Warning: This post is a major child abuse/rape/self harm/miscarriage trigger. Read at your own discretion.
To tell my story, I must introduce you to a little girl before she was broken. Before the very person who was supposed to protect her changed her entire life. This little girl was happy, yet shy, a little On the funny side, but only if she really knew you. She climbed trees, rode her bike as far as she could without getting into trouble, played basketball with imaginary basketball hoops, and loved art. She had ok grades, nothing below a B, and she loved to read. She did ballet, gymnastics, and loved dresses and bows. Her childhood, despite her parents divorce and an ex stepmom with a new brother, was shaping up to be pretty damn good. Almost. Almost.
This little girl, was me.
I was scared of the dark as a kid. Not the fake scared when some kids ask to get an extra glass of water or try to stay up, but pure, innocent, fear. This particular night I was terrified. I didn’t get to sleep on the safe top bunk where zombies couldn’t get me like my little sister. No, I was on the bottom bunk with full view of the dark hallway AND the dark closet. I laid there forever staring at the dark hallway, completely sure I saw shadows moving. I knew I had to go through that door to get to my dads room for protection so, when I got up the courage, I threw the covers off, jumped up, and ran to my dads room as fast as I could, feet thudding on the carpet hard the whole way. Just as I got close to his bed, I jumped on as fast as I could, just in case a monster was underneath, and snuggled close for safety. I didn’t know the true monster was right there next to me.
Just as I started to fall asleep he started to pick me up. At first I was confused, why was he picking me up? Was he going to hug me close because he knew I was scared? No. His intentions were not as innocent as I was. I knew it was wrong the second I felt him against me. He never removed my panties or removed his underwear but what was happening was wrong. I didn’t know what to do so I just froze, pretending to be asleep. That night was the first time I had an orgasm. I was 8. It still makes me nauseous to think about. When he was finished I got up to go to the bathroom. His voice startled me. He asked where I was going and I told him I had to pee. I went to the bathroom and I was raw from him rubbing against me. I just sat in the bathroom for what felt like forever staring at the wall in front of me before I got up, peeking around the door frame to listen for my dad’s snoring. I could hear the muffled rattle and was relieved that he was fast asleep so I went back to my room as quietly as possible so I didn’t wake him because now I wasn’t scared of the dark, I was scared of him. Once I got to my room I climbed up into bed with my sister on the top bunk. I cried myself to sleep that night and my baby sister held me even though she didn’t know what was wrong, she was 4. I still blame myself for not just climbing up to her bed in the first place.
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” -Benjamin Franklin
The next morning, my dad asked to speak to me. I gripped my sisters hand in mine, refusing to be alone with him. He told me he was sorry, and that what he did was wrong. But here’s the kicker, he tried to make excuses. He said he was half asleep, missed my stepmom, and a few other lame excuses. He told me it would never happen again and a week later we started going to church. I don’t know how many days it took to repress that memory but eventually I forgot it happened. At least for a decade or so. I guess my child mind couldn’t process what had happened.
From then on I had a relatively normal upbringing but my grades started to slip dramatically in the second grade. I tried to concentrate but I was such an anxious kid. Everyone just called me shy and I was before the incident, but even more so after. How do you learn to trust anyone when you’ve already been violated by someone so close to you? Even if I didn’t remember it took a toll. I struggled with school for awhile, had a couple “boyfriends” but what really is a boy you hang out with at 9 or 10 at school? I eventually started to come out of my shell around 12. I was in middle school, my body was starting to change, I was noticing boys more and they were noticing me. One boy, a couple of years older than me started messaging me on AOL chat.
We’ll call him Joe.
Joe was so cool, at least to me at 12. He had tarantulas, went on big trips with his family, and his parents let him drive sometimes. I thought he was so cool.
We used to talk on the phone a lot about nothing in particular and one day I invited him to meet me down the street at the high school. It was a weekend and it was somewhere I could walk to. He was dropped off shortly before I got there and went to sit down by the band trailers. He was smoking. So cool. Once I got there we talked about trips and stuff, the usual.
Then Joe asked if I wanted to mess around.
At this point I didn’t remember what my dad had done to me, but my body did. My heart was pounding so hard, I started shaking, but I liked him. So against all my warning flags going off, I said yes.
The high school was surrounded by a small woods and he lead the way to “privacy” in those woods. We sat down and started kissing. He put his hand down my shorts and in that moment I changed my mind. I changed my mind. I told him I couldn’t do it and I needed to go home. I stood up to go, telling him I was sorry. As I turned to go, he grabbed me by my hair and threw me to the ground. I was so surprised. He was such a nice guy. Right? I was so naive and thought it was an accident so I tried to get up again. That’s when I saw his face as he smacked me across mine. Not an accident.
