everything is not ok

if i weren’t like the cat with 9 lives or the phoenix always rising from the ashes, i would be dead right now, because the last week has slain me.

the news, the incessant news of another woman victimized, disregarded, disdained… this time she actually has a name, something more than just another statistic.

anene booysen.

only 17 and discarded on a pile of rubble like so much rubbish. RIP anene. you deserved so much more.

i have been taking a mental health break from my accidental activism, but this makes it impossible to stay silent. and like i said on twitter this evening, every time i talk about rape on my time-line, i suspect that people go, “oh, there she goes again”. well i don’t care. i didn’t choose to be the poster-child for rape survivors. i don’t create the news. i don’t rape. but i sure as hell can not keep quiet about the horrors happening all around us. like prime-media’s campaign the other day, setting off a ping every 4 minutes… ping….ping….ping….ping….ping. ad nauseum. infinitum.

i’m angry and i’m sad and i’m outraged. maybe this will get people galvanized enough to start changing things.

maybe.

this is a poem i wrote the last few days.

“everything is not ok.”
 
i’m a survivor
 
a survivor who after silence
has found her voice
do the things i say
make you flinch
make you uncomfortable
no apologies
because rape      is       uncomfortable
imagine the discomfort of being ripped apart 
 
it is     not     comfortable
it is not        ok
 
it’s an outrage
 
and when i read about 
a little baby in a back room
a grandmother in a shack
yet another girl on a bus
a girl treated like just so much rubble on a construction site
 
violated yet again
by men who think
that our secrets are theirs to flay open
that  what  we are 
are theirs to claim and maim and scar and discard
another statistic 
in an endless mobius strip of numbers
looping escher-like
into infinity
 
it makes me want to scream 
and rage 
and yell that something must be done.
so i am using my voice 
i am the alarm going off next door
the screeching siren that says
the windows of someone’s soul have been shattered
a holy portal broken into
the doors broken down
another temple violated
 
this is not okay
 
and i’m going to say so
i’m going to keep saying it 
i’m going to keep up the clarion call to rise up 
to stand together to ward off this nightmare
to do     something
to make a change
i’m going to shout about this
till everybody listens
 
and i’m not going to shut up
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cock’s crow

after lying awake for at least 4 hours, at 02h45 this morning, i posted this tweet:

It’s been 20 years since on this date, at almost this exact hour, a man broke into my house & raped me. Wish it didn’t still keep me awake.

the irony is that for many years now, the date has come and gone without me even noticing it. this time however, maybe because i was home alone, i succumbed to paranoia. i knew that i’d armed the  security beams, yet i still got up at least once to make sure. on more that one occasion i held my breath, training my ears for any perceived sound, making sure that this time no one had snuck into my house, that there was no-one lurking outside my bedroom door, unlike that other time.

it reminded me of the one time i stayed alone in my other house after i’d been raped in it. i spent the entire night walking the length of the house, from the front-door to the back-door, convinced that the guy had come back and was trying to figure out a way in. and ironically i was probably right because not 2 weeks later, when i was out of town and had 2 women staying in the house, he found a way back in and nearly broke down the bathroom door to get at them. fortunately they fought him off, but i came back to chaos and having to change all my locks, as he’d taken off with my keys.

last night i lay and listened to a cock crowing inappropriately somewhere out in the dark. i tossed and turned and tossed and turned some more. and when i finally fell asleep for 45 minutes, i had a spectacular nightmare about someone trying to break into my house, wielding a huge knife – with my screams once again stopped in my throat. silenced. helpless. mute.

i wrestle with thinking it weakness – that i once again allowed that man power over me, my life and my actions, versus recognizing the strength in realizing my vulnerability and making sure to defend it –  like putting in perimeter security beams after waking up to find 2 men on my property.  some people might think that 20 years is a long time to still be affected by something, but i don’t think that they realize that rape changes one forever. you will always have a different perspective than someone who hasn’t experienced that violation. you will never again consider yourself immune. that’s the biggest loss. and the journey to healing is one you’ll travel till it ends in a grave or a pile of ash.

i did later tweet this, in honor of all survivors and also in honor of myself:

On this day I’d like to say to all survivors: there is a steely strength in even your most fragile moments. Know you’ll be ok. #thisiknow

i might have stumbled on the side of the road last night and bumbled bleary-eyed through my day, but know that i will get up. in fact, know that i am up – and moving right along. some of you are ahead of me on this journey and some are coming up behind.

i wish us all strength and maybe i’ll see you out there on the road.

sugar monsters

if you have not yet read “dear sugar”, do yourself a favor.

till a few months ago, nobody knew who dear sugar was. there was a huge, much-anticipated reveal and we now know that dear sugar is actually published author, cheryl strayed.

i don’t care.

what i do know is that i go through phases of reading the column and then my life takes over and i forget. then someone or something reminds me and i fall in love with her writing and humanity and the pathos all over again.

it’s real, it’s visceral, it reaches out of the computer and squeezes your heart until you feel you cannot breathe and sometimes the tears that streak your cheeks leave trails of blood.

like tonight in her column, “monsters and ghosts“. it seemed like it was written for me.

earlier today, i had a more than 2 hr interview with a journalist who is writing an article about me for a woman’s magazine. of course, even though i keep reiterating that i am not my history, that it is merely what happened to me… despite so many years of healing, today’s interview still left me shaken – this journey backtracking down dark roads, unexpectedly overcome, vinegar tears squeezing, unwanted, past guarded lids.

i have to remind myself: today i am standing firmly in the light. i am the guardian of the 4 yr old within, the 4 yr old from whom her childhood was abruptly and abusively ripped. i keep a watchful eye. i protect her and reassure her that she’s safe, that the monsters and ghosts have been long buried, that no one can harm her. they might still sometimes try to resurrect themselves to wreak a similar devastation of years gone by, but now they are mere chimeras, powerless unless we feed the insatiable maws of memory.

i am grateful to have travelled so far down the interminable road of healing. i would prefer not to stare into the distorted mirrors of my past, reflecting the mangled monsters that for so long haunted me. however, i do understand that for many, knowing that they are not alone and hearing that someone else, too, knows that “here be dragons”…is a comfort. it makes me peel back my eyelids and hold up my flaming torch.

i don’t taunt the darkness, i don’t draw it out.  yet i’ve stopped fleeing only to find it nipping, vicious, at my achilles-heels… instead i bow to it in respect and i say namaste.

in the insistent light the monsters and the ghosts, slowly, almost imperceptibly, melt like the watery wicked witch. in my heart, safe and protected, where the only thing grimm is a fairytale, my ruby-slippers sparkling, i am home.