Wednesday, October 2, 2019

"The Last Weekend in September" 10 Year Anniversary

I'm breaking with my current normal post schedule to post about something particularly heavy.  I debated on posting this or not, but I wanted to take the time to explore my feelings and this is my place to do exactly that.  So, if this post is not cohesive or random or all over the place, that's because that's how I feel about this.

Despite a really good weekend, I felt off when the weekend came to a close on Sunday night.  When I laid down to fall asleep, I realized it was the last weekend of September.  Not only that, but it is also 2019.  But for me, the last weekend of September is sadly, significant... and 2019 makes 10 years since The Last Weekend of September (proper noun because title) became a thing.

So what happened on The Last Weekend of September in 2010?
I was raped. 

So here's my jumbled, mixed up feelings on this anniversary.

This isn't an anniversary I want to celebrate, per se, but I do usually quietly self-acknowledge this weekend each year.  I can say that as time as passed, I think less and less about The Last Weekend of September throughout the year.

I realize that saying The Last Weekend of September is just like calling Voldemort, He Who Shall Not Be Named.. but it makes it easier for me to talk about it at all, so that's what's happening here. 

The other reason that I want to acknowledge The Last Week of September this year is not only because it's the 10 year anniversary, but also because I was asked to detail the events for a form and I couldn't do it.  Granted, it was during the Hurrication and I couldn't be stuck at home with my thoughts and feelings all while dealing with a husband and dogs who were going stir-crazy and wouldn't understand why in the shit I was so .. caught up in myself?  Lost?  IDK. 

The company that I'm working with on the form explained that the form was to help me get more disability coverage, but I just couldn't.  The customer service person explained that he also dealt with PTSD and throughout the process he had to talk about the incident a LOT.  That was all it took for me to NOT fill out the form.  I've thought a lot about why I didn't want to fill out that form and the reasons that I should have filled out that form, but I don't have regrets about not filling out the form.  I wasn't ready. 

Then, I went to my VA appointments and part of the intake questionnaire is the question, "Have you ever been raped or sexually assaulted?"  It makes me angry and embarrassed (what other people think about me) and ashamed (what I think about me) that I have to respond yes to that question.  And then I get angry that I'm ashamed and embarrassed about answering yes to that question.  Truthfully, feelings should be used to explain recursion in my computer science classes.  Feelings like these.

Then the nurse asked me if I had reported it and I said yes.  She asked if my rapist was punished and I had to explain that I didn't name my rapist because we were stationed in GTMO and everyone knew everyone and he was the sole money earner in his family and I didn't want to inflict that fallout on his wife and kids.  She asked if anyone knew and I explained that 3-4 people knew.  She asked how I dealt with having to see him around and I explained that those 3-4 people knew and they would warn me if they saw him coming to a common area where our group of shared friends was hanging out or if I just got up and walked away if I saw him coming, they would just make up an excuse for me to everyone else.  I'm not sure if her questions were for her personal interest or the questionnaire since they seemed more like intrigue questions than from a generic form, but I answered honestly.

So, in September, my rape was a hot topic of conversation for various reasons. 

The strange thing is, there are days that I can openly discuss The Last Weekend in September and there are days that I absolutely cannot.  Days that I call my VA check "rape money" and days I call it "my VA check".  It's a roller coaster.

At my VA appointment, I mentioned possibly starting therapy for my issues, but it was decided that with my current schedule, it may just be more stressful to do therapy and it would do more harm than good,since therapy is a LOT of work.  I didn't question someone telling me that now isn't the right time.  The idea of discussing The Last Weekend of September isn't high on my list of things I want to do regularly.

But, part of me wants to deal with this.
With every energy drink that someone opens near me and I smell and want to vomit.
Every year when a specific photo of me appears on my FB Memories from that weekend.
Every year when I see the vaguebooking FB status updates in the weeks that followed the incident.
When I find our dog sitter's hair in my clothes or in the shower.

I know I have triggers.
It's taken years of my inexplicable rage towards someone drinking an energy drink to figure it out.

Here's why energy drinks set me off:
The night I was raped, we were mostly drinking Mountain Dew energy drinks with vodka.  I didn't really like the taste of the energy drinks I'd tried before that, but these weren't so bad with the vodka, so this was my first time actually drinking an energy drink.  Never again.

Here's why this photo upsets me:
That is the last photo of me before everything changed.  I was happy, hanging out with "friends", dealing cards for people I thought I could trust.  I tried to wear that outfit after the fact and couldn't.  I couldn't put that shirt on.  I tried.  I wore the shorts a few times after that, but I think that was only ok since I owned another pair of khaki shorts similar to these. 

I look at this picture and feel sadness for that young woman who doesn't know that her life will change in just a few hours.  I feel anger for the "friend" who posted the photo a few days later on Facebook and tagged me.  I feel so many simultaneous, indescribable feelings when I see this photo each year and it reminds me of what I lost and how far I have come and I refuse to untag myself so I won't see it each and every year. 

I know the "friend" who posted the photo 10 years ago doesn't even know how much this photo upsets me.  I do know she tried, poorly, to console me as I was sobbing in her bathroom, after the fact.  I know that she put me to bed, in the same bed I was raped in, unaware that what had happened was actually rape, even if it wasn't a violent act.  I know that she made breakfast the next morning to encourage an "everything is normal" vibe, even though we all knew that nothing was normal about the situation.

But she didn't acknowledge that something BAD had happened and that breaks my heart because she was older than me and wiser and her kids were peering in the bathroom trying to figure out why that lady was sobbing.  Maybe, later, she did acknowledge what happened, but if that ever happened, it was never to my face. 

