Why I Stopped Giving a Damn
Every time a little bit of stress comes my way, I’m reminded of what happened to me about fifteen years ago by way of PTSD. That stress is always worse when it seems sexual assault and rape are inescapable things to hear about, as is the case now with the ongoing allegations through the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. The allegations against Brett Kavenaugh also should have brought up old wounds. But it didn’t, it was different. I almost didn’t care. Not about what other women have gone through, are going through, or will go through, but about what I went through.
I can’t say what changed. But it really did seem to happen overnight. Being a victim of sexual violence consumes you. For some people, it’s forever. I thought I was one of those people. I was convinced I would never beat the PTSD and that this would always be a part of my identity. And I hated that. Now I know that I was half right, and I also don’t give a damn. Being a victim of sexual violence is a part of who I am, but it now has about as much impact on me as does having blue eyes or freckled shoulders. As in…not much (except maybe when I’m on the beach).
I used to be so afraid to talk about or even acknowledge it, ashamed to be a victim and worried about what “image” that meant I was presenting of myself and my family. I was also afraid people wouldn’t believe me and I wasn’t always sure I believed myself. I asked a therapist about that once. What if I was wrong? What if none of this happened and it was all in my head, like my family suggested? So what, was her response. Who makes something like that up? It’s too horrific. Even if I was wrong about some of the details, she believed it happened. Even if people treated me like a liar, she knew the truth, and so did I.
And now? Now I just don’t give a fuck if people believe me. Their lack of belief doesn’t change what happened and it doesn’t change what it did to me. And I’m not talking about the nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, or depression. I’m talking about the asshole, don’t give a fuck, stay the hell out of my way, stop fucking with innocent people attitude I developed over years of dealing with this constant never-ending bullshit. They don’t have to believe how that attitude developed, but they sure as shit are going to have to deal with the reality of what it means for their precious little oppressive system that me and many others will work our asses off to dismantle.
Maybe that’s why I stopped giving a damn. I realized that I fucking got this shit. Despite all the bullshit they keep trying to throw at me. They created me. They’re pissed that I call them out when they say shit decent people don’t even think, but they don’t get it. All the shit I do and say that pisses them off, it’s because of them. Their abuse, their rape, their harassment all created this little ball of fury that’s over it. This little ball of fury that they’d love to contain and control, but they can’t. Because of what they did, what they let happen, what they continue to bullshit me about. If they don’t care, then why should I?
They make us out to be monsters, out to destroy the careers and lives of “innocent men” and wreak havoc on a “trustworthy” justice system. But us “monsters” were created by their so-called “innocent men” and failed by their corrupt justice system.
I can’t change what happened so I don’t even want to think about what my life would be like if it hadn’t, if I’d been allowed a normal and safe childhood, if I’d been allowed to grow and develop at my own pace and in my own way. I just want people to understand that. I don’t give a damn anymore about my past. But I sure as shit give a damn about my future, about my friends’ futures, about my niece’s future, about my nephew’s future. These things that want to destroy us, made us. I’m ready to fucking use that to tear them to the ground. I’m not a victim, I’m not a survivor, I’m just one pissed off woman with a story to tell and hell to raise.
They do what they do because they want control, but they don’t realize by abusing us like that, they’re giving us all the power. We become stronger, more resilient, more determined, and people generally look down on abusers (in words if not always in practice). I’ve come to realize this power and now I’m figuring out how to use it. I still sometimes feel damaged, broken, but not defeated, not humiliated, not demeaned, not all of the things they want me to feel. I feel pissed, dangerous, rebellious, strong, and angry as hell. I’ve learned that’s it’s a lethal combination if I let be. I’m letting it be. This is how I’m choosing to own my narrative.
I’ve got more important things to worry about than fearing the past. I don’t have the time or fucks to give a damn about what happened anymore. I’m too busy dismantling the shitty system that let this happen in the first place.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to own your narrative. It’s your life, it’s your story. Allowing others to try to define it for you takes the power away from you. People will always try to take that away from you. And they’ll do it in some pretty ridiculous ways sometimes. I’ve been told I don’t have the right to my own name because it wasn’t the one my parents chose for me. I could let a woman I’d never even met define my life or I could laugh at the absolute absurdity of her trying to force her will on me in defense of my abusers.
They will pick at you until you lose it. They will interrupt you, talk over you, swear at you, minimize your feelings, insult you, lie to you, lie about you, gang up on you, yell at you, and then when you lose your temper and yell back, swear, and let everything go that you’ve been bottling up for days, months, or years, then you’re the villain of the story. When they tell their version of events, they’ll leave out the number of times they called you petty, or how many times they swore at you. They’ll “forget” that they laughed when you tried to calmly explain why you were upset. They’ll lie about having turned people against you that you’ve never met, encouraging those individuals to treat you like garbage seemingly out of nowhere.
When they talk to people, they’ll call you irrational, talking about how you yelled at them and swore at them and blamed them for everything. They won’t mention how they’d been doing that to you while you calmly and rationally tried to resolve things. They’ll disregard the number of times you tried to explain things clearly to them and how they minimized your feelings, laughed at you, swore at you, played the martyr, misrepresented your own words to you. That won’t ever come up when they’re sharing what happened. Because they will always be the victim and you the villain. It’s their tactic.
To make matters worse, memories can get so fucked up when you experience trauma. Fear messes with our heads and does some wacky shit with the brain’s ability to record events. This is why traumatic experiences aren’t always processed linearly, why some details are so horribly vivid but others are practically nonexistent. But they’ll try to use that against you too. The more afraid and upset you are, the wonkier your memories are likely to be. And they’ll gladly and happily try to further confuse you.
So if you need to lose your temper, if you need to fight back, if you need to call them out. Do it. They will present you as an evil, psycho, irrational, illogical, overly emotional bitch. But do it anyways. My advice though, get a record of what they did. Save the texts of your father cussing you out and you calmly asking him to correct a mistake he made. Save the texts where you’re called “petty” and the texts where you explain what’s going on. Have your friends listen in on the conversations where a woman you’ve never met is bringing up your disclosure of being gang-raped, is calling you by a name that isn’t yours, is insulting your career, and is spreading lies about you.
So when they inevitably play the victim, you can share those texts and refer to the witnesses. It won’t change their narrative, but it will make you feel less crazy for having others who also know the truth. And don’t ever let anyone interrupt you or speak over you. I don’t care how old they are, how rich they are, how they’ve treated you in the past. You have every right to your words and feelings. Hold on to your truth and spread your truth. You aren’t crazy, they’re just evil.
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