You cannot understand unless you have gone through the pain. I wish no one did understand. I wish no one understood the physical agony, the depression, the flashbacks, the anxiety, or the fear. How do you get back to yourself? How can someone who has always believed in fairy tales possibly conquer the pure evil that took so much from her? How can you possibly feel like a normal person again? You can never get back that innocence. You feel like you have to explain yourself when people ask why you aren’t having sex. Oh, you know, there was this time where I was sexually assaulted and I’m not about to get into bed with anyone because I have panic attacks. I’m not built for a one-night stand. I need to be able to fully trust someone, to have someone who can bring down my walls and see me. Sometimes I can believe that that person exists. Other times it seems impossible.
I had a bad few days this past week. It was hard to get out of bed. My headaches were bad because I couldn’t sleep; it was hard to close my eyes because my monster kept invading my dreams. He let his presence be known and he loves to torment me. He loves to cause me pain, to prove his strength and his power. Fuck. That. He will not make me pick up that pair of scissors on my desk. He will not make me cause my body pain, he will not cause me to bleed. I have bled enough. This is hard. It is scary to know that just the right slice could end my life or that just small cuts could end my pain, at least for a little while. It used to be an addiction — a compulsion to do something to hurt myself physically, so it stopped hurting emotionally. It is so damn hard to not fall back on old habits. But I want to be healthy, I want to be okay, so I turn to my usual form of therapy: reading. A year and a half ago when I started going to therapy, I was so uncomfortable talking about sex. It took me a while to even begin to discuss the topic. When your first experience was so negative and filled with pain it’s hard to see the good. I have always loved reading, so I started to read more romance books, so that I could fill my imagination with positive heroes, not villains. Some of my books are more explicit than others and I choose them all based on my relation to the female characters. Most of the ones I identify with had some trauma (not necessarily sexual), their journey to healing and finding love along the way. I love my books. They help me to see the positive.
I went home this past weekend because of my headaches. I had to miss a few classes because my migraines came back in force this week partly, because I got sick, but also due to my emotional stress. I want to cry when I think of going back to Cornell. It’s not my safe place; it’s not my home. These are my bad days: when going on campus causes me so much stress, when being at Cornell makes me want to sob, when all I want to do is stay in bed until the pain washes away. Being at home helps me to recuperate, to get out of the negative light. I’ve read a lot of books these past few days. Some old, some new, but they have all helped me to be at peace with everything. This is my therapy and it works for me. Sometimes I have bad days, sometimes it hurts to breathe, but when I can see that others (fictional or real) can pick themselves back up no matter how hard, I believe in myself. I have to turn around and look at the positives because it isn’t worth it so drown in the negatives.
Mary is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. On campus she is involved with the Every1 Campaign and is in a sorority. She loves reading, watching The Office and Friends and geeking out about Disney and The Lord of the Rings. Olaf the snowman is her spirit animal. Mary’s Musings appears on alternate Thursdays this semester. You can reach Mary at email@example.com.
We all have a responsibility to work together to make our campus a safe and respectful place to study and work. Cornell’s SHARE website lists numerous individuals and groups committed to the taking a stand against sexual assault on campus and in the wider community. Others are here to help of victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence survivors receive supportive care and resources. (Courtesy of Gannett Rape and Sexual Assault Resources)