I should be working on my presentation for class on Tuesday. But there is a lot that I need to get out of the way and onto a page before I have space enough in my mind for what should be worked on.
Night after night there are images that flash and a barrage of voices and thoughts and constructs that are swimming. I’m in and out of consciousness, I think—not fully awake and not fully asleep. And that reminds me of what a detective told me about a 911 call: a white female found in and out of consciousness.
That female was me.
I can’t tell the rest of the story. I don’t know it.
I only know what happened before and what happened after. There is no event. The event never happened, as far as my person is concerned. No memories. Not one second. Not a blur of light. Not a sound. Not a smell. Not a moment. Not one single moment.
There is all sorts of speculation.
I have a basic timeline, based on other people’s statements, and the call, and the facts we could gather from my own digital trail. But that helps me none without a camera or an eye witness to the crime itself.
There is a person of interest, based on the repeated statements of another person that seem suspect. He is strong enough to have done the harm to my body. He is acting odd enough to have me mistrusting him. But is his DNA on my body? I won’t know for 6 to 12 months.
And I can’t help but think about all of this. This madness that made me a victim on my own block, in a place that I feel safe and welcome, on a fucking Thursday night on a normal week like any other.
My friend from Loyola heard about a woman drugged and assaulted from the 24th precinct police report. Weeks later, after we had dinner, she found out that woman was me. My friend from the bar across the street told me to turn in the name of that person of interest—because no matter what excuses I want to make for him, we know he is capable of assaulting a woman because he has done it before. It may have been 12 years ago, but he did it then, so he can do it now. He doesn’t deserve any mercies if he is the culprit, and I deserve justice first, before any mercy is extended. My daughter couriered my damp clothing from one hospital to another, when the first didn’t take seriously that I was certain that I had been drugged and assaulted. She waited and watched as they went through the meticulous steps of swabbing and combing and capturing every possible bit of evidence from my effects and then my person—taking away that skirt that flared at just the right spot, and my only “interim” jacket that works between seasons in the perfect way, and one of the few matching bra and panty sets that I wear when I want to feel dressed up on the inside when I don’t dress up on the outside. My underwear belongs to the police now. It is evidence. I became evidence.
I’m evidence. Me.
And it isn’t just that.
It’s the loss of a friend who seems too distracted to care about this violence that tore apart my sense of self. It is the bar that might have footage of someone nearby during that time frame that hasn’t checked tapes, because the owner has a personal issue with me—mostly because I have both a talent for truth-telling and a strong trigger response to being grabbed by grown men without cause or warning. I have apologized for both and he still won’t look to see if my attacker was outside his bar.
A random reconnection with an ex partner this week gave me both extreme peace and strange feels, because I think that I really loved him, and I really needed to find some positive closure there, but now I don’t really want to leave that door closed. And a connection with someone new was not reciprocal, and also he was the most generous man in saying that now was a vulnerable time for me, so connecting in the midst of that would be unwise. So, these good men are falling from the sky, even as I walk over the spot where my body likely was dropped on the street just a few short weeks ago by some horror of a human.
The flashes aren’t of what I remember from that night. There isn’t anything from that assault that I remember. The flashes are of everything else in my life, and how complex and busy and good and not great and terrifying and beautiful it all is. And I don’t quite know how to fit the pieces together to feel whole and safe and good and wise and at peace like I did before this happened.
Because things were amazing before this happened.
I had recovered from people being hurtful and dishonest and childish. I had moved forward on a new path. I was letting go of much. I was sitting in the fire and letting it burn away all that did not serve me. I was becoming a new and better and stronger and more beautiful woman. I was gaining health. I was growing in wisdom. I was overcoming challenges. I was making choices and building something new with the direction that I was going. Things were flowing. The Divine and the Universe were holding me up and carrying me along, and there was abundance and joy and gratitude and grace.
And now there is this chaos—this unknown void surrounded by all sorts of things that I cannot seem to juxtapose correctly or assign with an ethos of good or evil without questioning my own judgment and mistrusting my gut instincts, and wondering if I was ever really being carried along by the Divine, or if I wanted to believe that was true, and the actual truth is that Evil smacked me down onto the pavement and said, “Stupid Bitch. Nothing holds you up. You always fall.”
There it is.
I knew if I could write it I could find the core of the matter.
And the core of the matter is that I feel stupid for believing that I deserved that good and that the bad wouldn’t come and take it from me. The thing I fear most is that the truth is I Always Fall.
But why does that frighten me?
I’ve gotten up more times than I know how to count. I’m not sure there is a number that expresses how many times I have gotten up. Falling. I am an expert at fucking falling.
But I am also an expert—by at least a sum of ONE MORE NUMBER—at GETTING UP.
I Always Get Up. I Always Stand. Still I Rise.
All this chaos of the night and these flashes of what may have happened and who may or may not be here for my good or for my ill. All these thoughts and feelings and glimpses. All of this comes to nothing and it means nothing. Because at the end of this, I get up and I keep going.
I already know that is true.
And maybe I didn’t know it until this moment. But I know it now.
I also know that it has been true for years and years. It isn’t going to stop being true anytime soon, or because of any circumstance—whether I remember it or not, whether I was raped or not, whether this asshole dude’s DNA is on my person or not, whether I lose friends or not, whether Stavros checks the surveillance or not, whether I find the perpetrator of this violence or not, and whether I find an amazing partner in the future or not.
I will find my footing.
I will find my wisdom and my gratitude and my abundance and my grace and my joy. They will radiate from me. I will pour them out upon the world.
I am rising again.