17/10/2016 – Rotterdam, Netherlands
Listening now: Cloves – Don’t forget about me
I hope you are all doing wonderful. So far, in this series called “About love and other bullshits” (you can read the other posts here & there), I have mainly been talking (moaning?) about my ex boyfriend, which is totally understandable, considering the huge impact that he has had in my life. But by paying so much attention to that single particular story, which I have so often idealized, I sometimes overlooked all the other relationships that I may have had with men and which have brought me to being the individual I am at the moment. So, I thought I would share one of these stories with you today.
So there was this guy -let’s call him Jake. I already saw him once or twice cause we had some common friends. Then one time we had a chit-chat during a party. He seemed like a nice dude, asked me if I wanted to hang out sometimes and I said yeah, sure – cause I had no reason to say otherwise, he was a nice guy, remember? Plus he also had a beard. Beardmen are cool, it could only be great. So the day after, we hung out together. We had a bier, and then a second one. We watched a movie and at some point, he tried to kiss me. I was reluctant. In my head, things were really clear: I just wanted to be friend with him. But it completely came out of the blue to me, and I had no time to react. And as I didn’t move or say anything, he kept going. I felt trapped. Was this some kind of settled game, by which, accepting to come over his place, I implicitely agreed to all of this? Of course not, but still. I didn’t want to disappoint him, nor to run away like a weirdo. After all we had some friends in common, and I didn’t want it all to be even more awkward than it already was. Plus kissing never killed anyone, right? I could just force myself and then pretend this never happened. It wasn’t such a big deal.
Then things escalated quickly. He was getting closer, and even more insistant. As I realized where this was leading us, I told him, explicitly, softly but firmly, that I didn’t want to have sex with him. He kept going, didn’t really pay attention to what I was saying. I repeated those few words again: I don’t want to have sex with you. Once again, he dismissed my talk, ignored my feelings. He just kept kissing me and his hands were running wild over my body, more and more adventurous, making me feel nauseous already. I didn’t know what to do, what to say. Should I start yelling and asking for help? But who could possibly come? Did I really want to make such drama out of it? Should I bite him and run away? But what about the times I’d see him around again? Worst, what if he started being violent? How could I possibly protect myself? I was like a trapped mouse, and the cat was coming to get me.
I remember exactly the moment I gave up. The instant when I understood he wouldn’t let me go away so easily. And that resigned thought in my head: “let that be”. I felt fragile, petite and hopeless. I was like a lying corpse, from which the soul would have been taken away. I was merely a ghost. I was so detached from my body that I didn’t even feel anything. I never felt so alienated from myself.
I took three long showers that night. Not only because I felt profoundly dirty and ashamed of myself, but also because I wanted to make sure to eliminate every single particule of him. He wasn’t there anymore, yet I could still feel him. His perfume was making me sick, I could smell it on every cell of my body.
Not long after this “incident” I saw him again, although I first made sure to avoid him because I couldn’t stand his presence anymore.. He made me feel shameful. Even so, we ended up meeting, and I told him I didn’t want to see him ever again. I made up some stupid excuses, compared him to my previous relationships, telling him that I didn’t want us to go through all that drama again. He started being angry. He didn’t like being compared to those guys. He thought he was nothing like them, and told me that anyway, if I didn’t want this deep inside, I wouldn’t have done it. I felt so mad at that moment and I couldn’t even understand why.
It was so insiduous and non-violent that for a long time, the thought of being raped didn’t even cross my mind. I was passive and lifeless, it was like if he didn’t only possess my body, but also my soul, making me think that my consent wasn’t a neccesary part of sex. For a long time, I felt deeply guilty and ashamed, for not being strong enough, for not being capable of standing up for myself, for not being able to protect my body, to speak up, to shout, to hit, to run.
Luckily Jake lives abroad now. This means that I have had time to think about all those things without feeling the oppressive weight of his presence around me. A few weeks ago I felt the urge to make peace with my past. For the very first time, I put words on what happened. I sent him a message, in which I explained how much he had hurt me, destroying me from the inside. I also told him how sorry I felt for him not believing that he was worth consent. Jake responded kindly. He apologized, then answered that he “liked [me] since the first time [he] saw [me]”, and that he “didn’t want to hurt [me] and make [me] feel bad” (those are his words). Finally, he concluded by telling me that he hoped we would have the opportunity to meet one of those days, so that he could “try to fix it”, and he apologized again.
There have been lots of questions haunting me since then. How could he possibly think that he could “try to fix it”? Does he even know how badly he broke me? Does he even understand how it feels to be dismissed, disregarded, disrespected? What if he didn’t mean it? Could it be possible that he raped me without even ever envisaging it? Could it be that he has so little notion of sexual pleasure and so little regard for women that he didn’t realize it? If so, did he ever rape other women?
I don’t have any answer to those questions, and probably never will. They will stay a part of me, just like the disgust I felt (and still feel) about my body, my anxiety when surrounded by men, and all the negative thoughts towards myself that he implicitely gave to me. But I don’t consider it to be irredeemably, for that I know stars can only shine in the dark. If I need to carry on with my life, Jack certainly doesn’t deserve the comfort of my silence, so I’ll keep speaking up about it, again and again, until we won’t have any use of the word “rape” anymore.
Take care of yourself, and don’t ever be afraid to let your voice be heard! Much love ♡