while to be able to heal, but I don’t think I ever did completely. I recognize myself in part of your path. I’ve always thought that you can heal yourself and I still do, but not without a support system. I can’t seem to be able to see a therapist and there was/is no group therapy here for such a thing. My traumas are punctual. Enough to scar me for a long time. It took me some years before I could talk about the rape. Now, 10 years later, I’ve met another type of abuse. Wolf dressed as white knight. I have to start all over again, because I am hollow. Thank you for sharing and keep walking.

    Like

  4. lexismanzara says:

    holy shit, I don’t even know where to start. my thoughts went from first paragraph ‘what magnificent writing’ to just so much emotion. halfway through I had to stop because it made me cry (this should be anonymous too but w/e). It just goes so deep and captures all of the emotions so well and the reality of it without all of the layers and myths and assumptions.
    What struck me most was the uncertainty of was that what I don’t want to think it was. Everyone minimizing to make it go away, and it doesn’t go away the damage just gets blamed on other thing – ok sorry im done. I just want to say I admire you for writing this

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  5. Thanks for your bravery and sharing your story. It was heartbreaking, but I think it’s so important to be talking about these things so people are aware of it and aware of how to help friends and family that go through traumatic events. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to write this, and so again thank you and I only hope you can continue to have positive healing.

    Like

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