The Eye of the Tiger, Part 1

Chapter 1 – Denial
A Five Part Series

Dance with me forever
This moment is divine
I’m so close to heaven
This hell is not mine
This hell is not mine
Melissa Etheridge

I am not a victim anymore.  Nor am I a survivor.  I am just a woman – daughter, wife and mother who has a story to tell.  It’s not a pretty story.  It may not even be an important one for anyone else but me.  But it’s my story and it made me who I am today – the good and bad parts – all of it.  Today, I am happy and strong – but not because of my story, but in spite of it.

This is the first time I am sharing the whole raw and honest story with anyone.

I don’t really know where to start so I’ll start from where I think is the beginning.  I was a high achieving, athletic and ambitious kid and teenager from an upper middle class family.  I got good grades, had lots of friends and was popular with the boys.  People liked me.  Still, I lacked self esteem.  While I knew I was smart and kind and good at sports, I felt insecure about my body and unsure of my outward self.

That had nothing to do with what happened to me, but it had everything to do with how I handled it.

Like many twenty-ish girls, I had a waitressing job.   At night I served drinks and fancy hors d’oeuvres to rich suits at an upscale oyster bar.  They liked me and I made good tips.  They made me feel pretty.  During the day, I was a university student – studying hard to get my Bachelor of Science degree.  I played several team sports – excelling at most of them – and enjoyed the competition and adrenaline high of the win.

None of that had anything to do with my story except to paint a picture of a normal, well-adjusted middle class kid.

It was 1993 and I travelled to a close-by large city to play in a sporting event; this yearly tournament was hailed as the party of the year.  It didn’t disappoint.  We played hard and partied harder.  And yes, one night I got stinking, stumbling drunk.  I carried on late and eventually hitched a ride to my motel with the band. Not my stupidest move of the night, but close.  My stupidest move was passing out on a lounge chair by the pool while I waited for the rest of my team (and room key) to arrive.

I don’t know exactly what happened next, but I awoke to the sound of a zipper.  I awoke to the stench of cigarettes and whiskey.  I awoke on a dirty floor – a TV on in the background.  Then there was a stranger on top of me and I saw his hideous face in the light of the TV.

No. No. No. Please stop. Consciousness came and went and I can’t explain or describe in full detail what happened over the next minutes or hours…except that I knew I wasn’t there because I wanted to be.  There were four of them.  And to this day, I don’t know if I came to at the beginning or the end.  Was Number Two passed out on the bed because he was already finished?  Or was he still waiting for his turn?  I suppose I will never know.

It was a good thing that they were all really intoxicated too because my drunken and weak attempts to fight them off eventually were successful.  I got up and ran through a doorway – thinking it may be an escape.  Unfortunately, it was a bathroom and I was followed…cornered by Number One between the bath and the sink.  He was on me again – breathing his stench in my face.  Fully lucid now, I fought hard – one hand trying to pull my clothes one while the other tried to push him away.  He was too drunk and I eventually knocked him out of the way and ran back into the room and barreled through Number Three and another door.

Number Four was standing outside – surprised to see me.  Was he waiting for his turn?  Or was he finished with me and standing guard?  Don’t know and don’t care.  He tried to block my escape but I ran.  I ran outside to find the sun peeking out and I realized quickly that I was still in my motel complex.  All of that happened within earshot of my friends.

I found my door and banged on it to be let in.  I said nothing to my roommates as I walked straight into the bathroom, cleaned myself up and curled up in a ball on the floor.  I tried to make sense of it all as the cold tile floor comforted my face.  How long was I in there?  How did I get into that room?  What did they do to me before I came to? Twenty years later, those questions are still unanswered.

The next morning, I pretended that all was fine.  Nothing happened – I said.  I hitched a ride home with the band – I said.  It was an easy lie until I looked out of the motel room window.  There was a lacrosse team warming up in the parking lot.  The truth of the previous night hit me like a lightening bolt as familiar faces came into focus.  There they were – in plain sight.  I froze.  I wanted to barf.  I wanted to scream.  Instead I just sat there – watching them from behind a crack in the curtains.

I had no choice but to finally leave the room and get into the car, even though they were still in the parking lot.  I lowered my head and marched.  And as I opened the car door, our eyes met.  The hideous face of Number One was right in front me – only a few feet away.  He recognized me too.  Then he smiled and winked at me…like we were sharing a sexy secret and all I could do was to collapse into the car.

As soon as we got to the field, I ran to the bathroom and puked.  Then I blew my nose, splashed water on my face, walked out and pretended like nothing had happened.  My brain made a decision in that instant to forget that awful night.

But we never really forget.  We put bad thoughts away in deep pockets of our memories, but they have a way of eventually sneaking out – forcing us to acknowledge the pain and grief.  Turns out that that was just beginning for me…

To be continued…

*This five part series will be featured each Thursday in October.

About The Author

SDFMy story began 20 years ago.  It began with a sexual assault – all because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Then my broken soul left me vulnerable to another predator – an abusive boyfriend.  Posting this story will finally end my silence; I will finally be free.

.

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, your hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter,
dancing through the fire
Cause I am a champion and
You’re gonna hear me ROAR!
Louder, louder than a lion
Cause I am a champion and
You’re gonna hear me ROAR!
Katy Perry

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14 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing.. sexual assault is horrible and so many women never want to discuss it. My attackers were incarcerated and it still never made me feel any better. They stripped my soul for years and I became a non caring callus person,

    1. I was cold and callus for a long time too and I had to learn empathy all over again. I think it was because I felt that no one’s problems came close to the magnitude of mine. I simply didn’t care about other people anymore…like my own daily survival was as much as I could handle.

  2. I am so sorry this happened to you. It so shocking, I don’t know what else to say.

    1. Thank you – I appreciate you taking the time to read my story.

  3. Such courage to tell your story, would you mind if I reblolgged it? I’m so so sorry that this happened to you and you’ve had to carry this alone for all these years. Sending you support. How are you doing since you wrote this?

    1. Hello Behindthemask. Please feel free to reblog – it means a lot to me that you want to share my story.

      My ‘fine’ is forever changed, but I can honestly say that I feel good – happy and healthy. My husband read this after I published it – he knew, but I had never shared any details with him. It felt good to tell him and this series of posts will finally be the closure I have needed for all these years.

      1. Thank you for sharing, and I’m thrilled that you’ve felt some freedom from telling your story. xo

  4. What a heartbreaking story. I am so sorry that this happened to you but am so proud of you for having the courage to share it with us all.

  5. […] Chapter 2 – Anger A Five Part Series, Part 1 […]

  6. […] 3 – Anger A Five Part Series, Part 1, Part […]

  7. […] 4 – Depression A Five Part Series, Part 1, Part 2, Part […]

  8. […] 5 – Acceptance A Five Part Series, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part […]

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