I woke up at 3:42 this morning. I know this, because it adds up to 9. I’m not sure what my fascination with the number 9 is, but it’s something that sticks out in my head. When I put numbers in stories, such as weight, addresses, whatever, I make a conscious effort to make them add up to 9. This isn’t something new, I don’t think, but years and years of 9’s.
I woke up at 3:42 this morning, my head full of nightmares. I was dreaming of people I hadn’t thought of in a long, long time. I don’t know if there would be a good time for this, ever, but especially not this week, the last official week of class, the hell week before the time reserved for finals starts up.
Her name was a translation for peace, and I remember when I first met her that if I ever had a daughter, I would use her name.
But then I found out why she was there.
In an effort to be preemptive, I’ll warn that this will definitely not be work safe. It will be unpleasant and graphic. I just thought I’d warn you.
Her name was Peace, and she was there because she had “fallen down.” I worked registration for the ER, and we had seen plenty of women come through the doors who had “fallen down.” She had cuts above her eyebrow, and her eyes kept darting to the door.
We sat in a little office, blocked away from most other people’s eyes. My back was against the wall, facing the door. A desk, pushed against the side wall separated her from me, and me from the door.
It wasn’t significant that night, but it would prove significant later.
As I was asking her her accident information, you know, how she “fell down,” and watched her head turn at every sound, I was getting frustrated.
In retrospect, she was telling me something with every fiber of her being, something very important, something poignant and critical, and I just wasn’t getting it. This is significant now.
And then, just as I was ready to kick her out of the office (in that nice-but-fake Southern smiling sort of way), she broke apart and her secrets tumbled out of her.
She had been in a parking lot, with her boyfriend. Exboyfriend? Exhusband? It didn’t matter. She was leaving him, had old bruises to show the reason why. He had tried to hit her with his truck that night…she had run to the parking lot of an old grocery store. Yes, ma’am, I knew where it was. Yes ma’am, I understood what she was saying.
He jumped out of the truck, held her down, and fucked her with a gun. The cuts above her eyebrow were from the edge of the concrete as she had flipped over and tried to get away.
Right before he fucked her, both vaginally and anally, with a gun.
I was sick and horrified, and yet I listened and got her registered and found a nurse and explained to her what had happened. I watched Kathy lead her away, her arm around her shoulder, and take her back to the back.
And I ran away, sick, throwing up in the bathroom. Shivering and shuddering and absolutely horrified. I called my friend Eric and begged him to talk to me and tell me good stories of good people. I remember thanking him for reminding me that there were good people in the world.
That was my first sexual assault registration. It’s a wonder it took so long for me to get one, really, but I was most grateful.
Somewhere between that nightmare, and the one that actually woke me, I dreamt of other victims I had met through the ER. I saw the little blonde girl whom I played patty-cake with on her third birthday. She had tested positive for chlamydhia and had been left with her biological father who was a convicted pedophile. Her mother’s excuse, “I didn’t think he’d do it to his own child.” She needed a babysitter, was out with her boyfriend.
I dreamt in bits and pieces of the woman who had been fucked by a beer bottle and of the teenager who had been raped at parties after football games.
At four o’clock, I was crying because I don’t remember any of their names, other than the one named peace. I should remember their names, I think, and I feel guilty that I don’t. I’m angry that I don’t, in fact.
I’m angry that I don’t remember their names, like I failed them somehow.
I’m more angry that they’re still in my head, and I feel guilty about feeling angry about that, too.
This is supposed to be gone. All of this shit is supposed to be gone.
Instead, The Guy is gone. I’m angry about that, too.
We had talked about love: around it, outside of it. “How do you know when you’re in love?” he asked me. I gave a pat answer…”When I want to unconditionally commit,” I said. It was true, but not completely true. I had picked up that answer from the seminar in February, a good one, I thought, but not necessarily true because I’ve loved without wanting to commit before.
In the past week or so, I’ve really thought about that answer, too. Since the silence, especially since the disconnection and hurt took up residence somewhere between my throat and my stomach, I’ve thought about this. A better answer would be, “When my desire to be known outweighs my fear of it.”
I had done things I had never before done with him. Was able to connect with him in a way that I hadn’t ever before. And, yay. I should be grateful because it’s progress, and I should be grateful because I’ve learned, and I should be grateful because for one brief bit of time, I saw what could be.
But I’m not grateful. Not right now. I’m angry.
He also asked me, “How do you know when you’re loved?” I didn’t have an answer for that, and I don’t now, either. Mostly because I don’t ever think that I’ve known that I was loved.
Mostly because I don’t believe it. And I’m angry about that, too. I’m angry because, like the girl, I get the feeling that he’s been telling me something important and poignant and significant and critical.
And I just didn’t get it. And now I won’t be able to.
And I feel disconnected and hurt and angry.
Rape: The gift that keeps on giving.
And there are 12 days and counting.