Queen of Sad Things

I’ll be the first to say it: my body of work is largely depressing, a sea of sad stories that stretch far beyond the horizon. It isn’t often easy to read, nor is it meant to be, because stories of bodily assault should never be easily tolerable. Their very nature insists on being difficult, tragic, scarring.

As a species, we tend to deal with trauma in a few specific ways. We can let it engulf us. We can swallow it. Or we can cut off its head and parade down the streets, blood dripping on our shoes as we refuse to stay quiet.

There is no right way to do it. I have tried staying silent. I have tried being swallowed. Only now, in this age of unrest, do I feel comfortable demanding to be heard.

I was eight and her name was Andrea. I was eighteen and his name was Niko. I was twenty-one and their names were Audrey and something I didn’t quite catch.

I was in school. I went home with him. I was at a party and everyone else was drunk.

I went back. I went back. I burnt everything down.

And now I speak – no, I shout. I scream. But why?

First and foremost, I write for myself. I write to process what has happened, to glean meaning from the wreckage, to find peace in the aftermath. Writing is a wonderful and healthy alternative to being dead, so I write. Additionally, these events have shaped the manner in which I interact with the world. To ignore them is tantamount to erasing my past and, without this context, you will not understand how incredible my existence is today.

I share my writing for four reasons.

  1. I didn’t know women could be perpetrators of assault. I did not know a woman could hurt me this badly. When I was first assaulted in a classroom at school, I didn’t even realize what had happened. I didn’t have the language for it. For years, I felt like I was a monster, like there was this consuming darkness in my lungs. I felt like it was my fault. When I was researching data for my thesis, I couldn’t find much about female sex offenders – and if I can’t find it, that means other victims can’t find it either. It is vital that other survivors hear me. Being able to articulate your experiences cannot happen without vocabulary, without language, and I am here to scream for them, too.
  2. I am not a ‘good’ survivor. It is important to be seen exactly as flawed and imperfect as I am in conjunction with my experiences – because the police asked me why I went to Niko’s house alone, because people told me I shouldn’t have gone to Audrey’s party, because people keep finding ways to tell me that the assaults were my fault. “you shouldn’t have… you could have… you didn’t…”

    No more. I am not a ‘good’ survivor. I didn’t follow the rules that people rubbed in my face afterward, and by no means does that translate to fault. I want survivors to know that. There’s nothing you can do that justifies sexual violence against you.
    It was never your fault.

  3. I want to be more transparent with my mental illness. There is so much stigma around people with PTSD – how we function, what we look like, what we’re capable of. We’re not all soldiers returning from war, but my diagnosis is just as valid as anyone’s. I want to reframe the conversation about mental illness. This past Tuesday, as I sat in a training room, the speaker told us how to deal with ‘brain sick’ patients. They spoke to us as if no one in the room could relate to a man dissociating in a lobby – as if we had never had nightmares we couldn’t shake. And I felt such shame in that moment, like my illness was always going to make me an Other, like I couldn’t belong here. They can’t tell that I’m sick, but only because they have a very clear idea of what sick should look like. I’m here to tell you that, unless you live with a mental illness, your perception of the mentally ill is probably incorrect. I want to change how we are seen – I want to change the limits people think we can reach –  I want to excel and grow and become successful enough to educate the masses: we are sick, but we are capable. Furthermore, I want other survivors to see that it really does get better.
    {I promise.}
  4. There are still assholes in my life who make rape jokes – who make PTSD jokes – who spread rumors about my sexual promiscuity to excuse their flippant disregard of my safety – who told me I deserved it – who basically make time to announce to the world that they are trash. I write to remind them that I am ill, that I am conquering, that I refuse to be quiet in the face of their cruelty. I write to stick in their brains. I write because the next time they open their mouths to say they totally raped a guy on a video game, the next time they expect me to laugh at a joke where I am the punchline, I want them to picture me as a child.

    20160820_220221

    Picture this little girl crying herself to sleep – refusing to sleep alone until she was eighteen – throwing up in the dorm room showers for three hours afterward – entering a psychiatric hospital barely a month after turning nineteen – spending years wanting to die. I want them to see me. I want to be inescapable. I want them to feel guilty. If you picture and you choose to make that PTSD joke anyway, I hope you fucking choke.

***********************************************************************

And now, a brief note for those who know me outside of my blog. Please do not ask me for details about the assaults. If I want to talk to you about these situations, I will initiate the conversation. Otherwise, let me be. Do not ask my other friends and family for details. If you’re worried about me after reading this post, please know that I am healthy and happy. My life is exceptionally beautiful right now. I am okay.

