Sunday, March 27, 2011
Hurt, Scarred, Healed
Doesn't this house look lovely? In its quintessential California style, with wisteria trailing around the posts and a wide sweeping porch, this house looks to me today as it did almost 40 years ago when I first found it and decided to make a small apartment inside of it my home. I loved that apartment, loved it up until the last time I had seen it, again, almost 40 years ago. And then I was raped inside of it, attacked by a man who entered through that window on that beautiful porch, and altered my life and sense of security for years to come.
I didn't mean to visit the house today; I went to Rockridge to meet up with a friend for coffee, and after our delightful encounter, I decided to explore my old stomping grounds. Oakland has changed so much since I went to school at CCA(C) there, and the bobo atmosphere attracts and amuses me. Artisanal everything, from coffee to gelato to babywear is available along College Ave, and only a few signs of the transitional nature of the neighborhood from when I lived there remain. And so I explored, and then found myself driving off the main drag. I couldn't name the street of my old house, and really didn't mean to be searching for it, yet there I was.
It was nice to know that the sight of the house and the memories of my final horrific time spent there held no power over me today. That was not always the case. For years - decades - I was haunted with memories and nightmares, and my poor ex-husband and many a poor travelmate would be awakened by my blood-curdling screams from night terrors. But I have exorcised those terrors, worked through and past them, and the daytime equivalent was not present when faced with the location of the crimes committed against me.
Why am I writing about this, making such a private subject so public? Because it amazes and impresses me over and over again to see how resilient we humans are - whether in recovery from natural disasters or issues of health, whether dealing with grief or terror. So often, though, we have difficulty acknowledging the hurt, a step so crucial to overcoming it and moving through and past it. That's why I am writing this blog, because rape is such an embarassing thing to admit. It is horrible to admit you have been violated by someone, horrible to admit the dirtying feeling of sexual abuse, but unless you do, you can't move on from it. My hope in writing this is to give courage to any who might need it to speak of their own violations out loud in any effort to send those violations on their way so they, too, can move on, visit their old houses and not be stirred by anything more than a "that was then" moment.