(Note: This is part 1 of a series.)
I’d been praying about writing this, but the topic truly doesn’t fit the tone of Rhapsody en Route.
The goal of this blog is authenticity. Real and raw. No veneers allowed. But nowadays, “authenticity” seems like a buzz word. Almost too cliché, and clichés are like shoes without soles. So I desired to go deeper.
But frankly, not so deep you could feel my breath. Not so deep, you could almost see the sweat of my pores on your screen.
In the midst of praying about the possibility of writing about the date rape I experienced at age seventeen, here’s what happened.
I’d almost decided to forget it. Then I asked God to provide clarity as crisp as Cascade mountain air if I should share how the chapter of my life movie unfolded. And honestly, I voted “no.”
Then Iast Saturday I drove to Seattle for a Lupus Foundation support group meeting. I arrived at the location too early by mistake, so decided to walk around the neighborhood.
I passed some old charming homes, and for a second I thought, “This reminds me of Greek Row.” Greek Row is a group of sororities and fraternities on the University of Washington main campus. (I’d been to the support meeting only once before, so wasn’t familiar with the neighborhood.)
My heart suddenly felt as if it pounded like a Congo drum. My breathing quickened.
Beer cans, bottles and empty latte cups adorned the front lawns of the Greek Row homes. A large empty box labeled “tampons” sat outside the door of a sorority, possibly waiting for a recycling truck. Huge signs welcomed the fraternity and sorority members back from summer vacation. Hand-painted ads encouraged other interested students to inquire about pledging.
Young women with lovely figures walked around in short shorts, excitedly talking about the upcoming parties.
I stopped on the sidewalk, stunned. I gasped and stood squarely in front of the fraternity where the robber of my soul once lived.
The name of the fraternity is forever etched into my heart, and I feel the tears welling up as I write this. Goosebumps on my skin tell me, “You’ve worked hard to process through this chapter of your life movie. But you have more work to do.
I guess I’m supposed to write about the date rape.
When I first met “him,” I thought he was a cool guy. I met him at a school dance. He was in college, and I was a senior in high school. Obviously this is a red flag now, but wasn’t at age seventeen.
He seemed cute, funny and charming. His parents were wealthy. Once he invited me to have dinner at his parents’ home, and his mom served a duck he’d hunted.
I ended up so sick, I went to the ER when I arrived back home. I thought it was the duck, but I learned later I had mono.
He pressured me for sex several times while we dated, and I said no.
The rape happened when I was sick with mono. In other words, throwing up almost constantly.
I learned my body was dangerous, and I needed to watch for predators because I felt this guy was trustworthy. He’d treated me to movies, dinners and made me laugh.
Of course he did. The art of manipulation. He planned to lead me to the slaughterhouse.
I know date rape happens frequently to all types of women. But the body God gave me was sought after. I had the body that the guys longed for, and the body the girls thought they wanted. (Deep sigh here. Be careful what you wish for.) Often guys sought me out. But usually they wanted one thing only. I didn’t give it to them. Some enjoyed my sense of humor and intelligence, but many desired sex.
I can’t remember when I first shared this scene of my life movie. I know God is graciously whispering for me to seek more therapy around this soul robbery.
The date rape robbed me of my virginity. It robbed me of my trust of men for a period of time. I gained some weight because I realized, at age seventeen, that my curvy, athletic body was dangerous.
I felt, tragically, that I needed to cover up my God-given body with extra clothes, some fat, and fade into the background.
The rape resulted in no pregnancy or disease. Yet the experience ravaged me to the core.
I don’t remember if I cried that night, but for trauma of this magnitude, losing memory isn’t uncommon.
My eyes tear up more as I reflect on the time this person robbed my soul.
Date rape happens all the time. It happens just about anywhere. It’s about power and sex and violence. But mostly, it’s about robbery of the soul.
Yet in this blog, I’m not glossing over vivid colors of my story, saying the scenes wrap up perfectly like Hallmark movies. I love Hallmark movies, but I’m not called to write them.
Redemption shines through like a spray of ocean mist on a perfect sunny day. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Every once in a purple moon, I notice someone in public wearing a shirt from this particular fraternity, and I feel my heart beat loudly, as if it’s screaming.
Although last Saturday the breeze blew through my hair and the stormy clouds threatened to rain on the Greek Row welcome back party, my skin felt clammy.
I stopped to snap a picture of the fraternity where my rapist lived.
Thirty-six years ago.
I’ve never eaten duck again, and I decided not to attend this university. I’d never been back until last Saturday.
Although I thought of skipping the meeting, I prayed for God to give me strength to attend the lupus support meeting, and He did. For a minute I felt lost, and then I saw this on the sidewalk.
Yes, I am loved by a God who uses our stories in powerful ways. Facing the truth can be daunting, but nothing tastes better than freedom. The truth will set me free – even if it feels like swallowing a piece of glass at first.
Thankfully, my life feels like a glorious garden nowadays, in many ways. Nobody’s life is perfect, as perfection rests on the other side of glory. I live in a fallen world, and the shards of that fact resound throughout the echoing air.
I married a man who told me I’m beautiful inside and outside, and meant it. That was eighteen years ago. He is certainly one of my greatest gifts. I dedicated my book to him, saying, “To George, the lover of my soul.” He still talks about my beautiful heart, desiring nothing in return.
I know rape is a vicious monster in too many facets to count. And for the one that raped me, dozens more desired me for my body only.
That statement represented a mosaic of beauty amidst a canvass of darkness. Years ago, I rejected some true gems, and failed to end the dances graciously. Yet at this point I would do more harm to contact them.
I’m committed to this journey of hard work, and I’ve climbed mountains of pain in my life story. Especially around the chapter when I lived on Maui . Yet obviously I have another scene of my life movie to process.
Denial is certainly as blind as love.
Yes, this is the face of date rape.
The soul robbery seemed long ago, and so far away. Until last Saturday.~
NOTE: If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read my book, Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit. The Kindle and Nook versions are on sale for $0.99.