Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Movin On.

I was raped when I was 22 years old. Just home from college, living with my parents, stymied about my future. I was walking through the neighborhood on the street next to the railroad tracks. I had my headphones on, listening to Soul ll Soul, Keep on Movin. Time to lose the freshman 15. A sunny, hot July day. Not a soul in sight. A man came up behind me and put a plastic bag over my head. I had just walked under the highway overpass. We struggled across the road and, talk about things going downhill from there, fell into a drop on the side of the road. Deep brush hid it from the road. It was where the drainage tunnel ran under that street and the two roads on the other side of the railroad tracks.

I remember four things very clearly. One, that I couldn't believe this was how it was going to end. So much life to live and it's over, like this? In a drop on the side of the road? I didn't see angels. I didn't feel the presence of the spirit, any spirit. No fear anymore, just blinding carnal anger that it would end like this. I remember clearly the musty smell of damp earth; damp smells bothered me for many years after. I remember my ear bleeding from the impact of my ear and headphones hitting the ground and, strangely, the rapist expressing concern. Asking if it hurt. But my clearest memory is after the rape. Right after. He told me to crawl through the drainage tunnel and not to look back. He wouldn't kill me if I didn't look back. I didn't look back. The light at the end of the tunnel was, blessedly, just that.

The police caught the man who raped me. They told me that when he was arrested he looked like shit, bruises and scratches and scrapes. They told me that he looked worse than me. I think they were just being kind, but it made me smile. Take that! His lawyer (damn lawyers!) said it was consensual, then quickly dropped that claim. He pleaded guilty. He was 18 years old and ended up spending the maximum in prison for 1st degree rape, 15 years. Registered sex offender for life. I fought my demons and my anger for a couple of years after the rape, but got over it with help. And time. I rarely think about it anymore. Truly. Even on the anniversary, July 2. Today.

I've been thinking about it, please not for sympathy, but in the context of Movin On. Life moving on, people moving on, even though you're not ready to or you just can't, for whatever reason. My low point after the rape was after the trial, after the "My God, you're so strong's", after the "what can I/we do to make it better, safer, easier, more comfortable's for you." At the point when the world goes about its business, as it does, as it must, but you haven't. How can everyone go on living, happily living, when my world is falling apart and the anger is making me toxic, I thought? Ok, fine. Then stop the world and let me off. Just for a little while.

What does this have to do with infertility? Absolutely nothing. Everything. Infertility, like any major life event, has the power to knock you to the ground, fixate you, obsess you, tie you in knots, cause you to fling open your arms and scream to the world "Are you kidding me, why ME?" Indeed, I've found myself perilously close at times to doing just that and then collapsing on the floor in a self-induced puddle of pity, soft underbelly exposed to the world. Life can really, really be a bitch.

At 22 I learned that shitty things can and do happen to good people. Lesson: Life's not fair by any means. I was older when I learned that you can deal with anything, violence, sadness, divorce, joy, disappointment, uncertainty, anything...given time and acceptance. Sometimes you deal by letting the world spin for a while without you until you're ready to get back on gracefully. Othertimes you just fight it out. Take that world! But the key, I think, is Movin On. Keep on Movin.

One more cycle and I'll take the outcome, whatever it is. For sure, I won't be immune from sadness or disappointment or joy, whatever the case may be. But I am going to keep Movin On.

21 comments:

Shinejil said...

I also survived a rape, though it didn't involve the level of violence yours did. To make matters worse, whenever I tried to talk about it at Take Back the Night Marches, etc., because the man happened to be of a different ethnicity, I was denounced as perpetuating racist stereotypes. I learned to keep my mouth shut about it.

I know the bitter lesson you're talking about: That shit just happens, and you're not to blame, but that's no comfort. I know, too, the aversion to certain scenarios, scents, words that comes afterward.

I want to send you a roarin' high-five for your bravery at the time and now, and a huge cyberhug for your ability to move on.

Carrie said...

Oh Sweetheart,
*sigh*
Movin on, I like it x

Joonie said...

Your post was so moving and powerful that it has rendered me speechless. I have had many shitty things happen in my life, but nothing as personal and as horrifying as rape. With all you've had to go through, all I can say is you are unbelievably amazing.

Duck said...

I'm sorry to read of your post, sexual assault is a life changing experience.
I was a crisis volunteer at a rape crisis centre for years, and only left when i changed provinces.

I often wonder if there is a relationship between sexual assault and infertility.... all that negative energy, it's something I think about a lot.

