I haven’t seen Barbados

*Deeeeeeep Breath*  Ok.  I’ve been avoiding writing about my assault.  I just don’t even know where to start.  It’s been 16 years- nearly half of my life has now been defined by the fallout.  It’s hard to separate the parts of me born of the rape from the parts that were always intrinsically me.  I just can’t remember anymore.  But my anxiety has been getting worse.  Now I have these crazy tremors and my legs and jaw just randomly shake no matter what I’m doing.  It’s getting a lot harder to cope with all this stuff.

I have therapy later today.  I haven’t slept in two days and I feel like it’s time we start talking more about the trauma.  So I pulled out my trauma binder.  In the few years shortly after the rape I participated in a lot of group and individual therapy.  I have this notebook full of my own notes, homework assignments and some cool handouts.  I found this poem and it’s what I want to share:

 
The Rape Poem
by Marge Piercy (This poem first appeared in “Red War Sticks”)
Feminist Alliance Against Rape Newsletter Apr/May 1975

There is no difference between being raped
And being pushed down a flight of cement steps
Except that the wounds also bleed inside.
There is no difference between being raped
And being run over by a truck
Except that afterward men ask if you enjoyed it.
 
There is no difference between being raped
And being bitten by a rattlesnake
Except that people ask if your skirt was short
And why you were out alone anyhow.
 
There is no difference between being raped
And going headfirst through a windshield
Except that afterwards you are afraid
Not of cars
But half the human race.
 
The rapist is your boyfriend’s brother.
He sits beside you in the movies eating popcorn.
Rape fattens on the fantasies of the normal male
Like a maggot in garbage.
 
Fear of rape is a cold wind blowing
All of the time on a woman’s hunched back.
Never to stroll alone on a sand road through pinewoods,
Never to climb a trail across a bald
Without that aluminum in the mouth
When I see a man climbing toward me.
 
Never to open the door to a knock
Without that razor just grazing the throat.
The fear of the dark side of hedges,
The back seat of the car, the empty house
Rattling keys like a snakes warning.
The fear of the smiling man
In whose pocket is a knife
Waiting to glide its shark’s length between my ribs.
In whose fist is locked hatred.
 
All it takes to cast a rapist is to be able to see your
Body as jackhammer, as blowtorch, as adding-machine-gun.
All it takes is hating that body
Your own, your self, your muscle that softens to flab.
 
All it takes is to push what you hate,
What you fear into that soft alien flesh.
To bucket out as invincible as a tank
Armored with treads without senses
To possess and punish in one act, To rip up pleasure, to murder those who dare
Live in the leafy flesh open to love.
 
 

The first half of the poem especially speaks to me.  The wounds on the inside, invisible, invalidated by those who can’t understand.  I debated sharing a video with this post or not, and I think I’m going to link to a live performance of Tori Amos’ “Me and a Gun.”  Just a warning- this song is pretty triggering.  I couldn’t listen to it for years.  But now I watch this video and I see the very real emotion in her eyes and hear it in her voice.  This is a video that can bring me to tears.

 

 

Lyrics in case you’d like to read them:

“Me And A Gun”

5am
Friday morning
Thursday night
Far from sleep
I’m still up and driving
Can’t go home
obviously
So I’ll just change direction
Cause they’ll soon konw where I live
And I wanna live

Got a full tank and some chips
It was me and a gun
And a man on my back
And I sang “holy holy” as he buttoned down his pants
You can laugh
It’s kind of funny things you think
at times like these
Like I haven’t seen Barbados
So I must get out of this

Yes I wore a slinky red thing
Does that mean I should spread
For you, your friends your father, Mr. Ed

Me and a gun
and a man
On my back
But I haven’t seen Barbados
So I must get out of this
Yes I wore a slinky red thing
Does that mean I should spread
For you, your friends your father, Mr. Ed
And I know what this means
Me and Jesus a few years back
Used to hang and he said
“It’s your choice babe just remember
I don’t think you’ll be back in 3 days time
So you choose well”
Tell me what’s right
Is it my right to be on my stomach
of Fred’s Seville

Me and a gun
and a man
On my back
But I haven’t seen Barbados
So I must get out of this

And do you know Carolina
Where the biscuits are soft and sweet
These things go through you head
When there’s a man on your back
And you’re pushed flat on your stomach
It’s not a classic cadillac

Me and a gun
and a man
On my back
But I haven’t seen Barbados
So I must get out of this

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