Here's why my own vaguebooking status updates upset me:
I was hurting so bad and I was refusing to tell anyone in the week that followed.  I was faking it and there are some vague references to being ok, but if you weren't me or didn't know me extremely well, you would have just thought I was struggling with being at GTMO and the limitations associated with that life.  My life had permanently changed and I was refusing to acknowledge it, which only hurt me more... which caused me to hurt those around me with my lashing out.  Because that's EXACTLY what happened.  And once I explained the situation, in an extremely limited way, to those 3-4 individuals, I didn't feel better about the way I acted, but they understood.  I'm still ashamed of the way I acted... but I didn't even know what was happening.

Here's why our dog sitter's hair upset me:
I came to in the middle of sex because I felt the hair of He Who Was Not Named and it wasn't the hair of the person I expected to be having sex with (shut up).  In fact, I'd never expressed any interest in this person.  The person who was having sex with me had coarse hair (because he is black) and our dog sitter is black.  The dog sitter washed his clothes at our house and showered, both of which are fine.. but finding the hairs in my clothes and in the shower wasn't expected and I was immediately transported back to 2010, in the bedroom of a child (because that's where I happened to be sleeping that night and where it happened), curious why the hair I was touching was so coarse.

These triggers literally come out of no where and when it's 10 years later and someone else's HAIR triggers you, it's extremely confusing and frustrating.  Like, it's been 10 fucking years, why aren't you over this already?  Why do these little things have such an effect on you?  Why are you so sensitive?

And I make an effort to be kind to myself, but my first reaction is never kindness.  Which only feeds into that perpetual cycle of me judging myself and me being mean to me and then telling myself that I should cut myself some slack and then being frustrated over how mean and judgy I am towards myself and being embarrassed that I'm judging myself and angry that the entire thing even happened to me and that I'm feeling this stupid cycle of feelings that goes on and on and on. 

Sometimes, I even try to rationalize that I wasn't actually raped.. and then I remember the discussion that I would sleep in one of the kid's rooms since all the kids were having a "slumber party" in one of the other kid rooms after I realized I was too drunk to drive back to my room.  I remember being tired and going into the room and closing the door.  I remember making the decision to just sleep in my clothes since I didn't have any pjs and being too tired to take off my bra.  I don't remember going to sleep.  But then, I have a flash of someone removing my pants and underwear and becoming fully aware when I realized that the person having sex with me was not the person I had expected it to be and that I was having sex at all.

I mean.. is that normal?  To try to talk yourself out of a CERTAIN TRUTH?  What level of denial is that?  Additionally, I consider myself a strong, independent woman.  I've always considered myself a strong, independent woman.  But how does a strong, independent woman get raped?  And what kind of fucked up logic is that?  Why is it the fault of the strong woman?  Why isn't the question, why did that adult male do the things he did?  I get that he was also drunk, but there was a never a point where I acted coy towards him to entice him into sleeping with me.  I didn't even look at this person in that way.  I just didn't.  In fact, if anything, I probably acted coy and flirted with someone else who was at that party, who I was interested in. 

The absolute worst part for me is that, and I feel this in my soul, the guy that I was interested in encouraged He Who Was Not Named to follow me into the bedroom and sleep with me.  That was how he operated, he was a player, which I knew, but didn't care about, and he "took care of his friends"... And then that leads into feelings of, "You deserved it, for being so morally bankrupt, you whore."  And if the encouragement from player-to-rapist wasn't fucked up enough, there's that self-chiding where I not only call myself a whore but also say I deserved to be raped because I was interested in a player.  Again, circles and circles of fucked-up-ary and cyclic feelings about how I should be nice to me... over and over and over again.

Sometimes, I feel guilty that I get so much money each month for PTSD.  Let me repeat that.  I feel guilty for benefiting from something that is actually wrong with me because something horrible that actually happened to me.  Because I didn't get shot at or blown up or lose a limb or earn a purple heart, I have a twisted mindset that I don't deserve the compensation I receive.  Like what happened to me isn't as bad as what happened to someone else... and thhheeennnn, I have to self-berate that comparing who has it worse never results in anything of value.  You cannot compare your trials to the trials of others.  Not only is it not helpful, it's MORE harmful because then you demean your own trial and undermine all that has happened to you and the strength you've gained from your experience.. as fucked up as that is. 

By failing to acknowledge that your trial IS difficult and hard and painful, you hurt yourself.  And I obviously KNOW that, but that doesn't mean I don't go in circles over and over and over with this.

Sometimes, I feel that taking my anxiety medication is a cop-out from dealing with my problems.  That I'd rather just deal with the forgetfulness rather than face my anger and frustration and feelings of hopelessness (in regards to things like school mostly) and the endless circles my brain spirals into when something like a man's hair triggers me and it's not a strong day and I'm unprepared to handle the fallout.

I don't really have a pretty way to wrap this post up.  I don't want to summarize it because there's no point.  I know these demons will continue to haunt me for a very long time, if not forever.  Even with being self-aware of my triggers and accepting what has happened, which I, apparently, still struggle with, I cannot out run these demons.  I must face them, and I consider this post as part of facing them and accepting my struggles and showing that my life isn't just cute dogs and a great husband and good friends and adventures and frustrating homework and a satisfying job.

I hope to be the person that is the same online as you meet in real life.  Even with my demons and struggles.

I have turned off comments because this is not a pity post, this is an honest, raw, feelings post.  The most difficult type of post for me to click "Publish" on.