Readers, I got an email from a lovely lady a couple days ago (or maybe a week ago, I am bad at the time passing thing) that asked, basically, for assistance with: what the hell do you do when a rape turns your whole world all upside down? I thought about that for a few days, turning the question over in my mind.
And, seriously: fuck if I know.
Because I have muddled through rape survival in the least sexy way possible! I shall call this "survival by default." And, it is really, really not sexy. But I am still here, so apparently it is successful! I can vouch for it.
Survival by default (or SBD, because I am lazy and can't be bothered to type it out every time) works for pretty much every type of tragedy and trauma there is. It goes like this, in three easy steps:
1. You ask yourself, "Do I want to commit suicide?" If the answer is "no," go to step 2.
2. You ask yourself, "Will this make me die?" If the answer is "no," go to step 3.
3. Then you realize, "Well, if my death is not impending, I guess I will have to survive this."
Seriously! This is how I survive EVERYTHING. It is the simple knowledge that I just don't have any other choice but to make it through this. I also know, in my head, if not in my heart, that terrible, painful feelings cannot last forever, and things will eventually get better, and while I may currently feel absolutely like someone has shot a giant whole through my chest and all my insides are gone and I am a hollow cavity NOW, I know this cannot possibly last forever. And as I am not dying, I will eventually get to where I don't feel blown out all the time.
Like I said: not sexy. I don't take warm baths or align my chakras or have crying circles with friends or whatever the fuck it is other copers do. I get sad and cranky and I isolate myself like the dog that if it is going to die wants to slink off into the woods and do it ALONE, damnit, and I cry a lot in my bed at night and maybe fixate on an Elliot Smith album and just breathe through it because I know that frankly, that is my only option.
I am a big fan of the breathing through things. You keep breathing, and you keep breathing, and things will just pass through you, and eventually, breathing won't hurt so bad. Believe me, I have been there where I am so destroyed I have to remind myself to take a breath. That's ok. You will manage this. Because you have to.
SBD is my response to pretty much everything in life. And frankly, I think SBD offers the brilliance of perspective. Because here you are, banking on the lowest common denominator. Your only job is to stay alive, and you are doing that because you are not going to kill yourself. You are just focused on the fact that your life is going to pull you inexorably along until you reach the other end. And that means you can't really get too upset about the little trivial details, like losing your ipod (WHICH I JUST DID) or the nasty friend who wants to complain about how you're not fun anymore or the fact that you haven't eaten anything but junk food for weeks. Those things are just not a big deal. You see them as mere distractions. Because you have distilled everything down to just the fact that you are alive. That's all that matters. And that one thing, which you really have no control over, will be the thing that saves you.
So, I wish I had more sage wisdom to give on rape and trauma survival, but that's really all I got. I did NOT survive my rape gracefully. No, I freaked out and had massive anxiety attacks and cut nice people off because I just couldn't deal and cut myself and bled and cried like fucking oceans of tears and listened to depressing music and wailed when my roommates were all gone and there was no one there to hear. And - that's ok! You just have to forgive yourself all that. Because at some point you will realize, hey lookit - I have made it, sort of, or some semblance of such! You never get to be NOT a rape victim. But you manage to stand up, and heal a bit, and duck tape the pieces of you where you can't quite hold together. And then you take a couple steps. And a couple more. And you are alive, and that is enough. That, in fact, is a big fucking deal. And that is because you chose not to commit suicide, or you didn't have the insane courage to, it doesn't matter which, but you know what, being a human being is just FUCKING HARD oftentimes, and even though you are not responsible for being alive, you are, and you should fucking celebrate that. You managed to take on another day in this difficult universe. Well done.
That's it. I should point out that this is also the cheapest option of surviving, which was all I could afford this year, so. But I find SBD highly reliable! I would recommend it to everyone. And seriously, even if you are not currently suffering through a past trauma, and you are alive, well done to you, too. This shit is hard, guys. And maybe we are all here by default, but that doesn't matter; we are still doing a damn good job.