Somehow in my stunned state he got my shorts and panties down and was inside me. I was a virgin. I could have fought back, I could have bashed his head with the rather large rock under my hand, but I was in so much shock. I was frozen. So instead, I just pretended I wasn’t there. This wasn’t my body. This wasn’t happening. So I focused on the sun rays shining through the trees. I don’t know when he finished or when he left. I just sat there watching the rays disappear. I walked home as the sun was setting. I had been wearing white shorts and the only thing I could think was, I hope I don’t bleed through them. I still have scars on my hands from the branches on the ground cutting my hands.
I should have bashed his fucking head in.
“I destroyed my body for a peace of mind I never got.” -b.r.
Not long after my rape, I started having panic attacks. Brushing my hair became triggering with every tangle pulling at my scalp. The sound of leaves crunching under my shoes made my heart race and I had to hum to myself just to muffle the sound somewhat. Lucky for me, he was older and in HS while I was in the 8th grade. I turned 13 shortly after that summer in September. I tried different ways to cope, drawing, walking, singing, etc but nothing seemed to help. Until I found something that helped me release.
One day, doing dishes, I dropped a glass. I was in the middle of sweeping it up and throwing it away when I found a small shard with a perfect edge. I sat it aside and cleaned the rest of glass up, then went to my room. I had never thought to do it. I never even knew it was a thing. I just knew that for some reason, the thought of cutting myself sounded appealing. I was careful and nervous and washed the glass with alcohol. I slowly drew the glass across a small part of my wrist and the adrenaline pulsed through my body immediately. I felt so much better and the pain of that tiny cut was nothing compared to how I’d felt the months since Joe hurt me. I put Neosporin on it and when asked about it, I told my parents about the broken glass and they believed me. From then on I wore sweatshirts, even in summer. My parents just assumed it was my style. Eventually, I started taking blades out of pencil sharpeners or using scissors, my mom had one of those foot skin cleaners and a stack of perfect razor blades.
I hid them everywhere.
I was quiet and shy. No one ever noticed. I flew under the radar enough that people just assumed I was an introvert instead of depressed. No one ever suspected that I was harming myself every single day. I was smart about it. If I knew I’d be wearing something short like a t shirt I’d cut at my shoulders, or legs, or my ankles. I always applied Neosporin because if anyone saw scars they’d suspect something.
I never did this for attention. I never wanted anyone to know.
I did this for six years. Six years. Not one person suspected a thing. I graduated HS. I went to a private college despite my low GPA and things seemed to be looking up. But I never stopped cutting, even once I got to college.
Even when I got a boyfriend. We’ll call him Mike. Mike was actually a good guy. I thought. He waited to have sex until I was ready. He was very gentle, and made my first experience a positive one. Until one weekend after my birthday. I had spent the weekend with him and on the way back to my college he broke up with me. He broke up with me, after my birthday, with 30 min left of the drive. To me, it felt like he just took my virginity, because I had decided to not count my rape as my first, and then he dropped me off at college. Broken again.
After that, things just sort of came unglued. That weekend was the first time I got drunk, I’m pretty sure I got major alcohol poisoning and was sick for several days. I also started smoking, both cigarettes and marijuana. This was just the beginning of my 3 year spiral out of control.
“It’s the fear of the past repeating itself that haunts you.” T.W.W.
A few years later, at 16, I was sleeping. My dad had gone to the town bar with my Uncle and Aunt. He didn’t drink much, but that night he went out and let loose. Around 2 am I woke up to him climbing into my bed, mumbling and whining that the women at the bar didn’t like him. All I could do was freeze and hope he didn’t do anything. I laid there, terrified as he fell asleep with his arms wrapped around me while he was in his underwear. Once I knew he was asleep, I slowly slipped out of his arms and went to the same bathroom I had gone to at 8. I still didn’t remember but the panic attack started anyway.
Each choppy breath was harder to suck in. I closed and shut the door and got into the shower, turning the water on as hot as I could handle. I’m sure in some far corner of my consciousness, I knew. But I had created this mask and pushed everything down and away so long that it had even become impossible for me to cry. I never fell apart, I never cried, and the only time I felt anything was when I was harming myself.
I’d perfected the smiles. How to “smile with your eyes” just enough to seem genuine. I could probably be an actress by now with the amount of acting I have done my whole life. I made jokes and acted goofy to make people laugh, which is something I still do. I got labeled as the goofball, silly, always making jokes and being just a little weird. No one knew that behind that mask I was dead inside.
“People will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
Now amidst all of this pain, secrets, and addiction of self harm, I would go to these camps every summer. Church youth camps. There was a counselor there that has since become a very dear friend of mine. I had graduated high school barely and was at my very last senior high camp.
