I think there's kinda a background I have to paint to make everything in the foreground make sense.
I met my rapist when I was . . . 17? I fell in love with him. I loved him in that magical, intoxicating way that I don't think you can maintain after a certain age, when there are so many more people and things that you love and have or love and have lost that are crowding the field. To give an example: maybe two years after I'd first met him, after we'd had a fight, and we'd gone a bit without seeing each other, I went with a friend to meet him again and call a truce. I was walking with her, side by side, my stomach all fluttery in anticipation. And then I saw him, and we made eye contact, and we both just froze in our tracks. I felt like my heart had stopped, the universe had suddenly shuddered a bit, the very air around us had ceased to move so that I couldn't even breathe. And my friend who was next to me (and who hated him, actually) turned and looked at me and said, "Jesus, dude, I felt that."
So. We loved each other. A lot. And I would love him until the day he raped me.
And maybe after that. Because when he texted me last Thursday night, perhaps my third emotion was: worry. My first was shock, that he could contact me, and my second was a sudden panic of complete vulnerability, that he could find me. And in that mix, there was this habit, almost, the habit of being in love with him for so long, that surfaced. I knew if he was reaching out to me, something was wrong. He was not doing well. He was either fighting against his addiction, or he'd succumbed (I know his addiction as well as I know anyone, really). And for a second, I was worried, and concerned, and I felt that same ache for him that any of us feels when someone we love is in danger.
I had to remind myself that he had raped me. And I wasn't supposed to love him. I wasn't supposed to care for him. But I did. That is not sitting very well with me, at the moment.
There are a lot of other things that came up after that text message. Mostly, I just kept saying, to concerned friends, how fucking WEIRD it is. And it is. Like, there is this VAST chasm between what I am experiencing and what my rapist is going through. Which, for him, is nothing. He is completely outside the scope of the hurricane in my head, not implicated at all in any of the epic battles that I fight every day. The entire fuckton of shit I am wading through, which has taken over my life . . . he doesn't even see it. Or smell it. Has no idea he caused it. And it makes me feel like what I am going through is very small, and I am reminded that no matter how gigantic it feels, it really doesn't extend beyond the scope of my skull. And that is odd, to have the tininess of your all-encompassing trauma illustrated for you like that.
And, part of me is angry. A little, not much (I wish all the time I could get appropriately, epically, furiously angry. I am not sure that will ever happen). I am angry that he would try to reach out to me to help him, again, that he would try to draw me back into addiction's endless cycle of abuse, abuse that is generously heaped onto those around him, those he loves most. Angry because he has already done more than enough to me, and I cannot believe the fucking gall of him, trying to find me so I can help him claw out of the arms of his addiction. How dare he.
I also, and I mentioned this previously, thought maybe I should shutter Unnatural Forces. Suddenly realizing he could find me, get to me; well, the panic was immense. It is based, simply, on control - I want to control any and all access he could have to me. Which means I want him to have none. I don't want him to know that I am suffering or that he caused it. He may not have that kind of intimate knowledge about me. He used to hold all my most intimate secrets; he can't have those anymore. But I realized that, if he were so inclined to look, and he knew I had a blog, google could pull it up for him pretty quickly. He could figure out the search terms. This loss of control, this realization that he could get to me so easily, nearly panicked me right round the bend (there are a lot of people in my life who would know my rapist by my description, and are in contact with him, or are in contact with someone who could be in contact with him. These people have not been told about this blog, and no one who could ever relate its existence back to him will hear from me about it).
But, ok, I had to remind myself that he doesn't know I have a blog, and he's not going to search for something he doesn't know exists, and also, if I start down this path, I will eventually never be able to leave my house. Also: I love Unnatural Forces. So, I am going to keep this space around, despite the small twinge of panic there still. I am trying to breathe through it.
The first thing I did the morning after the text message was block his number. This alone nearly caused a conniption. This was because two years ago, when I was getting these repeated, annoying, no-one-there phone calls (a robo-dialing type thing) multiple times a day, I called Verizon and asked them if I could block the number. The woman I spoke to said I would need a police report to block the number or report harassment. So I was thinking Friday morning, how the FUCK do I manage that? How do I get a police report? How do I explain this? I never filed a police report when I was raped in the first place - are they gonna question me on that? Will they believe me? The prospect petrified me. Luckily, I could just block the number online (thank you, wireless gods). But now that I have . . . it also makes me nervous. Because if he is continuing to try to find me, then I won't know about it, and I cannot take additional steps to protect myself.
And, I think about that. And then chuckle, hahaha, and think, WHAT NOW, Gayle? Because how can I protect myself? I don't think he's a physical threat to me, so it's not like I can get a doberman. Can I ever really prevent him from knowing ANYTHING about me ever again? Can I really totally control his (non) access to me? The answer, of course, is no, unless I stop going on the webbernets forever, and delete everything I have ever posted and written for others and facebook and gmail and WHATEVER, and then there are still, I am sure, some really nifty ways you could still pull that information up. Delete doesn't mean delete, on the internet, and setting your profiles to private and scrubbing your blog totally clean of any personal information, well, none of that is a guarantee. I am just balancing my personal control and safety with maintaining an online presence that I love, although I know it heightens my exposure.
And ok, big confession: I did a very stupid thing. I googled him. I wanted to try and figure out where the fuck he is on the planet, because that text message indicated that he was two blocks from my parents' house, and I am going back to my parents' house next weekend, and, well, that is not a great feeling, him so close. So guess what google told me? He takes part in mixed martial arts fighting now. YES. He is currently BEATING PEOPLE UP. And TRAINING TO BEAT PEOPLE UP.
This did not make me feel good. It made me feel sick. There was a video. I should not have watched it. But I did - I almost felt like I should know, somehow, that knowing would be better than not and letting my imagination conjure the details. Knowing, Readers, was worse. It made me feel nauseated immediately, watching him violently beat someone up, until there was a shift of gears in my brain, and then I just felt like it was a dream, just a bad dream that's all, and I was watching myself watch the video from just over my right shoulder. The depersonalization disorder kicked in hard, and I am still trying to find my way back into my body today.
So . . . I am disturbed. I am scared. I am confused. I am annoyed at him, and annoyed at myself for caring about him when, what the fuck? I am also, you know, ok. And working, and spending time with friends, and laughing, and talking, and drinking wine and making Indian food and "writing" a "paper." I am thinking and feeling and processing but I am by no means incapacitated or overwrought. That, really, has been the best thing for me. Like, I got this. And that is some pretty fucking awesome, powerful knowledge.