Hugs to you.

Frenchie said...

Very powerful post. Thank you for sharing this most intimate and raw part of your life story. Yes, bad things do happen to good people.

Denise said...

Wow, Melanie. Just Wow.

~S said...

wow........

luna said...

oh melanie, how awful. what a terrible painful memory and experience to harbor all these years.

it's true, bad shit happens to good people. but knowing that doesn't make it any easier. and at the risk of saying something you've probably heard all too often, I'm just so sorry you had to overcome that.

Io said...

Melanie, I don't know what to say. How powerful that you are able to take this shitty shitty thing that was done to you and keep moving.

peesticksandstones said...

Wow... thank you for sharing this story. It's definitely got me thinking -- sometimes I get so stuck in a funk that infertility is something happening to me because I am "bad" somehow, and being punished or something like that.

Yet I'm also a survivor of some pretty messed-up stuff (from my childhood). And, well, I know I did not deserve that. It was not personal -- terrible things happen to all kinds of people.

Anyway, it's hard to put into words exactly what I mean, but I definitely will try to keep "Movin' On" with you!

Rebeccah said...

Thank you for sharing this very powerful story. There are a lot of us out there -- your story is one of the truly terrifying ones, though. And there is a strange synchronicity between surviving sexual assault and surviving IF. Folks who haven't been through these kind of experiences don't tend to take us seriously, partly because no one is comfortable talking about these very important life-changing events in public.

The trick is how to keep moving forward without growing our skin too thick and totally closing ourselves off to the joyful things in the world. Sounds to me like you've found your way, and for that you should be very proud.

S said...

Wow...what a post. Keep on "Movin On"!

Phoebe said...

Thanks for sharing your story. That is very courageous that you took the bastard to court and won. I'd forgotten that I had experienced an attempted rape 19 years ago. I was saved by the guy's father, who heard me screaming. I think the guy got 2-4 years or something. It was still very traumatic for me, but I stuffed my feelings because 1) I was living in Africa at the time, where I really wanted to be, and I was afraid if I went home, I would never come back and 2) I didn't really know how to deal with it myself. When I got home two years later, I started having flashbacks. I found a way to deal with it and move on, but I had to process it first. It wasn't going to go away without some kind of processing (which is a whole 'nother story).

This whole infertility/fertility journey has also been traumatic for me. It's not going away on it's own, and I'm trying to find a way to process it. It hasn't been easy.

I wish you luck in your next cycle. Don't count yourself out yet. You're still in the game.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Truly, no good words, but I wanted you to know that I'm listening and sitting here with you as you keep moving forward.

And that I am so incredibly sorry that you went through this.

Mrs.X said...

Infertility and my miscarriages have been by far the most difficult thing I have faced in my life and I have come to learn as you did, that you essentially have two choices in how you handle things: you can either move forward or not. Moving forward is never an easy prospect, but it has the promise of momentum, where as not moving is just no where.

You are strong and wise and I'm osrr that you had to go through all of these terrible things to learn that about yourself and to understand the importance of moving on, but the lesson is still a valuable one.

Evil Stepmonster said...

I've also been thinking alot myself lately if there is a link, well probably more accurately a blockage, between sexual assault and infertility. I hope sharing your story in this way can help you to move on in many ways.

I admire your attitude for this coming cycle, and I wish you the best best of luck.

liddy said...

Hi from "The Unfair Struggle", your post left me speechless and in tears.

I love your statement, "by letting the world spin for a while without you until you're ready to get back on gracefully." It has really provided me with many thoughts about my own IF journey.

May you keep movin' on.

PJ said...

I often wish "the world would stop and let me off, just for a little while", and let me back on again when all of this is over, one way or another.

Powerful post.

TABI said...

Thank you for sharing this very painful experience. I, as well, was speechless when reading it and truly moved by your bravery and your strength to overcome such a terrible sick violation. Your post captured the most amazing truth about moving on and what the human condition can actually survive. I've dealt with a couple of very tragic unexpected deaths of loved ones in my life and it still amazes me how time has made that pain hazy and bearable. IF is now my latest loss and it's true that these past experiences show us how far we can keep going. I'm just so sorry you had to overcome such an awful shitty thing, but admire your courage to know you can handle what's ahead of you. Wishing you all the luck for this next round.

gracechild said...

thanks for sharing Melanie. Your strength encourages me.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for sharing that with us...I give you a lot of credit.