I was going to college a few months from this week and with all of the spiritual talk, reflection, and devotional, I had decided to reach out to this counselor. Before deciding this and before this camp, I was going to go to college and kill myself away from home so my parents didn’t have to find me. We were sitting at a campfire when a friend stood up to share that she had been self harming for months and she was in so much pain. My heart raced. I knew no one knew but as I sat there I felt like everyone could hear my heart beating out of my chest.
After the campfire I pulled this counselor aside, I will call her Jessi. I don’t know what she expected me to say, but she obviously knew that I needed to speak to her alone so we walked to the nurses station and we went inside. I must have sat there forever, it felt like, trying to figure out what to say.
Should I tell her? Should I just get up and run out?
But as I was about to get up, my hand reached for my sleeve and pulled it up to reveal fresh cuts from just that day. I had never shown anyone these cuts and by then I was 4.5 years in. I had become a master at putting on a mask, acting happy, and making people laugh. The gasp that escaped her lips just opened the flood gates. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t stop. I was in so much pain. I don’t even know if she knew what I was saying or if she could even understand me through the blubbering. She pulled me into a hug before I could catch my breath. She asked a few questions that I don’t even remember anymore. After that week I didn’t want to kill myself anymore. So, Jessi, I doubt you’ll ever see this…
Thank you for saving my life.
But I didn’t stop cutting.
I went on to college, hiding razors in teddy bears and pencil boxes. I was an art major after all. Anything can be considered an art tool. One day my RA came to me and asked if she could see my arms. I asked why and she said someone reported that they’d seen cuts on my arm. I beat myself up for weeks that I had let my guard down and someone saw. My RA asked me again to raise my sleeve and I complied. This particular day had been very bad so from the crook of my elbow to my wrist was full of long, shallow cuts. Freshly covered with Neosporin. She referred me to the school counselor who sent me to a therapist. That week I stopped harming myself. I knew the pain would always somehow remain, but now I had someone to confide in, someone who would listen and help me work out my emotions in a positive way. Who knew soon after, my whole world would fall apart?
Because I sure as hell didn’t.
“Memories are like bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” -Richard Kadrey
The day I remembered was an ordinary day. I went to class, ate lunch, my uncle had been diagnosed with colon cancer and my dad was going for a colonoscopy to rule it out. Everyone was praying for him. Saying they hope everything comes back normal. I wanted him to have cancer. What kind of person hopes their dad has colon cancer? I remember that night going to my RA. I didn’t understand why I would feel that way. I loved my dad. I don’t want him to die. Right?
I was sitting on my RA’s floor talking when she asked why I would want my dad to die. Had he upset me? Was I mad at him?
That’s when the memory hit me. Hard.
It was like all of a sudden the air was so thick. I was cold and hot. Sweating and shivering. This couldn’t be happening. And why was the room spinning. My face was wet. Was I crying? That was when the words came out of my mouth.
My dad molested me when I was little.
My poor RA had no idea what to do. I mean, how do you handle something like that? How do you console someone after that? All she knew to do was call the school counselor. I immediately met with her, my mom flew out, we all talked about it, and I went home with my mom. It was fall break soon so I just went home early. I wrote my dad a letter telling him I remembered what he did and I couldn’t be around him. He threw his back out that night violently vomiting. When he told me I remember thinking Good.
He called me a week later. Sobbing. He told me what I already knew. That he was so sorry. He was a monster. He had hoped I had forgotten.
I did. But not anymore.
He asked what would happen, if I was going to go to the police, what would happen to my little brother? I consoled my dad. I told him I still loved him.
Once I got back to college I went to my therapist. I believe now that this therapist wasn’t equipped to handle someone who’s experienced trauma. Because instead of recognizing that I was experiencing major PTSD, he sent me to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me as Bipolar.
I was medicated immediately. He had talked to me for all of 10 min.
I went through several different medications. All started off giving me a euphoria experience, but eventually caused me to have manic episodes I had never experienced before. I started drinking almost everyday. Smoking marijuana basically every time I drank.
Because I stopped self harming I assume now that drinking was my way of coping. I also became very promiscuous. Everyone thought I was crazy, and if my dad could do what he wanted with my body, Joe just took what he wanted, and a man I thought loved me could screw me and then dump me, then who cares right?
Half the guys I slept with I barely remember how or when. Those years in college I either blocked it out or I was blacked out because I don’t remember much from those years. And what I do remember, I wish I didn’t.
With all of this going on I just assumed the medication I was on and the drinking and just everything going on was the reason I hadn’t had a period.
