I throw down my smart phone because it’s as useless as an empty pack of cigarettes. I stand irritated and itchy. Facebook has been running its greedy little fingers all over my emotional body. The level of anxiety keeps bouncing back up. I pace back and forth feeling powerless; feeling pointless. I willingly participate in a system where I don’t matter. That thought hurts.
The muscles in my shoulders harden into solid rock. Tension moves down my arms and up my neck resulting in a pulsing pressure pressing against the inside of my skull. I realize that I’m not breathing. My vision darkens. I’ve got to get moving.
Sliding into the bedroom for shoes, I perch on the edge of my bed when my heart clamps as flashes from the past come flying through my mind. The rape at 15 has already been playing on a continuous loop for the last two months, but now other images begin to surface.
Flash to the boyfriend who had said I was lucky he’d even look at me since I was so fat and had old lady boobs. Just thinking about his disgusted face looking down at me, my breasts can’t help but to feel shame. Flashes of his temper, him grabbing my leg and planting a hard punch deep into my thigh. Day after day, until I become polka dotted.
Had that been abuse? Or a deserved punishment? Had I asked for it? Had it been all my fault?
I see how the hard edges of me splintered out and became dangerous. I see how my shell of spikes formed along with a lashing tongue.
Flash to casting directors putting their hands on those same bruised thighs, whispering with wet lips an invitation to the strip club down the street. Was that harassment? Enticement? Paying the piper?
Flash to the generous man who had claimed to just be a friend. However, when trapped by a snow storm, he insisted that sex had always been inevitable. Totally blindsided, I laid there stiff as a board, staring at the snow falling across the window. I recall my stomach clenching as he peeled off my jeans, then my long underwear, followed by all four pairs of my socks.
Why hadn’t I said, “Stop”? Was it because he had bought dinner? Maybe if I had spoken up, he wouldn’t have gone on to press other women into crossing their own boundaries.
Then, the realization:
Holy shit! I wasn’t born a controlling bitch. I was made. Men made me. With every assault, every invasion, every manipulative insult.
Flash to the pervert at work ogling my cleavage as if it was a quest he must conquer. Flash to the bosses and managers defending pigs then calling my speaking up “not being a team player.”
If men want women to be softer and nicer, then stop f*cking assaulting us!
Still sitting on my bed, I desperately try to grab hold of these insights before the threads slip through my fingers and I go back to pretending I’m whole. I worry about the cortisol coursing through my body and so many other women’s bodies right now in every corner of our world. I make myself breathe when all I want to do is scream.
Why didn’t I know better? What do I do with all this revelation? This is huge. Where do I find the time to dig down to the roots and discover the real me beneath all the layers of protection that have accumulated? Is it better to break out of the shell, or fortify it into a wall and arm it with daggers and bombs?
How many other women (and men) out there are currently going through the same awful process of ripping off the scab of very old wounds?
I shake as I brush away my tears and wipe my hands on my jeans. I finally tie my shoes, grab keys, and head out to go shopping. Because, no matter what is happening on social media and capitol hill, got to do my civic duty by buying things.
The imbalance of gender power is coming up for discussion. Read more in “Cards Against Humanity: Battle of the Sexes”
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“I write to open up space for my heart and head to tumble, stumble, bounce, and roll. I write to explore the magic of our world and the power of words. I write to expose the tragic truth of life as well as the authentic abundance and joy. The stories are meant to inspire all of us facing the challenge of knowing and honoring our authentic self in a world of commands and demands.” – Jessica Sabatini