putting my body back together
I am 22 years old. I have always liked sex, and not necessarily the physical feeling, but the empowerment around it. I know that sex does not always have to be political, but growing up Mexican/American and Roman Catholic, it always felt charged. I lost my virginity in a dark space. I was thirteen, and a boy from my class who had been harassing me, made me go into our school's auditorium, went backstage, pushed my head down, and made me...well yeah. I felt like I was going through the motions. Like, if I wanted to prove how unaffected I could be by this forcefulness I would win my abuser(s). He asked again and again if he could put it in, and I finally said yes. Knowing what I know now, I know this was not true consent. I remember after it was done, I said "Well, that sucked." And he said, "What are you talking about? That was awesome." I felt so numb after, and I mistook that numbness for power. I felt nothing, felt no different. I convinced myself virginity/sex meant nothing. Catholicism had lied to me. They said that when we have sex, we (women) lose something essential about ourselves. We become attached to the man, and we will never return to that former state. I remember feeling like I debunked the church. It was a scam to make religious girls hate themselves and depend on men. I don't think I was necessarily wrong, more like misguided. I was on the right track, but I made sex unimportant, I made my body unimportant. I had to, I think, because recognizing the weight of sex would have made my situation unbearable. Now, at 22, I know better. I wish I could hug and hold my younger self. She'd probably think I was corny and overemotional, but I don't care. To my younger self, I am so sorry. I think you're very smart, but remember that hurting yourself to prove things to others is never worth it. You don't have to make an example of yourself to be empowered. You were coerced, you were abused and harassed, and you're not less powerful, less yourself, for recognizing that. I love you very much. I got raped in August. I had just come back home from my college town. I was heartbroken to have finished my time there. To have said goodbye to the best friends I've ever had. My bestie who went to college and high school with me had already been in our city for a month and asked me to go out. I didn't feel like it, but she convinced me. We're only so young and whatever. I had left on a pretty low vibration since on the last day of my time there this guy I had been friends with and hooking up with regularly for almost two years, told me he had been having sex with other girls unprotected regularly, and every time we checked in about using condoms he had been lying. Leave it to abusers to unburden themselves when they know they'll face minimum consequences. I could not wrap my head around the utter disrespect and betrayal of my body. Why didn't men care? Why couldn't they see us as more than just a fucking hole? Couldn't he have just been honest? Was using a condom with me so horrible that he had to lie about it for months? I was mad as hell. I was disappointed, and still am. I felt stupid. Why take someone's word? How could I live in a world where I had no control over how people I love/love hurt me so badly? Whatever, the point is, that the next day when I went out with my friend we had a little too much to drink. She had asked if we could meet up with this guy she had been seeing and his friend. I said sure, I was drunk and didn't want to be a killjoy. When we got to his place, he told us he invited a friend. His friend got there and poured us shitty box wine. I was a blackout and for some reason, we thought it'd be a good idea to let his friend drive me back home at 3 AM while I was trashed. The friend stopped the car, and convinced me to have sex, when I wanted to stop, he didn't let me and did not stop. I remember crying and asking him to stop, but he didn't stop. I don't remember a lot of the actual rape. I remember after. I cried hard, and I think I accused him of raping me, and I think he probably denied it. I just remember that he was so angry and I was so upset. I told him he had better give me plan b money, and that he better take me home, or back to his friend's house so I could tell my best friend. I remember him saying that I "disrespected" him. That plays in my head a lot when I don't want it to. "You disrespected me," he said. "I can kick you out of this car," he said. I remember holding onto the door. I remember thinking I would die. I only have flashes of after. I think I was sobbing on my friend, and I remember her face. She didn't know what to do, and how could she? She told me after, when I started to doubt my memory, that I had said he raped me. See, I didn't know, like the first time I had been abused, that afterward, you try to trick yourself into the easier option which is that you're just slutty. You're remembering wrong, or you exaggerated. But unfortunately no. You got raped. You know it, your body knows it. The rapist knows it too. Deep in his rotten core, he knows that he did something evil. But he'll probably just think, "bitches, man" or "She deserved that shit anyway" or "That's what women were made for". And I'm here, with my fear of death, my fear of sex/intimacy, my broken-ass self/sense of self, still wondering why the fuck people can't just respect me and my body? I used to never look over my shoulder. I was one of those girls who never felt the need to call someone or pretend to call someone when they were walking home. Shit, after that happened to me, pepper spray didn't feel like enough. I wanted to buy a gun. My liberal ass, anti-capital punishment, pro-gun control, wanted to buy one just so nobody could ever hurt me again. Sometimes I think of my body actually broken, on the side of the freeway somewhere. I think of my sister's dress that I had borrowed without asking, and how it had stains on it. And how she would have been so mad if I had died in it. I had to go to a quinceanera the day after, and I don't think I've ever been in more distress than the day after. Do you ever want to rip your vagina out of your body? Like it's some sort of focal point of pain. I wanted to be smooth like a doll or something. No entryways. My body still freezes up now. I learned that's PTSD. This is healthy. I never told my family because I knew they would blame me, so only a few friends knew. It's embarrassing almost, and I know it isn't, but it's hard not to think "If I would've just...If I hadn't," and so on. I didn't report anything even though I knew I could have, but there would be cops and I live with my family. I've seen what an investigation can do. I've read enough and existed around women enough to know it's almost if not exactly like a re-violation. I was so tired. That sucked too. My younger self thought that if someone ever did that to me, they would pay for it. I was sure I would be up and walking into a police station immediately after, asking for a rape kit with grace somehow? I would shock everyone with my dignity and my composure. That didn't happen, but it's okay. I'm okay. I'm better. I am still tired, but things have gotten better. I'm here, right? I love living so much, and I remind myself that when my body freezes up. I think of my younger sister too and how I want to shield her so bad. I fight the urge to tell her to stay inside, where it's safe. I know living, really being alive, is dangerous. I want her to be safe, but I want her to live well and fully, so I make sure she has pepper spray, that we share our locations, that she can text me/call me, and that there will never be judgment for whatever situation she finds herself in. Thank you for this platform, and I'm so sorry to the people who have had to use it. I love you all. I hope you are all doing ok and living well.