I never thought I’d be petrified of men, imagine that, almost half the population and I’m terrified. I’m not saying that there aren’t bad women, or that men can’t be nice, but I’m haunted by the wrongs of men. The rapist, the paedophile, the cheat, the liar, the bully. The man who shags the young thing then lies through his teeth to cover it up, the one who abuses his step daughter because he just loves her so much, the grandfather who means no harm when he makes a joke and gropes his grandchild on the sofa, the boyfriend who says he will throw you down the stairs if you don’t have the abortion. These are men you know, men we all know.
Without limitations, transformed through the kaleidoscope of love
Everything’s beautiful now
Home’s not a room anymore; it could never be a house
It’s always where you are, my home is where you are
A close up of a corner, the curve before you smile
The shape of your shadow, with your shirt hanging down
Kiss, touch, look, laugh, push me, take me, hold my hand
Everywhere I look i’m seeing you
And everywhere I go i’m taking you, with me
Being happy retains novelty above any other experience I can claim to be my own. The bliss of 4 consecutive wonderful days leaves me peaceful, grateful and content. Bank holiday Monday draws to a calming close; I’m currently sat in a hot bath with the smell of roast potatoes creeping in around the door. I can hear Abby tidying, cooking. Draws bang and plates clatter but it’s a relaxing kind of noise, a homey and therapeutic soundtrack to accompany my last hours of the Easter weekend. I try to run all my thoughts through my head over and over, remembering every beautiful detail so that they might keep me company on darker days.
Have you ever met someone and it’s like coming home, you can’t possibly have just met them because you know them before they’ve said a thing. Nothing needs explaining, because we both know what’s meant. Has someone shared music with you and it’s like they found your favourite songs for you, how did they know? Something speaks to your soul. I wasn’t sure what a soul was, but I can feel it, it’s the deepest definition of who I am, it’s my core, my me-ness. I never saw it until it was reflected in someone else, but now it’s there bright as day.
My morning coffee kicks in and I remember how to smile. The resentment I radiate for the first hour of the day subsides and I can finally appreciate the sun shining through my office window.
Burrell started talking to me on Sunday. In true 2016 fashion, I liked a status his sister put up about his music, and he added me on Instragram where he stumbled across a picture of me with a banjo, that was enough reason for him to send me a message. We have friends in common, we like the same music, he’s a very talented musician, he said he likes my singing voice and we should make some music together. Trying not to get swept up in some kind of Nashville-esq frenzy I evaluate his intentions and whether I can, in good conscience build a musical bond with him, because at the end of the day the question is, would be just be a musical bond?
My parents are laughing together in their room across the hall. The air is still and silent so the only sounds I hear are the buzzing of dimmer switches mixed in with the muffle of cars passing by on their way to work, what is it people say about Monday mornings? I drink my slightly cold coffee and stare at my reflection, this is my last day waking up in this house, I’ve spent 8 years here. My heart beats faster for the loss of a place that’s played home to so many memories, beautiful memories, awful memories, memories that moulded me and brought me here. I cried in the room upstairs when they turned my best friends life support off, I cried when I had my heart broken by my first love. I had an abortion here and sat screaming while my mother held my hand, I harmed myself, I hated myself. I fell in love here for the first time, I truly got to know my parents for the fantastic humans that they are, I grew beyond any expectations I had for myself, I battled and learnt to deal with depression here, I loved three dogs and learnt to play the piano here. I’ve stayed up til 4am talking to my dad in the kitchen and I’ve spent my summers swimming in the garden. It’s not all been a dream but I wouldn’t change a day of it.
I was 21 years old and we had shared a friendship group for about 6 years. He was good looking with dark brown hair and dimples when he smiled, that’s why I felt like maybe he was right, maybe I did want it. Our group went camping at the nearby park, in a clearing surrounded by woods that I wasn’t completely convinced was flat enough for a decent night sleep – i’m not exactly a camping enthusiast. We drank, we danced around the campfire and we laughed, there are photos to prove all of that. There are no photos from after everyone went to sleep though, as he lay next to me in our cramped tent that was only meant for Anneke and I. Noone saw him put his arms around me and say that he needed to spoon and noone else felt his grip tighten as I asked him to get off of me. I was silent when he pulled my top up and bit my nipples and stomach. He told me I liked it, he said I wanted it and all I said was that I didn’t, that he needed to stop. I was very quiet, I was very shocked and I lay there. I banged Anneke in the head, twice, and watched as her head shook from the force, she didn’t wake up, she never wakes up. Steven groaned and hugged her tighter, enjoying the only opportunity he would ever get to sleep with his arms around her. I was alone. I remember it went on for a long time before I found my voice, before I firmly raised my voice and told him to stop or I would wake everyone up, I would scream. The sun was beginning to show and I ran, I took my things and I ran. I ran through stinging nettles after stinging nettles, they brushed up against my legs and I looked down as blotches appeared but I felt nothing.
I told Anneke what had happened and she was shocked and upset, she was angry and she stared at the bruises on my arms and chest. I told my parents and they were shocked and upset, mum said that this was exactly why I shouldn’t have been sleeping near boys, dad said it could have been worse. I was scared, and upset, and I felt like I must be overreacting. Everyone was still talking to him. He messaged me saying he was sorry, he wasn’t like that and he was so sorry. I wasn’t going to tell anyone was I?
I pretended it was ok and he was so nice to me. I flinched as he hugged me, he stared deeply into my eyes and thanked me for not ruining his life, he cried one night and I comforted him.
It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand and was able to grow that I realised that I hated him, that he had wronged me and the memory of his touch would forever be on my skin. I hadn’t dealt with it at the time, I was so changed on the inside that I couldn’t face changing my world on the outside, I didn’t have the fight in me. When I came home he told everyone I had lied, he told everyone that I was disgusting and he wouldn’t come near me even if I had my legs wide apart and begged him. I lost all my friends, Anneke had been my best friend since I was 14, and she said nothing, except that she thought I was lying.
It’s haunted me, i’ve carried guilt and shame for something that was not my fault, something noone would ever choose. I lost my dignity, my credibility and my friends, it’s taken me 4 years to start to rebuild those things. It’s taken me 4 years to forgive myself for not screaming, 4 years to forgive myself my unhealthy obsession with sex for the years that followed and 4 years to accept the truth about what happened, my truth.