I guess have always used my blog-du-jour to write about stuff that's bothering me. I find that if I write things down, it takes the emotional charge out of whatever it is and it helps me get over myself and move on. So today, I'm writing for me. Not for N, or for people who might read my experiences in the future, or for B, or for anyone else. For me. And I am revisiting something that I have written about in the past that I thought I had done with.
B and I have been having some counselling to help us get a grip on all the stuff that's going on with N. We had a session this afternoon and one of the things that came up was the fact that I find it really difficult to deal with not being listened to.
We were thrashing this out in the context of our relationship with each other and with the kids; and all of a sudden, all I could think about was being date-raped when I was nineteen. Twenty-five years ago.
All I could see in my head was my bedroom at university. My bed was in place against the wall, the cramped sink was in one corner and the desk in the other. I could feel the weight of the chap on top of me. I could hear my voice saying 'I don't think this is a good idea' and him saying 'Don't worry, it won't take long'. And I could feel the physical sensation of him between my legs and the way he moved and the wetness on me and the complete and utter sense of bewilderment that I felt whilst all this was happening, because surely, 'I don't think this is a good idea' is a polite way of saying 'Would you mind awfully taking your penis a little further away from me than it is at present?' and he had completely ignored it.
I couldn't get the images out of my head. They looped again and again for the last twenty minutes of the session this afternoon and then more in car coming home. It's only now, sat on my own sofa in my own house, safe in the present, that I am managing to batten down the thoughts and images.
Sitting here curled on the sofa, with B with his hand on my foot and a hand on my arm, I have cried a few tears and suddenly realised that everything I ever thought I knew is skewed.
For years I have had difficulty trusting people. Particularly men. I dislike being touched by people I don't know very well. I have no patience with lying or with people pretending to be something they are not. I think these are probably fairly standard reactions to being a rape survivor.
On top of that, though, for years, if something or someone hurt me really badly, my mantra would be 'It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, it really doesn't matter'. I have had really low self esteem and I have self-harmed, scratching or cutting my arms when I felt at my lowest. I had a long period where I found it really difficult to engage emotionally with partners and went out of my way to have brief anonymous encounters.
My rapist was someone I thought I knew well and who I was in love with. Not only did he not stop when I voiced my discomfort, he also told everyone in our social circle at home that we had slept together and that 'it didn't mean anything'. And he also told me that he didn't want me as a girlfriend because I wasn't the sort of person who would fit in with the people he wanted to hang out with at university.
He was a nobber, in retrospect.
But at the time, far from not mattering, it mattered very much. So much that I have carried those coping mechanisms with me for more than two decades.
So now I say, yes, it did matter. It did matter that he didn't listen to me. It did matter that he did something I didn't want. And it did matter to me that he was more concerned with his social standing than he was with my feelings. He hurt me very badly in a number of ways and I don't think I have ever really given myself the space to acknowledge that before. If I have done, it clearly wasn't enough.
So this is me, putting down a marker for myself.