So July 13th is a pretty important day in my life. Not that I really want it to be and not anything that deserves a celebration. Not that kind of important. Important as in the start of hitting rock bottom. One of the major turning points in my life.
Before July 13, 2007 I was a mess. I was deeply depressed, doing poorly in school, cutting myself off from friends, hardly ever leaving my room, sleeping too much, having one night stands, getting high, and getting fat. I’d made a lot of bad choices, and they were catching up with me. But in the spring and summer of 2007, I had started to pick myself up and dust myself off. I wasn’t doing spectacular or anything, but I was doing better. I spent the summer at home, living with my mother and hanging out with my girlfriends. I hadn’t slept with anyone in six months, and I was very proud of that because I really wanted to end my trend of one night stands. I didn’t want to do it anymore because it only made me more unhappy. I was making better choices. If only I had known.
Going out to the hookah bar with your gal pals seems totally harmless right? And then running into an old guy friend you’d known elementary school through high school is also harmless right? Having him join us, smoke and drink with us, catching up on old times. And then he invited us back to his place for a few more drinks. … If only I’d never gone. If only WE’D never gone. Because if he hadn’t done it to me, maybe it would’ve been one of my friends. And I hate that thought even more than what he did to me. On July 13th, 2007 I was raped by someone that I thought was a friend. In the week following that, I believe I hit rock bottom. Imagine not being able to shower or change clothes without dissolving into tears because being naked seems so painful and venerable. I cried constantly and refused to leave my mother’s house.
Eventually, slowly, I began to heal. My short creative non-fiction story “Second hand” talks about this healing process and the friend that helped me through it. A lot of people helped me through it actually. And writing that piece especially helped me through it.
On July 13, 2008 I tried to plan the most super fun day that I could think of to keep my mind off of what had happened only a year ago. It backfired. The day didn’t live up to my expectations, my friends all cancelled, and I ended up crying in my room most of the day. July 13th, 2009, I was at a summer publishing program with no one that I knew (in fact it was only the third or fourth day of the program). And you don’t wanna start off something like that by going “Hey! Guess what terrible thing happened to me!” So I sat quietly in class, ate lunch alone, and generally avoided people all day. There were definitely some tears that night as I watched the Denver stars, sipping on boxed wine and bottling all my feelings up. edit:hahaha I always forget about Denver for some reason… 2009 is updated/correct now. I probably had a harder time remembering this cause it was sort of my routine behavior in Denver. I know, I’m such an emo when I wanna be.
But July 13, 2010, I went to work, I worked out, I had dinner with my roommate, and I ate cake. I had no expectations for the day. I just wanted to be normal. And for the most part, it was and I was. Beth and I had a long talk that evening about the past and how every single tiny little choice affects us. What if we had gotten a table inside the hookah bar and not out on the patio? Would we have run into that bastard then? Would fate have found another way to put him on my path? Or would that just mean that it would happen to someone else and not to me? Every choice has a great impact on our lives whether we realize it or not.
It has taken me three years, but I’m finally able to say that I wouldn’t change it. It was the most horrible thing that’s ever happened to me in my entire life. But it made me who I am today. And the person that I am today is so much stronger, understanding, selfless, and more compassionate than who I was before. Rock bottom didn’t erase all of my character flaws–I’m certainly not perfect, although there was a time that I’d tell lie after lie to make you think so–but it did smooth out a lot of my rough edges. It’s like Tyler Durden said: “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” And it’s so true.
I was going to post this reflection on the third anniversary, but I was doing other things and trying to be normal. But I’m doing it now. Because I need to. Because I’m better. Because I’m stronger. And because I took myself out on a solo date–something I’ve never had the guts to do before. Yep, two weekends ago, right before my black anniversary, I took just me onesie out to a movie. Completely alone. And I wasn’t self conscious, and I actually had a good time. Yes, I saw Eclipse and bought a 12 pack of beer because I’m one classy broad like that 😉
Happy anniversary. I’m so proud of you