GUEST POST by anonymous friend
An Appeal to Heart
There are basic things in this world we should never be forced to endure. But we do. We endure them, and when we do, things fall apart. They come apart, and the way we pick up these pieces matters. It matters what we do with them, what they do to us—it matters how we piece them back together. Most of these pieces are sharp. Here is a sharp piece of my world:
I went abroad last year to Greece. While I was there I was raped. I was raped by a man who was older than my father.
I did not want this. I don’t want to tell you about it and I don’t want to write about it. But sometimes the things we don’t want to do are the most important. And it is important for me to tell you about it in order to explain some things that have been true to my experience that may be true for that of others as well. Maybe this will help you understand some things that are really difficult to understand. It is my hope that this might be helpful to some when faced with their own sharp pieces.
There’s a sense that sometimes we tell our stories, our secrets, in order to reaffirm our separateness from them. In order to let go of them in a way. To ensure that we do not become them. So here are mine:
I did not want this. So much so that my mind pushed it so far down into my psyche that I did not realize what had happened. Some mechanism of my brain threw such a heavy blanket over this horrible truth that I did not, could not look at it. Couldn’t face it. They tell me this is repression. Whatever it is, it led me to lead a very bizarre life for a year and a half, one hell-bent on being normal, on being okay, on being fine. But I wasn’t. I didn’t realize this, really, until one day during a printmaking class, I stepped back far enough from one of the prints I had just made to realize that what I had made was entirely black. Really dense black. What I had made terrified me. It made people cry. Realizing that black has never been part of my palate of the world, I began to understand how easy it is to revel in its texture, to lose yourself in it. And the thing that is really amazing to me is that I lost myself to it. And even so, I didn’t stay in it. This is what I am most proud of.
It took me months, literally months, to identify the word, the thing that essentially muddied all of the colors I have known and turned them all black. Rape can do that. Things that don’t make sense can do that. I’m so sorry that many of you know this.
When I was able to understand that I simply could not hack away at such an enormous force with the tools I had always known—with art, with breath, with tea, with a ball point pen, with running, with sleeping—I talked. And this, in many ways, has been everything. It didn’t matter, really, who heard it. I eventually made my way to people that could help me. The point is that it was somehow outside of me. It was no longer inside me in such a poisonous way.
So this is my appeal to you: tell your secrets. Do not hoard them. If they’re held too close to your chest, they have the capacity to consume you. They have the capacity to make you sick, they have the capacity to make you think things that nobody should ever have to suffer thinking. This is my point. This is my wish. Tell your secrets. Others will help you collect them, you will learn how to transform them. It will break your heart, yes—there is no question about that—but it will break it open. It will hold more. Of this I am sure.
It is a thin line between being broken and being broken open. The differences between the two are subtle, and I do not understand them wholly. Rape has both broken me and broken me open. My response to it is complicated. It has wreaked havoc on the way I view the world, the way I touch it, the way I live in it, the way I trust it. I have been trying to stretch my worldview over this incredibly sharp thing, and in many ways, it has ruptured.
Of the rupture I’ll tell you: This year has been so dark for me. It has been hard to laugh, hard to eat, impossible to sleep. It’s been hard to talk and hard to not talk. I have battled suicidal thoughts and sometimes it is hard to get up in the morning. Sometimes I hate men, sometimes I hate myself, sometimes I hate the world. And also, this: I have learned to love the world in an entirely new way. This is the wonderful thing, the part that amazes me, the part that has broken me open in such a mysterious way that I am not sure I am able to explain it. I have learned to love myself in a new way. It has taught me about the importance of being gentle—with myself, with others, with the world. I have gained an enormous capacity to empathize with the fabric of grief and sorrow. I have beautiful friends. The depth at which their laughter and grace affect me continually surprises me. I have a family that has offered tremendous support and has helped me remember how to laugh. I have learned nothing of understanding, nothing of expulsion, but everything of acceptance, everything of the quiet art of transforming.
I am almost certain that one of the things that is necessary to make the transition between brokenness and broken openness is speaking. So I’ll make my appeal again: Don’t hoard your secrets. And when you hear the secrets of others, be gentle. Be gentle with those who own them. Help others turn the sharp things in their life into things that don’t perpetuate that sharpness.
It is my understanding that all of us have faced or will face things in this world that will put us face to face with questions so dark, so heavy, so incomprehensible that they will shatter us—scatter the parts of ourselves so far apart, and into places so seemingly unreachable, that we will no longer feel whole.
It is my wish that we might navigate these places with grace, with gentleness, with compassion, and then piece the parts of ourselves back together in such a way that will break humanity’s heart—crack it open.
comment by me:
This post was first published elsewhere. It is particularly special to me because the person who wrote it became an unexpected support system for me when I most needed one. Our friendship is a surprising and beautiful one and I value it deeply. I count myself among women who want and need to talk about these issues and I seek to make a small active effort to create a platform for this discussion. (when I have the means and it is appropriate to do so)
The politics are hairy and IT is true that we must tread delicately. But this does not mean The Discussion OF RAPE AND DATE RAPE should carry the heavy weight of taboo. It is important that we expunge shame from our dealings with these topics. Expunge shame from our relationships with each other and ourselves. Communication is key.
I stress communication as fundamental for any healthy, healing and happy relationship (friendship or otherwise) and, as empathetic humans, we should strive for this on a community level. I am not saying, PICK SCABS, dwell in your wounds,
I am saying: NO SUBJECT WILL EVER BE TABOO. CENSORED. REPRESSED. So many problems are caused by shame and ESPECIALLY sexual shame. As my friend said, in shame THERE IS SILENCE. I am sick of it. I am a (soft spoken) loud mouth, pain in the ass, “introvert with no filter”, shock and awe addict. I like dramatics. it is my ultimate goal to communicate more perfectly and precisely so I can let the world know how much I love it despite how fucked up I think it is
in the most perfect and precise way possible.
I think if each person on the planet aimed to do this in whatever medium deemed by them their most joyful and passionate form of communication, the world might be a better place.
but allow me to convince you and I promise you right here and now, no subject will ever be taboo.