My beginning meditation practice continues to open my vault of memories and encourage me to look at myself asking questions of my experiences and responses. I don’t believe that there are bad people. I believe that there are people who are injured and need healing. I wonder now if that doesn’t make life more complicated? Wouldn’t it be easier to just be angry and just give up on the possibilities of forgiveness? What hurt and anger do I hold for myself when I don’t give it to others?
Many memories are resurfacing these days, some good and some sad or scary. One that I was surprised to see again came from sometime after I graduated college. I was back in town for some reason staying with friends. One of them had an extra bed in his room where his son usually stayed on weekends. That was where I was going to sleep. I felt totally safe. I’d been friends with this guy for several years. I was tired from my trip and went to sleep before he got home. When he came in that night he slid into my bed and began to grope. I swatted his hands away. He got up and went to his own bed. Neither of us ever spoke of what happened.
In seconds I went from feeling completely safe to terrorized with just a touch. He’s gone from my life now. We just didn’t stay in contact after I left town again.
For years I didn’t have a name for what happened. I’ll admit I didn’t know which bed in that room was his and which belonged to his son. I did blame myself. I said to myself that maybe I’d gotten into the wrong bed that night and maybe that caused him to think what he did was invited and ok. He was my friend. In my mind, I couldn’t translate the idea that it could possibly be assault. He wouldn’t hurt me, right? He walked away when my body stiffened and I swatted his hands away.
I had no name for what happened. All I knew is that the trust was broken and I couldn’t go back to that place of trusting again. I didn’t want to blame him, after all I don’t believe in bad people and what happened scared me and emotionally hurt me.
This morning I looked up the definition of sexual assault on several different online sites. I saw two things that struck me. It is any unwanted sexual contact. It is never the victim’s fault.
Maybe twenty years later now and I have a name for what happened. It was sexual assault. I can call it that. I can be part of that ever growing community of women who’ve been assaulted. No one wants to be part of that community, but a community it is and strength grows there.
It wasn’t my fault. It was his. I still don’t believe in people being somehow bad or evil. But, I will say he was responsible for his actions and what he did was wrong and hurtful and I didn’t deserve it.
Now, it’s time for me to get up from that bed in that room twenty years ago and walk out into the light of a new day. Thank you for sharing my journey.