“There are certain sorrows that never fade away until the heart stops beating and the last breath is taken.” -Tiffani DeBartolo
I remember sitting in my dorm room on my bed, completely doubled over in pain. My periods were usually horrendous but I hadn’t had them in awhile so I just thought it felt more painful because I wasn’t used to them anymore. I started feeling really nauseated and dizzy so I got up to go to the bathroom. I bled through a super plus tampon in 20 min. By then I just thought maybe it was a really bad period but as I was leaving the room my roommate asked me what happened. After I told her she asked if I thought I was having a miscarriage. I may have been promiscuous but I was pretty positive I used a condom every time. Didn’t I?
I ran to the bathroom and threw up. I cleaned myself up and went to use the bathroom and change tampons. Blood came gushing out like I had opened a floodgate. I felt so dizzy. I didn’t know what else to do so I put another tampon in and stuffed as much toilet paper in my underwear as I could and called a friend to take me to the hospital.
I found out I was 14 weeks pregnant and I was losing the baby. It had already progressed too much and his heartbeat was very faint.
I miscarried an hour later.
I know I will get people telling me it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know. But it was all my fault. I had created this innocent life and had I not been wreck-less and selfish, his little life never would have been snuffed out.
I asked the nurse if she could tell if it was a boy or girl. She said it looked like a boy.
I named him Logan. I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you.
He would have been 8 years old this past November 27th. I wonder constantly what he would have looked like, if he would have been a book nerd like me. Would he play sports? Or be artistic like me? Would he have my dark curly hair and hazel eyes?
I’ll always wonder who you would be today.
Before I met my husband, no one besides my friend in college knew I had a miscarriage. I told my roommate it was just a period but they gave me something for the pain.
After that I was put on a mild sleeping pill because I couldn’t sleep. I dropped 23 lbs in a week because I couldn’t eat or sleep and worked out 2 hours a day. Shortly after that I was kicked out of college because I was missing classes and I didn’t even care. What was the point?
I went home depressed, broken, medicated, and $35k in student loan debt.
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise” -Victor Hugo
Once I moved home I change therapists. He questioned my diagnosis because having confronted my dad and no longer drinking or taking that medication, I seemed pretty normal aside from PTSD. Despite this he wanted me to stay on my medication. I never refilled it.
Soon after returning home I searched for a way to finish my degree and my mother’s BF suggested a University based out of Florida that I could attend online. I applied for the Graphic Design program and got in. Once I was accepted I randomly started friending people from that school on Facebook. My husband was the 3rd person I friended and we started talking to each other the next day. He was majoring in Film.
I had talked to guys before but he was different. We would talk all night that first night. And after that we just talked to each other all the time, aside from him being in class or obvious times we couldn’t talk. After a month, we decided to try a long distance relationship. We video chatted regularly and 3 months after we became official he visited me. I remember the first time I saw him. We met at Cheesecake Factory because my mom wanted it to be a public place, just in case.
There are moments in life when you just know it will change your life.
This was that moment.
I remember the table I found him, I remember the booth we sat in after, I remember the 3 Long Island iced teas he had because he was so nervous. I remember every moment of his trip.
The night he left for his hotel because he had his flight he next morning, I didn’t want him to go. He took me to my mom’s house, walked me to the open garage, and just before he turned to leave I took my chance and kissed him. Our first kiss.
Our relationship wasn’t easy, we had arguments, because naturally long distance is very hard. I visited him a few months later. Met his sweet dog, and I fell in love with him even more. He never once pressured me to have sex, never once tried anything I wasn’t comfortable with. We dated for several more months before we had a big fight because he wasn’t sure where he wanted us to go but we had dated for almost a year and long distance was getting to me. When we broke up he said he thought I was the one but he didn’t want to ruin anything by moving too fast and he wasn’t ready for more. So I had pushed him away. He blocked me on Facebook immediately.
I was devastated.
A month later I got a message from him saying he had handled it wrong, that he had been an asshole about everything and he apologized. I missed him so much so I asked him if there was any way we could start over. So we did.
A month after that my mom was traveling to Florida and I tagged along. I got to see him again and it was like coming home. Just hugging him, smelling his cologne. I knew where I belonged and for the first time in a very long time I could see my future. And it was with him.
Four months later I moved in with him. We went to the beach, had a pool in our complex so we would swim in the rain. I had never been loved by anyone like this. A month later, just after our one year anniversary, he proposed to me.
I could say the rest is history. But history is in the past. History is over. We are now. We are tomorrow and every day after. We have 4 beautiful children and are so happy. My life is a million shades lighter than it ever was growing up. And this blog was my way of finally shedding that last, ever present looming shadow. Because now I don’t have to hold onto it. I can let it go. Will my past always be apart of me? Will I always struggle with PTSD? Yes. But I don’t have to hold it in and let it rip me apart anymore. I’m releasing it. And I hope my story can help others release their shadows too.