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Part 3: Healing

An Aging Trauma

Four years. So much happens in four years, yet some things never change. Like the intensity of some memories. Like the lasting scars of past hurts. Like the devastation of trauma.

Four years ago to this day I was blissfully enjoying my seniour year of high school—good teachers, great grades, a part-time job, peace at home, wonderful friends to venture through life with, & excitement for the adventure of adulthood rapidly approaching. I had recently overcome three intense years of chaos & depression. I was thrilled for the opportunity to feel “normal,” to enjoy life without worrying about hearing voices or cutting myself or desiring death. For the first time since high school began, life was going well, & I was deeply & genuinely happy & grateful to be alive.

He was five years older than me & extremely intoxicated. I wondered if he even realized what he’d done.

So I confronted my rapist in a message through social media. I reminded him of the incident, explained it was nonconsensual, & recommended that he not have sex when he’s that drunk in the future. I told him that good intentions pave the road to hell, that what happened is what matters regardless of whatever intentions there may have been.

Shockingly & disturbingly enough, his response was quite compassionate: “I want you to know that was never my intention, & I can’t apologize enough to you. I hope that you know I would never want to hurt a woman.

 I don’t take this lightly. You deserve to tell me how you feel. I know that words may not be enough to make you feel better. The last thing I would ever want to do is know that I hurt a woman, so I hope that this is at least a first step in the right direction to forgiving me.


I should’ve known better than to give him the benefit of the doubt. In the end, he did take it lightly & never addressed me again.

Now he has graduated college & is an EMT working with the police force. How ironic that he spends his time helping people & saving lives when he nearly destroyed one four years ago.

Four years ago I slipped on a little black dress to attend the first college party of my life. My boyfriend invited me; it was a reunion of his high school buddies. Excitedly nervous, I invited one of my closest friends along. After three & a half years of chaotic change & challenging growth, our friendship had remained in place. I trusted her deeply & greatly looked forward to a fun night with her & my boyfriend.

The night began with beer pong & laughter but ended with shame & devastation. While the party’s host—one of my boyfriend’s closest friends—raped me, my boyfriend & best friend enjoyed sexual relations in the next room.

They are presently celebrating their four year anniversary.

Though I’ve mentally accepted the event, dealt with it, & forgiven my offenders, the effects of the incident still linger, revealing their nasty faces only occasionally. The repercussions & mental consequences continue to exist. The struggle remains real, despite the passing of time & the pursuit of healing. It hurts, piercing me with hopelessness & stabbing me with the loneliest of despairs.

Trusting people became even more difficult than it already was. (Even when I did finally trust someone, it almost always ended in pain, reaffirming my suspicious doubt & overall distrust in humans.) Now I am highly skeptical of every human that expresses interest in befriending me. My default assumption is that they have alternative motives & that my well-being is not amongst their priorities. Sex had already meant very little to me before that dreadful night, but, afterwards, it meant absolutely nothing. I came to expect that everyone would leave sooner or later, & even during the friendship I began to mourn the inevitable loss.

Sometimes it strikes me with vigorous gravity, & I have no idea why. But I take it as it comes. I address the mental attacks, one moment at a time, & overcome them with active mindfulness, directing my mind to the present moment & all its light with high hopes of casting out the darkness of my past.

The hardest attacks to battle are the ones that creep up on me as I peacefully drift off to sleep. I barely enter the fully relaxed realm of unconsciousness when my body begins twitching & flailing. Perhaps I’m pushing away an invisible attacker. Perhaps I fear sleep because of what dreams might occur. Perhaps I dread being unaware of the world because, should something happen, I lack control to respond, & that terrifies me. Any situation of helplessness is utterly horrifying.

These wounds have protruded through my soul for far too long. My attempts at healing seem to last only temporarily. With each passing day, my eyes grow increasingly open to the devastation this world bears, & I begin to lose hope of recovering. After four long years, how does one singular night still affect me with such magnitude? It’s one of my many mental battles, & the struggle remains so continuously intense that a dark part of me deeply doubts that the misery will ever end.