But what did coming to terms with my rape mean?
I’d been open about what Chuck* had done to me. At first, I was only open about it with a few people. Then a few more. And then everyone knew, on my own terms. Early on I had convinced myself that if I could talk about what happened that night without crying, then that would mark the day that I was “fine.”
Except it (obviously) doesn’t and it didn’t work like that.
So, after that particularly dangerous night where the only evidence was a condom on my floor, I told myself I had to change, but it’s rarely ever that simple. In order to stop sleeping with strangers, I’d have to stop drinking and I’d have to stop using drugs. And if I wasn’t drinking or doing drugs, then I was staying in alone on weekend nights. And alone is the worst thing to be when you’re fighting a voice inside your head.
I watched a lot of Netflix in the months that followed– repeatedly binging all 12+ seasons of my favorite show. It didn’t matter that I knew the entire plot of the episode based on the episode title. What mattered was that I knew what was coming. Nothing in the episode would catch me by surprise, there was no potential to be triggered by anything. I needed a new form of “control” and I’d found it.
With time, I began to enjoy staying in and spending time with myself. I learned how to calm the voice in my head. And for the times where I couldn’t, I learned how to be gentle to myself. I was able to focus on self-care and figure out what types of things helped me when I couldn’t calm the voice in my head. It seemed like I was finally getting to a place where I was completely in control again, without needing alcohol or drugs. Mentally, I was simultaneously back to who I was before I ever met Chuck* and a world away from who I’d become in the aftermath of what he’d done.
I came to terms with everything: with the person I’d become as a result of being friends with Chuck*; with what he did that night; with the ways I decided to cope; with the friendships I’d lost as a result of what he did. It didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t always easy, but finally, for the first time in what felt like forever, I finally started to recognize the girl staring back at me in the mirror.
I was doing well. Life was going great.
It was officially time for a completely fresh start. I told myself I needed to find somewhere new where I’d get to start over, without any reminders of the worst two years of my life.