When this “story” took place, I was 19.
I found myself, as I mention in the story, dating a 27 year old man who I thought I was in love with because 19 year olds are idiots.
I was still recovering from having my back opened up from neck to tailbone to have my spine surgically straightened, fused, and reinforced with stainless steel, titanium, and a transient’s donor bone.
I was a single mother of a toddler with an ex-boyfriend I had started dating when I was 14 and finally broke up with after he kept putting his penis in other girls and lying badly about it. I was dealing with his mother (who was actually his grandmother) who was constantly pressuring me to give up custody of my child to them the way she pressured her own daughter to do so with her grandson. She is the first person that I ever heard the term “white trash” from (as she described me), and I was constantly referred to as “the shop rag” because I was the only woman who worked at the car lot where my friend’s father had given me a job.
My self-esteem and my energy was were both in the toilet.
I was not a perfect human by any stretch, obviously, and didn’t make the best decisions at every turn.
After this “story” took place, and I still have such a hard time calling it rape because the coercion was only mental – regardless of the implication that I might just disappear, I didn’t yell, I didn’t punch, I did not utter the word “no” in any meaningful way – I became the subject of gossip in my small town because someone had seen me down at the docks with my married boyfriend and his idiot friend. I heard stories about how I had “taken on seven or eight guys” that night.
I had two co-workers, who were friends with the sister-in-law of the second person in this story – the idiot friend who I will still not name because after decades of deconstructing this night and two later apology-ridden meetings with him, I still don’t believe he had any idea I was less than a willing participant – and those coworkers all but stopped speaking to me because they believed the fishermen’s wives rumor circle that I was this little slut that pulled a train consisting of their husbands. I didn’t feel like I had a reasonable explanation for what happened.
And I started to believe some of the things they said about me, which went a long way in shaping both who I became for the next decade or so and the person I tried to run from. Terrible things were extremely easy for me to believe about myself after that night.
I became a mean person. Maybe not always outwardly, but definitely internally and mostly to myself.
I very much became someone who might hurt you so you couldn’t hurt me first.
I absolutely became a “do the time, do the crime” in which, once I was on the receiving end of jealousy from insecure girlfriends, I would just go ahead and fuck their boyfriend or husband. You want a villain, Carol? Congratulations, you got one. I will play that role to the hilt.
I will get you before you fucking get me. You can’t touch me.
And most of it, not all of it but most of it stemmed from that one night. Where, in the middle of what was happening, I took control by laughing, in a twisted and dark way, at the situation, by taking a very small advantage of some of the stupidity that was occurring to my body.
This was just shy of thirty years ago, and I can still feel all of it. I type this and I feel my chest constrict with panic, and my anger bubbling up in the pit of my stomach.
I think about every time I “got someone before they got me”, usually consisting of using someone for sex and then ghosting them the minute they got attached.
And will never forget the night my current husband and I first reconnected after twenty years apart and living entirely different lives; having a conversation at our class reunion, he looked at me quizzically and said, “There is something about you that I don’t remember from before. There’s a darkness about you…I’m sorry, maybe that’s not the right word, but…”
I felt like I had been found out and I was pissed. And laughed it off and tried to make a flippant comment like, “Well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me, it’s been a long time,” and I changed the subject. To anything else.
I’ve thought about that night, the night of “story”, and the aftermath of it. I think about it every time I hear someone dismiss someone when they open up about something that happened to them. I think about it when I hear – constantly hear – the question, “Well why didn’t they come forward?” I think about it when I visit my hometown, which is less these days, thank god, and I think about it when someone mentions how calm and smooth the water looks on any given day because the water was black as night and smooth as glass the night of that fucking story.
I think about it every time someone ‘whatabouts’ a woman’s history, her promiscuity, her past, her upbringing, her tits, and every time a handsome, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy gets the benefit of the doubt after he’s brutalized and stolen from a woman’s body.
And, if you, male or female, think that I’m your friend and you’re one who might be prone to saying things that make me trust you less due to your views on what women should do differently to keep from being violated by men, you can think again.
For context: Youngs Bay