The first time I was molested, I was 6 years old. My step-dad was a controlling, abusive asshole and had been grooming me over the few years he’d been married to my mom. It started as tickling, then moved to a touch here, me touching him there, and everything you can imagine in between.
At 6, I had no idea this wasn’t normal interaction. He was the only dad I knew.
At 8, I knew how to give a blow job, at 10 he was attempting penetration (poorly), at 12 when I got my period, I got worried. A substitute teacher covered a chapter on sexual abuse in health class and I realized that this wasn’t normal at all. I told my mom that afternoon, he moved out that night, I got lots and lots of counseling.
At 14, I was raped by a 21 year old that was my “boyfriend.” We met through a mutual friend, he got me drunk on Everclear and told me if I didn’t let him put it in one hole he was gonna put it in the other, whether I liked it or not.
I thought it was a compelling argument.
I remember he had big speakers under his mattress and he put on something with a shit ton of bass and it made me so nauseous that I spent 20 minutes puking on his back porch. I didn’t tell anyone. In fact, I continued to date him for an additional 6 months.
During that time he fantasized about moving to Alabama (where 14 is the age of consent) getting married and having babies with me. At the end of those 6 months he nearly got arrested for threatening a secretary with bodily harm for not allowing him to bring me flowers to my class… in middle school.
My mom found out and then I spent 4 weeks as an inpatient at a juvenile psychiatric facility. I started my long journey of anti-depressants and self-medicating.
At 15, I walked over to a boy’s house that I had a crush on to “hang out.” We were making out and he got my pants off. I let him know I wasn’t interested in having sex so he decided that putting his belt inside me was a better option? I was known as “belt girl” (probably still am, honestly) for a number of years after that, to our group of mutual friends.
At 31, I got locked into a hotel room with a smooth talker (stalker) who had me convinced we were in love. The next 8 hours were filled with things I never want to remember and that my brain won’t recall. I left sore and mentally broken, but I never told a soul (until now).
These are of course only the major offenses. I’m not including the literal hundreds of unsolicited dick pics, “accidental” gropings, catcalling, and unwanted sexual advances that occur from randoms quite often.
Why didn’t I report it at the time?
Well it depends on the occurrence. The first time I didn’t know any better, the second time I was in love, the third I was embarrassed and ashamed, the fourth I was terrified of ever seeing him again. I definitely didn’t want a court case. I never filed charges on any of them. Even the long-term ones.
I remember vividly talking to a counselor who warned me of the long court process to press charges against my dad, how it was my decision (AT 12), and whether they should file charges with the DA. Seems like something an adult should’ve decided, no? That stayed with me through all of my assaults. I felt powerless and guilty. I blamed myself for my poor decisions. Surely, I mean, it was my fault, right?
So now PTSD is a real thing I live with every day as a survivor of multiple sexual assaults. The triggers are never expected or convenient. Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand with that. Once, a psychologist mentioned her surprise that I didn’t have a personality disorder, so there’s that, I suppose?
This is why the #MeToo movement is so vitally important.
The shame, the bureaucracy, the headaches, the guilt, it’s not worth reporting. This is what I’ve been told time and again as a victim. Maybe not in those words, but certainly with that intent. Someone didn’t want the paperwork and i didn’t want the trauma of retelling my story time and time again.
I’m not a stranger to depression. I live in the frozen tundra and seasonal depression is a way of life up here. I went through previous bouts of depression after my sister died and after my first miscarriage.
It’s back. It’s been slowly building for months.
I hate it, but I have to deal with it now.
It’s not normal to sit on the couch and sob because my house is a mess and it seems like all my friends have older kids who don’t leave toy cars all over the floor. Everyone has problems. Everyone has issues. If my kids were older, there would be other messes, other problems. Wishing my children were in high school is not going to fix anything.
I feel like everyone around me has their life together while I’m falling apart. I have no interest in taking care of my house. I don’t want my pets anywhere near me. The puppy I didn’t even want, but has completely attached himself to me, needs training, but I can’t handle it. Our latest (surprise!) litter of kittens need to be litter-box trained. I can’t deal with that either. My children annoy me. Important paperwork that needs to be taken care of sits untouched because I can’t process the thoughts about how to even fill them out. My kitchen is a disaster. My living room looks like a tornado came through it. I have a load of laundry that is probably molding inside my washing machine right now.
I’ve never understood people who run away from their lives and start over. Until now. It’s really tempting. I used to go for drives by myself when I needed to blow off some steam. But now, I can’t trust myself to get behind the wheel because I don’t know if I would come back. I know my husband and my children need me. I stay because of a sense of duty, but my heart isn’t in it right now.
On Sunday, I had a really bad cold. With my husband home, I could go in the bedroom and rest. I took a good book, my laptop, my phone, my headphones, and stayed all by myself in bed for most of the day. It was the happiest I’ve been in weeks – being alone and able to do whatever I wanted. I read. I napped. I listened to some favorite music. I watched a movie that didn’t involve animated creatures. It was heavenly. When I finally had to leave the comfort of my room and my bed, I had to resist the urge to kick and scream and act like my 3-year-old when he’s overtired and I tell him he has to take a nap.
This morning, a family issue required my action, and I had what I’m guessing was an anxiety attack. I shut down. I could not do what was needed. I started shaking, and tears poured down my face. Thankfully, that action was able to be put off until tomorrow and I have time to prepare myself mentally for what I need to do.
This is scary.
My husband recognized last week that I’m not well and insisted that I get help. I met with my doctor yesterday, and she put me on an antidepressant. Unfortunately, I know all too well from all of my husband’s bipolar medications that mood and brain altering drugs can take weeks to take effect. I do no look forward to the wait.
I’ve made an appointment to meet with a therapist. I’ve let some family members and my closest friends know what’s going on with me and everyone has been really supportive.
But I still feel so very, very alone.
It’s starting again.
At first, I thought it was because I had several days where my sleep had been interrupted by kids or my puppy. Today, I had to acknowledge to myself what the problem is.
Seasonal depression. Again.
I’m moody. I’m pissy. I snap at my family over the littlest things. Last night, I even locked myself in the bedroom for a while, when the stress got to me. I’m wound so tight, I feel like I’m on the verge of freaking out at any moment.
There are things I absolutely adore about where I live. I love our little community. I love the family connections we have here. I love the rich soil in my yard for my garden. The pros far outweigh the cons. We’re not going anywhere, this is home.
However, we live in the frozen tundra. That’s a REALLY big con. Last year, our winter was unusually long – just under six months. It’s not just the snow that is a problem, it’s the cold. With regular sub-zero temperatures most of the winter, that means a lot of time spent inside.
Which means by the end of the winter, my body is starving for sunshine.
I first noticed the seasonal depression last year. Unfortunately, I do not have insurance, so getting help for it isn’t something we can afford. Fortunately, my husband does have insurance, and is already seeing a psychiatrist for his mental health. Last year, his doctor prescribed an artificial sun lamp for his depression issues. His insurance paid for it, and I can use it for free!
So today, I pulled out the sun lamp and set it up on my table. I added some mood-lifting vitamins to my morning routine. It also helps that both my geranium plant and my Christmas cactus are about to bloom. I may not have flowers outside to look at, but I’ll have flowers in my kitchen.
I’m just grateful that I recognized the problem before it got too out of control this year. I’m glad the changes I need to make for my mood are fairly small.
Still, I’ll be really glad when spring finally comes.