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cause to become silent
“This isn’t a Cinderella story,” That’s what she told me as we sat down. I will never forget the look in her eyes as she locked them on mine. There was a pain buried there and her voice came out quiet and steady, “I was sixteen the first time that I had sex. It was truly horrible, and sadly not really something I wanted to do. To make matters worse it started off a chain reaction for me that had far reaching effects.”
I sat in silence as she spoke taking mental notes to write it for her later…
The room was dusky with the shade partially drawn. The sun was setting on the other side of the house and the natural light was low. They were alone in the house which at first seemed exciting. He had put some cheesy music on real low, it was some mixed tape of crappy love songs.
His whole demeanor changed. He was like a puffed up peacock that was unsure of its own tail feathers. He tried to move his body enticingly to emphasis the crotch of his navy slush pants as if his penis was ornamental tail feathers. She felt uncomfortable and embarrassed for him because she thought he was being unbelievably stupid. Yet something about his stupidity made that little voice in the back of her head whisper with urgency what are you doing here?
He moved toward her swaying and rolling his hips to the instrumental sounds. She felt herself stiffen as the heat from his hands burned through her t-shirt. She wasn’t paying enough attention to him because she was working hard to stifle her dislike of being touched. It wasn’t that she didn’t want him to touch her, it was just that at some point in her life she had developed a strong aversion to having anyone touch her. Typically she could function through people she knew touching her with a simple pat, a hug, a handshake, or a hand on the shoulder. She worked hard to create that tolerance level, and she had become accustom to disguising her sense of panic which wanted to erupt in wild unthinking behaviour. She had learned to stifle the urge to lash out in spite of the fact that it remained automatic, and instead her brain would go to a place of self-soothing. She was so good at it that people didn’t notice the ripple of tension that passed through her muscles or the look of trepidation that flashed quickly in her eyes.
So, when his hands came down on her she slipped into auto mode. His lips pushed against her, and her consciousness snapped back to her currently reality as his tongue pushed into her mouth, probing. It wasn’t an unpleasant experience, and they had played this game before. However, something still felt alarming this time. An electric current seemed to be rushing through him and she wouldn’t have been surprised to see sparks jump off his skin. She pushed him back and tried to get air and distance as well as a moment to curb the swell of unease that was ebbing and flowing inside her, but he pushed back and she bounced on the mattress. It wasn’t a violent action, but one with a forceful excitement. She felt momentarily stunned by the movement and by the location she now found myself in. She didn’t quite know how to respond when his weight pressed down on top of her and he forced his groin hard against her. Her jeans rubbed unpleasantly against her, and she wondered briefly why he would have thought that was a good idea.
She became aware of small shh, shh sounds. She realized that he was trying to shh her because she was making some sort of protest. His mouth smashed down on hers momentarily quieting both of them. She struggled feebly underneath him, but her 120 pounds wasn’t doing her any favours and he seemed to be mistaking her struggling for reciprocation. Her struggling should have made it harder to get her pants down yet suddenly they were around her ankles and she could feel his feet pushing at them to launch them completely off her body. Her brain felt a bit foggy and she was awash with confusion.
She had no idea that his own pants had come off, but at some point he had managed to remove them without making it obvious. The shock of his bare skin against hers jolted her and she managed to shoot herself up toward the top of the bed and somewhat out from underneath him.
He was making that shh noise again as he moved like lightening back over top of her. Her head was against the wall and she couldn’t move higher. His mouth was on hers again and she could feel the vibration of his shh sound as the air moved with a hissing sound between his mouth and hers. He had pushed his arms underneath her and hooked them up her back to brace his hands on the top of her shoulders locking her in one place. Shh he repeated, shh, louder that time as he thrust forward.
Time stopped for her and she waited. It was like he stopped noticing she was there at that point. She flopped her head to the side and watched the fading light in the room. She saw tiny particles shift and fall slowly in that invisible mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, it had a surreal quality to it that drew my attention. The music was still playing, but it was the gravelly hum of tires on the pavement outside that she was most aware of. Then it was over.
He rolled off her and went across the hall. She had a moment of clarity and noticed that he had a condom on, he must have put that on when he first put on the music and started acting so strangely. She felt thankful for that one small action as she scrambled off the bed and stuffed her legs into her pants. He was whistling to himself, and she looked up to see him coming across the hall toward her. He had a smug grin on his face, no sign of charm or his usual self. “Not bad for your first time,” he said in a voice that was almost a yell and he followed it with a laugh. He was strutting and he really was puffed up like a peafowl.
She didn’t know how to act, what to say, or what to do. So, she did nothing and she pretended on the outside as if nothing had changed. However, not to long after she started having bad dreams and vivid memories. Whatever did or didn’t happen continued to torture her in flashbacks and a growing discomfort at being touched especially sexually. Two years later she decided to see a specialist.
The specialist’s office was stark and surprisingly large. It had an office feel with textbooks and files, but it also had a therapist feel with the big couched sitting area. The creepy part was the exam table equipped with foot stirrups and a moveable light. The outcome didn’t really get her any further ahead, but it was a step in the right direction. He provided reading material and advised her that he felt I was strong enough to get through this one on her own. She left with his card in case she felt the need to go back, which she never did because he had told her all he claimed he could.
Twenty some years later she still carried those memories with her, but they no longer haunted or inhibited her. They just were. She was no longer fixated on who or what because there was no positive way for her to move forward if she stayed stuck there. It took her years to come to the realization that something happened to her, something that wasn’t her fault or within her control, and it didn’t define her and it couldn’t control her. She was in control of herself, she decided what defined her.
I thanked her for sharing her story. She smiled, her eyes were moist as she explained that it was the first part of her healing journey.
By Shari Marshall -2020
**Some names and identifying details have been changed or omitted to protect the privacy of individuals.**