Ten years ago, I was 19. 19 seems so young, so unknowing compared to all I’ve learned in the last ten years. The first year is the hardest, you know, because you spend every morning thinking, “One year ago today, I was happy. One year ago today, I didn’t know this life. One year ago today, I didn’t have panic attacks or cry myself to sleep.” And on and on and on. But that’s not to say that the next nine years are easy, because they’re not.
I still have panic attacks when I see my midwife for a yearly exam. Because the exam makes me think of the rape kit, of my family doctor and the older nurse, who I’d known for years, who gave me allergy shots when I was just eight years old, fumbling while they read the instructions on the rape kit, while I cringed and held my mom’s hand. Every year, I breathe deep and tell myself to panic that this is not the same, but every year, my heart betrays me and races, my skin turns red and blotchy, and I just try to get through it. I have my appointment in a few weeks. I wonder if this year will be the year that I finally rise above it?
8th graders think rape jokes are funny. Did you know that? They think it’s hilarious to throw the word around like it’s so meaningless, when someone touches them in the hall, they scream, HE’S RAPING ME. I endure it every single year, letting the words roll off of me cringing, but once a year, I lose it. I turn red and yell and say, Rape isn’t funny. Why do you think rape is funny? IT’S NOT FUNNY. I rant like a crazy person and I know they all think I’ve lost my mind and probably roll their eyes and laugh about me in lunch, but I always just hope that maybe one of them gets it. Maybe one of them stops twice and thinks about it.
I’ve been that crazy person this whole week. As soon as the calendar starts to roll into June, I become unhinged and yell and cry and realize why I’m doing it, but I’m powerless to stop it (just like I was ten years ago). This year, I just feel tired. I feel weary and want to be over it, but I’m not. I’m so thankful that I shared my story last year, but today, I don’t want it to be my story. I want to not even think about today, to wake up on say, June 15th, and think, Hey! I didn’t even notice! I wonder if or when that day will come and I pray that someday it does. I hate it, but I live this day knowing that tomorrow is June 4th and that it will be okay. It always is.