TRIGGER WARNING Contains information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
Have you ever had a nightmare? One that you wake up from just glad to know that it was all just a bad dream and that you are safe in your own bed, so you could just go back to sleep peacefully? Okay… so what happens when it is the opposite? What happens when you wake up from your ideal dreamland into the nightmare you have feared the most? What then? It’s not like you can go back to peacefully sleeping. You are no longer safe in your own room. Your safe sanctuary has turned into hell and you can’t escape from it. You are trapped. But don’t worry; this generally doesn’t happen to most people… well, except for me.
See, for me, my sense of security was taken away from me the night of my nineteenth birthday. Like a typical newly nineteen year old, I had a little too much fun with my alcohol and was put to bed early by my mother. She believed that given the state I was in, was going to be was the safest thing to do. Little did she know that putting me to bed would result in a loss of my safety. Please note, that I do not blame my mother or anyone for the circumstance of this night. It was just a series of unfortunate events.
I remember dreaming the best dreams. I dreamt of a house, a husband, and a house so full of pets that it practically seemed like Noah’s arc. I never got to finish that dream. Sadly, it was interrupted. By a soft breath. By sweaty hands. By shaggy hair. By the sound of “oh baby” and “yeah, you feel so good.” I wish I could remember more. I wish I didn’t just wake up to it happening. I wish I could remember how it started. But mainly, I wish I knew why it happened… why I was raped. On my birthday. With my mom and my brothers downstairs and my dad asleep in the room next to me. By a friend of my brothers, who I had known for five years. Someone I used to share classes with. One of the worst things for me is that I will never know the extent of what happened. I will never know how far he got before I was able to stop it. However, what I do remember is enough to have a significant impact on my daily life.
I apologize to anyone uncomfortable reading this. Believe me, I had a hard time writing it. But I wanted people to take the time to think about how much we take for granted. I used to think very little about going to bed at night. I would never give a second thought to someone coming into my room and violating me while I was sleeping, but now, it’s all I can think about. I can’t sleep with the lights off, or walk alone at night anymore. That stuff has been taken away from me.
But I have taken some things away from this too. I learned how incredible having supportive people in your life can be, and how much we can underestimate our own strength and abilities. Whenever I get overwhelmed of memories of that night, I think of my brothers holding my hand until the ambulance got there and of my oldest brother letting go of the friendship he once had with one of his closest friends and holding the bastard until the cops showed up. My mom also reminds me of my own strength whenever it all seems like too much to handle. She reminds me that I fought him off when I was coherent enough to do so and that I never let the events of that night control my life: I came back to school. I didn’t let the trauma of that night ruin the relationship I have with my boyfriend (who, by the way, has been amazing through this whole thing). I kept living my life, because if I just gave up, then he wins and I refuse to ever let that happen. I will not let some sick excuse of a human be the reason my life come crumbling down. He already had enough negative influence on my life. I will not let him take any more from me than he already had.
Don’t get me wrong; I have some bad days (or weeks for that matter) where I can’t get out of bed, or focus long enough on my studies before my mind wanders back to the events of that night. But that’s my reality now and I have to try to learn how to balance things. It’s not ideal, but its what my life is now and I just have to learn how to adjust to it.