To the Boy Who Taught Me To Carry My Own Cross

Aug 1, 2017 | 2017 Summer - Violence & Recovery, Articles

By Christi Sessa

(Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Violence)

After I was raped, I convinced myself that I would never let a man touch me again. Hell, I didn’t think I would ever be able to have sex again period. The emotional toll he put on me was heavy, and I still feel it. When I look at myself in the mirror, all the stretch marks and rolls, I remember how desperate he told me I was, how desperate he was, so desperate that only someone as hypersexual and desperate as him would ever want me. I believed him; I was hideous, after all, just like he said. It was only out of pity he touched me; in his desperation to fuck, he refused to stop.

And then, I met you. You smiled at me, all soft and kind, and I knew that you were so very different from him. You were nervous to touch me, afraid to initiate. Maybe it was the edibles I’d eaten earlier in the night, but I went for it. I kissed you, and you kissed back. Your hands touched the bare skin on my neck and I was not afraid of the chokehold, not afraid of being pinned against a wall. I did not fade into you, no, we melted together like jet fuel melts steel beams, Baby, impossibly and yet so beautifully. For the first time, I was not pressured, I was not afraid. I was powerful, I was sexy, and I was strong. Your strength was my strength that night, and now, months later, when I fall asleep in your arms I am, like those cheesy love songs always say, happily and beautifully home.

But the trauma still comes to me sometimes. Trauma is something that I carry in my bones so deeply that even if I sucked away all the marrow, the flashbacks would still hold themselves high and mighty, as if they are more powerful than my waking mind. All my life I have been told by men that I am not good enough. I am not a good enough daughter; I am not a good enough son; I am not good enough to be loved; I am not good enough to be listened to; I am not good enough to have the right to say no. To them, I was just nothing.

Then I met you, and somehow I am good enough. Hell, I don’t even need to care about being “good” enough because even when I am shaking in rage or despair, when I am well below my lowest lows, you still stand with me, arms outstretched to steady me when I try to stand. I can stand without you, but you make things easier, safer, warmer. When I shake from flashbacks, when my legs bounce from anxiety and fear, you hold on and you do not let go, as if to say, because you are quiet in words but loud in action, “I am here. Things may not go away, but I am here.” All I ever needed was someone to be here. Not there, because there implies distance, but here, now, closer than just close proximity. You do not cure me, but trust is the best medicine, better than any SSRI or CBT or joint can ever be. And I trust you, Love. I do.

Do not touch me there, it burns. Touch me other places, the ones he did not touch, the ones that have never been desecrated. And when I’m ready, make the sterile ground of my body fertile again with your calm touching, gently whispering for new roots to take hold so the skin can remember but live on and love on. The memories of the dark times, the abuse and the nothingness, they will live on, but the flowers on their graves will be the starting point of a field’s worth of Life, built above and despite the infinitely rotting corpses of below.

When I carry the trauma on my shoulders as my cross, you do not take the weight but give me your strength. Everything is lighter, brighter. I can have sex with men again, I tell myself, because the softness of your love tells me I am more than just the unseen scars. I am more than nothing, you tell me. To you, you say with the hazy glow in your eyes when you wake up next to me, I am everything.

Christi is a student at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, studying Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. She got invited to the White House one time.

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