Me Too, Obviously

ME THREE

Me too.
Obviously. I mean, this level of self-hatred wasn't a natural occurrence. Acquired by ugly means that I half-remember and then it cuts out suddenly, no fade
belt buckle
black
gone.

My mind did me a kindness, there are some things a child doesn't need to know. But the feeling remained, the bodily remembrance of something... some thing

This isn't what my parents heard about three years later because I had no words for this absence of time. Instead my oldest sister tells them about the spanking of bare skin for no reason, about how he licks my face. Mum doesn't do anything, because she is sick and he is sticking with her, and who else would?
Dad says next time wear underwear to sleep
and he says more, threatening action against him, but I am not privy to this, so I sleep in underwear and what I keep inside is that I, child, am responsible for my safety.

I learn that I am responsible
I learn there is no safety

...

I loved rabbits more than anything, and he would bring me stuffed toys and trinkets, bunny everything, I am the only one who gets presents, I am special.

And when I tell my other sister, adults(ish) in a cafe, she says "but you always hugged him, went to him when he called for you"

I am eight years old watching Law & Order with my grandmother, and DA Ben Stone is cross-examining a man who hurt his child and the man says "but she loves me, she always comes to me!"
and Ben Stone presses into him, quotes psychological studies suggesting that children will always run and seek out their abusers to appease them.
And in that moment I cry and some of the guilt and doubt fades, because I did run to him and I didn't know why

So over a decade later I look at my sister when she says this, wondering how she can think it--she clearly didn't catch that episode, which is silly, because classic Law & Order is the best, and I can do the intro by heart CHUNG CHUNG

but I understand.
No one wants to believe bad things happen, not in the same house, and if it didn't happen to them, it couldn't have happened at all.

...

After the black night, I eat and eat. I hide food under my bed, steal my sister's money to buy candy. I keep doing it, even years later even when he's gone because I am not safe until I am not touched, and they won't want to touch me if I keep eating. 
It never works, but I keep doing it.

So early I learned to hate myself, and that hatred needs an outlet. 
At six I began to smash objects against my thighs, a brass pestle
Eleven: shaving cream can
Thirteen: broken crystal candy dish breaks skin
Eighteen: dull scissors
Nineteen: pills, a lot all at once, and then the hospital
Nineteen: razors
Twenty: stop

One morning I was stuck to my sheets by the blood on my thighs when my dad came in to tell me his brother--his best friend had died. I had to stop hugging him to tell him to leave the room for a minute so I could put leggings on. 
My sister saw me later and cried, she didn't understand, and how do you say "I had to do this or I would have done something much worse"?
They can't imagine a worse.
But I know worse and it knows me.

I start therapy. I keep going. I still go. I have been in therapy for thirteen years and there are still things I haven't gotten to. Probably because I have spent at least three sessions talking about Law & Order.
Classic deflection.

It takes me a long time to come to grips with sex. I am "in recovery", and I chose a bad someone for a first, he cuts himself and tells me now he knows I will never leave him and I start to believe my fate lies in the worst kind of irony.

I wait longer thinking I'm the problem, another six years, and this one seems nice but when he starts dating someone else, he tells me how refreshing it is to be into someone who doesn't have any darkness to them

Like this is all I am, and that too is my fault.

The one after him, a law professor, chokes me with a belt without asking (the answer would have been no, for the record, in case it wasn't clear and again with the irony, goddamn).

Two years later, this one I actually like, he dresses like Riker from Star Trek for Halloween and tells me a story about how he rescued a bunny. I tell him I don't want to have sex that night but we can do other things, and when my eyes close for a moment he's in me, without a condom and I'm shocked and confused. I wanted him--just not now, but I go with it like it's fine, like it was my idea, but I know it's not and it wasn't.

Another tells me I'm being a child for not wanting sex on the first date, shames me until I relent and makes me feel dirty. And though I hate him instantly when he leaves, I reach out to do it again, because I worry he will tell his friend, because I want a do-over. I want to be in control.

And when it comes up at Gomeshi's trial, you know the one in which the victims were on trial, that victims contacted him after the fact, continued to see him. I understand. I know this pattern. This is a thing. Not even you want to admit that something bad happened, you can fix it.

I also began to define degrees of bad for myself. It was bad, but it wasn't BAD. They're not evil. They're a good person, just... not good to me, and that is understandable. I am used to being an object and none of it comes as a surprise.

Not long ago another man went somewhere but not as far as some. He used all the language of an ally; he is woke, he believes in consent, he studies trauma narratives. Predators pretend to be all kinds of things but this one is bad at hiding. 
Maybe this is progress. I can see you.
But it is also the inverse of progress when the woke ones are the worst ones.

...

I have trouble saying no, I still want to be liked in the best of circumstances, I want to survive in the worst. I have no fight or flight instinct, I have only play dead because after, they will leave, I will watch television and maybe the next time I will be smarter. 
I. Me. My fault. Mine.

And this is why we don't say anything, because we've already blamed ourselves, and we know you will blame us too. There is a lot to lose, nothing to gain... except now, maybe, a warning to those in danger, and a warning to the perpetrators. Your time is coming.

...

I don't like things with rabbits on them, I don't like childish things at all because that is not a time I care to remember. I don't know if there is any time I want to hold onto.

Like every person who says something, and every one who doesn't, I'd like to forget everything.