If you read this post and you recognized Andrea, Niko, or Audrey’s name, absolutely do NOT talk to them about me, do not ask them about me, do not share this post with them, and do not talk to our former coworkers about my assault. I did not include their last names for a reason. I do not want to speak to them, I do not want to speak to you about them, nor do I want to be spoken about to them or to anyone. My assault is not a circus act, it is not a gossiping point, it is a tragedy and they have taken enough from me. Please respect that. I take my safety very seriously and so should you. If you cannot, you will be cut out of my life so fast that you’ll get whiplash. If, however, you have also been assaulted (either by these individuals or someone else), and you want to talk survivor-to-survivor, then I am absolutely here for you.

As always, thank you for reading.

It really did get better. Really.
Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Story Time, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Queen of Sad Things

  1. A friend

    Krista-

    You don’t know me. Maybe you do, in some way. I think the anonymity of strangers brings us closer- we’re only bound by experience on this level. Takes away the rest of the filters we think are so important. So I’ll keep this brief, and anonymous. That’s what everyone likes best nowadays right?

    I’ve been reading some of your posts on and off. I’ve learned a little about the things you have gone through. I don’t know if it makes sense to comment on these things. But I will anyway.

    The past is the past. I live by the idea that once things have happened, they could not have happened any other way. Unfortunately, in existence, and in physics, there was a time when things could have turned out differently, but they didn’t. And now, in the present, we are forced to live in the aftermath of these things. It is causality. We cannot argue with it.

    When I was around 15 or 16, I boiled everything down in my life to two options: live or die. I chose die and I almost did it. I remember trying, but nothing happening, and then a garage door opening and me putting away the towels and crying, but after a few minutes, going downstairs to say hello to my parents. They never knew what I almost did. Maybe two people in the world who know me knew what I almost attempted. But that is fine. Because for me, it is not debilitating. I am lucky in this way.

    For me, it was life. I made the decision, and I make that decision, in some way, every day. Live or die. The world is trying to kill me anyway, every day, every time I step into a car. Every time I eat or drink. I could die at any moment anyway. I know that people say live like it is your last day. That is stupid. It is not good life advice. But it is not necessarily wrong.

    It’s not as polar as I put it though. It’s a philosophy. Can the world ever do enough to me that I will not want to live any more? Maybe. Has that time come? No. So why let the world decide who I am? There is that duality to face. You cannot ignore what the world has done to or for you. And you can decide what to think about those things that have happened to you. It’s not a ‘but’, it’s an ‘and.’ In a world where we don’t have complete control of our outside circumstances, we have to cling to things we do have control over. In this case, our minds. Our conscience. Our me.

    The world, in the grand scheme of things, does not care. Unless you believe in some kind of god or afterlife, it does not care. Again, it is only causality. So we must care. We must create the care. We must control the only way we possibly can: subjectively. So I want to say this, to someone beautiful and strong.

    Do not view your whole life as in reflect to the terrible things that have happened to you. Human minds can not be broken because they are not solids like glass or marble. They are clay and putty. They are liquid and gas. They can be misshapen, condensed, boiled, stretched and pulled apart, but never broken. If you believe they can be broken, then you believe that there are a finite amount of states minds can exist in: Broken, whole, repairing, etc. Do not let the antiquated comparisons of the varieties of human consciousness shape how you view yourself.

    Do not let the past decide why you are the Queen of Sad things. You will be the Queen of whatever it is you want to be. Above all, know this:
    You are not a survivor, you are Krista.
    You are not a victim, you are Krista.
    You are not memories of abuse and assault, you are Krista.
    You are not any mental illness, you are Krista.

    Keep writing. I hope you are well.

    • Hello, friend.

      I sat with your response for days, in a curious mix of gratitude for your kindness and contemplation.

      Your underlying message truly spoke to me. You’re right – minds cannot be broken and the past, for all its weight, does not have to dictate what we are today.

      This is how I see it: I am a survivor and I’m Krista. I was a victim, but I was still Krista. I am constantly becoming. The past provides context – it allows for understanding – it gives space to appreciate the distance we’ve traveled. But my past and the things through which I live are not the most important (or even the most interesting) aspects of who I am. Every person is an experience, you know? I can capture pieces of that through my writing, but I fully believe that we can’t see each other as whole beings through one medium alone.

      I laid out all of these sad things partly because I wanted to live boldly. I wanted to give hope to others whose pasts are equally treacherous, to those who do not sleep easily. In short, I want to become the person I needed when I was eight and terrified because I know there are other terrified children still out there.

      Thank you for reading. Thank you for taking the time to comment, for provoking a week-long thought process, for allowing me to occupy a little corner of your life. I appreciate you. ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s