What moment did the memory hit me? It was something mundane, that led me down the road, reminding me of that time. That suppressed emotion. Turkey sandwiches, that was it. I was thinking of a homeboy who has gone on to be very successful and thinking, why did I never date him? There were hints of a connection but nothing ever manifested. And then I remembered, we had agreed that on a particular Sunday we would link up and go grab turkey sandwiches at my bodega, because…Brooklyn bodega sandwiches are a really special thing. But we never made it, I skipped out, walked out the house to go to church that morning and turned back around once I hit the corner of Nostrand Ave. Walked right back up the steps into my house and brewed. I couldn’t cry, because I couldn’t place the emotion. I was confused. I was offended. I was out of my body. This wasn’t my body. This isn’t me. This can not be any part of my story. What kind of shit is this? I blurted out to my homeboys who were sitting in the living room with me looking at me with cautious bewilderment.
Yes, turkey sandwiches reminded that though I have previously blogged about my encounter with rape, have written a short story featured in my book, Send It On; there was still a very necessary conversation to be had. The aftermath, the emotions, the body. And so here we are, in a very vulnerable moment, all for my #SmartBrownGirls.
The bare basics are that I was raped, in my home, by someone I knew and it took me three years to realize that I was drugged, it was not my fault, and it was rape. Rape, I can type it out a million times but saying the word, verbalizing it into that single syllable is a hollow word of nothingness. Inserting it into my story, is a shrug, eyes rolled, move on…because it’s never a spot that any one wants to dwell in. Being forced into being a victim, one who people are to look at with sympathy and whisper cliche apologies telling you to be strong. But when was I not strong? How did I get here? How did this become part of my story?
That was the hardest part for me — how this became part of my story, when that’s not the life I live. It’s nothing to do with economics, social class or education, but everything to do with something that I never felt threatened by. We often project our future, weaving dreams of how our lives will go and re-adjusting as realities define what manifests. Dreams aren’t always positive, we place room for the negative things that could happen to us. In my dreams there were was room for robbery, being fired from jobs, losing friends, heart break and depression…maybe an attempt of sexual assault by a stranger. But not this cliche statistic of being a raped in my own home by someone I knew. Black women live every day knocking down statistics that are used to construe belittling caricatures of Black womanhood. I lived everyday pushing back against those statistics and in a blur here I was, just another statistic.
And this is the conversation that isn’t happening. How one reconciles with themselves and their bodies after they are victimized. What grief do you hold on? How do you move on? How do you take back control? Are you wrong for feeling this way? This hurt? This insecurity? This thought? Because no one told you that there is no normal here, grief is often hidden behind closed doors, so don’t compare yourself to others. Sex may be a serious hang up for some time, or it may not be. You don’t have to be meek and sullen or brave and strong. You can just be in allowing yourself the space to realize that rape is wrong, no matter how it occurs it is not your fault, you are not dirty, incomplete or any type of whore. You’re a woman, who owns every right to your body and emotions. Respect your emotional self and allow yourself the space to deal with any feelings, as no one has the right to tell you how to feel.